Lost amidst a host of web-based project management solutions are Wikis – constructive flexible websites designed for collaboration that permit multiple writers to create, edit, delete and alter content.
Wikis are flexible websites that aid document collaboration and content editing by all members involved in a project. It is a unique collaboration and content creation tool that merits inclusion in any project manager’s armory. The team members may input their collective knowledge and information to create comprehensive documents.
The following are the major features or characteristics of Wikis:
- Most projects call for certain documentation to be open to collaborative writing, and Wikis serve this purpose.
- Wikis allow each team member or stakeholder in a project to view, edit and update Wiki based documents at any time. This facilitates pooling of knowledge to create comprehensive documents.
- People with access and full privileges may add, delete and edit content in a Wiki with ease. One can also comment on the content of the Wiki, by placing the comments in a colored box.
- Wikis are ideal for maintaining notes and sharing/discussing ideas and information with the project team. They can be used to draft the documents of various brain storming sessions as well as provide a set of instructions and a class-based curriculum.
- It is preferable that the project manager decides which topics to store or include in the Wiki, and the manner it is to be organized. Such advance planning eliminates dead links and preempts the need to rebuild the Wiki’s structure after too many people add too much information.
- It is easy to format Wiki documents using basic text-based commands.
- Syndication allows sharing Wiki documents with outside members, without allowing them rights to make unauthorized editing.
It is possible to track the history of changes made to each Wiki automatically. The history feature displays what changes were made, when, and by whom. The members can work on a live document, knowing the full history of changes made by various people, available any time.
Pros and Cons of Using Wiki
Wikis constitute excellent tools for documentation and communication, two critical aspects of project management. The biggest advantage is its open nature which allows the project manager to structure or format the tool as required.
Next to the hugely popular Microsoft Project, Wiki is arguably the most helpful tool for the project manager. Wikis may not be able to substitute for MS Project, but both complement the other in many ways. A Wiki document, for instance finds use as a communication tool by providing the PDF or JPG narrations of the current project plan to team members or even to customers, and becomes especially handy as not everybody will have MS Project installed.
The benefits that Wiki provides notwithstanding, using Wiki successfully requires much self-discipline from each individual user. Even one team member doing the wrong thing such as deleting an important update can wreak havoc. Again, open sourced Wikis do not have built-in easily updatable views for Gantt charts and graphical overviews. Another disadvantage is that using a Wiki requires connectivity to the Internet or access to the network where the Wiki is installed; and this may not be always available.
- Occidental College. "Using a Wiki as a Project Management Tool." http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/WRC08062.pdf. Retrieved Ocftober 23, 2011.
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons