66 Use Cases for an Enterprise Wiki
How can a wiki system blossom and show its' added value and Return on Investment? What are some specific examples of how companies can implement an enterprise wiki? Which possible uses make sense? Which of them are truly useful? And which of them can actually improve your efficiency?
1. Knowledge sharing
An enterprise wiki can serve as a repository for answers to those always recurring but never documented problems encountered in a firm. For example, where does an employee find out how much unused vacation time he has? Where is parking allowed or not allowed on the company property? What is the best way to get to the company by car or public transport?
2. Collaborative document editing
When documents such as customer offers are collaboratively developed and edited, the latest versions are readily available to anyone with access rights: there's no need to send files to and fro. The development of such documents from creative conception to completion can be accelerated dramatically by a wiki.
3. Generate ideas and distribute information about them
The next time a good idea comes up during a small-group brainstorming session, the participants can publish the idea in the wiki and then send an e-mail to colleagues asking them to take a look at it and add more ideas to the document.
4. Quality management
The guidelines and established procedures that are often available only in Word documents and similar formats can be collected in a Wiki, described, and tagged with keywords to make them easier to find. If necessary, employees can use workflows to ensure that changes made by employees aren't visible until this is specifically authorized or to ensure the following of controlled or required processes (e.g., for ISO-certified processes).
Existing documentation and handbooks can be inserted “as is” into wiki documents or “wikified” in order to integrate them more directly into Wiki-technology, making them easier to find and link to. These documents can then be exported as PDF or Word documents.
6. Tutorials and instructions
It makes a lot of sense to collect guides and instructions in a central location. Moreover, every employee should be encouraged to make comments and suggestions for the improvement of work processes.
7. Dynamic FAQs
Project members can document customer questions so that every employee has quick and easy access to those questions through a centralized search machine to see those questions. The solutions to the customer problems can also be made available in a wiki, allowing the support team members to find and provide the correct answers without spending time or effort searching for new versions of the same answer. The support team members receive write privileges allowing them to add further information as it is collected.
8. Project management and organization
Project documentation can be made centrally available through a wiki. Items such as arrangements and agreements with customers, responsibility definitions, project checklists and so on belong here. As each project receives its own area, the wiki can be used as a virtual project room.
9. Wiki as an intranet
Not only can a wiki replace HTML-based intranets, it can also eliminate the so-called One Administrator's Syndrome that can arise when the intranet-CMS is understood and used by only a few employees.
10. Discard and administer documents
An enterprise wiki allows documents to be centrally maintained, thereby performing a DMS function. It can be embedded as a net drive and allows versioning through external data formats.
11. Email discussions can be presented in a wiki
If email surveys and discussions are linked in a wiki, not only are the contents up to date and centrally documented, but the amount of email traffic is reduced.
12. Internal news
Company internal newsletters, event announcements, new employee introductions: a wiki enables the presentation of countless forms of internal information that are always available to everyone in their most up-to-date version.
13. CEO blog
Once the company's managers realize how easy it is to set up and maintain a wiki blog, they can share their valuable experience and knowledge of the daily workings of the firm with all employees.
14. Blogs for employees, projects, and departments
Workers have the chance to publish their own news or report project progress. The firm should establish standards and provide examples.
15. News monitoring
If your competitor's web sites offer RSS feeds, these can be integrated into a wiki page so that anyone at any time can see the competition's latest news. Wiki charts can provide useful graphical depictions of what the competitors are up to.
16. Competition monitoring and analyses
An enterprise wiki is the right place to systematically organize and analyse information concerning the competition as well as to evaluate that information.
17. Blog and news roll
RSS feeds don't just allow news published on the web to be integrated; blogs and news relevant to the firm and field can also be piped directly to your employees, who can then get exposure to important current opinions and trade articles.
18. Reports for internal as well as external target groups
Statistics, evaluations, and figures that are interesting and relevant for all employees, or even for only certain departments, should be made available through the wiki as reports. This allows a history of reports to exist (and grow as new interpretations of this need arise). This makes it easier to convince employees who produce reports that they are no longer limited to PDF, Word, PowerPoint or Excel; they can work in the wiki and produce reports that encourage transparency and interactivity. Even if proprietary formats are used, the documents should still be stored in the wiki and communicated by hyperlinks; discussion can take place through centralized comments, which reduces the flood of email.
