Wiki-Enabled Management


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Co-authored with Steve Hellen.

This presentation was delivered at Educause 2007 and derivatives at SunGard Summit 2007 and AACRAO Tech 2008. This presentation introduces wiki concepts and explore their use in project management and in supporting IT systems in higher education. JHU's implementation of a new student information system extensively uses an enterprise wiki, which will be highlighted, along with use cases, examples, and lessons learned.

Note: The title has changed from its original submission ("Wiki and Project Management").

Published in: Technology, Education

Wiki-Enabled Management

  1. 1. Wiki and Educause 2007 | 26 October 2007 | Geof Corb & Steve Hellen Project Management
  2. 2. Introduction <ul><li>What is a wiki? </li></ul><ul><li>What do I need to know about implementing a wiki? </li></ul><ul><li>How can I use a wiki to… </li></ul><ul><ul><li>improve the management of projects and systems? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>improve collaboration and communications within my organization? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Demonstrate that it works </li></ul><ul><li>Outcomes and observations </li></ul>
  3. 3. Introduction to Wiki
  4. 4. What is a wiki? Source: Wikipedia (25-Oct-2007; version 166712647 )
  5. 5. Wiki Benefits <ul><li>Simple and Efficient </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Easy to use </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Easy to learn </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Easy to implement </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Accessible Content </li></ul><ul><li>Web-based </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Ubiquitous access </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Flexible </li></ul><ul><li>Inexpensive </li></ul>Unlike many software tools that have a steep learning curve, require training to use, and are advertised on the number of features included, wiki developers take the opposite approach. The resulting simplicity of the wiki has a compounding effect, that is, the more people use it, the more they want to keep using it and their contributions become vital to the growth of information and community. -- Stewart Mader, Using Wiki in Education
  6. 6. What can a wiki do for you? <ul><li>Establish an institutional memory </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Bring your e-mail conversations public and archive them for posterity </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Escape from document management hell </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Stop sending documents around via e-mail </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Always know what is the latest version and review version history </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Find what you are looking for </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Index wiki page content and common file types </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Reduce organizational spam </li></ul>
  7. 7. What can a wiki do for you? <ul><li>Diminish boundaries and limitations of time and space </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Help remote workers feel less remote </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Know what is going on even when you are not there </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Allow contributors to contribute at the time and place they are able to do so </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reduce frustration of not being up-to-date or not being able to participate more fully </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Promote collaboration </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Incidental or accidental </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Progressive elaboration </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Improve customer service </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Discover opportunities to better service your customers </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Products <ul><li>Commercial </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Atlassian Confluence – </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Socialtext – </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Open-Source </li></ul><ul><ul><li>TWiki – </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>MediaWiki – </li></ul></ul><ul><li>ASP/Hosted Services </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Wikia – Wikidot - </li></ul></ul><ul><li>… and many more </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Compare them at WikiMatrix ( ) </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. Project Management <ul><li>Wikis can be used to support all aspects of the project management lifecycle </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Repository of project artifacts for all aspects of project lifecycle </li></ul></ul><ul><li>From Wikinomics : </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Wikis distribute the burden of organization across a collaborative network instead of making an individual project manager a choke point. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>&quot;Now everyone can make incremental progress without having to wait for everyone else. It's like parallel processing for people rather than computers.&quot; -- Tantek Çelik, Techronati's chief technologist </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. Considerations for Implementing a Wiki
  11. 11. Content & Access <ul><li>How open are you willing to be? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Do you restrict access? To whom? Why? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Are you open outside your firewall? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Remember: openness fosters trust </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Transparency </li></ul><ul><ul><li>How much are you willing to share? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Responsibility </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Can you trust your authors? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Sensitivity </li></ul><ul><ul><li>How sensitive is your content? </li></ul></ul>Closed to the general public; open to those involved with SIS projects and initiatives. In general, anyone with access can create new content and improve existing content; there are few spaces with access restrictions.
  12. 12. Structure <ul><li>Do you build a skeleton or scaffold for content or let content grow organically? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A wiki should start out with the least amount of structure necessary and structure should only be added over time, when needed </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Let people contribute in a way that satisfies them. </li></ul></ul>No specific structure has been imposed on JHU’s wiki; spaces and pages have grown organically. Standards have evolved by cloning existing content as templates rather than through imposition.
  13. 13. Product Selection <ul><li>Commercial or open-source product? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Platform? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Self-hosted or ASP? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Flexibility? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Extensibility? </li></ul></ul>JHU selected Atlassian’s Confluence and hosts the system locally.
