Why move your SOPs to a wiki?

Posted on Posted in Confluence, Electronic QMS, Services
wiki
/ˈwɪki/

noun
A website or database developed collaboratively by a community of users, allowing any user to add and edit content.

source: Oxford Dictionaries

Incorporating a wiki into your intranet is an excellent way to help everyone stay up-to-date with your standard operating procedures (SOPs).

Here are a few of the reasons why:

  • Anyone in the organisation can use the wiki to share information about your SOPs and comment on or add to others’ contributions.
  • This will help to iron out problems in your SOPs and make them more practical, based on the input of many different users.
  • The wiki will be to your SOPs exactly what Wikipedia is to encyclopaedia entries. The interactive experience is simply a great way to get people engaged with your SOPs.
  • Central governance will guide the structure of information and enforce access rights and policies.
  • The wiki will be securely accessible to all staff with the relevant permissions, whether they’re at their desk or out using their tablet or smartphone.

If you already have your SOPs on a wiki you’ll already be experiencing the benefits. If not, your perspective on this issue will depend on whether or not you already have a wiki, so we’ll look at both sides…

For organisations that don’t have a wiki

SOPs are actually a good reason to start a wiki – your operations will directly benefit in multiple ways:

Increased engagement – The interactive features of a wiki, such as leader boards, training modules and recognition tools, will help to increase awareness of and compliance with your SOPs and create a positive buzz around them.

More innovation – Secure online discussion focused on your SOPs will unleash the creativity of your team and ensure your procedures develop in a way that maximises usability and effectiveness.

Operational excellence – Hosting your SOPs on your intranet in wiki form will mean everyone always has access to the latest version of each document. It’s also a great way to bring all the relevant forms, reference material, workflow schemes etc, together in one place.

As SOPs have such a major impact on your work, it makes sense to handle and develop them in a way that ensures they’re as effective as possible.

Moving your SOPs onto a wiki can also be a good starting point on the journey towards ‘wikifying’ other essential information within your organisation. For example the same wiki platform could be used for other aspects of your internal communications, from company news and HR notifications to lunch orders and discussions about future plans.

For organisations that already have a wiki but don’t have their SOPs on it

For you, the question should be why aren’t your SOPs on your wiki? Here are a few of the reasons why they should be:

Better user engagement – Including your SOPs on your wiki will reinforce the use of both, and create a dynamics of collaboration.

Increased focus on the SOPs – Being in the same place as company news, blogs, technical files and other useful resources that your staff are accustomed to accessing on the intranet will increase exposure for your SOPs. The wiki will also provide a good stage to celebrate new and improved SOPs, helping to increase awareness of their importance.

Better version control and accessibility – Within the wiki infrastructure, there will now be just one official version of the SOPs at any given point. Anyone with the relevant permissions will be able to access them from anywhere, whether via a smartphone or a terminal on the factory floor. The SOPs will be fully searchable, saving valuable time, and it will now be possible to augment them with hyperlinks to all sorts of relevant information.

Improvement through collaboration – The ability for teams to discuss the SOPs and suggest improvements through the wiki will drive new ideas and engagement. The fact that you already have a wiki means there’s no learning curve so you should start to see benefits in terms of improved quality assurance very quickly.

Better knowledge capture – Ideally your SOPs are already built on a distillation of all the knowledge within your organisation. The wiki format promotes the incorporation of new insights, which will improve them over time.

Simplification – Hosting your SOPs on your wiki will simplify your IT infrastructure and processes. You’ll be able to eliminate the separate tools you currently use to support SOPs and take advantage of the same backup, recovery and archiving systems you use for your wiki.
Using a wiki to develop and host your SOPs will enable your quality system to draw on the creative powers, expertise and enthusiasm of your team. Quality assurance will then stop being something you do for auditors and become an essential tool for improving the way your company works and the results you achieve.

Note: For a deeper insight into the origin and power of wikis, we recommend this fascinating video featuring their inventor, Ward Cunningham. 17 minutes of inspiration!