Guest contribution from my colleague Adil Nasri about his product Creator and why templates on the intranet are so important.
I have already presented five compelling arguments for using wikis elsewhere in this book. Once you understand and internalize them, your work really starts to be fun – precisely because you know that you are creating added value for your colleagues. Operational work poses many unknown challenges for the workforce.
Wiki systems have become particularly important in the area of knowledge management. This relates to the view that “knowledge [...] is understood as a key factor of economic growth – in addition to the traditional factors of capital and labor.” The externalization of this knowledge in wiki systems supports networking, communication, and collaboration, which is much more valuable for companies than any form of document management.
When introducing a collaborative intranet system, users first have to be introduced to their new and active role. Many users suffer from “empty page syndrome” here: the challenge of having to write content on an empty page. Ironically, this concern is also compounded by the benefits of a wiki system: speed and transparency. Inhibitions can develop quickly, especially when it comes to documents that grab colleagues’ attention right from the start.
Intranet project teams develop strategies for activating users on almost all wiki or intranet implementation projects. The most important and sustainable long-term approach to this is by integrating the system into the everyday work of the users. From the documentation of simple decisions, onboarding checklists for new employees, to collaborating on large projects, everything starts with a wiki page being created. The use of templates or blueprints is essential here.
Template functions have already proven their worth in Microsoft Word. They are designed to help users focus on content creation rather than formatting. Templates can also be used in Confluence, and can be used to prepare page layouts, headings, or tables. This way, meeting notes, for example, can be written up and shared in no time.
Blueprints can also be used to bring more structure into a supposedly disorganized wiki system as well. In contrast to simple templates that provide predefined page content, blueprints allow you to create form-based pages. Instead of the editor, a form appears that queries the essential data such as the date and attendees, etc. Not only does this ensure that pages are structured consistently, but also that the most important information is recorded systematically.
This level of functionality is discussed on almost all intranet implementation projects. In particular, companies that are very process controlled find blueprints very helpful for bringing more order into the “wiki chaos.” In addition to form-based data acquisition, blueprints can also be used to dynamically tag content or automatically store prefixes in page titles. Blueprints can also be created for entire teams or even project areas. Working spaces with permanent annexes are created at the push of a button. This allows you to start working with them immediately without having to worry about structure, set up, and formatting. This level of standardization ensures that content can be found using the search and also simplifies navigation for the user.
However, a major obstacle for our customers is the additional effort required for delivering blueprints. Since these are always bespoke, they involve development work in addition to conceptual work. This represents a challenge for many Confluence administrators: not only do they have to acquire specific skills, they also have to regularly consider or factor in compatibility adjustments from time to time with new versions and updates to Confluence. Even if only minor changes are needed, your administrators need to be very tech savvy and have programming skills.
Of course, you also have the option of contracting out the development of blueprints to a service provider if you are willing to cover the financial cost. In a dynamic intranet environment, this route is not really the best to take because amendments of all kinds will need to be made time and time again. Being dependent on a service provider is extremely disadvantageous here, which is why many of our customers decide with a heavy heart to do without blueprints.
Since this situation is neither satisfactory for us nor our customers, we decided as a service provider ourselves to develop a dynamic blueprints generator in the form of Blueprint Creator (https://blueprint-creator.com). This solution allows for the integration of a form-based and therefore simplified creation process for pages and sections without any programming knowledge. This allows the benefits of blueprints to be taken advantage of without the associated disadvantages.
Link to this page: https://seibert.biz/intranetbooktemplates
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