Using Wikis to Enhance Collaboration

A wiki is a collection of information that can be viewed and edited by all of the wiki’s users.  Perhaps the best-known wiki is Wikipedia, a wiki encyclopedia that is open to the world and offers thousands of user-written and user-edited articles on general and specific topics.  Other wikis with other purposes have more restricted access and only accept specific users, such as the employees of a company or the individuals working on a specific project.

A high-quality wiki includes an effective search function, can be used exclusively through a web browser, maintains history information for each article or topic, provides a discussion page for each topic, and allows users to add topics to their own “watchlists” so that they can be actively involved in the development of those topics.  These features make wikis especially valuable in collaborative business situations.

Wiki as a Communication Tool

According to Business Week online, businesses like Walt Disney and Eastman Kodak are migrating toward wikis as the technology of choice for multiple-participant communication.  In situations where communication is so constant and voluminous that email becomes bulky, overwhelming, and easy to overlook or ignore, a wiki can streamline and coordinate the communication process.

For example, your marketing team may send dozens of emails a day in order to collaborate on a large project.  By switching to a wiki, that team can keep all its project updates in a concise, organized, easily referenced format.  Rather than sorting through weeks of email history trying to find a specification or request, any member of the team can search the wiki for that information.  Because updates are added to the wiki rather than sent out via email, team members cannot be accidentally “dropped out of the loop.”  In addition, newcomers can catch up quickly and methodically when they can simply read a wiki rather than trying to digest a clunky barrage of forwarded messages.

Wiki as a Collaborative Production Tool

Wikis can also save significant time and effort when they are used in the development of informational materials.  For example, a software company might set up a user-guide and documentation wiki for its developers and project managers.  With documentation assembled and stored in the wiki and instantly accessible to everyone involved in a project, collaboration is centralized and simplified.  Developers and editors can be sure that they are looking at the current version, yet older versions can be easily examined or reinstated—piecemeal or entirely—when project changes are rolled back or modified.

The need for time-eating project meetings is minimized, because wiki collaboration is constant and low-key.  As soon as a project developer adds a function or update that needs to be documented, he or she can add that information to the wiki and make it immediately visible to the other members of the team and to the project manager.

If you are ready to use wikis to enhance workplace collaboration, the experts at Digital Solutions are ready to provide the most productive wiki environment for your needs.

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