The Army's Business Process Wiki

Bookmark and Share Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Army's Business Process WikiI've been thinking a lot lately about how wikis can help small businesses document their business processes and procedures.

Bigger organizations tend to have highly complex and really quite fancy tools to document business processes and kick it up a few notches by actually performing the tasks or generating software code for automation programs. These tools are the purview of big ticket management consulting firms and lofty academic idealism. In other words, not for small and micro businesses.

Wikis are an awesome alternative, acting as the simplest thing that could possibly work to elevate the task and output of process documentation from the obsolescence of forgotten MS Word files sitting on a file server. (If you're interested in what kinds of tools might sit on top of a wiki to support this use case, let's talk.)

So I was intrigued at a recent post on Social Media Today titled If the Army Can Put Its Doctrine Up On a Wiki, You've Got No Excuse. I actually posted about this project briefly back in August, but at the time I wasn't thinking so much about process.

The Army is, of course, a massive organization. Almost incomprehensibly massive from a business standpoint. And yet, as the SMT post proves, they're going ahead and documenting their business processes (they call it "doctrine") on a wiki. Consider the scope of this information:

"TRADOC, the US Army Training and Doctrine Command, has the task of writing and maintaining more than 600 field manuals that specify how the Army is to fight as well as conduct the many support tasks needed to keep soldiers going. Everything from how to drive a humvee to how to throw a grenade has doctrine that specifies the approved way to do it."

The goals of the wiki are to 1) allow this content to be updated more frequently so that it is more timely in the face of rapidly changing environments and conditions and 2) to gain the value of input from the vast array of field soldiers actually using the content on a daily basis.

That second bit is a monumental shift, says Dixon. "To the Army, doctrine is close to sacred. It is written by doctrine specialists and then verified and authenticated at many levels within the hierarchy. So opening doctrine up to Soldiers is a very big deal."

I encourage you to read the full post, which dives into the specifics of how the Army is building and managing this beast, and I look forward to reading more about the project as it matures.

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