A company wiki is a type of knowledge management software: an updatable source of internal company information. They’re versatile and easy to set up, and, unlike even a few years ago, many of them integrate with team communications platforms like Slack or Teams.

And because Guru was founded on the idea of Slack integration, we know why: By adding an internal wiki to your comms platform, you can access your entire knowledge base without interrupting the conversation.

Wikis don't work

But regardless of their accessibility in those apps, the problem with internal company wikis remains: they become outdated and difficult to manage as your team grows and your knowledge scales, resulting in declining usage over time. It doesn’t matter if it’s a traditional portal or the newest offering, the fact is that wikis don’t work longterm.

Read on to find out why wikis won’t help you solve fundamental problems with your knowledge.


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Internal wikis don’t fix the major problem with traditional knowledge bases: the accuracy and effectiveness of knowledge

Here’s what happens to content in most internal wikis:

  • An SME spends a lot of time writing and crafting the perfect page, but after they write, they forget to update it and are never prompted to do so, leading to that knowledge going stale
  • Those who need the knowledge can’t tell when the wiki was last updated or whether it’s still relevant, and lose trust in it
  • Wiki solutions reward longform content, which means that even when a user finds the correct page, they may not be able to easily find the specific piece of knowledge they need, teaching them to ignore the wiki and ask the SME directly
  • The combination of stale knowledge, lack of trust, and difficulty of access leads to a decline in usage, making the entire internal wiki solution a wasted investment

typical-internal-wiki-maintenance-process

If your wiki has a Slack or Teams integration, you might solve one of those problems: the issue of information usage. But because these solutions lack a way to force SMEs to verify or update existing knowledge, your team may inadvertently start sharing incorrect or out-of-date information. And bad information can be worse than no information — especially in customer-facing roles.

Information around your business changes every day: new features get built, new competitors emerge, and new internal processes get created, and it all gets discussed in your comms channels.

We don’t blame you for thinking, Wikis are simple, so I’ll just grab one that integrates with Slack or Teams and that’ll solve all of my problems?

But here’s why that just creates more headaches down the line:

Slack is just one part of your workflow

While a team communications platform (like Slack) is a natural foundation for a company’s tech ecosystem — especially when remote workforces are on the rise — it’s not the only place employees spend their time. Even small companies use an average of 40 apps, a number that balloons to more than 200 in large enterprises.

Number of apps per companySource: Blissfully 2019 Annual SaaS Trends Report

That may not seem that complex, but consider that each employee works in about 9 apps. Taken together, the number of combinations of apps and people quickly becomes unmanageable for even a single point solution, like a company wiki, or a dual point solution, like one that integrates with Slack.

So, how can a wiki for Slack help your team members when they’re not actually using Slack?

Solving your knowledge management problem at every point in your workflow

First, let’s do a tl;dr recap: company wikis with Slack and Teams integrations are still, at heart, wiki pages, with all of the problems that come with them. That being said, if you’re still considering a wiki app, choose one that has a Slack integration. Slack integrations do promote consistent use — and staying in-workflow part of the time is still better than none of the time. You can find all of them right in the Slack app directory, and some of the most popular are Atlassian's Confluence and Tettra. Both allow you to access stored knowledge in Slack channels with a slash command.

But for real-time knowledge everywhere else, don’t stop with a Slack integration.

 

The problem with wiki content

Wikis reward knowledge being stored, not necessarily being used. Because all wikis (including Wikipedia!) are designed as portals, knowledge in them has to take on a very specific, hierarchical structure. A rigid structure tends to reward longer form content, which means multiple topics can be grouped together under one heading. By its very nature, this makes knowledge slower and harder to access. Even with a Slack or Teams integration, you may be pulling up articles that are hundreds of words long. That makes it difficult to find what you need quickly, and a chore to update.

If your knowledge is structured to be used, instead of to be stored (single topic, bite-size), you can read it quickly, and update it quickly. There’s no CTRL-F needed.Knowledge searchability

 

Your wiki is in Slack, but you need knowledge in Salesforce

...or email, or Intercom, or Asana, or Trello, or GitHub, or Figma, or DocuSign, or Greenhouse, or… well, you get the point. Don’t misunderstand; at Guru, we love Slack. Our product was built from the ground-up to be used in Slack. As a company, we live in Slack, not email. But we don’t, uh, live in Slack. We use all of the apps I just mentioned in our day-to-day work, and all of them require us to look something up pretty frequently (“Wait, what are our brand color hex codes again?” “What are our ROI metrics?” “What was that customer testimonial?”).

See Guru's Integrations

So while a Slack integration is foundational to what you should be looking for in a knowledge base, you should be looking at knowledge management solutions that offer native integrations with other programs too. Or look for one with a universal integration, like a browser extension that allows you to access your knowledge from anywhere, on any site.

“Why does this matter?” you might be asking. It turns out that staying in-workflow is the key to productivity. Portal solutions like traditional knowledge management offerings and wikis eventually force you to leave your workflow to consume or update knowledge. Rani Molla, Recode’s Senior Data Reporter, explains:

“After being interrupted, it takes about 25 minutes to get back to the task you were working on, according to a Microsoft study. It can take even longer to get to a ‘flow state,’ alternatively called ‘deep work.’ These terms refer to the concentrated frame of mind you’re in when immersed in a task and time just seems to fly. It’s also when you do your best work. [...] Over time, workplace distractions can metastasize. Many of us try to recoup time by multitasking. But multitasking doesn’t work. Instead of doing one thing well, you’re actually just switching between activities and doing them all poorly.”

Your team deserves better than just an internal wiki solution

Knowledge workers are the fastest growing segment of the workforce. If you’re not equipping them with the best way to access the information they need to do their jobs, your company is not going to be able to compete. Access shouldn’t simply mean a place to store knowledge for the sake of documenting it; it should mean being able to find, trust, and use what you need, wherever you need it. Wikis are about storage. Get started with Guru for free and see what a better knowledge solution looks like.

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