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We want to hear how your non-technical teams are using Confluence!

Hi Community! Kesha (kay-sha) from the Confluence marketing team here!

Can you share stories with us on how your non-technical (think Marketing, Sales, HR, legal, etc.) teams are using Confluence? What problem is Confluence solving for them? More details the better!

15 comments

I have had a frustrating time trying to make Confluence "take off" among the non-technical staff in our workplace. We have approx. 80-90 staff broken up into varying sizes of team. One new team manager last year just "got it" and ran with their space and that broke the ice, but only in their team. Now the largest team has finally decided it might be a good idea (because the first lot are getting such good value out of it) so they have appointed a "confluence captain" to manage their space.

Office teams sometimes don't want everyone to edit. The first team is happy for everyone to edit but the second wants just a few people to edit and the rest to use it read-only. This is in keeping with what the company originally purchased it for, as a Help system for our applications. So not everyone wants to use it the same way and users can be cautious and slow to adopt the system.

Meg Holbrook Community Champion Apr 16, 2018

I think the biggest help in implementing at my organization was for very simplified templates. Content creators typically do not want to go through the hassle of figuring out how to format their posts or figure out how to create rich content. 

I was reading the other day, (can't remember the source), that of all your wiki users, only 20% will create content, the other 80% are purely consumers. 

When you start figuring out what that 20% need to be successful, that's where you are going to find your biggest wins. What are those people doing repetitively that can be templated? 

Another benefit to simple templates it that readers come to know what to expect and don't have to wade through posts that all look differently. They know that going to page A and page D are going to be similarly constructed and they won't have to waste time finding what they need. 

Best of luck, Helen!

@Helen Smart - It would be helpful to understand how the teams are using it and what they are using it for? I know you mentioned it was originally brought in for read-only purposes for your help system documentation, but for these other teams that have started to adopt it, what are they using it for? 

It could also be worth just setting up permissions by space so you can not only honor what it was originally purchased for, but also empower other teams to use it as an actual collaboration tool. 

I really love @Meg Holbrook's idea around templates - it's the best way for teams to quickly understand how they can use Confluence and onboard into it pretty easily.

I also feel that once teams (especially this large team you speak of) actively start creating content and sharing it with other teams within Confluence, it'll become routine and others will quickly start to jump on. It helps to have a team that's championing the use towards others! At Atlassian, we have tons of spaces that are either team centric (like the Confluence marketing team puts all of our work in one space) or project centric (much more cross-functional, and for big projects that require more documentation/notes/etc.).

@Meg Holbrook - I'm SUPER interested in the templates you've created to help bring your org in. Do you mind sharing what some of them are with me?

Meg Holbrook Community Champion Apr 20, 2018

Hey @Kesha Thillainayagam,

The biggest use of templates for us has been to standardize data entry that is repetitive, which is obviously the entire purpose of a template. To that end, anything that can be made into a form, we do it. Risk logs, Parking Lot Items, Issue Logs, all have been templated and are added to each new space. 

The second biggest use of templates in my org is pre-formatted article templates with rich content. The complaint I hear the most from users is that Macros are not friendly enough for the casual contributor. With that being said, I have a number of pre-formatted templates that include Headers, places for images, panels, etc. This takes the guesswork away from a contributor and decreases the amount of styling guidelines they need to think about when all they need is a quick way to make and article. 

It would be great if Confluence would be a little more user friendly. Taking away nested tables was not a good idea. Also, it would be great to extract more info from Jira tasks aside from the summary and status. It seems that getting comments from tasks should be an option as well. We would like to use it to set up technical documents prior to the implementation of a website. I do however it needs more flexibility.

sorry for the delay in responding! 

@Meg Holbrook - with your date entry templates, do you find a way to link with JSW (when applicable, and assuming you use it)? I love the idea of pre-formatted articles! We do that for blog posts that we publish externally too! I may reach out to you in the future to take a peak :) 

@Carlos Borja - thank you for the feedback! I'll pass this along to my product team. It may be worth submitting feedback using the in product feedback option as well. 

Jodi LeBlanc Community Champion Apr 16, 2018

Hi Kesha, great question! Veterans Affairs Canada uses Confluence as their internal wiki. It is great for users to post a profile, and have the ability to wiki-compose policies and procedures. I find with using a tool that is new to users, it is best to cut the cord from email usage, or other tools. For example if you post a discussion item on Confluence, and then go and send the same discussion post via email, the green tomatoes will continue to use email. My suggestion to teams is to focus on the red tomatoes, those that are ripe and eager to jump in with both feet, and then the green tomatoes will ripen up in time, when they experience FOMO (fear of missing out), or realize they need to put their toe in the water and begin to embrace change :)

Hi @Jodi LeBlanc! Love the idea of "cutting the cord" for email usage - I totally agree. We almost never use email for any internal communication at Atlassian (unless it's very important 🙂). So it sounds like your teams are mostly using Confluence for policies and procedures, or asking questions - is that correct? Do you do much active collaboration within it, or is it mostly consumption based? And, do you mind shedding some light on the different types of teams that are using it most actively (operations, marketing, HR, etc.)?

