Build Your Business Wiki
Table of Contents
- What Is a Business Wiki?
- Why Build a Wiki for Your Business?
- What Is the Difference Between a Wiki and a Blog?
- How to Make a Business Wiki
- Business Wiki Pitfalls to Avoid
- A Few Words Before You Go…
Thinking about building a wiki for your business? You’re not alone. Increasing numbers of team leaders and managers want to incorporate the potential of a customized wiki for their business. Business wikis can help you replace the employee handbook with a form that’s much more readable, approachable, and user-friendly for all employees, new and old. Simply put, it’s a quick and effective way to share knowledge about your business.
In fact, building a wiki for your business is an excellent way to quickly orient new employees, maintain a uniform and synergetic system of knowledge for the whole team, and have a readily available library full of information concerning your business. A business wiki allows employees and team members to learn from each other and build the knowledge system together.
In this article, we’ll go over what a business wiki is, why you should build one, and most important of all – how to make a wiki for your business.
What Is a Business Wiki?
A business wiki is an encyclopedia containing knowledge and information about your business. Much like Wikipedia – the most popular wiki on the internet – a business wiki also entails joint work from everyone on your team in creating and adding information, so as to build the wiki together. Like Wikipedia is a quick way to get information on any given subject, so your business wiki will aid employees to learn what things are and how they work with a single keyword search.
A business wiki may contain:
- Definitions of terminology within your practice;
- Information about past, present, or future projects and products;
- Internal documentation;
- Procedural guidelines;
- Company policies;
- New employee guidelines;
- Pricings plans;
- Client data;
- Document templates, and so on.
Now, each employee in your company is in charge of a certain aspect of your business, be it marketing, web development, customer relations, quality assurance, etc. The idea is that each employee contributes to the wiki knowledge base from their own area of expertise. So when someone from web design needs information on current products or pricing, they can look it up on the internal business wiki.
When you’re setting up your wiki, you can adjust the permissions to various employees, allowing them to edit pages, add new content, and so on. It also helps to create categories and subcategories, as well as to add hyperlinks on keywords that would take readers to related pages, to gain a more holistic understanding.
Keep in mind that a business wiki is a group effort. Hopefully, you and your team would maintain and update the company wiki on a regular basis, so as to keep the information fresh and user-friendly for everyone. In the end, the collective effort in building the wiki will help employees gain quick access to information that would otherwise take more time and labor to reach.
Why Build a Wiki for Your Business?
There are three main reasons why you should build a wiki for your business.
1. It Simplifies Orientation for New Employees
Starting at a new job isn’t easy. Even when an employee comes fully equipped with experience and technical knowledge, learning the ins and outs of a business takes a while. So, instead of new employees lacking a clear idea of what their job entails, or feeling conscious about bombarding coworkers with questions every few minutes, you should provide your new employees with a business wiki.
A custom wiki of your company can help them get oriented more quickly and efficiently. This can help you get effective, contributing workers from day one of their employment.
2. Enables Knowledge Transfer Between Team Members
A business wiki allows employees to share knowledge with each other in a simple way. If anyone – especially a new employee – needs access to a template, for instance, one would be readily available at the company wiki site for them to download.
And that’s not all – if folks have questions about personal days, using the printer, or overtime, they can find it all in the wiki.
3. Creates Synergy Within the Team
As employees build the wiki together, they are basically creating unified, shared conceptions of what the different aspects of your business entail. Plus, people sharing what they know in their own way lets them express themselves, and allows others to better understand the roles of others within the company.
Overall, the collaborative effort that is a business wiki helps you establish a spirit of teamwork, and at the same time allows employees to understand the various aspects of the work.
What Is the Difference Between a Wiki and a Blog?
Wikis and blogs are similar in that they both provide you with answers on what things are and how they work. However, there are a few differences between wikis and blogs in terms of content (what they include), audience (who they’re for), ownership (who writes them), and maintenance (who manages them).
The first difference – the audience – is key to understanding the difference between a wiki and a blog. A wiki is written for an internal audience – the employees within a certain company or business. Wiki articles are written by employees, for employees. A blog, on the other hand, is written for an external audience – site visitors, potential clients, and so on.
This brings us to another key difference: content. While wiki entries are written with the aim to inform employees of processes within the organization, blog articles are written not only to inform but also to entertain. So basically, they are meant to explain things in a different, perhaps simpler, and more readable way, in order to keep visitors around.
Additionally, blog articles are SEO-optimized to rank higher in internet users’ search results. Wiki entries, on the other hand, only focus on using keywords insofar as it helps employees find what they’re looking for.
When it comes to ownership, while a blog is the work of one department – most likely a company’s content writing or marketing department – a company wiki is the work of all the departments. Lots of heads put together, coming up with informative content to keep all those other heads… informed? Something like that.
