Picture this: One of your longtime employees — who has built up a wealth of company knowledge over the years — gives their two weeks’ notice. This raises a totally understandable question: How will you impart all their built-up knowledge to the rest of your team? If you have a company wiki, you never have to ask this question in the first place.
A comprehensive company wiki makes the vast majority of your vital knowledge accessible to your whole team. While there are different approaches to building a wiki, this guide will detail two of the most common routes for setting one up. The first is the easiest method and involves user wikis hosted by third-party services and created with customizable interfaces. The second is an advanced method that may require some web-coding knowledge.
A wiki is a website that acts as your company’s foremost source of knowledge. Unlike an internal knowledge base, a wiki, by definition, allows for collaborative editing by a group of users, just like Wikipedia.
Wikis allow you to assign permissions to different team members who can edit pages or add new content. This way, your business seamlessly gathers and organizes knowledge via numerous contributors instead of going through formal chains of approval.
You’ll organize your wiki’s pages by categories and subcategories. The trademark feature of a wiki is the quick transition to related pages via hyperlinked keywords.
A wiki is different from an employee handbook. Where a handbook outlines policies, values, contracts, legal considerations and contact information, a wiki adds to all of this with company knowledge and how-tos.
A wiki can improve your business on several levels. The collaborative nature of a wiki can:
Many wiki hosting services have their own interfaces for adding pages, info boxes and links. That said, the process for building your company wiki will look approximately the same no matter which hosting service you use. Here’s a step-by-step rundown on how to build your wiki.
If you don’t have much technical know-how, starting a wiki on a wiki-hosting service is likely the best route. Wiki-hosting services host your wiki on their servers and provide the interface for customizing it. These services are sometimes free; they may also offer a paid premium version that unlocks additional features. A select few services run online ads on your wiki page, but these are for public pages.
Depending on your circumstances, an option that may prove cheaper than a wiki-hosting service is to build and host a wiki on your own server via an online hosting service. This route takes more technical and online coding knowledge but can still be easy and manageable.
Self-hosting your wiki requires setting up supporting infrastructure.
These are some of the more popular wiki hosting services.
Some popular self-hosting programs are listed below.
Once you’ve taken the time to review every potential wiki platform and decide which one best fits your needs, implement your program of choice. For a wiki service, this entails creating an account and setting up monthly payments. Launching a self-hosted wiki typically involves a quick, free download and installation of a desktop software program.
Wikis are collaborative projects, and no two team members quite think alike. Community guidelines are thus integral to successfully managing a wiki and getting meaningful information from your people. Create protocols for one user editing another’s contributions and provide a style guide to ensure consistency across all content.
From there, designate specific team members as content curators and give everyone only the editing permissions they need. For example, a standard team member might need only contribution permissions, while curators may need editing permissions. This approach to access control reinforces your community guidelines and reminds your employees which tasks they are and aren’t responsible for within your wiki.
At this point, you’re ready to start building your wiki. Create your first set of pages using clear copy organized into logical sections. Establish a general flow of categories and subcategories for your wiki as you add content. An example flow might be HR / Documents / Employee Handbook.
In addition to categories, build out content tags that define key silos within the category. For example, within your marketing category, these tags could include social media, marketing automation and CRM. This way, you introduce additional navigation opportunities and content groups for your wiki.
As you add more content to your wiki, look for opportunities to link to your other pages within your text. This practice is known as internal linking, and it creates clear connections among all the knowledge in your wiki. If your wiki is public, internal linking also boosts your wiki pages’ SEO to make them more visible to anyone searching for them.
A wiki is a great collaboration tool to keep employees up to speed on your company’s procedures and rules. It’s a destination to point employees toward for basic information that you can clarify further as needed. It’s also a way to retain your most in-depth knowledge as team members move on to new companies or opportunities. With a well-crafted wiki, your company has the resources it needs to continuously operate and innovate in meaningful, effective ways.
Andreas Rivera contributed to this article.