@Helen Smart - it may be good to connect with Jodi here on how's she's managed to get her teams using Confluence!

Jodi LeBlanc Community Champion Apr 23, 2018

Thanks @Kesha Thillainayagam - We had a team that was not technical and moved them to a GCTools platform, and then stopped all email communication. It really helped a lot because as we know if we continue to send the updates by email, it does not give incentive for individuals to dip their toe in the water to use the tool. If they know they are missing information they need for their work, they will be more apt to login and start using the new tool.  I left Veterans Affairs 2.5 years ago for an assignment with another department, I will return in September and will be able to start using Confluence again and will see other areas of usage. When I left some were using it to collaborate on internal procedures, some were blogging, some were posting articles. I know the Ombudsman's office uses it with their whole team, which is great!

@Helen Smart would love to connect!

Sorry for the delay in responding @Jodi LeBlanc

Did you experience a lot of resistance to cutting email out as a main way to communicate internally? 

So good to hear so many use cases! Hopefully when you get back it's even more - I'll be curious to know!

Hi Kesha,

We have recently rolled out Confluence for use by our engineering team, however this has generated a lot of interest from our Operations and Quality departments who are looking at better ways to display "live" data of various sorts (quality statistics, some production status).  We are exploring the link between Jira and confluence to do this.   Maybe more technical than you are looking for, but i'm impressed so far how adaptable both Jira and Confluence are to these sort of applications.

Hi @Adam Wicks

So reporting is the big use case - nice! Jira + Confluence go great together for reporting, and just for adding the extra long form context to data or issues that live in Jira. Keep me posted on how it all works out, would love to hear about it :) 

Good morning and great question! My department which resides in the health care space ( Contact Center) is gearing up to leverage Confluence as a internal knowledge management application in which the agent can leverage knowledge articles to further assist our members during the call life-cycle.  I am actually leading and am one of the main designers for the project, all while I am self teaching our team the application. 

Confluence is new to our company so I am seeing other business areas starting to pickup the application to utilize for storing team internal documentation and a way in which to be forward facing among various areas of the organization. This is becoming a great collaborative tool to utilize outside of IT, as well as saving the company an additional expense to find a collaborative tool to use within the business. 

 

 

Hi @Michelle ! and happy Friday :)

Props to you for wearing #AllTheHats to get Confluence implemented. 

I love hearing all of this! Do you have any specifics on how the different business areas are using Confluence (i.e how Marketing/HR/sales/etc. is using it)? 

It's really great for knowledge mgmt both internally and for customer facing teams. Internally, I know you mentioned teams store their documentation, but do you use it in a collaborative way, or more consumption based? Is it purely storage or are people actively working on pages?

Since it's new for your company, I'll give you some insight into how we use Confluence at Atlassian to spark some inspiration (hopefully):

Every single one of our teams creates and actively collaborates on their team documentation within Confluence, but we also have spaces dedicated to projects (especially if they are cross functional) like marketing campaigns or product launches. Those always require a lot of content so it's nice to keep it all together where marketing, product, software, design, web team can all reference it and make comments or edits as they see fit.

In the spirit of being "forward facing", blogging out to the company could be a great way to support that. We love blogging internally about everything - results from campaigns or experiments, company news, promotions, really anything :) 

Super happy to hear how your company is using it, and since it's new, reach out if you need any tips! 

@Kesha Thanks for the response back!  

To answer your question on specifics: Our company has had Confluence for a few years, however it was more JIRA/Technical centered before it started to make its way into business operations.  We have had 45% growth this year in non-IT teams requesting a space, so as teams utilize this product, I think our adoption and useage will evolve!

A lot of teams are utilizing their spaces for knowledge sharing processes, managing their inter-department assigned work/approve content or want a delegated space to communicate/store procedural changes.  I have been sharing a lot of the fun features of Confluence ( such as managing a project) across a few teams to showcase other ways of utilizing the tool outside of just document consumption.  I have seen Confluence taking off rapidly across the organization and am working to create a cross-functional committee of users to meet monthly and share how we are using the product, tips we have learned, or just demoing our spaces.   Our team is going in a vastly different route-but as we began we hope to become Confluence "Evangelists"  ;).

Thanks for the tips on the "forward facing" aspect.  Its a fine line we face at our company that because we are health care, there's a certain level of privacy we have to exercise. 

One of the things I would love to hear more on, is how do others manage large quantities of documentation or knowledge articles.  With no folder structure in the file list page template, it can be challenging with managing the documents.  We have been creative in structuring a blank page as a "container" as a work around. Would sure love folders-then there's zero reason for SharePoint to be introduced ;) 

Hi @Michelle! Sorry for the delay! 

45% is a huge growth in non-IT teams requesting! So cool.

I love how committed you are to sharing best practices across your team, and moving Confluence out of just the consumption phase to collaboration as well! What kind of resources do you think would help make that process easier for you? I'd love to know where we can help support champions like yourself!

In regards to your question about managing documentation and knowledge articles - not sure I'm the best person to answer. Internally our documentation is a confluence page so the page tree is how we keep everything organized! We don't have many external files that we use unless it's a keynote/ppt (which we just embed on the page) or excel sheet/google sheet (which we embed using the GDrive app from the atlassian marketplace).

Meg Holbrook Community Champion Apr 16, 2018

Our organization (Mortgage Bank), is planning to roll out a Confluence instance as an intranet/wiki. All documentation that is not training-related will be stored here.

So happy to be moving away from Sharepoint. 

Agree with @Jodi LeBlanc that email usage is a crutch, and the sooner you get away from it, the better. 

Thanks @Meg Holbrook, great to hear you are moving from to Confluence for your organizational wiki! As you mentioned above, we have found that 90% are lurkers, 5% users and 5% power users. If senior leaders embrace the wiki and walk the talk, their employees will embrace it quicker. Employees pay attention to what their managers value, as well as the demonstrated value.

I am not sure if you read the age old book "Who moved my Cheese?"- a great change management book, and comes down to an agile mindset to new ways of working. 

Meg Holbrook Community Champion Apr 16, 2018

I haven't read that book, but I'm always looking for new ones. I'll check it out. 

Jodi LeBlanc Community Champion Apr 16, 2018

It’s a bit of a cheesy book, hence the name. Here’s the video which is coles notes of the book (it’s a cartoon) https://youtu.be/16hxCB1Dvd4

Hi @Meg Holbrook !

Nice - so it seems like most work for all of your teams will be in Confluence, correct? Is there a reason you chose to not include training material in Confluence? I only ask because a ton of teams use it as a way to onboard their employees so just curious! 

I would love to know more about why you're moving away from Sharepoint and how that decision came to be if you're comfortable sharing (also fine to talk privately if you wish).

@Jodi LeBlanc - agree with you on top down adoption makes it much easier to get the ball rolling. I also think that in order to really use Confluence in the best way and get the most value out of it, it requires a shift in company culture and being comfortable with more transparency internally and across teams. And a culture shift is much easier when you have the people up top to support it! 

Meg Holbrook Community Champion Apr 20, 2018

Hey @Kesha Thillainayagam,

We utilize Adobe Captivate for Training materials. We did this to take a more interactive avenue for learning that includes documentation, interactive courses, and quizzes. 

Since the majority of our organization operates on email, I can't say that we're all the way there in terms of adoption, but yes, most teams house workflow and general knowledge on Confluence. 

Our decision for moving away from Sharepoint was ultimately that the platform is clunky and over-restrictive. We really needed to simplify, and Confluence helped us achieve that. 

Jodi LeBlanc Community Champion Apr 24, 2018

@Kesha Thillainayagam absolutely Kesha, I couldn't agree more, it comes down to a positive culture shift in the organization, and leaders need to walk the talk and embrace the tools at the same time, to truly engage others to want to jump on board :) I also think demonstrating the ROI to employees, for example if they spend 5 hours to learn the tool, they could ultimately gain a month of productivity as a result etc. The "What's in it for me" needs to be shared with employees so they buy-in to the process from the beginning.

@Meg Holbrook - are you using Confluence Cloud or Server out of curiosity?

@Jodi LeBlanc - couldn't agree more! 

Would love to hear from you both on what resources would be helpful for you as you continue to champion the use of Confluence with your orgs! 

I'm on a non-technical team that supports technical people... But personally I have my own instance of confluence and jira for my video game hobbies. I'm hoping to make a gaming community out of it.

Hi @Heth Siemer ! Wait that is SO cool. Can you tell me more about the role they would play in a gaming community? 

I admit I'm not a huge gamer but I do ❤️ some good ol' super smash brothers, mario kart, zelda, and pokemon stadium - but only on N64 of course 😬

TBH I literally JUST set the instance up a few weeks ago. I'm not even sure what I'm doing yet!

@Heth Siemer - so sorry for the delay! But no worries :) Hopefully a few weeks later you've figured it out a bit more! If not, happy to try and help!

UPDATE: I failed my first attempt. Completely hate what I built. Scrapping and redoing after I move in August. Will update when I actually get to it.

I've used it as a sales knowledge base in several businesses. I works very well for this, because sales teams are often fast-moving and loosely structured, so they need a content management system that is very flexible, easy to organise and manage, and allows different people to engage in different ways.

In that situation, Confluence needs effective governance so that content ownership is clear and out-of-date content is quickly updated or removed.

For these kinds of team, it is head-and-shoulders above more rigid  and fiddly systems like SharePoint, although senior managers and IT often prefer SharePoint because it is seen as more secure. In my opinion that is an illusion - it is more 'locked down' but this doesn't really make it more secure. The freedom users get on Confluence often scares those responsible for governance

Hi @Martin Farley ! 

This use case is incredibly interesting to me. What kind of content lives in the sales knowledge base? I assume it'd be information around customers and accounts? 

Do you find that few people add this content and the rest of the team consumes, or does everyone play a role in creating, editing, and collaborating over the content?

Totally hear you on the content lifecycle management needs - we do have some great apps in the Atlassian Marketplace that may help with this if you're interested.

