Do's and don'ts for managing IT projects with wikis

Wikis are a simple technology for managing information -- but used simplistically, they can do more harm than good

MediaWiki is a popular open source wiki and is used for WikiPedia

MediaWiki is a popular open source wiki and is used for WikiPedia

Wikis help share information, not manage projects

Although wikis aid in project management, they don't actually provide tools for project management, notes Mike Schultz, president of Topcoder, an independent application development company that uses wikis extensively for its distributed group of software engineers. He finds that wikis offer an excellent way to manage documents, but they aren't a good source control mechanism.

"A wiki is good for search. But if I am involved with you on a project, I don't care about search. I want to know what is assigned to me," says Mark Mader, CEO of SmartSheet.com, an on-demand provider of project collaboration software. If a member of a project group has 10 things to do, a wiki is not the tool that will tell that person the next step, he notes.

Globant's Villarreal says wikis are ideal if you work in a company with, say, 30 or 40 engineers and you want that knowledge to be fully documented and available to everyone. But wikis aren't appropriate if your engineers all want to have control over the knowledge, he adds.

And it's critical to think through the information organization that your wiki will use before you deploy it, Villareal advises: Everyone must be on the same page in developing the criteria used to organize information. But he says that step is often neglected in a wiki's deployment.

Wikis aren't secure

Even where IT uses wikis wisely, there is an underlying risk to having project information stored on wikis, says Data Portability's Brim-DeDorest: "It is often too easy to register and say that you are anyone. It typically has a very low barrier to entry." So wikis are not appropriate for editing sensitive documents.

Wikis don't share data well

Wikis' major technology weakness are their substandard ability to import or export data from and to external data sources. But Data Portability's Brim-DeForest says that gap will be fixed. "We are building a data portability stack, so an application developer can help to build documents to support, control, share, and remix data across all of their social networks rather than having it in silos that are difficult to export," he says.

Already, some wikis that have taken the first steps to support information interchange, Brim-DeForest notes, such as Confluence, which lets users import RSS feeds.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Ephraim Schwartz

InfoWorld
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?