Wikis that work: Four IT departments get it right

IT orgs harness wiki power to handle everything from tech training to project management

That's a statement

ShoreBank's 30-person IT group would agree with. With between 40 to 100 projects live at any given moment, the team regularly put its juggling skills to the test as it struggled to stay on top of details.

Finding big-league project management tools overkill for a team of its size, the group relied mostly on e-mail and spreadsheets -- and sometimes standalone project management software -- to share project progress and information.

But the patchwork system didn't always work: The IT group sometimes missed deadlines, inadvertently had people working on the same initiatives and had difficulty getting an enterprise view of its resource allocation, according to John Evans, senior vice president and director of IT for the US$2 billion Chicago-based bank.

It was time for change. A year or so ago, Evans' group began transitioning project management tasks to an enterprise wiki using Traction Software's TeamPage. Today, the wiki is the management hub for all IT projects, everything from software migrations to implementation of a mobile banking initiative.

"The power of the wiki is that the IT department can go to one place to see the entire discussion thread on a project," Evans explains. "Teams are much more informed and much better managed because knowledge sharing is easier and more efficient."

Project status is much easier to capture at a glance with a wiki. Using the software's tagging and reporting capabilities, each piece of communication -- a status report, a feature change, a list of user requirements -- is entered into the wiki and associated with a particular project. In this way, Evans' team can easily view and report on project status. "With just one click, you can see all the activity that's gone on from the beginning until a project closes out," he says.

While that level of detail might be too much for a larger group to absorb, it's perfect for his small team, Evans says. "This kind of tool might be too busy for a larger IT organization, but for a small- to medium-size IT shop, it's certainly worth taking a look," Evans recommends.

Wikis engage peers

Even the best designed wikis don't work if people won't use them. The best way to get people engaged is to make sure you've clearly articulated the benefits of participating in the wiki environment.

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Beth Stackpole

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