How to Create an Internal Wiki: Benefits & 2023 Best Practices

An internal wiki is a knowledge-sharing website that allows your employees to collaboratively add, edit, and maintain content that is relevant to your business and its practices. Business wiki software supports the internal wiki, within which employees can contribute to and modify information, without restriction, including best practices and other important company knowledge.
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The wiki allows experts in various areas – client knowledge, specific business processes, transactional details, etc. – to share their knowledge for an overall business benefit. Access to a shared internal knowledge base increases your team’s collective knowledge. It also reduces time spent searching for information, streamlines onboarding and training processes, and ensures the preservation of institutional knowledge by continuously capturing team members’ knowledge. 

How to create an internal company wiki

Setting up an internal wiki for your business can be relatively easy if you use the right tool. Traditional wikis have numerous limitations: they may be overly complex, unintuitive, or require too much time spent searching by the user. Fortunately, better options are available.

With a user-friendly internal wiki tool, you can build a company wiki that’s easy to search, edit, and navigate with a sensible content hierarchy. Your internal wiki should allow linking between your pages, integrate with your other knowledge management tools, and provide permissions and access rights management.

Here are some simple steps to follow to implement your ideal internal wiki:

1. Select your software 

You want a tool that offers all of the features mentioned above. In most cases, you are also looking for software that is either very easy to install or configure or skips these steps and works right from your browser. Integration with your company’s other tools is key to keeping your internal wiki up to date and providing value to your team. Learn more about choosing a knowledge management software.

2. Import content or start creating

With software that supports integration, you can easily import your company’s existing content into your new internal wiki. The right tool also makes creating and editing new content an easy-to-understand, user-friendly process.

3. Implement internal links

Adding internal links to related, similar, or complementary content on internal wiki pages can make it more efficient for team members to find what they need. Adding internal links to additional content on the wiki allows your users to enhance their understanding of a specific topic or process. 

4. Decide on permissions and access rights

You will need to configure your internal wiki’s permissions and access rights based on what content should be shared with everyone in your company versus what should be private or only available to certain teams. Permissions can be set to determine who is allowed to edit your content, as well as which employees should access your account settings and billing information. 

5. Welcome your team to the wiki and solicit involvement 

A well-designed wiki welcome page can explain its intended benefits for employees and provide guidance on how to use it. It can also answer questions about searches, editing permissions, and key contacts. To make sure your company derives the most benefit from an internal wiki, encourage team members to regularly contribute, calling attention to their areas of expertise and offering incentives for adding and editing content, when appropriate.

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Benefits of internal wikis

Company wikis are generally very easy to set up and populate initially, which can make them a great solution for getting started in knowledge management. Anyone familiar with Wikipedia can understand how they work, and many solutions are offered as part of other software packages (ex: Confluence is part of Atlassian’s larger software packages, including Jira and Trello). Here are some other benefits of internal wikis:

Content creation and editing

Internal wikis usually have simple content management systems (CMS) that allow anyone to create and format long form or short form knowledge. The functionality usually includes the ability to create outlines or bullets, hyperlinks, different heading levels, colors, as well image embed functionality.

Open ownership

While you may want to wall off certain sections, wikis are designed to be edited by anyone. Allowing everyone at the company to add what they know makes it easy for subject matter experts to add their know-how to a system that can be accessed by all.

Challenges of traditional internal wikis

Traditional wikis quickly become outdated and difficult to manage as your team grows and your knowledge scales, which leads to declining usage within your company. While real-time collaboration is generally easy with traditional corporate wikis, there are some major drawbacks to using them as long term knowledge management and content management solutions.

Knowledge and ownership verification

It’s not always easy to see when each piece of knowledge in a traditional company wiki was last updated. You may need to implement a separate, consistent cycle to review ownership and information in order to ensure your teams are using the most up-to-date information.

Internal wiki structure

While the actual information added to a wiki is totally up to you and your company, the internal architecture of a traditional wiki is generally top-down, with overarching topics leading to more granular pages. While it makes initial setup easy, it can make maintenance more difficult over time, as it’s not always obvious what pieces of company information relate to each other. That lack of visibility often means that some pieces of knowledge being updated while others are left to go stale, leading to internal conflicts. This can especially impact new employees who don’t have the institutional knowledge needed to navigate knowledge conflicts.

Workflow integration

Many company wiki tools offer integrations into team communications software like Slack or Microsoft Teams, but the extent of those integrations varies widely from tool to tool. Some may allow you to search for and preview a piece of knowledge, but force you to go to the portal to see the rest of the information. Others allow you to initially capture information from conversations, but require you to log into the portal again to edit or organize it. Look for wiki solutions that allow you to have full access from wherever you work.

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Internal wiki best practices

To ensure that your internal wiki is an effective tool, it is essential to establish best practices that govern its use. Here are 5 examples to follow:

Create a structure

A well-organized wiki structure makes it easy for users to find the information they need. Create a clear hierarchy of categories, pages, and sub-pages that correspond to the team's needs.

Keep it up to date

An outdated wiki is of little use to anyone. Encourage team members to update the wiki regularly and assign a specific person to be responsible for the maintenance of the wiki.

Use plain language

The wiki should be easy to read and understand. Use clear, concise language and avoid jargon or technical terms that might be unfamiliar to some team members.

Encourage collaboration

The wiki is a collaborative tool, so it is important to encourage team members to contribute. Establish guidelines for adding and editing content and provide feedback on contributions to ensure accuracy and consistency.

Provide training

Not everyone may be familiar with using a wiki, so it is essential to provide training and support. This can be done through tutorials, workshops, or one-on-one training sessions to ensure that all team members can effectively use the wiki.

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