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Enterprise Wiki Software - Criteria for selection and evaluation of wiki software

A wiki is an enterprise collaboration platform and it is becoming well established as both commercial and open source applications. It creates a common ground for your employees to communicate and share information with each other. Wikis can be very effective in streamlining the on-boarding process for new employees. A wiki can serve as a training aid for all new hires, no matter what office they are joining and can help standardize the process and put the necessary training information into an easily-accessible format. This article gives an overview of criteria and requirements involved in the decision making process of a wiki system for internal usage in the company. There are many critical factors involved that should be taken into account when selecting the right wiki system for your company. Before moving ahead, keep in mind the following:

  • A wiki without a good search engine is useless.
  • A wiki without a good WYSIWYG editor is useless.
  • A wiki that makes you feel lost every time you create a page is useless.

First of all, you should decide whether to opt for a free open source wiki or a commercial system. Most of the companies are not willing to use open source software for security reasons and they try to avoid open source wiki systems such as MediaWiki, Foswiki etc. So, if your company is willing to opt for a commercial system, then it is best to shortlist of commercial wiki systems and research the license fees and costs associated with each system? For commercial systems, one must take into account not only the cost of the software itself, but also the follow-up costs such as annual maintenance contract for technical support (if required). To help select the wiki system of your choice, following checklist can help you with the evaluation process.

1. Product History and Reputation

Wiki systems have been around for many years and it is really important to evaluate who is truly established and reputable in the market. Make sure the product you are going to select has been in the market for at least 4-5 years and is continuously developed during this period. Refrain from using a relatively new solution available in the market. You can ask for references from the company. References and experiences of other companies and service providers can play a major role at this step.

2. Technologies Used

What programming language is used and what databases are supported? LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP) is the most commonly available and widely used platform. So, it is preferred to have a wiki system developed in PHP language with MySQL database at the back-end to store wiki content. A solution developed in PHP can be used across all operating systems.

3. Ease of administration

It should be easy to administrate the wiki and manage content. So, check if it has a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor to create and manage content inside the Wiki. A WYSIWYG editor lets you author content exactly like you do it in a word processing application such as MS Word. It would be a great plus to have the facility to insert images via copy-and-paste or drag-and-drop methods.

4. Data Migration Facility

Many companies want to have the option to move their data to other systems at a later date. So, try to select a product from where the data can be exported for migration to another system (if required).

5. Affordability

Make sure not to go for any overpriced alternatives sold through large companies (eg. SharePoint). These tend not to work out-of-the-box and need heavy customization before getting started.

6. Strict NO to all-in-one solutions

Make sure not to buy a product that claims to be all-in-one (Chat, Calendar, Wiki, Community Forum, BugTracker all in one). From past experiences, these always tend to be mediocre in functionality. Get a tool focused to do its job.

7. Evaluate First

Always make sure to utilize and test it through a free trial and pilot the trial to a small team in your company to get feedback.

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