And lastly, as an extension to the question of ownership comes the matter of management. While a single department manages the blog, all employees are in charge of maintaining and updating the blog.
In any case, businesses will need both a wiki and a blog: a wiki to keep people on the inside in the loop, and a blog to get people from the outside hooked!
How to Make a Business Wiki
Finally, we arrive at the titular task: how to build a wiki for your business. Let’s first take a look at what types of tools you can use to set up your business wiki, before turning to what to include in it, and what to avoid.
Step #1: Choose Wiki Building Software
There are several wiki building tools and platforms you can choose from depending on your needs and your budget. (You can also create it on the company’s intranet – if you’ve got the coding skills or the people to do it.) Here are some of our favorites:
- Office 365 SharePoint is already used by lots of companies. If you’re one of them, you needn’t look any further for your wiki software. SharePoint allows you to create wikis and make them available to others for adding, editing, or reading the content.
- Another option for keeping things in-house is simply using Google Docs. There’s a Google Docs add-on called You need a wiki you can use to create a simple company wiki.
- MediaWiki offers multilingual, customizable, free wiki-building software which you can host on your internal servers.
- Tettra allows you to build an intuitive internal knowledge base,i.e. business wiki, which integrates smart workflows so that it’s quite easy to use. Tettra is quite an advanced wiki-building tool, as it allows you to adjust user roles. For instance, you can assign different parts of the wiki to different members of the team. You can also assign fact-checking to someone who’ll be notified every time there’s been a change to a text. There’s a free version for small teams of up to 5 users, while the price for larger growing organizations starts at $99.
- Slite is an online platform that helps you organize and unite your team. Amongst other things, they offer templates and the necessary software for you to build a knowledge base for your company, i.e. a business wiki. They offer a free version with limited features and a paid version that starts at $6.67 per active user, per month.
Step #2: Set Up Your Wiki
Assigning user roles has to do with giving access to all your employees, so they can be contributing members to the wiki. Then, you can adjust their involvement, like who should write about what, what their focus should be, what terminology should be prioritized, who gets to edit, what style or outline they should follow, user guidelines, etc.
Step #3: Create Content & Start Writing
It’s important to have a clear idea of what your wiki should look like and what it should include. The former refers to the general design. Clean design and fashionable looks aren’t as important for an internal wiki as they are for your company’s website, but having it easy enough to use and navigate can be quite helpful. So make sure that your wiki’s content is easy to find, related, and uses a simple naming format which would be familiar to everyone.
In terms of writing content, here are a couple of sections you should try to include:
- Form templates;
- How-to guides;
- Company mission and roadmap;
- Company culture, and values;
- Company guidelines and processes;
- Onboarding information;
- HR stuff;
- Office stuff (how do I get the printer to work? Is there a magic word?)
You should do your best to include these topics in your office-wide wiki, but don’t be shy of expanding and shaking things up some more.
Step #4: Get Everyone Psyched About Your New Wiki
^ that – it’s quite important to let everyone in your company know why it’s important to have a wiki, why they should contribute, and why they should be excited! You’re about to make onboarding simpler, communication between departments clearer, and understanding of the entire business process much deeper, for everyone.
It’s important that everyone collaborates, updates, and maintains the wiki for it to grow, flourish, and truly help your team.
Business Wiki Pitfalls to Avoid
Here are a couple of tips on what not to do with your wiki, and what not to expect from your internal wiki.
- A company wiki isn’t a communication platform. It’s not going to replace Slack, Basecamp, or Asana. They’re not meant to facilitate employee chats or conversations, but rather to cover the basics and unify company-wide knowledge. Therefore, it’s probably a bad idea to have comment sections below the entries.
- Be ready for some disagreements. Regardless of how many people will do their best to keep it otherwise, Wikipedia simply cannot be a reliable source – there are too many contributors. And the same will be true – though to a minimized degree – in your company’s wiki. As all employees can contribute, you may end up seeing some inaccuracies, differences in opinion, and so on.
- Consider keeping some pages static. There’s some information that isn’t subject to change, like formal procedures and business or legal records. It’s better to create static pages for this sort of data rather than keep it in an editable wiki format. Then, you can just create hyperlinks that lead back to them in your wiki pages.
A Few Words Before You Go…
A wiki about your business and for your business (i.e. your team) can help employees share knowledge with each other, understand each aspect of the business better, and get new workers on board quicker than ever before.
It’s important to keep in mind the sort of information that a wiki can transmit and where it’s limits in communications are. And of course, above all, it takes a village, so make sure everyone on your team knows why an internal wiki is valuable and is ready to contribute to it.
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