A corporate Confluence wiki is a great thing. Everyone can feed it with their knowledge. Over time, this creates an extensive knowledge base, providing information on any corporate issue.
As different authors add more and more information, corporate Confluence wikis can end up with thousands (or even ten-thousands) of pages. While all of it might have been important when it was created, much of it becomes outdated as time passes. At that point, wrong information stands next to still relevant knowledge. This causes an increase in time to find what you need, errors due to wrong information, and general distrust of the wiki. On the long run, users might even abandon the wiki as they find it unhelpful.
To prevent this, Confluence wikis should be put on a diet from time to time. Duplicates and other stuff that is no longer needed must be removed. What is kept should be brought into a structure that is easy to navigate and maintain. But how to do that? The effort of manually checking all pages created in corporate history is too high. The process must be at least partially automated.
And this is how you achieve that:
Step 1: Know where you are
First you need a way to access the data. An export of or a connection to the wiki’s database would be perfect, but a simple page export is enough for basic evaluation. Any space admin can do this using the confluence UI.
Next, get an overview. This can be achieved with simplest technology. Who created and edited which pages? Are there experts for the different parts of the wiki who could give an estimate on what is relevant? Look for outdated team names and alike. Those are good indicators for how well a page is maintained. The date of the last edit is also worth a look, but as different topics change at different pace, you should be careful about that. Consider the wiki’s menu structure. Too deep menus or too many pages under one menu entry make it hard to navigate and increase the risk of duplicates.
While doing this analysis, do not focus on the data of single pages, but rather on the range of values. From this you will be able to estimate how close you are in general to what you want to achieve.
Step 2: Analyze
Time to extract deeper insights from the pages. There is a wide variety of aspects you can analyze automatically. The structure of a page, its legibility and the use of abbreviations indicate how hard it is to understand the page’s content. Too complex pages should be removed or at least reworked. You can let the system check if the content matches the page’s intention, and it can search for similarities between pages to detect duplicates or topics spread across different branches of the menu.
The number of graphics gives another hint, as graphics help to understand an explanation. Creating them required some effort, so the page’s creator did care about the content and its quality. In addition, the age of graphics can tell a lot on how well the page is maintained.
There are many more methods you can apply. Which ones to use depends on your quality goals, what you want to optimize the wiki for and, of course, the technologies you have access to. Information Managers can help you decide what is needed based on your goals and the overview you gained in the first step. They are professionals in applying information management methods and technologies interpreting the outcomes.
Step 3: Clean up
Now there is only one last step left: deciding what to keep, what to rework and what to remove or archive. This can be done rule-based, using the collected insights with respect to demands of the different areas, or with a combination of machine learning and input from experts. The one thing you will most likely need to rework is the wiki’s structure. Once again, Information Managers can assist you with that. They are trained to arrange information in the optimal way to achieve the stakeholders’ goals.
In the end, your Confluence wiki lost some excess weight – probably up to 70%. It is faster and simpler to use, leading to better decisions and performance. Maintaining it is also easier, now you have the overview of what is where. If you keep an eye on the wiki, you will be able to sustain what you have accomplished: a lean, healthy knowledge base which increases efficiency, minimizes errors, and which your users like to work with.
Do you have further questions? We will be happy to advise you: firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: April 2021
Author: Isabell Bachmann
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