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Knowledge Management in large organisations using Confluence

Firstly, this is not a technical discussion about confluence or plugins for confluence. It's about how an organisation should or could manage the use of confluence so that the information contained in it us useful.

We are a large organisation that has made confluence available to the staff. Over the years, people have added information in about projects, products, architectures, system connectivity, you name it. The result to date, conceptually, is that confluence has become a mixture of "gold" and "dirt" (mostly dirt) with the problem that one cannot tell what the gold is and what the dirt is. We have no central management of confluence and so it's a very dangerous place to look for information, especially for newcomers to the company, because you cannot tell what's gold and what's dirt. You find info that says system x connects to system y via an SFTP link but that was true 4 years ago, not today.

So the question is how are larger organisations managing the content of confluence so that the information contained in it is accurate. I recognize that there is a place for historical information (info on completed projects) but it should be clear to a reader that the info they are looking at is historical and may not be accurate today.

In past lives, I've seen this managed by a Knowledge Manager who's sole job was to curate the content, getting rid of crap and managing/forcing knowledge owners to refresh their content periodically to keep it accurate and useful. They also transitioned owners of pages who left the company to other employees.

So, what processes and/or management frameworks have larger organisations established to manage the content held in confluence to ensure it contains as much gold as possible.

2 comments

Tung Dang Atlassian Team Feb 21, 2021

Hi @P Merrill ,

I am not sure what Confluence plugins can help with this. However, I want to give an idea which works well in our company. That is we have created a culture that is an Open company and "Be the change you seek". We encourage everyone to be free to raise a question to the author of the page or contribute to the old page by themself. For example, new people can add `Warning panel` or `Error panel` at the beginning of the deprecated page and give a link to the latest page. We also encourage the team members to delete all `dirt` pages in our Team spaces. 

Screen Shot 2021-02-21 at 21.08.46.png

Hope that could help! 

Hello, 

We have worked with a number of large organizations that have successfully used Confluence for their Knowledge Management platform. Here are a few insights:

Assign a knowledge management team or subject matter experts

As you mention, most of the large organizations we've spoken to had a dedicated Knowledge Management Team, even if it was only one or two people, who were in charge of curating the knowledge base, maintaining quality, and, importantly, educating others on how to use it. Another option may be to assign Subject Matter Experts and give them responsibility over reviewing the part of the knowledge base related to their department. Either way, the team members are given the time and management backing to build, curate and maintain the knowledge base content.

Know your audience and involve them in the process

We found that successful teams had a clear view of their audience's needs, the issues they wanted to solve and what issues or content is out of scope for the knowledge base. In particular, it can help to have sessions with users and stakeholders, to communicate how to use Confluence, and get their feedback, hopefully generating a sense of ownership.

Establishing a Knowledge Management Workflow

Finally, it helps to establish a workflow to move content through stages like drafts, review, published, and obsolete/archived aka a system for separating the dirt from the gold. Confluence labels and good space organization are two ways to help categorize content, and there also apps like our own Comala Document Management that can add extra functionality like automatically expiring content that has not been updated for a set period, or publishing approved content to a separate space.

We have two in-depth case studies on knowledge base set-ups that might interest you - one from the Port of Antwerp, and another from Tyler Technologies, a public sector software company

I hope this helps!

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