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7 Reasons Your Internal Wiki Should Live in Slack

June 15, 2017 by Alex Yamamoto

Considering buying an internal wiki? You’re not alone. Founders are constantly searching (and often struggling) to find the most suitable wiki for their company’s internal documentation. And, honestly, I completely understand why most leaders think an internal wiki would benefit their organization. Afterall, wikis are supposed to be a fairly quick way to collaborate and share company information in a centralized location. Heck, they’ve even been around for years, so they’ve got to be reliable by now! It only makes sense that we should all be searching for the most badass wiki for our teams, right? Well, unfortunately, it’s not as black and white as it may seem.

Traditional internal wikis certainly have their perks, hence why we’ve all been using them for so long. But the truth is, the majority of them just aren’t up to the task simply because the way we work is changing. The rise of messaging apps like Slack have changed the way our companies access and share knowledge. Traditional wiki's rapidly become outdated and difficult to manage as your team grows and your knowledge scales, resulting in low adoption. If you're on the hunt for an internal wiki, make sure it's a wiki for Slack.

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Before we dive into why, let's break down the three reasons why traditional wiki's don't cut it anymore:

1. Traditional wikis don’t live in your team's workflow

While content is very easy to add in wiki’s, accessing it is much more difficult. Typically, internal wikis act as portals, meaning that to get any knowledge from them, your team must leave their workflow, open another tab and then search it to find knowledge. This is a real pain and a loss of productivity for your company. According to McKinsey, your customer facing teams are spending ⅓ of their time just searching for information! Contributing to that time is the constant context switching your team needs to do just to access important company knowledge. Your team lives in apps like Slack or your CRM for your sales team, and your ticketing solution for your support team. For that reason, your knowledge should live in the apps where your team works. 

Speaking of Slack, the messaging app is becoming ubiquitous amongst technology companies. It helps strengthen internal communication for more than 60,000 teams on a daily basis, and the average user is logged into Slack for over 10 hours per day.

Slack can help your team be more productive but when your employees are jumping from platform to platform information easily gets lost or buried, time is wasted and it becomes difficult to find what you need. Information needs to follow your team everywhere! To get the most out of your wiki, you need company knowledge to live wherever your team works so they can stay in their workflow and maximize their time spent doing their jobs (closing deals, supporting customers, etc) and less time searching for information.  

2. Traditional wikis make it difficult to determine if you’re content is accurate or effective

Here’s what happens to content in most internal wikis: you spend a lot of time writing and crafting the perfect page, but after you write it, you forget to update it or that it even exists! Even worse, the majority of wikis make it nearly impossible to tell when the content was last updated or even being read in the first place. That means your team doesn't trust that the content in your wiki is accurate, which leads to low adoption. Even worse, your team could be using this out-of-date information and sharing it with your prospects or customers! Information around your business changes everyday: new features get built, new competitors emerge, and new internal processes get created. You need to find an internal wiki that combats stale content.

3. Traditional wikis are hard to keep organized, hard to manage and difficult for your team to search through

Take a look at one of your wiki pages and see how long it takes you to consume that information. Wikis are notorious for long-form content that make it hard to find the exact point you are looking for. Think about a sales or support rep’s workflow while they are on a call with a customer. They get a question they don’t know off-hand so they go to your wiki and search. They might find the page they need but then they have to search that specific page to find the exact information they need to relay back to the customer. No wonder adoptions for wikis are historically low.

A study published on Hubspot.com shows 31% of reps’ time is spent searching for or creating content. That’s way too much time not spent actually selling. When your internal wiki is mismanaged and unorganized your content lacks quality, reps spend too much of their time searching for information, too little time closing deals, which results in your company losing out on revenue. Reliable content that can be easily managed via your wiki is critical to adoption.

So now that we've convinced you why traditional wiki's fail, here's what to look for when evaluating a wiki for Slack:

4. Easily search for existing knowledge in Slack

When you search in Slack, you are searching through conversations. When you search your wiki, you are searching for knowledge. Conversations are static, once they happen they don’t change. Knowledge, however, evolves as your company grows. So content in your wiki is meant to change.

Your company needs a single source of truth so they no longer have to search in between multiple Google Drive and Box folders, email threads, and Slack conversations just to find what they are looking for. Even if they do find it, they don’t trust it because they understand that conversations and email threads are static as well. While it was accurate at that point in time, now it’s two months later, and given how quickly processes, competitors, and your product changes, your customer-facing teams don’t want to misinform prospects and customers. This lack of confidence in your knowledge base leads them to message or shoulder tap the subject matter experts on your team.

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And distracting experts is costing your team money - a recent study showed it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to recover from an interruption. One-off messages and shoulder taps don’t scale, especially when your client-facing teams continue to grow and individually message the same questions to your experts over and over again. Finding a wiki that can easily be searched within Slack is key towards eliminating the distracting interruptions that are hampering the productivity of your team.

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5. Capture new knowledge that gets created in organic Slack conversations

Your Slack channels are filled with a wealth of relevant company knowledge that has been created through organic conversations. The beauty of the app is the fact that it facilitates collaboration between previously disparate teams like engineering, product, and your customer-facing teams. But if you don’t capture that knowledge after it’s been created, you’re missing out on value created from using Slack. Worse yet, it means your subject matter experts are still getting constant shoulder taps and repetitive questions from others when you don’t capture the knowledge created in Slack. With a wiki that lives in Slack capturing knowledge should be as simple as a click of a button. 

Once captured in your wiki, it can be immediately reused by your entire company which will lower the repetitive questions your experts are consistently receiving.

6. Ensure your wiki has a means to keep your knowledge accurate

Like we mentioned earlier, stale or inaccurate content leads to distrust of your wiki and low adoption. Here's what you should look for from a wiki to ensure they are handling the issue of stale content:

  • Ability to assign knowledge to experts on your team (or a group of them)
  • The wiki incorporates “push” tactics to proactively remind experts to verify content is still accurate
  • A way to enable your experts to update content whle working in Slack 

7. Ensure your wiki has analytics to measure adoption and usage.

It's important to be able to understand what knowledge in your wiki is being used the most. Ensure you find a solution that has analytics to monitor usage of your wiki so you can identify your most effective knowledge as well as overall adoption of your knowledge base. The best solutions will also be able to suggest to you knowledge that should be added to your wiki based on searches that do not produce results. 

There you have it. Now that you understand why traditional wiki's are not effective and what to look for in a Slack wiki, we hope you are armed with everything you need to effectively evaluate potential solutions. Need some more inspiration? Check out our video below that runs through the pros and cons of some of the most talked about Slack wiki's. 

For more information on how Guru can add value to your team as a Slack wiki check out our Slack solutions page.

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