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!

7 comments

I have had a frustrating time trying to make Confluence "take off" among the non-technical staff in our workplace. We have approx. 130 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 Monday

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 Friday

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. 

Carlos Borja I'm New Here yesterday

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.

Jodi LeBlanc Community Champion Monday

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!

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! 

Meg Holbrook Community Champion Monday

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. 

Jodi LeBlanc Community Champion Monday • edited

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 Monday

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

Jodi LeBlanc Community Champion Monday

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 Friday

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. 

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 😬

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.... :)

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