Social technology has risen to meet this challenge over the last few years. And while there are a lot of social tools to choose from, one type stands out for this type of collaboration: the wiki. The unique communication model inherent in the wiki makes it ideal for becoming a central business tool for your entire team. The following is an overview of using wiki software for small business:
What exactly is a wiki?
A wiki is web software that allows you and others to create and edit interlinked web pages. This means that you can very quickly create a page (let’s say “New Ideas”) and then add information. The key is that anyone can edit the page (or in our case, add and comment on new ideas), which makes it a very powerful collaboration tool.
What Are the Benefits to Small Businesses?
- Sharing information: Anyone can edit a wiki, thus one person can add an idea while others refine it and add their expertise. The result ends up being one cohesive idea by the group rather than a series of scattered thoughts.
- Tracking revision: You’ll always be able to see the history of any idea or page.
- Archiving Information: You find that, as you build up a wiki, you are creating a repository of information. This means you can add legal documents, old memos, and anything else that might be useful to your team in the future.
- Easy to use: Once you understand the syntax, it’s much easier to create a new wiki page than a new web page or blog post.
What Options Exist?
While there are hundreds of wiki software choices available, a few are better suited for business. Some recommended wikis include MediaWiki (the software that runs Wikipedia), PbWorks (a full collaboration and wiki site), and Twiki (used by major companies including Yahoo). If none of these suits your needs, a comprehensive list can be found on Wikipedia.
Do you have any tips?
While there is no right or wrong way to use a wiki, it’s best if you learn the ins and outs of the software, especially the syntax. Be sure to get your entire team on the same page as well – wikis stagnate if they are not embraced by the entire company. Finally, be sure to keep it organized by using indexes and tracking changes. If you want to learn more, the O’Reilly guide to wikis is a recommended read.
Image courtesy of iStockphoto, furabolo