How can knowledge be successfully kept & passed on in the company? One option is a company wiki. How that looks like and what your wiki should be able to do:
Knowledge is one of the most valuable resources in a company. A treasure that should be managed appropriately. Because: If employees leave, knowledge will leave with them. And if new colleagues arrive, they need to be trained quickly and smoothly. In the same way, existing employees often need support with tasks that are not part of their daily routine. In addition, as the degree of digitalization increases, so does the complexity of requirements in companies. Processes change and require specialized knowledge. That’s why there exist company wikis (also: enterprise wikis). But how does such a wiki look like and how do you build it up properly?
What a company wiki must be able to do.
A well-designed company wiki covers all the important processes of a company. It is therefore a collection in which all functionalities necessary for the company operations are listed.
The goal is to turn implicit knowledge into explicit knowledge. Even processes that are known to employees are listed in the company wiki – this is the only way new colleagues have access to the information and forgotten work processes can be remembered.
The four main functions of wikis.
The main functions of company wikis are:
- Analysis of knowledge
- Structuring of knowledge
- Knowledge extension
- Access to and transfer of knowledge
The term knowledge here includes experience, networks, skills and contacts. It is a colourful collection of exactly those pieces of information that are necessary for coping with the tasks in the company.
According to experts, the use of wikis is particularly useful in knowledge-intensive companies and in “companies where the majority of employees have access to a computer”. In the digital age, this applies to almost all companies, with 95 percent of companies stating that they work with computers.
Company wikis are therefore an issue for all of us and are by no means just a topic for large corporations. Even small companies face the challenge of having to maintain knowledge. Because when experts leave the company without documenting their knowledge, it is often too late. Then knowledge that has been built up over a long period of time must be laboriously developed anew.
The successful company wiki.
Therefore, company wikis should be well-structured from the beginning and regularly maintained and updated. Then they can have a considerable added value for the company. A good wiki enables employees to help themselves. It saves costs, increases productivity and creates liberty.
Your own Wiki does not have to become a Wikipedia – probably the most famous Wiki of all. However, it should cover the most important company functions and have a practical use for its users. The key to this is user acceptance: without that, the wiki is useless. If, for example, its use is complicated, the platform is confusing or the input of new content is time-consuming, the wiki is useless. Employees will not use it and it causes costs instead of benefits. That is why it is important to involve all colleagues in the process of knowledge management and to find a suitable solution together.
For example, the checklist “successful company wiki” asks in one point: “Could you hang up a 5-meter-long banner in the hallway on which “Can be found in the wiki.” is written and all employees would understand it? For a good wiki it is essential that all colleagues understand the tool and know how to reach it if necessary.
Utilization and maintenance as easy as possible
It is essential for your company wiki to be as simple as possible. It should take as much work off its users as possible and invite them to visit and use it. This requires clarity and a good search function so that people seeking help can quickly find a solution to their problem. Content must be presented in a comprehensible and clear way, for example by integrating media such as pictures or videos. In addition, the content should be complete, correct and up-to-date. On the other hand, the use should be made easy also for the content maintainers of the information. The input of content should be fast and not require expert knowledge – if a wiki is needed for the application of the wiki itself, the purpose of the medium is taken ad absurdum.
A current trend, also particularly with wikis, is the user-generated content approach. This means that no employees who are not centrally responsible for the IT support create the contributions in the wiki. Instead, the actual users of certain processes create these contributions. Through their personal work, these experts have a better insight into the topics concerned. In view of more and more decentralized companies and increased specialization, unique expertise can only be captured with the help of user-generated content. This, in turn, has an impact on how you build your wiki. The usage must be inclusive enough to allow all potential content creators to work with it.
In short: Characteristics of a good company wiki
- ACCEPTANCE BY THE EMPLOYEES
- INVOLVEMENT OF COLLEAGUES IN PLANNING AND BUILDING THE WIKI
- EMPLOYEES KNOW ABOUT THE WIKI AND ITS USE
- COMPLETENESS: COVERAGE OF ALL IMPORTANT CORPORATE FUNCTIONS
- CORRECTNESS OF THE INFORMATION
- UP-TO-DATENESS: REGULAR MAINTENANCE AND UPDATES
- SIMPLICITY AND QUICK HELP
- COMPREHENSIBILITY OF THE CONTENTS
- GOOD VISUALIZATION WITH SUPPORTING GRAPHICS
- DIVERSITY IN THE MEDIA USE (TEXT, IMAGE, VIDEO, DOWNLOAD, PDF, PPP …)
- SEARCH FUNCTION
- EASY OPERATION AND MAINTENANCE
- COMPREHENSIBILITY OF THE WIKI USAGE
- NO TIME NEEDED TO CREATE ENTRIES
- ACCESS FOR ALL RELEVANT EMPLOYEES
If you now say to yourself: That’s all fine – but how to put all this into practice? – don’t worry. In our next blog post, we introduce you to concrete software tools that you can use to create your own company wiki.