Ways to Wiki: Document Management

Bookmark and Share Tuesday, December 8, 2009

An ongoing series to cover the many ways wikis can help collect and organize information for your business, team or community group.

Document ManagementLet's face it... shared network folders are a terrible way to store and manage files across an organization. Consider some of the problems inherent in traditional network file storage:

  • There's no way to know who created a file.
  • Aside from the last modification date, there's no way to know who edited a file or when.
  • There's no way to see previous versions of it before it was edited.
  • Anyone with access to the drive can permanently delete a file, by accident, and nobody will know who did it or when.
  • Files are listed by file name only, making it hard to know what's in each file. Cryptic file names abound, and opening files to see what's in them is time consuming.
  • Each computer on the network (if using a modern operating system) maintains its own redundant, sluggish and often out-of-date search index.

Even in the face of these significant drawbacks, most small businesses continue to use network file storage as the central repository for all information.

EditMe and some other wikis apply wiki features to documents attached to wiki pages. These features include:

  1. Automatic versioning of a file based on name. No more having 10 copies of a file with differently formatted date conventions appended to the file name.
  2. Reporting new and changed files in Recent Changes reports and email notifications. Everyone knows who changed what and when.
  3. Full text search of all attached documents. Find what you need quickly.
  4. Associated page content and comments to provide context. Consider the value of being able to search for files based on this content, which may or may not be found within the files themselves.
  5. Page comments provide a mechanism for a shared discussion and/or workflow for a set of documents.
  6. Two-step deletion requiring administrative approval. No more mysteriously missing files.

In such a wiki, think of each page as a replacement for a folder on your shared network drive. The page is a topic, and can be linked to from other pages (akin to included in other folders). The page content provides some context to the documents contained therein. A paragraph or two goes a long way to explaining why these files are here, what they're used for, and when their usefulness expires. Comments on this page can be used to foster a discussion about the files or to automate a specified work flow. Additionally, the description attached to each document can be used to store status, notes on the last change made, and other useful information. Finally, using a managed wiki service, your documents are safely backed up every night and available anywhere on the Internet.

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