On your last point, I couldn't agree more. We are huge supporters of internal transparency when possible because that is where a lot of the knowledge transfer happens which is really powerful for a company. But, like you said, it does take a culture shift and a lot of getting used to for that to become a reality. Honestly, when I joined Atlassian I was so nervous to start doing any work because all of it was able to be seen by anyone in the company (unless I chose to lock it down, which I admit I did in the beginning), but now I can't even imagine not having my work open to my team to give feedback (or to just "like" it to make me feel good 🙂 ). 

Kesha,

The content is usually sales collateral (i.e. material about the company, it's goods and services on offer, the people etc), but that covers a wide range of material. It is normally intended for use in marketing material or bids/winning new work opportunities.

It would also include news on clients, sales activity etc. The information on clients/customers would have to be tightly managed to ensure consistency and usage that was in line with the client's own wishes/guidelines. 

On the whole, the content was managed by key content owners, but there were always a few super users who would emerge to help drive content. This is important, because without a tool like Confluence, they probably would never have come forward . 

I am aware of some of the content lifecycle add-ons, but would always be interested to hear about more.

I also agree with you about the transparency issue. It is difficult for some, but for me it now feels odd if everybody can't see what I'm doing. I guess the difference between open collaboration working or not, is usually to do with the cultural expectation. If new ideas and feedback are actively encouraged and rewarded then people feel happier to share; if people are punished for getting things wrong or disagreeing with an agreed position, then they tend to retreat back to their safe silo. This is why I find it often helps to have an ultimate owner of content, as they can always mediate in situations where there is a difference of opinion. They can also operate as a point of contact for people who want to input, but are hesitant to do so publicly (this has often been my role in managing knowledge bases using Confluence). 

Anyway, I could go on all day about this.... :)

Hi @Martin Farley ! Sorry for the delay in getting back to you! 

So it seems like there's quite a bit of content that sales creates/keeps in Confluence. And some of it is even for cross-functional purposes (i.e using it for marketing material). Does that mean other teams, like marketing are also on your Confluence instance?

In regards to having content managed by key content owners (and some power users), does that mean access is limited to only a few members of the team versus the whole sales team? Or does everyone have access but only a few are content creators and the rest consume content? I'd love to hear more about access and governance. 

"...but for me it now feels odd if everybody can't see what I'm doing." -- makes me so happy to hear that. And yes agreed, I think the fear of saying something wrong or contentious, or appearing less competent, is the biggest fear that actually prevents people from adopting such an open work culture. It's a really interesting approach that you and your team have taken to make people feel comfortable enough to contribute. I can only hope that it evolves to where you won't necessarily need one or a few people managing content (except for accuracy on client data) and everyone feels comfortable to both create new content and contribute to existing! 

Hi @Kesha Thillainayagam - yes, other teams including marketing, senior management and key operational staff were given edit access (everyone had view access). One non-sales team (Health & Safety) were the most enthusiastic users and moved their entire collection on to Confluence because it was easier to update, share and gain feedback in a focused way (beforehand, their phone rang all day with people asking the same questions, even though the answers were in the documentation stored on the intranet).

In terms of content management, we gave the opportunity to everyone, but only those who demonstrated a willingness and ability to do it effectively were given free reign. This involved some subjective decision making on the part of the administrator (i.e. me), but I tried to be generous to encourage participation. I guess it broadly adhered to the rule that 90% were consumers, 9% were creators/collaborators and 1% were drivers/super users. However, everyone was given the opportunity to be in the latter 2 groups.

I now work in a team that doesn't use Confluence and they spend half their life just trying to connect the individual silos and figure out what everyone else is doing.

Real-time collaboration doesn't just make a team more efficient, it creates opportunities that otherwise would never exist. It's not a step change, it a game change. 

@Martin Farley is spot on. Everything in this comment thread matches my experience precisely—and I too have used Confluence for producing and distributing sales support collateral. Getting others to collaborate is challenging, but even when only a few people are producing the bulk of the content, it makes so much more sense to make the work accessible.

I would like to add that one reason many 'consumers', as Martin calls them, do not contribute because of their fear of 'saying the wrong thing'. Similarly, many managers are very concerned about the 'wrong' content being accessible, or the 'wrong' people accessing it. Both groups seem to misunderstand the notion of real-time collaboration, and instead see participation on Confluence as something more formal that it needs to be. I have had people tell me they could not / would not / should not provide input or even see certain content on Confluence because the content was not approved, or not relevant for their region, or similar. When I ask if they can discuss the very same content with me on the phone, they say "Sure. No problem".

@Martin Farley - I keep delaying my response back to you, apologies!

Gotcha - your approach totally makes sense. And better to have it under control with contributors and creators who can responsibly create content before it gets out of hand. If 90% are consumers, where are they choosing to create their content (there's usually always something to document I think)? I assume it's word or Google docs.

This new team you work on, is there a reason they haven't adopted Confluence to help them connect across the team?

That last sentence is $$$ - we should quote you forever with that one!

