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Why Corporate Wikis Will Never Go out of Style

Kristen Craft | April 10, 2019

While the phrase “corporate wiki” might conjure up an image of an employee handbook that gathers dust in a forgotten folder, that image couldn’t be further from the truth. When set up properly, a corporate wiki is just as indispensable and user-friendly as any other productivity tool you use on a day-to-day basis.

For digital-native companies, managing knowledge has never been more important. In fact, “agile” companies and growing startups need documentation even more than companies that have been around for decades. The constant change at startups calls for more organization around processes, faster distribution of knowledge, and a record of progress over time. A corporate wiki can do all of this for you.

In this article, we’ll explore the short- and long-term benefits of a corporate wiki, and how your company can set your wiki up for success.

A Corporate Wiki Organizes Important Information

Some companies believe that simply writing things down and storing these notes somewhere means that you have a corporate wiki, which is perhaps why wikis get a mixed reputation. But what sets a wiki apart is that it’s organized in an intentional way.

One of the first things you’ll notice about a modern corporate wiki is the schema that holds it together. A useful corporate wiki has a hierarchical structure, making it easy for employees to navigate and find important information.

Unlike your notes app or Google Docs homepage, the schema of a wiki is not constantly changing based on the most recently updated document. In a wiki like Tettra, you can create a structure so that documents are always located in intuitive places. Start with broad categories by group or department like “engineering” or “marketing,” and as you drill down into how you do things, you can create more granular documents for individual processes.

Here’s an example of a hierarchy of folders and pages within the People Ops team of a growing startup:

corporate wiki structure

From the wiki homepage, this folder is easy to find and visible to the entire team. Since People Ops affects everyone, it should be immediately accessible. But since only a few employees are onboarding or offboarding at a given time, only those individuals really need to look inside the folder and click into relevant documents. The outline structure immediately explains what each folder is for and how to get the information you need.

A Corporate Wiki is Searchable

Even with a schema that’s easy on the eyes, complexity can still creep into your documentation system. Employees need and want shortcuts, especially when they have tons of tabs open and lots of different apps running. Luckily, a modern corporate wiki is also searchable, so employees can find information instantly.

In Tettra, your wiki is searchable from day one. What’s even more useful is that the wiki integrates with Slack, so you can use the {/tettra find} command to pull up and share knowledge articles into chat conversations. As your wiki grows, the search function becomes increasingly important.

Here’s what the search function looks like in Tettra:

corporate wiki search

And for those who rely on Slack as much as we do, here’s what the /tettra find command looks like in Slack:

corporate wiki search in slack

These two search functions serve complementary purposes:

  • The in-app search function helps you find a specific item in Tettra. It’s especially useful for employees and managers who have a bit of existing knowledge, are familiar with the wiki, and are keen to explore a topic more deeply.
  • The Slack search function integrates documents into casual chats. It’s especially useful for answering questions that come up throughout the workday. This function makes knowledge sharing more spontaneous.

Search has been a game-changer for corporate wikis. It saves managers time and empowers employees to learn independently, giving everyone room to be more productive.

A Corporate Wiki Creates a History of Your Organization

Change is the only constant at startups. But unlike a handbook, wikis can be changed and edited on the spot as new people are added, processes evolve, and your company grows more efficient. A corporate wiki is a living document that grows with your company, collecting the lessons you’ve learned along the way.

In a corporate wiki, content can be gated and controlled. Permissions can be toggled for every document. For example, “hiring emails” can be open to viewing and editing by the whole company, limited to the People Ops team, or just limited to the head of People Ops.

You may want to appoint a few employees who will make sure that nothing gets lost even as things change. These “knowledge managers” will also be company historians, keeping current information neat and up-to-date while creating a record of how things used to be, which processes worked, and which ones didn’t.

The open and transparent nature of many modern organizations also calls for a system of documentation where anyone can contribute. In a corporate wiki:

  • Anyone on the team can suggest new content
  • Edits and update can be made instantly by anyone with expertise in that area

In Tettra, new content is suggested through a simple form:

corporate wiki new content suggestion

The person making this suggestion can “assign” it to a specific person, so that the employee with the appropriate expertise can create the documentation.

As content ages and becomes unhelpful, you can archive it in your wiki. The archive will signal to employees that certain information is out of date, while helping managers revisit old ideas and track the progress of the company as it grows.

Built for Change

While the term “corporate wiki” may sound like jargon, the truth is, corporate wikis have never been less “corporate” than they are today. In fact, they’re built to sustain radical transformation in a company’s lifespan. Organizing your wiki now will ensure that no valuable information is lost. New team members will be more empowered than ever to find the information they need about their workplace, and can even start contributing to company knowledge on day one. Managers will have answers at their fingertips, and can gain insight as processes evolve. The best corporate wikis are made for change, and that’s why they’ll always be in style.