3 Huge Problems With Your Enterprise Wiki (It’s not What You Think)

Mercy Harper's picture

Want to get a content management geek fired up? Start talking about wiki software. The wiki can be a place to store definitions for our corporate acronyms and jargon, a spot to post reports and meeting minutes, and a space to store information about past projects. But what makes wikis so exciting is that they’re more than your average content repository. Wikis are collaborative—and this is their greatest strength and biggest weakness.

Once planted, many enterprise wikis either dry up like a desert (because people don’t contribute) or grow into an unnavigable jungle (because people contribute redundant, wrong, or irrelevant content). How can firms strike the right balance to create and maintain wikis that work?

APQC’s recent research on enterprise wikis finds the three key drivers of wiki success are:

  1. Strategy—building a plan for the wiki with purpose, audience, and use in mind
  2. Change management—crafting methods to get people engaged
  3. Measurement—establishing measures of success to show value, to know where to invest, and to maintain engagement

For more information, check out our new collection, Enterprise Wikis for Content and Knowledge Management, which includes the infographic below as well as key success measures, a diagnostic to help you assess the health of your wiki, an article on current wiki trends, and more.

enterprise wikis what they are and how they work


Jay Ashar's picture
I think Strategy, Change management and Measurement are high level resolutions/recommendation. For immediate impact, what are your thoughts on adding a bit og moderation to the wikis and laying out guidelines for a basic "Dos and Don'ts"?
Mercy Harper's picture

A great way to establish “dos and don’ts” is to embed them right into the wiki itself. Training materials and workflows for various activities—like flagging questionable content, vetting technical material, creating a new page—can be made into wiki pages, so that people find the tips they need right where they need them.

But how do you create these “dos and don’ts” in the first place? Some firms run a small “pilot wiki” for a business area first to help identify what works and what doesn’t. For existing enterprise wikis, firms can employ a usability analysis to find what employees are having trouble with, and tailor training materials and guidelines to meet these needs. IT can work with other stakeholders to develop guidelines that make sense to end-users. For more information, check out Trends in Enterprise Wikis: Building and Maintaining Wikis that Work. This article uses APQC research in tandem with ideas we heard at the 2014 Enterprise Wiki Summit to identify current trends—as well as some tips and tricks that other firms find useful—for wikis.

angelomohanan's picture
I believe following point #2 under Change Management (Keys to Success) and leveraging an intuitive Wiki product will take care of your woes. Here are some Wiki turnoffs faced by 'teams on ground': - Wikis are supplementary platforms -Introduced in addition to PM tool, Calendar, Reporting tool etc. - Wikis are boring and require coding basics -Adding links, images, tables etc. require some effort Solve these and win!
Mercy Harper's picture

Totally agree, Angelo! Philippe Beaudette made a great point at the Wiki Summit that really stuck with me, and it has to do with tackling the "boring" wiki. Adding links, tables, images, etc...it does take effort! But this can actually be a great way to bring people on board that wouldn't normally see themselves as "wiki editors." Beaudette talked about how there are different roles in a wiki community:

  • "Gnomes," people who make small edits and tie up little loose ends to make things flow
  • "Dragons," people with lots of knowledge (or lots of enthusiasm!) who make huge edits, new pages, etc.
  • "Fairies," people who "beautify" the wiki by adding color and graphics, images, and hyperlinks

When it comes to thinking about who's contributing (and who should be contributing) to the wiki, it's easy to focus on the dragons. But people should know that they don't have to make huge edits and create new pages in order to contribute to the wiki. Letting people know that small edits and "beautifying" the wiki are valued contributions--in combination with a rich text editor that makes it less "code-y"--can go a long way to getting to thriving (and good looking!) enterprise wiki.


Anonymous's picture
So very true, Mercy. Glad you like the analogy. Philippe