  14. 14. Getting Started
  15. 15. Wiki in Action
  16. 16. The History of Our Wiki <ul><li>Initially implemented our wiki to provide an environment for online collaboration between schools implementing the same new-to-market student information system </li></ul><ul><ul><li>FAILURE – lack of adoption and use </li></ul></ul><ul><li>So… instead, we used our wiki as a solution to a variety of long-standing problems plaguing our project: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Document management </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Indexing and searching </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Versioning </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Communications </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>E-mail overload (“institutional spam”) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Loss of Knowledge </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Reliance on consultants, staff turnover and rapidly-evolving product </li></ul></ul></ul>
  17. 17. <ul><li>Comprehensive Knowledge Base </li></ul><ul><ul><li>All generally-accessible project assets are in the wiki or will ultimately be moved there </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Documentation is iteratively developed and progressively elaborated </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Repository for documentation </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Knowledge Discovery </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Content linking </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Search pages, blogs, attachments, e-mail messages, etc. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Blogging by staff </li></ul></ul>
  18. 18. Brainstorming & “Raw Collaboration”
  19. 19. Problem Solving & Consensus Building
  20. 20. Monitoring Progress and Status <ul><li>“ Recently Updated” </li></ul><ul><li>Daily Summary E-Mail </li></ul><ul><li>RSS Feeds </li></ul>
  21. 21. Staff Favorites
  22. 22. Real-Time Information
  23. 23. Quick Reference Guides
  24. 24. Weekly Status Meeting
  25. 25. Managing Multiple Environments
  26. 26. Managing Releases
  27. 27. Contact Information
  28. 28. Weekly Design & Code Reviews
  29. 29. Wish Lists
  30. 30. Release Notes
  31. 31. What Users Want
  32. 32. What Users Do
  33. 33. Online Help
  34. 34. Policy Development
  35. 35. Departmental Intranet
  36. 36. Blogging Personal Status Reports
  37. 37. Secure or Sensitive Data
  38. 38. Outcomes and Observations
  39. 39. Outcomes: Adoption <ul><li>Need a reason to collaborate to drive adoption </li></ul><ul><li>Need to build a critical mass of participants/users </li></ul><ul><li>Need to make it easy-to-use with a low barrier to entry </li></ul>
  40. 40. Outcomes: Changes in Work Habits <ul><li>Fewer Word documents created </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Wiki pages provide opportunity for earlier collaboration </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Shift from push to pull </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Now, rather than “pushing” separate copies of a document to each person, all collaborators are “pulled” in to a central place where everyone sees the same text. </li></ul></ul>adapted from Stewart Mader’s Using Wiki in Education An e-mail/Word document scenario has limited periods of creativity separated by the logistical and socially sensitive task of combining edits. The wiki completely changes this by shifting logistics to the shortest possible segment of time at the outset, leaving a much greater period of time for collaborative creativity and knowledge construction.
  41. 41. Outcomes: More Changes in Work Habits <ul><li>Meetings frequently evolve into work sessions with a wiki page created to capture ideas </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Content and ideas continue to evolve afterwards, pulling in more participants </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>… but requires effort to regroup and, often, make decision from among varying options </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Less conversations take place over e-mail </li></ul><ul><ul><li>… but we tend to send a lot of links to wiki content around! </li></ul></ul>
  42. 42. Observations: Feature Usage <ul><li>As with most applications, use of wiki features grows over time </li></ul><ul><ul><li>But there is a barrier that most users do not cross </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Working below that threshold, however, is typically sufficient and effective </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Fastest adoption and advanced feature usage by “net-gen” staff </li></ul>
  43. 43. Observations: Wikis are not … <ul><li>Wikis are not the right answer for all content </li></ul><ul><ul><li>They do not replace rich features in specific applications such as Excel for calculations </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Wikis are not a file share </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Using as a means to simply store documents is recognized as misuse of wiki </li></ul></ul>
  44. 44. Observations: Benefits <ul><li>Entire project staff is more well-informed </li></ul><ul><ul><li>As are those on the periphery of the project that want to be </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Ad hoc community/team formation leads to both unanticipated interactions and more interactions across organizational boundaries </li></ul><ul><li>The speed and efficiency of our work is greatly increased by having information in one place, owned and maintained by everyone </li></ul>
  45. 45. What’s Next?
  46. 46. Summary <ul><li>Wikis work at work </li></ul><ul><ul><li>… but they take some work </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Wikis provide a relatively inexpensive solution to a number of common [project] management, collaboration, and communication problems </li></ul><ul><li>Wikis will be (or already are) a pervasive part of our IT landscape </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ killer app for corporations” </li></ul></ul>
  47. 47. Further Reading <ul><li>Books on Paper </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Don Tapscott & Anthony D. Williams </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Group Genius: The Creative Power of Collaboration </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Keith Sawyer </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The Wisdom of Crowds </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>James Surowiecki </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Books Online, Blogs & Websites </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Using Wiki in Education </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Stewart Mader, et al </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Blog on Wiki Patterns: In Education, Business, and the Enterprise </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Wiki Matrix: Compare them All </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Wiki Patterns </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul></ul>
  48. 48. Questions & Discussion <ul><li>Geof Corb Steve Hellen </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] [email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>410.735.4001 410.735.4431 </li></ul>