Why You Need a Business Wiki

Andy Cook
May 4, 2020
When You Need a Business Wiki

Imagine it’s your first day at a new job, and your boss plugs a cord into your head. Suddenly, all the information you need to know about your role transfers to your brain — just like how Neo learns kung fu in The Matrix. When your company has a business wiki, you can learn all the ins and outs of your new job just like that.

The weeks spent learning the ropes and badgering your team with questions disappear. You’ve become a fully contributing employee. And it’s only day one.

(Our team tried to build a knowledge transfer machine. It sort of worked…)

It might sound unrealistic, but at some companies, this type of knowledge transfer actually exists. But instead of plugging a cord into a new employee’s brain (we agree that would be creepy), they ask them to read the wiki for the business.

What is a business wiki?

A business wiki is a central database of knowledge. It’s a place where all your coworkers can store internal documentation about processes, projects, or products they’re building.

You can think of it as an internal Wikipedia or Google for your company. Don’t know how to do something? Just look it up on the company wiki.

Ideally, everyone on your team will contribute to the wiki on a regular basis, constantly adding and updating information to it. Whether it’s a process no one else knows how to do, information about a client, or details on an old pricing plan, everyone is an expert in something, so everyone has something to contribute.

And by getting everyone involved in knowledge-sharing, you increase your entire team’s collective wisdom and reduce the time they have to spend foraging around for what they need.

Why do you need a wiki for business?

What do Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and Amazon have in common? Not only are they the five largest companies by market cap in the world, but they also all use company wikis. They realized that by sharing knowledge, they could move faster and get more things done.

Companies that don’t have a wiki are at a disadvantage compared to competitors that do. Fortunately, if you need help convincing your boss or your team to get a wiki, we’ve put together three compelling reasons why having a wiki is crucial for your company’s growth.

You can onboard new team members faster

According to Glassdoor, the average U.S. employer spends approximately $4,000 and 24 days to hire a new worker. That’s a lot of time and money that you don’t want to waste.

However, since 59% of marketing agencies take over three weeks to get new employees up to speed, the typical onboarding process stifles their productivity. As a result, the return on the investment that the recruiting team put into hiring these new employees drops.

Unfortunately, a drawn-out onboarding process is something most companies have to stomach. Starting a new job can be stressful for new employees. Having no clue what to do, how to do it, or who to ask for help can make them feel inept. But it’s ultimately not their fault. After all, there’s no one-size-fits-all training course for working at a new company.

Despite these harsh realities, though, your company can actually slash the time it takes to ramp up new employees. How? By investing in a business wiki. With a wiki, new team members can easily look up the information they need to do their jobs well, making them feel smarter and more capable of solving problems on their own.

Plus, they can search for information as many times as they want, which isn’t possible during in-person interactions, due to the embarrassment of asking the same question multiple times.

Additionally, your wiki can clarify how and when team meetings occur. Too often, new team members don’t know which meetings they need to attend or how they should prepare. As you onboard team members, make sure they know if and when you plan to meet on a regular basis, and clarify how you structure your one-on-one meetings. The more new employees know what to expect, the better prepared they will be.

At Wistia, a video software company that helps brands create a Netflix-like experience on their websites, investing in a wiki for business was crucial for onboarding new employees, especially since the company quadrupled in size in only five years.

After partnering with Tettra, new employees no longer asked Wistia’s onboarding manager the same questions over and over again. They also didn’t have to hunt down answers on messaging apps with basic search functions, such as HipChat and Slack, or content collaboration platforms that couldn’t detect duplicate content, such as Dropbox, Quip, and Google Drive.

They could easily find knowledge on a reliable, central platform, enabling them to instill Wistia’s company culture into new employees at scale.

Your team can spend less time searching for information and more time working

Per a study from McKinsey, knowledge workers spend 19% of their time searching for and gathering information to do their jobs. In other words, for every five people you hire, you’re getting four people’s worth of productivity.

To slash the amount of time your team members spend searching for information, investing in a wiki is a crucial first step. With a wiki, people don’t have to waste time searching for important documents, figuring out how to perform processes, or struggling to collaborate on a project.

In fact, the same McKinsey study found that setting up systems makes it easier to search and gather information. The process alone recoups that 19% loss in productivity and can increase it by as much as 35%.

At Firmatek, a data analytics and reporting platform, housing all their information and processes in an easily searchable platform was not only crucial for boosting productivity, but also for providing accurate answers to their clients.

Firmatek conducts multiple collections of their clients’ website data over time to do their analysis. So if different team members follow different procedures, their analysis will be inaccurate, forcing the data processing team to clean up the mess.

Before investing in a business wiki, Firmatek housed their procedures in Google Drive, Egnyte, and even physical documents. Needless to say, it was difficult to find the right document when all their information was scattered across multiple platforms.

But after partnering with Tettra, Firmatek’s field technicians were able to easily find and rely on standardized procedures and ramp up their new employees. Shortly after, every team at Firmatek used Tettra to store all their information and processes and use the platform as a single source of truth.

You can house important knowledge for as long as you want

When one of your teammates leaves your company, they often take all of their institutional knowledge with them. Sure, you could ask them to do a “brain dump,” where they write down everything they know about the job before leaving. But that rarely works out — it’s hard to document everything they do in such a short time period. Important pieces of information are also inevitably left out.

With a wiki, though, you can systematically capture your team members’ knowledge as they acquire it. As a result, you can use it for future reference. This accruement of institutional knowledge turns into a huge competitive advantage for your company over time, which may have never happened otherwise.

At Process Street, a workflow management platform, following processes is their preferred method of getting things done. But the only way to find, execute, and iterate these processes is by documenting them in their wiki for business.

“We love processes and checklists. Every recurring task that our team undertakes has been documented and is being used inside our tool,” says Andrew Miller, Process Street’s director of digital marketing. “This helps us reduce human error and make sure team members know exactly what needs to be done.”

Documenting every single process doesn’t just help Process Street decrease errors and tighten procedures, though:

“Having a centralized knowledge base has allowed us to continue to improve our team efficiency, create more internal transparency, as well as reduce new team member onboarding training time.”

Andrew Miller -Director of Digital Marketing at Process Street

Sounds like an advantage to us.

Don’t have a wiki for your business yet?

At Tettra, we’ve built a business wiki that is simple, smart, and connected. It will help your team share and access collective knowledge.

Tettra is also the only wiki that connects to a lot of other tools you use on a daily basis, such as Slack, Google Docs, GitHub, Zapier, and more. We even enable you to search your wiki right from Slack.

If you’re using Slack and need a wiki, you can sign up for Tettra for free on our site. If Slack’s not your thing, you can still lean on Tettra as your workplace wiki.

The sooner you start documenting, the better off your team will be. Ideally, you started documenting things from day one. But if not, there’s no better day to start than today.

Setting up an internal wiki today is much like the famous Chinese proverb:

The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is now.

Sign up for a free Tettra account, and get started with your wiki. Your entire team will benefit from being able to share and find the knowledge they need.