19. Internet pages to be published can be created by groups
A Wiki offers the chance to prepare to expand or relaunch the content of a firm's website and to ensure that the content has been agreed upon by everyone involved, and that other employees have had the chance to offer suggestions. Only after the feedback from all interested employees has been evaluated will the website be updated (as usual) through the CMS.
20. Wiki as an extranet
An extranet based on an enterprise wiki allows customers, suppliers and other interested partners to share information about co-operation and project co-ordination (this information is divided into different areas protected by access privileges). To develop this it is best to actively encourage the external partners to take a look at the information and allow them to participate in deciding the expansion of any such collaboration.
21. Idea management
When a wiki is used as a platform to collect and evaluate ideas, its real strength can be brought to bear by granting access to as many employees as possible, who can then comment on, add to and evaluate the ideas. This helps the firm by allowing it to take advantage of the knowledge, the constructive criticism and the creativity of all its employees.
22. Press mirror
Many firms regularly and systematically scan the internet for news that concerns them. Maintaining a press mirror in the enterprise wiki can grease the wheels for discussion and agreement and - when necessary - enables the firm to quickly and collaboratively develop a fast reaction or other countermeasures in response to, for example, criticism of the firm.
23. IT-infrastructure documentation
With an enterprise wiki a dedicated area can be set up to document the firm's computer configurations, servers, and IT topography (IP-addresses, system configuration, hardware, service contracts, support tickets, challenges...); this can be presented clearly as diagrams or as text. The use of SQL to connect to outside systems (ITIL applications) is possible; then information from the third system can be obtained and made centrally available.
24. Employee directory (name, position, contact information)
A central employee directory with employees' photos, general information, foreign language knowledge, and specific (and relevant) skills (keyword: skill management) can help everyone to find the firms' experts quickly and easily. Employees can also use this area to describe themselves, their working area, and their accomplishments.
25. An overview of your employees' expertise
Each employee's talents and knowledge can be presented using so-called metadata: using filters, employees can quickly and easily find out, for example, which co-workers know about product XY and can speak English as well as Spanish. The employees can maintain and update the information about themselves.
26. Evaluation platform (Business intelligence)
After your enterprise has begun to collect reports within the wiki, it's not difficult to expand the use of the wiki into a platform for evaluation. In this platform important success criteria and variables can be summarized and presented on a management dashboard. With a drill-down option you can begin with the first level of summarized data and then get your hands dirty with the relevant details as needed.
27. Video portal
More and more firms are circulating internal screen casts and instructions as video broadcasts. With a wiki video portal all employees have direct access to this content. An enterprise wiki can also be used to maintain and make available recordings from internal training sessions, desktop sharing sessions, or the firm's commercial spots.
28. Technical library maintenance
Many firms have their own libraries of technical books, periodicals, and continuing educational materials. A wiki can be used to maintain this library; with the wiki the employees can determine what material is available and who currently has the material checked out.
29. Manage the lending of technical equipment
Not only can a wiki manage the lending of educational material, it can also centrally and efficiently manage the lending of technical equipment such as beamers, notebooks, Web'n'walk sticks etc.
30. Event planning
When internal or external events are being planned, a wiki is helpful for the planning as well as the actual event. Such details as dates, participant invitations and cancellations, and to-do check lists can all be maintained in a wiki. The subscription and versioning functions ensure that the organizers always have the latest information available and never lose control of the planning documentation.
31. Protocol and meeting organization
When preparing for a meeting a participant can produce a wiki page with the agenda and then email the page to the concerned co-workers. This creates a central (and, when appropriate, secure) repository where any information important for the meeting can be collected and stored; before the meeting the participants can see and contribute to this information, which saves everyone's valuable time. Because the agenda has been understood and agreed to beforehand, the meeting can concentrate on the appropriate topic and avoid unnecessary digressions. During the meeting, one participant uses the wiki to make to-do lists and note decisions; this list is available immediately at the end of the meeting, and everyone can go right back to work. The minutes and all documentation from the meeting are then available to other employees who have the appropriate privileges. Those employees who could not attend the meeting can also receive immediate access to the minutes and can thereby systematically follow the discussion.
