Tuesday, November 20, 2007

We Need a Wiki in a Wiki

It’s obvious that a Wiki would be a great help in my organization. A few years ago we started using SharePoint and now we are SharePoint junkies. The problem is that our SharePoint intranet has grown so immensely that it is now difficult to find information you need in a pinch. The search features are weak and there is now so much information available that we need a quicker way to get an answer in a pinch. I believe a Wiki would be a great addition to our systems so that it is easier to access commonly needed information quickly. People don’t want to look for the manual then scroll through the manual to the appropriate chapter to find their answer.

So, we know we need a Wiki. Now, how do we make it happen?

Here is what I have identified as our options:
  • SharePoint Wiki – SharePoint 07 offers some basic Wiki options that would probably satisfy our needs. The problem is that we will not be upgrading to SharePoint until the end 0f 08 and we can’t afford to wait that long. Plus it would be nice to have some more robust options.
  • Install behind firewall – One of our tech support guys has experience with PHP and MediaWiki in particular so I am hoping to leverage his experience and install MediaWiki behind the firewall. I proposed this to IT management and I am hitting some roadblocks that I might not be able to get through. Our server farm is stretched too thin and we are preparing for an infrastructure upgrade so it wouldn’t be a good time to install anything additional to any of our servers. This is still being discussed but not looking good.
  • Hosted solution – This is what I am leaning towards at this point. There are a ton of free hosted solutions that will most likely get the job done for us. The problem is that there are so many options that it is overwhelming. There are quite a few hosted solutions that specialize in Media Wiki and I have also been referred to PBWiki and Project Forum.

At this point I am leaning towards a free hosted solution that will let us get started and prove the value of a Wiki. Once I can prove its worth through a pilot Wiki and we complete our system upgrade I am sure that IT will not have a problem with installing media wiki behind the firewall so we can expand our Wiki. If I am able to prove the value and IT agrees to install MediaWiki behind the firewall it would probably be best if my data is already in MediaWiki so the data can be easily transferred and I am familiar with MediaWiki options.

I decided a good topic to cover for the “Pilot” wiki would cover how to find and use what you need on our SharePoint intranet. We recently acquired another company who will be integrating into our intranet next month and this might be a good tool to help them familiarize themselves with SharePoint. By using a Wiki for this topic I can decrease the amount of time it will take for them to become familiar with the new tool.

Now I just need to figure out how I am going to measure its effectiveness. This is going to be tough because there is no baseline to improve upon. They are not using SharePoint now so it is impossible to say if people have been making more efficient use out of it. The best option I can think of is to track the number of hits and relate that number to a number of unnecessary emails or phone calls that would have been made if it were not for the Wiki. If I can prove that the Wiki is being used then the benefits should be evident.

After I finish this initial project it should be easier to prove an ROI for other projects. In particular I would like to use a Wiki for tech support questions and it will be easy to show a decrease in the number of tech support tickets opened. Our tech support staff tracks all of their tickets through a program called Bridge Track which should make this easy.

Great blog post on starting a blog

1 comment:

Samuel said...

The post is now a bit old, but anyone with a similar situation as yours might be interested in a SharePoint look-alike MediaWiki skin:
http://www.rilnet.com/en/skins
(BTW, It's available for Drupal too)