Wikipedia is one of the most popular websites in the world. Seemingly everyone has used the resource at one time or another—whether your kid had to research mitochondria for a science project at school or you simply wanted to find out whether or not Ryan Reynolds is actually Canadian.
But what exactly is a wiki? Simply put, there are two types of wikis: public, like Wikipedia, and private, otherwise known as “internal wikis.”
While many people are familiar with public wikis like Wikipedia, did you know that many companies create an internal wiki—or corporate wiki—to store, contribute, and find company information?
In this article, we will cover everything there is to know about internal wikis. You’ll learn what an internal wiki is and how it can help organizations and businesses organize and contribute to internal best practices, processes, and collateral.
We’ll also look at some of the disadvantages of corporate wikis, and whether or not using one is the right solution for your organization.
What Is an Internal Wiki?
Did you know that employees spend, on average, 20% of their entire workweek searching for information they need to do their jobs?
In an era where digital collaboration is commonplace within the workplace, it’s critical for teams to easily share and access company information. That’s where a wiki comes into play.
A wiki is a website that allows its users to collectively add or modify content, as is the case with Wikipedia.
Some wikis are private-facing, i.e., internal wikis. Businesses use internal wikis to store all company knowledge an employee may need in one easy-to-find place. Typically,employees can add or update internal wikis with new or updated content anytime. Internal company wikis are collectively maintained by an organization’s employees as they add and maintain content as they see fit.
Benefits of Internal Wikis
Every organization needs structure, or it will crumble. Not only is this true of managing people, but it’s also vital when managing information.
If employees cannot find the information they need to do their job, their performance inevitably suffers. An internal wiki can serve as an information hub businesses can use to organize, find, and share information among employees.
Here are a few benefits of using an internal wiki within your organization.
One Location for Employees To Access Company Information
Every organization uses information to carry out its operations. However, just having information available to employees isn’t enough. To be effective at knowledge management, it should all be in one place. An internal wiki can help employees access company information from one centralized location.
Make Company Knowledge Accessible and Easier To Find
The primary benefit of using a centralized information hub like an internal wiki is the ability to find what you need quickly. Internal wikis can help employees access company knowledge more easily since it’s all in one place.
Retain Company Knowledge
Internal wikis can help your organization find the information they need to do their job. However, that’s not the only benefit. Over time, people will come and go. An internal wiki can be a great way to retain company knowledge and optimize operations even if a key member of your organization leaves the company.
Internal wikis are unique in allowing users to access and update organizational information digitally. Today, nearly half of all workers can do their job remotely. An internal wiki makes it easy to collaborate with other team members and improve your operations no matter where you are.
Make Support Teams More Efficient
Support teams are human information machines. Customers are constantly asking questions that customer service agents have to answer. Internal wikis can help customer support teams operate more efficiently since they’ll be able to find information and answers for customers much faster.
Structured Employee Onboarding
The main factor in successful employee onboarding is the ability to transfer company knowledge to new employees as fast and effectively as possible. Internal wikis can help structure employee onboarding so employees can understand their roles quickly and perform alongside their co-workers as soon as possible.
Save Employee Training Costs Over Time
Employee onboarding can cost companies a ton in labor, not to mention the time it takes. When new employees are onboarding, they’ll have dozens of questions they’ll typically be asking coworkers to get them up to speed. But with an internal wiki, trainees can simply look up their questions in the internal wiki, which will save the company time and money.
Challenges With Internal Wikis
Internal wikis can be incredibly helpful for companies to organize, find, and share information among employees. The ability for anyone to update company knowledge can help improve sharing and collaboration.
However, it’s not all fun and games. Internal wikis come with their own set of challenges that can potentially slow down company operations and efficiency. Even worse, they can create conflict within management.
Here are a few challenges with internal wikis.
Not Integrated Into Current Workflow
One of the most significant downsides to using an internal wiki is that they typically sit outside your current workflow. In other words, most digital applications your team will use for project management may not allow seamless integration.
This can make it complicated to try and share information, collaborate on projects, and make it difficult to find information.
As mentioned above, since internal wikis may not integrate easily into the software your teams will be working in, it can make it difficult to maintain high levels of efficiency.
Plus, internal wikis usually require a ton of additional work to set up. And they can be challenging to maintain, pulling in additional IT resources and driving labor costs through the roof.
Poor Search Functionality
The reality is that internal wiki technology isn’t as up-to-date as a modern knowledge base platform. Searching, tagging information, and storing information within limited internal wiki software infrastructure makes it challenging to find the documents you need when you need them.
An internal wiki’s greatest strength is also its biggest weakness: there’s no real hierarchy to knowledge management.
Since anyone can update the information within the internal wiki, it can be difficult to oversee information. This, in turn, makes internal wikis less collaborative, which is one of the most essential aspects of knowledge management.
Since internal wikis aren’t as modernized as other knowledge management tech, they don’t typically offer robust analytics. Many don’t offer any analytics at all.
This means your organization will be operating blindly when it comes to knowledge engagement, who’s using the internal wiki, where the content gaps are, where adoption is lacking, etc. Without data, you won’t be able to strengthen your knowledge sharing across an organization.
Is an Internal Wiki the Right Choice?
Wikis are helpful, and a step in the right direction, but the challenges may outweigh the benefits. A more robust alternative to organizing and storing company information is using a knowledge base like Bloomfire.
Depending on your organization’s goals, the benefits of a knowledge base can far outweigh the benefits of an internal wiki.
A tool like Bloomfire is a modern alternative to using a wiki that offers a better user experience, makes it easier for teams to update content (so that it stays fresh and relevant), and has better engagement analytics.
If you’re looking for an all-in-one, user-friendly platform that centralizes your organization’s information, improves team communication, and optimizes productivity, then schedule a call today.