@Ryan Carpenter - totally agree with you, visibility and accessibility is so so key. 

Yeah, I mentioned this up top somewhere (this thread has gotten so long!) but when I first joined Atlassian I was terrified of commenting or creating anything! And then you realize everyone is so busy doing their own work in Confluence that no one is even paying attention to what I'm doing, unless I share it with them or have purposely linked it in a more public or heavily trafficked space. In re. to your formality point, I really do wish there was a clear way to show how informal Confluence can and should be. Just as I have a convo with you in the hallway on my way to a meeting, I can and should be able to have that same convo with you over some comments on a Confluence page. 

I'm happy to provide you with nice quotes - I'm a massive Confluence advocate (even a bit obsessive), so always happy to spread the word.

Sadly, my current employer has made an active decision to ditch Confluence and push everyone on to SharePoint (boo, hiss...). I also discovered recently that the first company that I introduced to Confluence in 2006 has now decided to do the same. It seems that we're losing this battle in some quarters... In both situations, the decision was made by IT, who tend to see everything in terms of structural IT alignment to make their own lives easier, rather than in providing opportunities to users. There doesn't seem to be anyone advocating effectively for the user in either case.

The fact that this thread has taken on a bit of a life of its own suggests there might be cause to expand this conversation. I often feel that Confluence  users (not administrators) are a slightly neglected corner of the Atlassian community... :)

@Martin Farley We can't like comments on community at the moment but thumbs up on your comment! 

Thank you - good to see others feel the same way :)

@Martin Farley - I'm here for the users! You are the ones who are deep in the product so it's always SO helpful for me to learn from all of you! 

We'll have to look into this Confluence > Sharepoint transition a bit more, but thank you for the insight - very helpful!

We as a producing company for decors and surfaces - pretty sure you stumbled across our products while visiting IKEA - are using Confluence as a wiki. 

Starting of with a product training two years ago - we collected and overworked a lot of information transforming it to knowledge. We want to make knowledge about processes, products aso. available and usable for over 15 producing locations worldwide. This should, and already has, improve our collaboration between the different locations starting from Germany to USA to Russia and China. 

We use addons like Quizzes for our training and help both longtime and new employees to find all information needed - regardless of place and time in a central place. Thanks to Confluence, the entire contents of the images and films are processed in multimedia.

Information, knowledge and documentations are generated exclusively by our experts for the various areas. But all colleagues worldwide have the opportunity to ask questions and submit topics and suggestions.

Thank god we didn't chose SharePoint - which was discussed when started  :) 

Hi @Fabienne Gerhard! So sorry for the delay in response. 

Nice! I do love IKEA :) 

So it sounds like you've created an internal knowledge base that has information on processes and policies, and around your products. And you've made it available company-wide across your 15 locations!

I'd love to know a bit more on how it's improved collaboration? Are people both consuming and collaborating within confluence around this information? You mentioned that all your info is generated by experts, but colleagues are able to submit topics and suggestions. I'd love more information around this whole process! 

:)

@Kesha Thillainayagamsorry - totally forgot to respond.

Who does not like IKEA :D (except when you really need a huge amount of things - which you have to shop on a saturday - right at the beginning of the semester...)

It really improved collaboration - employes start to appreciate the benefits of knowledge-on-demand we are offering with the system.

We made it available for people from production to office. As not everyone has access to an own PC - we are working with postcards, email and phone so everyone can ask questions, make suggestions, sign in for experts, criticize and propose new topics in every facility around the world. There are keyusers for every location which post the questions and we work together discussing suggested topics, contact experts and help them working on topics and plan next steps together.

Experts are the people having special knowledge in a topic. We (me and the keyusers) support them to work together with experts from related topics and working on their spaces.

We not really created a process - but are growing with our tasks :)
Probably that's quite normal when building a new "house"

haha no worries @Fabienne Gerhard ! I've been slacking too :)

I was actually just at IKEA last weekend and it was chaos! 

Ah I see - well I'm glad to hear there's still a way for everyone to contribute even if they don't have access to their own PC. That's really inclusive of you all, well done! 

And progress is progress, doesn't have to be perfect! As long as it's working for you!

I am part of a small Quality Improvement team within a nation-wide healthcare focused organization. We are using Confluence to track Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) cycles created by teams at our various sites. They fill out a PDSA template in Confluence and the QI team reviews and provides feedback using comments on the page. This has been a great tool for communicating remotely and collaborating with teams! 

We'd like to take it one step further, building out a structure in Confluence that would allow teams to share their projects more holistically (PDSA's are just one part of a QI project!) and potentially update and share data (as run charts). I'm having trouble with building a template for our teams to use and easily incorporate run charts or data-tracking into Confluence (we're cloud-based), however. I am still new to the tool, so any tips or examples are appreciated!

Out of interest, what do you use for your forms? Have you created your own template, or do you use something else, like the Confiforms Add-on?

We have created a template PDSA page that teams can create and complete.

Hi @Karina Melkonyan! Sorry for the delay in responding! 

I LOVE how you're using Confluence - pushing people to create within the tool and collaborate via comments on those pages. That's great! 