32. Notice board for employee and management announcements
A wiki can replace a notice board and digitally map the information (which often has disclosure requirements). This saves the employees (time-wasting) walks to physical information boards and hanging notices and allows them to make comments or react to the notices immediately.
33. Systemically collect knowledge from employees leaving the firm
When colleagues are leaving the firm (e.g., interns, students who have completed their assignments, employees entering retirement or changing jobs), their knowledge and experience need not be lost. Instead, it can be collected in a wiki and remain easily available.
34. Email templates for customer communication
Communication with potential and current customers can be at least partially standardized by using a wiki, if important email templates are made available through the wiki.
35. Company dictionary with glossary and explanations
An enterprise wiki can be for an employee what Wikipedia is for the world: a place where all the technical terms and abbreviations that are used in the company can be collected and explained. Explanations of how these are specifically used in the company are also helpful.
36. Collect and maintain internal links and bookmarks
The collecting of internal links and bookmarks helps workers understand the complicated relationships among projects and departments; this is especially helpful for new employees still trying to develop an understanding of these relationships. Portals and distribution pages in a wiki allow new topics to be introduced simply and quickly.
37. Documentation of projects and internal services
Using a wiki to store and make available important information on projects and internal services increases transparency and makes the data easier to find for future projects. Examples of information that can be kept in a wiki include management tools (such as checklists for project managers), project information, customer data, targets, budgets, appointments, links in external systems that hold such information, project progress reports, release reports, instructions for follow-up, lessons learned from project summaries, and many more.
38. Portal for accident prevention and security
General guidelines for workplace safety, for safety- and emergency management, and for fire protection should definitely be centrally available for constant access through the enterprise wiki. If important information such as evacuation plans, first-aid tips, or legal requirements are always available through the wiki, this can help prevent accidents and - in the case of emergencies - prevent or mitigate disasters.
39. Task assignment management
Macros for the creation of simple task lists and plugins allow for simple task management within the wiki. This is especially useful for wiki-specific tasks, which can thereby be accomplished in a no-fuss, goal-oriented manner.
40. Contract management
The personnel department keeps employee contracts in an enterprise wiki. The contracts are available for the authorized persons and can be exported from the wiki as completely formatted Office documents (i.e., by using the plugin Scroll-Office). Contracts can also be sent without having to edit the Word document. A wiki can even maintain documents such as service level agreements.
41. Using Scroll-Office for document production
The useful plugin Scroll-Office offers the ability to export wiki pages as MS Office documents that are already formatted using templates to conform to individual needs. Such documents have a professional-looking title page, a table of contents, neat organization, and can be sent immediately to the customer or partner.
42. Collaborative content production from different locations
Instead of sending documents by e-mail for collaborative work in teams or sending documents to a number of locations and then being sent back many different versions of the document, your team can work on the content within the wiki. This way, every participant has consistent access to the most current version of the document.
43. Consensus and polling
The comment function that is built into every wiki page (or plugins such as the survey-expansion for Confluence) allow fast and uncomplicated voting and discussion.
44. Release scheduling for blog articles, tweets etc.
Editors in the wiki can manage and plan status information for articles and information intended to appear in the Corporate Weblog, in the public microblog, as Tweets, or as Facebook status changes. On the one hand, it can be useful for deciding when there's a need for action and the creation of new content; on the other hand, if an editor falls sick or is unavailable for some reason, a substitute or replacement can follow the plan without any difficulties.
45. Firm evaluation, goals and vision
The only permanent characteristic of a firm's values and goals is that as opinions develop through discussion, the values and goals are constantly changing; a wiki facilitates such discussion.
46. Order lists
With a wiki, items such as technical books and other equipment can be ordered more efficiently and centrally than by having each employee order individually by email. In a wiki each employee can see what has been ordered and delivered.
47. Manage interfaces to other systems
Further additions to a wiki's many functions can be obtained not only through plugins, but also by the development of interfaces to other systems. With these the content from the third system can be obtained and documented automatically. The information is always available and up-to-date.
48. Links to personal calenders
Linking to relevant employee's personal calenders allows easier co-ordination of activities such as vacation planning, meeting organization, customer meetings, etc.
