Browse Category by Use Case

Best practice: Developing products and services with a wiki

Pinakothek der Moderne
More orientation in the product management with wikis. Image: Pinakothek der Moderne, München 2004, by: Reinhard Jahn (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Wikimedia Commons.

A wiki is the central tool for sharing information about changing products and services centrally, efficiently and systematically. Are there best practises? We have compiled the most important questions.

When companies develop their services and products, there are many questions that need to be answered quickly and communicated to the relevant departments and teams:

  • What is included in the product?
  • How is the product calculated?
  • How does the product differ from competing products?
  • Is there a need to observe certain procedures and requirements at the time of delivery?
  • Where is there additional information about quality features or about similar products in the product range?
  • What are the experiences with this product and how should it be further developed?

Sales, development, project management and support depend on up-to-date information in order to carry out their tasks efficiently and efficiently. Continue Reading

Agile prototyping: “MediaWiki is like a white sheet of paper for data”

The Wikipedia software MediaWiki is a well known solution for collaborative knowledge platforms. It is less popular, but not less ideal, for the development of prototypes and new platforms.

At this year’s Semantic-MediaWiki-Konferenz (SMWCon) in Frankfurt, our Hallo Welt! Technical Manager Markus Glaser talked about this connection between MediaWiki and prototyping. Here are the slides of his presentation.

Markus Glaser started his presentation explaining different forms of prototyping. His introduction was followed by showing MediaWikis richness of functionalities. By combining and expanding these functionalities, you can develop new and very specific applications. MediaWiki already provides a large toolkit, which allows quick adjustments without having to program completely new functions.

The semantic MediaWiki extension packages, which can be used to capture and query metadata, are certainly worth mentioning. Those are very useful, if for example data models are being modeled or user interfaces and operating elements still have to be positioned. Of course BlueSpice for MediaWiki supplies a wide range of options. Responsive skins like Chameleon are the basis for stylish surfaces. And with Lua you have a script language, with which the construction of a page can be designed very dynamically.

That means MediaWiki is an ideal base to build agile new knowledge platforms. The flexibility of MediaWiki means a great advantage in time. You don‘t have to be a programmer to build these prototypes, because a lot of these things can already be done with the  integrated tools of MediaWiki. Like this you get a working system at an early stage, with which you can gather important experiences.

Nevertheless users should be aware that, despite the variety of integrated tools, developing a new knowledge platform is always complex and cost-intensive: planning, meetings and adjustments take time. After the development of an alpha or beta version, individual functionalities have to be professionalized and programmed independently.

You might say that the development of a stable productive system takes as much time as the development of the beta version for the first test users. However, the time and the risks of development are significantly reduced with the prototyping based on MediaWiki.

Military Wiki: Standard Profile, Article Rating and Gamification

Jason Bock works for a company called DSA, which primarily does IT Support for the US Department of Defense. He is responsible for milWiki, a military enterprise wiki started in 2008 to be an „online internal encyclopedia for the US Department of Defence“. Milwiki is one component of an overall suite of DoD social business tools called milSuite. The milWiki alone supports 400.000 users and contains more than 20.000 articles in more than 7.000 categories.

In 2010 Semantic MediaWiki and later Semantic Forms were introduced to milWiki, which had a major impact on the data integrity.

In his talk at the Enterprise MediaWiki Conference 2016 in New York Jason Bock informed about some social aspects they built into the system also implemented by the functions of Semantic Mediawiki.

Standard Profiles

  • Instead of „normal“ wiki user page there is a template/form with certain fields,
  • Minimum information of the user like name, foto, skills, location and some tags to match across users,
  • Alternatively, the PageNotice extension can add a template with information on acquired points or badges in the header or footer of the user page.

Article Rating/Reviews

  • Customer wanted to have a rating tool like in TripAdvisor
  • Elected to go with the SemanticRating extension which places a form on any wiki page generating a subpage for the rating and the review.
  • Implemented an template which shows all ratings and reviews in a list attached to the article
  • Calculation from all the ratings on the subpages to get an average score of „stars“

Point System

  • Introduces elements of gamification to the wiki
  • Rewards users for creating, editing and gardening efforts
  • Special feature: points for users for each additional author who contributes to a page that user created
  • Point calculation shown in a sidebox on user page

Automated User Badges

  • Manually badges did not work,
  • Automated badging system like in Foursquare and ProjectNoah (National Geographic),
  • Rewards participation within specific topic areas,
  • Helps to identify the experts for certain topics,
  • Tap into Semantic Ratings effort to reward users who receive positive reviews on articles.

At the end of the talk Jason shows some very useful code examples concerning the mentioned social functions.

Collecting and distributing an organisation’s knowledge: Knowledge management and QM at ASIS GmbH – a use case

A part of the exchange station for abrasive materials from ASIS GmbH
A part of the exchange station for abrasive materials from ASIS GmbH

ASIS GmbH from Landshut works in the area of automation technology. This medium-sized company is focused on surface engineering for the car industry. ASIS develops and produces, amongst other things, painting and grinding finishing systems. They currently have about 120 employees.
I spoke with Jana Timinger, Technical Editor at ASIS GmbH, about how knowledge and quality management have changed as the firm has grown.

Ms Timinger, ASIS has experienced many changes in the last few years. What challenges have these changes brought with them?

We have grown from 70 employees to 120 in just a few years. As well as this, we have two locations, and many members of staff who work a great deal out and about, or at customers’ premises. This means that we always have to consider the question: How we can organise teamwork over these distances properly, for example for projects in which planners from several locations collaborate. Put most generally: How can we keep all members of staff informed of important information on a regular basis, and how can documents be centrally accessible and findable? Our previous data storage structure was not ideal for meeting these challenges.