I think supporting your teams to share their projects and providing visibility into those projects is exactly how we'd want teams using it. Do you also use Jira or have teams that use Jira? Because integrating the two together may help with incorporating charts/data on projects. I'd also take a look at the Atlassian Marketplace to see if anything there can help you. I would also take a look at this thread on templates other teams have created within Confluence, it may give you some ideas.

And since your new, here are some keyboard shortcuts that may help you out!

Reach out if you need anything as you're pushing out the use of Confluence more!

Susan Ostreicher Community Champion May 09, 2018

I work in product management, supporting sales and client service teams. We moved to Confluence after our company decided not to renew Sharepoint. 

We'd been wanting to get our internal knowledge out of MS documents and into more of a knowledge base format, so Confluence met that need nicely.  We love that the wiki format encourages people to always check back for the latest information (versus saving a file to their desktop and wondering why it's not accurate a few weeks later). And we love the potential for linking, labeling, re-using content, tracking changes, watching pages, and creating workflows for review. 

One note is that we use the site for one-way communication, not collaboration. Most people who view the site don't have permission to edit, but this works fine for us because the purpose is to publish and share best practices, not to work on something that's still in progress. 

This is my experience of using Confluence with sales teams (mostly). It's fine to have limited collaboration - Confluence is great, even just as a way of easily publishing and updating content - but I usually found at least a few super users who would collaborate and drive a lot of the content development.

Hi @Susan Ostreicher!

Do you mind giving me any insight into how you came across Confluence as the option that fit your needs?

Another question :) Have you considered having your knowledge base spaces as consumption only (so no edit permissions), and then allowing the rest of your team to do their personal work/collaboration in their own personal spaces (or new project related spaces) within Confluence?

Example - if I'm on the sales team, I go out to meet a customer and I want to take notes on the meeting and outcome to share with the rest of the team later. I could do that in my personal space and then be able to easily share that with the rest of the team in Confluence where they can add any questions on the page.

Only curious if there's a way that happens now, or if there's anything about Confluence that prevents you from wanting to move past the knowledge base use case. Everyone uses it so differently so it's always interesting for me to learn! 

Thank you for sharing!

Susan Ostreicher Community Champion May 14, 2018

Hi @Kesha Thillainayagam

To the first question, other parts of our company (especially software teams) are using the Atlassian suite, so that's probably how we became aware of it. 

To your second question, we just haven't seen a particular advantage in using Confluence for this purpose versus a solution like Google Docs. Limiting the scope of what's on the site also makes the content significantly easier to manage with a small team. 

Hope this is helpful!

Very helpful, thank you!

Maarten Cautreels Community Champion May 10, 2018

While we have multiple teams use Confluence outside of IT the team that is using it the most is our Call Center team. They use it for their intranet and documentation used to help resolve our customers issues and guide our Call Center operators to the right tools to find the correct information.

Apart from that all promo's and specifics about our 20+ brands are listed to help our Call Center team sell new subscriptions to customers. 

Hi @Maarten Cautreels

We hear this use case very often!  Do you also integrate the knowledge base with Jira Service Desk, or does your call center team use a different tool?

Very cool, glad to hear it's been working well! :)

Maarten Cautreels Community Champion May 14, 2018

Hi @Kesha Thillainayagam,

They are very happy about it! Unfortunately the Contact Center team that is using JSD is  still on S*point but will have to be moving to something else (most likely Confluence) in the future. Using the knowledge base in JSD might be a good selling point. :-)

The team that is already on Confluence have been super happy since. :-) They are not using JSD yet but once they are looking for something similar, I know what to propose. :-)

@Maarten Cautreels

haha I think using the KB in JSD is a great selling point :) 

And glad to hear it, keep me updated on if they make the transition! 

Hello @Kesha Thillainayagam,

As a content marketer at a Marketplace app vendor (and a Platinum Solution Partner as well), I definitely fall under the "power user" category, if it comes to Confluence :) And I can say that we use it practically for everything related to the tasks that live in Jira (except the code, which lives in Bitbucket). For the Apps department that I work in, a single space is enough to build a comprehensive page tree.

In Confluence, I document the content strategy and all the plans and ideas for upcoming campaigns. I draft all the content there first, which allows me to get the feedback quickly as inline comments and then edit according to them. Personally, I like starting with a blank page - despite not being technical, I can do pretty much anything I need with the software's rich text editor. The only thing I could complain about is the tables:

1. It's impossible to copy/paste the content of a whole row or a column, as everything gets pasted to one cell;

2. When I select the content of a column and try to apply formatting to it, it changes only for the top cell. Which is strange, because it's working well with the rows.

Our publishing and event calendar is in Confluence, too - we fill it in during the planning sessions. We store files there as well, like commonly used graphics, event prospects and slides.

As for activities not related to marketing, Confluence mostly acts as a knowledge base with documents to all the tools, procedures and processes that we're into, useful links, etc. Previously we also stored product documentation for our customers there, but now we're migrating it to https://deviniti.com/support to tie it to our website.

