When you hear “wiki”, do you just think of Wikipedia? Although most of us have heard of wikis, not all are familiar with the different ways they can be used in a business setting to share information beyond just multiple users editing content.
We asked Daria Petrova, Marketing Communications Manager at Wrike, Inc. about how businesses are using wikis for collaborating and managing projects.
The buzz about wikis seems to have died down considerably from several months ago – are they still relevant tools and useful?
Wikis are one of the most useful and simples tools for collaboration. As information is updated, everyone on the team gets a notification about the change. People do not have to ask the administrator’s permission to update a wiki’s page, so contributions to it can be made in real time.
Thanks to this support of collaboration, wikis have become a popular business tool. Wikis are often used as an alternative to intranets and other classic software platforms for sharing of knowledge. In contrast to traditional enterprise software, which imposes a designing structure prior to use, wikis and other enterprise 2.0 software programs allow people to start with one page and then grow it into a comprehensive knowledge base. The growth happens through many simple interactions. One person creates a page, another person corrects it, the third person adds something, and the first person contributes one more piece of information. As a result, you get a shiny wiki page that reflects a common view of the participants on the subject. This process is also known as emergent structures, the pattern of intelligent behaviors that emerge bottom up from people with no or little central control.
A good example of wiki usage would be Dresdner Kleinwort, the investment banking division of Dresdner Bank AG that gained an e-mail traffic volume reduction by 75%. They also slashed meeting time in half.
Companies use wikis to get more team members involved in project collaboration, for knowledge management, as a Web portal and as a content creation tool. With a wiki, team members can easily access the up-to-date project information and work together on shared documents. For example, a wiki is a good way to store a series of phone scripts for salespeople or a presentation that many departments are contributing to at once. Since everyone is empowered to contribute in real time, using wikis facilitates information exchange and improves team productivity. Ultimately, wikis and other Enterprise 2.0 tools make companies more agile and, thus, more competitive.
For companies not using wikis (and most are not), how they are collaborating?
Most companies are using email for collaboration. Email is also the most widely-used software tool in project management, and at the same time traditional project management tools, like Microsoft Project, ignore this fact. This leaves a gap between the everyday project management tool (e-mail) and project planning software (Microsoft Project, Excel). This results in putting a heavy burden onto managers. They need to gather information from e-mails, merge it into a bigger picture, manually update plans, communicate the updated version to team members and report the progress to the top manager. This seriously decreases productivity on all levels in the organization, including top managers’ productivity. It is hard to get a picture of where the business stands if you simply rely on thousands of e-mails spread across hundreds of mailboxes. E-mail buries a lot of valuable information. That’s why we developed Wrike – a tool that integrates with email and helps you overcome all these problems.
I noticed Wrike is marketed as “project management” software as well – could you explain? I thought of a wiki as just a glorified web site that all could contribute to!
Wrike is web-based project management software that has wiki capabilities. Wrike is not a wiki; its feature set is much wider. Wrike allows teams to seamlessly collaborate on projects, thus making organizations more productive and agile. Wrike does it with the help of its simple, but powerful, features:
Intelligent Email Engine™ allows teams merge their email communications with project plans organized on the Web. Team members are able to create, share and update their tasks on the Web via email. So it is very easy to keep project plans always up-to-date. Every team member always stays in the loop, as Intelligent Email Engine™ instantly notifies him or her about any changes in the project plan and reminds about due dates.
Flexible Structures™ let you group tasks differently, so that each part of the team has the best view of its project work. Diverse projects can be conveniently organized in one account, which makes collaboration with peers, partners and clients secure. Flexible Structures™ make Wrike the most adaptable solution for a multi-role, multi-project environment by giving the manager a clear and up-to-date picture of projects.
Dynamic Gantt Chart™ gives the team a complete interactive picture of where its projects stand. Team members can set dependencies between tasks with one click on the timeline. To reschedule a chain of dependent tasks, teams just need to reschedule the top task. It takes seconds, thanks to the drag and-drop support. If someone updates the plan, everybody on the team sees the changes on the timeline immediately.
The combination of these features makes Wrike the strongest collaborative project management solution.