Sunday, March 09, 2008

A wiki for a knowledge base.

In my continuing series on tools and processes that we looked at and used to solve problems at work, I'll discuss the knowledge base next.

Part of the problem we had, was the ability to support an application, when the primary developer of that application was on vacation, or worse, had quit. Each application had only a few who knew it, but that knowledge had continually left with them.

We wanted a knowledge base, so when problems occurred we could capture:
  • What Happened (What is the symptom)
  • What is the underlying problem, can we fix this later.
  • How do we fix it now.

Without company support for this decision, we started investigating open source solutions to the problem. We installed and tested a few knowledge base systems, but they were cumbersome to use at best. We had just installed MediaWiki. It didn't really have a purpose or design in mind, it was just there. I took the opportunity to play with it and started documenting support options on the wiki.

It was apparent pretty quickly, that the ease of editing, searching, and cross linking made this a great place for a knowledge base. While some of the knowledge base systems seemed to support a better interface for finding a related problem, grouping pages logically, and using the search feature of a wiki made more sense.

Since then, we use the wiki to document all of our knowledge base items, more and more of our applications, and we're even using it to manage some of our projects. We aren't the first either, I've read that Thoughtworks uses wikis to manage their projects.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.