Oh, and the Team page is highly important! We've got profiles there with photos and bios of ours, and the Team News subpages act as an internal newsletter - we create a new one each month.

You've built such a great tool for creative collaboration that I think even if I'd work outside the Atlassian ecosystem, I'd insist on buying Confluence for me and my team. Thank you guys for your effort :)

Hi @Dzmitry Hryb [Deviniti]

SO sorry for the delay in responding to you! It's awesome to hear from a power user like yourself, and I especially love how you're using Confluence to plan and collaborate on your content - that's how I do it too! 

I hear you on the tables, it's something that our team is addressing and I'll be sure to pass on your feedback to them! 

Do you use Team Calendars for your publishing and event calendar? Really cool use case, I like how you attach all the reference materials that you'll need. Keeps it all organized :)

Aside from a knowledge base, do other teams use Confluence in the collaborative way that you and your team do or does the rest of your company use it for consumption? If it's just for consumption, I'd love to hear a bit more on why.

A team page + monthly newsletter sounds like a great culture builder internally! Hopefully people don't just consume the newsletter but it engage with it too?

Very happy to hear that how beneficial Confluence has been for you and your company Dzmitry! I may reach out in the future to dive a bit deeper into your use case! Thank you!

If you're interested, here's the Community Showcase article on this topic based on my previous reply and the interview I gave to Bridget Sauer: https://community.atlassian.com/t5/Agile-articles/How-Deviniti-uses-Atlassian-tools-to-track-tasks-manage/ba-p/839029

Great article @Dzmitry Hryb [Deviniti]. This is approximately how I would like to use Confluence with external clients/collaborators. Interesting comments about your move to Hugo. The final stage of content publishing is an important part of committing to collaboration in confluence. I just had a call yesterday with a client who wants final copy in a word doc, even though he is quite happy to collaborate with me on Confluence. A word doc is the format expected by his internal stakeholders. Exporting to from Confluence to Word is ok, but requires additional formatting to be acceptable in this case.

In the case of publishing to the web or transferring to a client CMS, there is a similar issue that the final product will live outside of Confluence. @Kesha Thillainayagam, this is something to think about since there are many situations when non-technical content will have one more production stage after collaborative creation in Confluence. The ability to smoothly move text and assets into their final publishing format is important (that may be a strength of some competing tools). I have not looked in detail at plugins for this, so there may already be good solutions I am not aware of. In my previous employment, integration with InDesign would have been handy—don't know if that exists.

Hi,

I've been a wiki protagonist since the first month it was available in our company and keep consulting people who find editing and searching difficult. Best practice ideas for documentation exist as many as authors. My strength was, that I could prove to have read through 800 historical documents, each claiming to be the right way to do documentation for users. From 40 different titles for certain types of documentation I extracted about 15 to persist. All other names were extinguished. So people got used to use significant terms to talk about certain types of documentation.

We did not invest into discussions on templates and their layout. We just defined, which target group should be addressed by which document type (like beginners or elaborated users, general users or specialists, managers or workers...). Moreover we communicated from the beginning, that wiki documentation is done for certain communities and by these communities. People could advance as keyusers just by being contributors to documentation for colleagues.

This way project teams were released from preparing everything in perfection and could hand-over to line business early. Business people accepted this kind of documentation as they saw they can contribute and comment - which by the way is much quicker than waiting for results from the 2nd line support via Servicedesk.

As people's names appear on top of each page some were motivated others were scared. We also spoke out loudly, that everyone could contribute as he likes. But we will not accept complaints on quality of documentation without participating in continuous improvement. Indeed we suppress unproductive comments by asking back or deleting them. Nobody needs trolls. They may complain at their boss and if those guys contact us, we're well prepared to argue.

Nevertheless people who contribute busily often have issues with formatting in exactly the way they like. Of course they apply experience from Microsoft Office and sometimes there's nothing comparable in the rtf editor. Also using multimedia is an issue. Flash plugins just don't reproduce the look of attached or linked Office files as they should . This should be a field of prioritized improvement. We also found out, that the include page macro slows down performance dramatically. But why? If I capsule included pages into expand macros, there is no need to load the included pages immediately. It's enough, when they are loaded in the second I open the expand option. This would enhance the use of outstanding wiki features a lot!

Let's see if programmers can do something about that.

Hi @Anselmo

So sorry for the delay in responding to you! I love that you found a way to keep your documentation consistent within your company! 

Just to clarify, it sounds like only certain people or groups had access to actually create documentation, but anyone could engage with the documentation through commenting/contributing? Or could anyone create documentation as well?

I like that you had the expectation around quality of documentation and not accepting complaints, and your no trolls rule! (I agree). At Atlassian everyone is able to create whatever they want in Confluence and sometimes they are quick and choppy pages and sometimes they are really well put together. At the end of the day, as long as it's communicating the information that it's supposed to it's fine! 

Thanks for all the feedback as well, I'll pass it on but I suggest also raising these comments via the "Feedback" option in Confluence! 

Thanks Anselmo! 

Hi  @Kesha Thillainayagam,

thanks for responding anyway. Actually everybody may create pages or even apply for his own wiki space in our company. But we especially expect people to do so, who are involved in documentation anyway.