49. Organization and responsibility charts
A wiki can present a clear picture of a firm's hierarchy. The clear documentation lets employees quickly find out who is responsible for what and who the appropriate contact for a question is.
50. Central repository for training material
It is often impossible for all interested employees to take part in internal training. But if all the training material, presentations, and even videos are maintained in a central, easily accessible repository, the employees who could not participate can still benefit from the training.
51. Information repository for new employees
For a new employee trying to find his way in a new firm, a wiki is worth its weight in gold. He can find all the information he needs for his first work day in the wiki, so it's no longer necessary for other workers to personally explain the details of the firm. This saves their time and helps the new worker to become productive more quickly.
52. Cafeteria menu
With a few simple mouse clicks any employee can find out what is on the employee cafeteria menu; he can express his wishes and if appropriate let the cafeteria know if he will or won't be eating there that day.
53. Repository for constantly used texts and texts that must be consistantly modified
In any firm there are never changing texts that are constantly used and texts that are used over and over with only small modifications; for example, offer and product descriptions, job opening and press announcements, responses to job seekers, standard form contracts, etc. These can be easily found in your wiki.
54. Uniform recruitment procedure
A wiki can be easily applied to simplify and customize a firm's recruitment procedure; among other things it can standardize the procedures used to initiate the recruitment, verify the applicant's references and certification, hold comments concerning the applicant from the firm management and department heads, record communications with the applicant, and maintain the general letter templates.
55. Everybody on the “same page” every day
A wiki can be used by everyone to start every work day. Here they can find the relevant daily information from the firm as well as important information for connected internal and external systems.
56. Overview of developments in the firm for employees
Information such as newly acquired customers, completed projects, lessons learned from projects, and miscellaneous changes in the firm procedures or structure can be made available through a wiki. In this way a wiki advances the firm's transparency and encourages employees to identify themselves with the firm; in short, it helps develop and define the firm culture.
57. Documentation and maintenance of marketing information and reports
A wiki can be used to document and centralize marketing campaign information and to evaluate the results. This can replace the classical “press portfolio” as it is now used. Another important example is a wiki's ability to graphically display the result of Adwords campaigns.
58. Standards and policies
Behaviour rules and guidelines can be made available to everyone through a wiki: for example, what criteria should be used for passwords? What are the dress codes for work days and for special events? How are absences from work recorded? What should an employee say when answering a phone call at work? What are the uses for the internal systems?
59. Workers' council information
Members of the workers' council can use a wiki to distribute information to selected groups: such information might involve contracts with the firm, information on council and union activities, on wage policy, and on negotiations and agreements with the firm management.
60. Personal purchase portal
Many firms give their employees special advantages for purchasing the firms' products. Wikis can provide a personal purchase portal through which the employees can get information on special offers, discount sales, rebates, and general news.
61. Repository for information from the firm's subsidiaries
A wiki provides a central vantage point from where employees can follow the developments, successes and challenges of the various individual offices and locations; this can be accomplished through the wiki portal page by publishing a monthly overview of the subsidiaries' information, including turnover, estimates, revenue flows, expenses, and so on.
62. Material and personal resource allocation planning
A centralized, transparent way of documenting material and personal resource allocation such as a wiki can ease the planning of how to best use these resources, thereby avoiding potential conflicts. Project managers can prioritize the required resources within the wiki and request the corresponding allocation of those resources. And the latest version of the allocation is always available.
63. General internal forms
Forms such as those used for vacation requests, expense reports, and company car use can be made available through a wiki, which means less time spent administering.
64. Wiki help
Whoever works with a wiki everyday has to know how it functions. Wikis have areas dedicated to tips and tricks; here a user can quickly and easily find help in using the wiki appropriately; wikis also support self-learning, which means the company wiki "champions" don't have to spend all their time helping others learn how to use it.
65. Office pool and further extras
An enterprise wiki can be a lot of fun, too. The wiki can be used to organize the office betting pool for tournaments (if legal!); it can be a collection of links to other interesting content, and it can be a great place for insider jokes. Finally, a wiki fun area saves a lot of joke emails that previously could only be shared by a "to all" distributor.
66. And your applications?
How do you use your enterprise and what do you use it for? Let us know by using the comment form below. We would be happy to hear about your examples.