While Wikipedia is arguably the most famous wiki out there, there’s another kind of wiki that helps you out with your company’s personalized needs: an internal wiki. An internal wiki is a type of online database filled with things about your company so your employees and team members can easily look them up whenever they need it.
Many companies use these wikis as a way to pool together important workplace information that can be quickly accessed by all team members. They can be an especially helpful tool for companies that have employees that work remotely, or who may be working on projects that don’t require their constant attention.
Wikis can be used to store all sorts of information, from meeting agendas and contact info to company policies and procedures. This post will teach you how to create an internal wiki, the benefits it can provide, and some good apps you could use to make your internal wiki as user-friendly and effective as possible.
But first, what exactly is an internal wiki? Just calling it an online database can be a somewhat misleading oversimplification, as there’s a lot more to it than that.
An internal wiki is an index that anyone within a company or organization can read and modify. The “modify” part is important, since that’s what separates it from an employee handbook. Team leaders and project managers can make new pages about their newest projects, for example, and their members can add new information as they reach their project milestones.
Internal wikis help new and returning members get up-to-date with the latest progress in their projects. Plus, they also won’t have to ask too many questions after reading it, unless their specific questions weren’t actually used in the wiki in the first place.
There are three types of wikis:
Single contributor wikis are those made by one person. You can think of it as a sort of self-made notebook that links to different pages. Meanwhile, group or team wikis are those made by several different people for an organization.
When we talk about internal wikis, we’re mainly referring to group wikis made into internal-use encyclopedias. These internal-use encyclopedias are quite similar to Wikipedia and other wiki sites, but instead of being for public consumption, they’re only meant to be read by the organization’s members.
Internal wiki for Dunder Mifflin as imagined by Almanac…
With that out of the way, why else should you use internal wikis? After all, everything you need to know is in employee handbooks (which are also very helpful). But, internal wikis really shine because they allow for:
Ever forgot how something works, even though you might’ve already been told once (or maybe even twice) how to do it? Don’t worry – we’ve all been there.
Sometimes you may be tasked to do something that you rarely do, which means that you’ll then have to ask someone else how to do it. Or, instead, you can turn to your handy internal wiki. Internal wikis help in these cases, since all the information, documentation, and methods that you and your coworkers need would all be there at-a-glance.
You can quickly refer to the internal wiki for every process–saving time and therefore improving productivity.
When you’re new to a company and still learning about how it functions and the project details, internal wikis can help by showing you how things have already been done within the company.
While having an internal wiki won’t replace workplace immersion or replace training altogether, it’ll still help newer staff and team members learn things much faster. Plus, it allows those doing the onboarding to have a guidebook and reference point for everything a new employee needs to know, even if it’s not in their area of expertise.
From project details to standard operating procedures, you can include everything you need in the internal wiki, and everybody else can just look them up whenever necessary. Internal wikis help organizations make information more user-friendly and easily accessible to all members.
They make sure that everybody has access to information as long as they have access to the internet. And of course, since the internet is literally everywhere – on the smartphones in our pockets, the laptop computer at our desks, and even through our televisions – this information is always readily on hand.
Plus, they also make sure that important stuff (like key operation information) can still be readily accessible to the rest of the company when needed.
With larger companies, there is a way of stealing information that doesn’t even need to rely on hacking. It’s called social engineering, and it relies on the fact that it’s possible to fool information out of people.
But with secure login credentials, you can make sure that the only people who can access this information are those trusted enough to hold a company ID: it never has to go outside the organization.
Lastly, internal wikis improve collaboration by making it easier for teams to talk about certain topics and share their experiences on company-related subjects with ease. By being fairly simple and straightforward, an internal wiki makes it easier for teams to:
In turn, all members of the team are able to work together and share the burden of responsibility, instead of relying on just one or two to do the heavy lifting.
With all the types, benefits, and tools considered, it’s time to learn how to create an internal wiki. There are four things you need to know before starting one:
Each one should be done in stages in this order. After all, you can’t just start building one without being sure who gets to read what or where you’re supposed to put certain information, right?
When trying to figure out how to create an internal wiki, you first need to know about information architecture. This will be the skeleton that gives shape to your wiki. Information architecture is about structure. You will need to make classifications on things so everybody knows where to put the things they write.
For example, suppose you have four departments:
You could divide all the information into those four groups. That means HR things would go to the HR folder, and so on. And then you could add your SOPs (standard operating procedures), tools, policies, employee profiles, and all the other things you need to fill up the internal wiki.
Just make sure the architecture is something that makes sense for everyone using the internal wiki, so it will help to get feedback from all departments you’re including.
After setting the architecture, your wiki developers should then decide who gets to see which folder and what they can do. For instance, anyone from HR can change anything from all the other folders–but the only people who can edit the HR folder are HR personnel.
Then with these established permissions, each one would be able to edit only the parts they have expertise in.
When all of that is done, you can start creating the internal content, as well as urging all other departments to do the same. An internal wiki takes a group effort, so its usefulness can only be as good as the people who write it and read it!
Over time, you will have a ton of entries to sift through. Operation instructions, personnel records…whichever they are, there will be too many for just one person to read. Errors will come up. Pages might go missing.
This is why you will also need to maintain the wiki. Luckily, most internal wiki softwares have built-in tracking functions. They can tell who edited what and when. You could also revive old versions in case the latest ones aren’t the most efficient.
Traditionally, you would have to code your wiki from scratch if you wanted one back in the early days of Wikipedia. Today, though, there are countless other apps that make the whole process much simpler.
Here are the five best internal wiki softwares you could use for your company!
Almanac is a comprehensive collaboration app and internal wiki software, all combined into one useful and user-friendly package. Designed to replace antiquated word processing software like Google Docs and Microsoft Word, its many features make drafting your internal wiki remarkably easy.
For instance, you can:
What really makes Almanac stand out the most, though, is their unique Almanac Core feature. Here, you could access a vast open-source library of everything that’s been built into the Almanac platform.
Even better, if you’re curious about Almanac and want to try it out first before investing in their Enterprise version, you could start building your internal wiki with their free version. Once you fall in love with it, then you can simply upgrade to a premium account.
Check out an interactive demo here:
Notion is another app that lets its users make internal wikis. Notion has the standard SAML and SSO security features and allows guest users to see the contents. With Slack, multiple users can work collaboratively on a single project, and the API can be used to create other applications that depend on it.
As a wiki editor, Guru is an app with a decent amount of functionality. With its browser extensions and organizational tools, it can help promote team collaboration. However, it does lie on the more expensive side of the price range compared to other apps.
As an app for internal wikis, Slab is quite straightforward. It features Uptime SLA support to see how long the system’s server has been running and offers a variety of organization tools. Overall, it seems more focused on appearance instead of functionality, which is a major downside.
Based on the Git system used by programmers, Gitbook is an internal wiki software that provides syncing to GitHub and GitLabSync. Its main purpose is to help teams document different types of knowledge, then share that knowledge with others.
Knowing how to create an internal wiki shouldn’t be too hard. With automation tools at your fingertips, you can create the best software for your company without taking too much time. And with its affordable price point, a wide array of useful features, and unparalleled customer service, Almanac is arguably the best one of them.
ou can easily try out their services, risk-free, by checking their free version. Or why not contact Almanac’s friendly sales team today to get a quote for their Enterprise package? Either way, with Almanac on your side, creating your company’s next internal wiki will be a breeze!