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When to use what in an organization with multiple knowledge management systems

I'm reaching out to the Atlassian community for some insights or success stories. Here's the situation:


I'm an IT manager at an organization that has a rather unwieldy Confluence instance. We've used Confluence for many years and it's served as the primary collaborative documentation tool. The mountains of content make it difficult to search, though.


Within the last few years, our organization has also onboarded GSuite where we have unlimited storage in Google Drive. Some users prefer creating and organizing content in Confluence; others prefer Google Drive. Now, for some types of content, it's easy to provide guidance on where it should live. If one is looking primarily for file storage, a place to backup media, or store company meeting videos, it should definitely be housed on Google Drive rather than Confluence.

However, it gets less clear once we start talking about team documentation. A Confluence page or a Google doc in a Shared Drive are functionally both completely valid options. Both can be searched and found by the teams that need them. Both offer collaborative editing. Both have sufficient rich text editing and formatting capabilities.
I would like to initiate a project in which we standardize how pages are produced and maintained in Confluence. I plan to use these new governance rules to clean up our instance. There are plenty of articles, webinars, and whitepapers about cleaning up Confluence. But, part of this huge effort involves equipping users with knowing WHEN to use GSuite vs WHEN to use Confluence.


I'd love to hear success stories from folks that use both Google Drive and Confluence. How did you create clarity into what each system is for at your organization? How did empower teams to autonomously maintain their produced content in both systems? What were some key lessons learned along the way in standardizing this for your users?
Thanks so much! Related insights are also welcome. It's so common to have some functional redundancies among the apps in a modern tech stack, so if you're in a similar situation, I'd love to hear about it even if it's not specifically related to Confluence and GSuite.

1 comment

Hey Andrew, 

We have the same challenge and I've been going through this already. We have both Confluence and Google Workspace as you do. Both systems have their benefits. It's hard to be the real-time collaboration you get in Google Docs/Drive, but the organization and content management functionality you get with Confluence is unmatched IMO. So we have taken the hybrid approach and made it easier for people to do things in both places. 

All internal documentation, policies, and procedures are stored in confluence. If there's a possibility it needs to be shared with someone outside the org then we just use a Google Doc. Sometimes it just makes sense to do things in Google. I don't bother trying to keep meeting notes in Confluence anymore unless they're directly tied to a particular project. You'll never get a team that relies on Google Sheets to use tables in Confluence.

We created is an External Files page in Confluence to keep track of relevant files that exist in Google Drive. For example, it could be a preliminary project plan or even a collection of new hire welcome docs. Word for the wise, make sure these are stored in a Shared Drive so they always remain accessible in the event the employee who created those files leaves the company.

Also, one thing I did was create a homepage in confluence that lists how what/where to save things in Confluence as well as hyperlinks to all of the Shared Drives and their purpose. It's an ongoing battle that we'll never win though. That being said, I'm playing with a couple of the Market Place add-ons to see if they solve our challenges. I'm starting with Google Drive for Confluence (Official) because it's the free one maintained by Atlassian. However, I really like the features of Google Drive & Docs for Confluence and Google Drive & Docs for Jira so I'll be testing them out as well.

Good luck and let me know what you decide! If you find a good way to handle this be sure to respond back with your solution. 

Like Andrew Zimmerman likes this

Thanks, Patrick!

These are great insights. I love the idea of an external files page in Confluence. Do you set up an external files up per space, or more of a "master page" for the instance?

I also like the idea of an explainer page that links out to shared drives and provides information on their contents and purpose.

Good tips -- thanks again!


We just have a page called "External Documents" nested under a parent folder called "Trackers" where we keep logs of all sorts of things like changes, meetings, etc. The page consists of two columns: Description and Link to File. It's pretty bare-bones but helps us keep an eye on things. Again, make sure they're saved in a Shared Drive or make sure you get into the habit of transferring files for suspended employees to an Archive user in Google Admin. 

Copy that! Thanks again, Patrick.


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