What made you want to find a system to meet these challenges? And what were your requirements for such a system?

The first thing that set us off was quality management. For this, we had documents in a type of intranet. This was not particularly convenient, and we were not happy with it because things were often filed twice and our members of staff could not access the documents easily. In addition, our technical departments wanted to be able to keep their knowledge centrally so that it was available for everyone in that department, but also for everyone across the company. Word documents disappear too easily and too quickly somewhere on the server – they are not really able to be found again.

Now, our quality management is completely documented in the wiki and we have set up subportals for our individual departments, in which the technical departments can place and stress relevant information and news. Continue Reading

Knowledge management and handbooks in the financial sector: A wiki with blog for the Saalfeld-Rudolstadt district savings bank

“Finally, more time for business thanks to the Web 2.0 – The Saalfeld district savings bank cracks open its knowledge silos and finds a new way to deal with rules” by Christian Sauer (summary of the progress report by Nathalie Köpff).

It is well-known that many things in Germany are over-regulated. Instead of supporting creativity and entrepreneurial thinking and action, too much regulation blocks the big picture and leads to redundancy, or in extreme cases to contradiction. The introduction of the Web 2.0 breaks open knowledge silos, helps colleagues share newly-acquired knowledge, in a central place accessible by all, for example in the intranet. Members of staff should have an information platform available which motivates their active cooperation, adding discernible value.

Online organisation handbook and open documentation

The Saalfeld-Rudolstadt district savings bank wiki meets both requirements. One part of the wiki satisfies the statutory and supervisory editorial requirements. This area fixes the procedural rules for business operations. Amongst other things, there is an open area in which the staff can freely document their knowledge. A blog provides support for the system, giving a non-binding form of transmitting information.

The main page of S-Pedia links to important innovations
The main page of S-Pedia links to important innovations

The backing of the management was indispensable to guarantee a wide enough basis for support and initiative. Furthermore, users were needed who really see the need, and last but not least a suitable provider. To get the project of the ground, one has to concentrate on the users, as they will be working with the system later on. For this reason, members of staff from the most diverse divisions of the company were integrated into the planning process right from the start. Taking the requirements of the users into account early on, avoids acceptance problems later on and developments missing the users’ requirements. In the case of the district savings bank, the first job was to determine the central activities clearly and specify a name for the platform: S-Pedia. Continue Reading

Create technical handbooks in an enterprise wiki – the TenneT TSO example

tennet-logo-180pxManaging documentation and handbooks has become one of the most common uses for wikis in companies. But how does such a platform actually look? Well, let us show you the business wiki “transpedia” from TenneT TSO GmbH.

TenneT TSO GmbH is a German subsidiary of the Dutch electricity supplier TenneT operating an ultra high voltage network (220kV and 380kV) with a total length of about 10,700 kilometres. This gives them coverage of 40 percent (140,000km²) of Germany so they indirectly supply about 20 million people with electricity. TenneT constructs and operates infrastructure for transmitting electrical energy both on land and at sea. In order to construct and maintain these far-reaching networks, they need to put guidelines in place. TenneT has been using a Hallo Welt! wiki since 2009, to maintain their technical regulations and keep them up to date. The system was upgraded to the newest BlueSpice version in 2014.

Essentially, it involves the handbooks Building and Construction (BuE), and Network Management and Working in the Network (NAN). These contain the internal regulations concerning the construction and operation of the technical equipment and, since 2010, have been displayed in “transpedia”. Continue Reading

Company wiki HAVIpedia – HAVI Logistics on their way to Enterprise 2.0

This progress report is based on an interview with Miriam Schönberg who is responsible for knowledge management at HAVI Logistics, playing the decisive role in HAVIpedia’s development. HAVI Logistics is a company providing third party logistics for the food services industries, supplying various types of companies including restaurant chains, such as McDonald’s, Nordsee and Vapiano. The company currently has 5,510 employees and 55 distribution centres in Europe.

How did the wiki develop from a departmental wiki to a company wiki?

HAVI Logistics started a departmental wiki for the IT department back in 2004. Six years later, they introduced what was then the first Hallo Welt! GmbH wiki. It was called “hallowiki”. It extended MediaWiki, which was already in place, and made the departmental wiki available to more than 200 users in our IT area in different countries.
The current main page of HAVIpedia

The current main page of HAVIpedia
The current main page of HAVIpedia

 

It soon became clear that the information in the wiki was not only interesting and helpful for IT, but also for those departments which work with the IT department. Therefore we opened up HAVIpedia in 2011 for all our colleagues in the business. In theory, since this date, every employee who has access to the firm’s network has been able to get onto the wiki, find information, and contribute too.

There are no read-only rights, as everyone should and may take part. HAVIpedia is also connected to the Active Directory which means that our colleagues log in with their normal accounts and are also registered in the wiki on the move. Continue Reading

BlueSpice for MediaWiki as CMS – use case of EXTREME technologies

XTREME Technologies is using BlueSpice for technical documentation. The Wiki has been established to support processes and collaboration between technical editors, service engineers and developers. Knowledge in the case of XTREMEtech is an asset that needs to be revised and spread among workers. Anja Weinert and Martin E. Brüggemann describe the lessons learnt on their journey towards a wiki-based content management system (CMS).

If you want to learn more about this XTREME Technologies use case, please contact Hallo Welt! GmbH.
(Phone +49 941 – 660 800)