We live with the fact, that middle management and upper management don't care much for the benefits of wiki documentation unless their employees ask for being allowed to use it. Management still is served with PowerPoint as they used to be. There seems to be no need felt to know about the actual state of documentation for "folks".

Therefore I think it's fine, when folks take the initiative for their own needs in their own hands. That's what I support instead of discussing wiki with management until all volunteer initiatives are dead.

Hi @Anselmo, happy Friday! 

Got it - that makes sense! Does upper or middle management ever use Confluence to send out blogs to the company for announcements or any type of big news?

We do that and it always makes the company feel much closer and involved, even though we're all located around the world. Just a suggestion :)

Hi  @Kesha Thillainayagam,

I can't remember I ever saw a blog post or some page edit from my management. Their contact with wiki is rather like: "Folks, you should use it, when we decide that it is the right way to do documentation." I don't know how they are actually able to decide this. I'd always prefer to use a tool myself, before I recommend it to anybody. But this is for sure, why I'm not in management :o)

I must admit, that I even prefer a partisan method to spread the word for a good tool instead of trying to convince management. This is a waste of time, while you could be an evangelist for good stuff in the meantime. When a solution is good, folks will be convinced anyway and management must admit, that their folks did a decision on their own some day. Decisions always should be taken where the information is, not where information needs to be pushed uphill.

As a freelancer, I use confluence cloud as client portal. The communication is mostly one-way from me to clients, but Confluence still has some benefits for me.

  • It's transparent
  • Keeps a history of communication and versions (without complicated email threads)
  • Opportunity to share descriptions and comments on content along with the content (unlike share drives that revolve around files). I don't understand why share drives don't offer a directory or make it easy to add/view descriptions of files.
  • Allows organization of content for easier navigation by visitors. The best I can do with a share drive is create a logical file structure, and, obviously, I can't organize the inbox of an email recipient!

One problem is that I have to use separate Confluence instances for each client. There is a plugin that can fully partition different spaces for different user groups. Unfortunately, it is only available for confluence server.

Hi again @Ryan Carpenter :)

I asked you this question on how you use it as a freelancer in the marketing post but you've documented it here, so don't feel like you need to answer me there too! 

I love that you've found such a great way to organize all of your client documentation, and make it easier on both of you it looks like.

And yeah that multi-instance situation is a bit of a hassle eh? I'll keep this in mind when I chat with our product team. Thanks for sharing Ryan!

@Kesha Thillainayagam, I want this to be more of a success story, but I'm afraid it's still a work in progress. Separate instances are impractical to administer, and I am using them only temporarily, which means importing the content to another, central instance after project completion. Migration and even general admin can be a risky business. I spent weeks exchanging messages with Atlassian about a user management mess I created because of a typo in a user email address. Most small business owners would just use Dropbox, Box, O365, or Google docs (I am using all of those too), but I am more tenacious than average, so I plan to move to Confluence Server and give it another try.

A lot of our non-technical teams actually use JIRA for their agile planing and execution. As such, the integration with Confluence allows them to document reports, epics description, meeting notes and sprint documentation. Beside and as mentioned by others as well, appropriation to Confluence is never even across the teams so power users, lurkers and more casual contributors will emerge and make the spaces live and grow. But as time goes, the teams start to organize/merge their knowledge base as people start to realize, thanks to Confluence's transparency, work is being duplicated and collaborating would save much more time.

One thing that need to be encouraged more is to be more encouraging of wiki contributions from temporary workers. This is so important since those workers have a lot to contribute to the knowledge base. Especially if they help implement something that need maintenance :)

Hi @Julien Nicolas de Verteuil! Happy Friday! 

I love this response - I think it really captures the evolution that Confluence commonly goes through at companies just starting. It takes some time to realize the benefit but once you have enough documentation in there, you really see how valuable it can be to collaborate on that documentation.

Also great to hear we have non-technical teams using both Jira and Confluence together - music to my ears :) Do you have any examples of the types of non-technical teams using either or both products (i.e marketing, hr, sales, etc.)?

And good note on the temporary users, will keep it in mind! Thanks Julien!

Hi @Kesha Thillainayagam!

I actually have just went over the process of configuring the JIRA project for the marketing team with a combination of JIRA Agile (Boards), JIRA Portfolio and JIRA Service Desk. Multiple teams will have a role to play in the project and it's been set up accordingly so they are provided with the right information at the right time.

I will ask them if they're comfortable with me sharing more information on their project and if they are, I'll make sure to make a replay on your other post!

I can say that we have :

  • Sales teams (branches, calling center, etc.) that are using Confluence for all their KB.
  • Marketing use JIRA to plan/execute marketing campaigns
  • Lots of non-technical teams have got a sweet spot for JIRA Service Desk. This allows centralization of their inbound requests form other departments. It replaces their shared team email with a tool that provide a way to collaborate and have more visibility on the workflow. These JSD are not available to the customers of the company, they are there to provide support between employees.

There you go!

Have a nice day!

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