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As a mid-size consulting company offering higly specialized services for SAP customers we were facing the requirement to create a new infrastructure for inhouse knowledge transfer.
Up to then the existing solutions we were using created huge dumps of single documents of almost every possible format. Searching across documents was not possible and thus the overall usage of the system declined. As a result most of our knowledge was kept isolated in everybody's mind and personal laptop.
While focusing on new concepts of collaboration on the customer side it became clear that we had to renew ourselves on the inside as well. As a consultant company we made quite some experience with several – from our point of view mostly failed or inadequate – approaches for knowledge management, project documentation and communication plattforms.
This lead to some key requirements that had to be solved by a new solution:
one tool for all: the new solution should serve as knowledge base where all informations from projects, ongoing work and internal processes could be found, while providing possibilities for adhoc collaboration to directly support our work with the customers.
platform independence to avoid compatibility problems with clients using different OS
no limitations due to proprietary formats or interfaces
low system and infrastructure requirements to keep costs for licenses and administration low
easy to use: the tool should be part of everybody's daily work without being a time consuming or complicated drag
authorization concept to protect internal or confidential contents
good performance when accessing via remote connection (VPN)
Capability to search across contents and to link corresponding informations
These requirements finally led to a first TWiki test installation on a laptop. While experimenting with the tool and checking out some extensions and plugins we finally decided to setup a server and to start using TWiki for some real work. At first TWiki was used more the classic way: create topics and attach some documents – although not quite the intended use - it was a step in the right direction: at least the content of the documents was now searchable and thus by far more accessible than before and topics could easily be linked to each other. But it did not take long until the tool usage became more intense and people started to think and work rather “topic-oriented” than “document-oriented”. Using functions like the ActionTracker and the notification service has made it easy to keep track on sales process and customer projects. Project teams can now easily share information without sending around emails with attachments creating numerous local copies of documents.
By now – a year after we have started – TWiki has become the central tool in all parts of our company: intranet informations, documentation of customer projects, providing information on new technologies, meeting minutes, etc.
By now the our TWiki installation has reached size of 18 G. Meanwhile we have set up a second server machine with a TWiki test instance for evaluating new plugins, etc.
TWiki has proven to be a stable and easy to use tool and today also our customers are becoming interested in Twiki as a collaboration platform.
-- MichaelGulitz - 2010-02-25