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Convincing Your Boss

How to convince your boss and/or your IT department that wikis and/or TWiki specifically is the way to go.

Common Questions and Concerns

If anyone can edit, won't that cause problems?

TWiki Revision Control

  • Revision Control: Documents can be rolled back to a previous version.
  • Peer Review: If another user spots a mistake, she or he can easily change it.
  • Audit Trail: Changes are logged.

TWiki User Access Permissions

  • TWiki can validate user based on an active directory list.
  • Can define access based on webs (collection of pages), specific pages, or by user.
  • Only available on the intranet.

Will it work with existing company software?

You really have to kind of customize this section to your specific company's needs. This can be a very delicate topic politically. Plan to either reassure your target audience that TWiki won't compete with existing company standards, or have an extremely good argument for changing those standards. If you are trying to change company standards, be prepared for a very unhappy target audience who will only be able to see the investment of time and money into your failing company standard. It's hard for a company who has invested heavily into one technological solution to change to another when the first is failing.

This is also a good section to discuss the server environment. Unfortunately, most large corporations rely on the Microsoft standard. This makes installation of TWiki quite a bit more challenging. You may want to emphasize that TWiki will run on any Server OS/webserver/Perl combination. This way your IT department can choose to either go with the Microsoft box, a Unix box or any of the open source variations.

Is there support for the software?

ConsultantsForHire

-or-

The TWiki.org site offers extensive documentation (over 43,000 pages and over 20,000 users) and an online forum and Internet Relay Chat for asking support questions to developers and other users. For the latest statistics regarding number of pages and users, please visit the TWiki home page or TWikiOrgStatistics

Is the software mature and stable enough to use?

TWiki was first released in 1998 and has had 9 major version releases since then. TWikiHistory

Security patches (for severity levels 1 and 2) are usually released within 24 to 48 hours of the TWiki security team being notified of a problem. TWikiSecurityAlertProcess

TWiki is very stable. For example, the TWikiRelease01Sep2004 had just a handful major issues for over a year deployed (see KnownIssuesOfTWiki01Sep2004).

SourceForge.net lists TWiki with a production/stable development status.

Several major corporations use TWiki on their intranets including: Cingular, Boeing, Disney, Motorola, SAP, Texas Instruments, and Yahoo. In some companies, several thousand engineers are using TWiki to keep track of their daily activities. See TWikiSuccessStories for more details.

What happens if the software is no longer available?

This is not much of a concern, the software development is active and stable.

Most mature wiki software programs can convert wikis from other software programs�enabling a fairly simple transition from one program to another.

TWiki has text based storage that makes data conversion relatively easy. Converters to move content from other wikis into TWiki are available.

How do we get end-user buy-in?

  • Go beyond the technology, start with your initial training
  • Encourage frequent use, even small tidbits.
  • Encourage users to define the future of the wiki themselves by changing content as needed.
  • Reward knowledge sharing.
    • Inexpensive and fun gadgets, coupons, activities, etc.
    • You get a gold star! For great posts.
  • Demonstrate support from management by highlighting management use of wiki.
    • Commitment from key personnel to frequent personal use and promotion of wiki use to their employees.
  • Create appropriate wiki culture from the beginning with training.
    • Nobody "owns" pages, can edit and add to content started by someone else.

For much more content on this topic, see HowToGetInternalBuyInForTWiki

Statistics

Managers like statistics and hard data. Hopefully this section can pull all of the meaningful statistics and data together in one-stop shopping.

  • TWiki has been around since 1998 TWikiHistory
  • 9 major releases TWikiHistory
  • over 1000 active installations - many on corporate intranets
  • over 200 downloads a day of the TWiki package

See TWiki.org Statistics on TWiki home page -OR- TWikiOrgStatistics

Developers:

  • 9 core team members
  • over 100 developers contributing spec, code, patches

Development status according to SourceForge.net: Level 5: Production/Stable

References

Contributors:
-- AmandaSmith - 05 Jan 2006
-- PeterThoeny - 05 Jan 2006

Discussions

Thank you Amanda for contributing this important topic! I did some minor enhancements. Everyone, please help on this doc, this is an important part of TWikiAdvocacy.

This doc is from the point of view of the person who tries to convince the boss. Hmm, a related doc for managers might be useful, a WhyTWikiForManagers. Possibly in SlideShowPlugin format? And a WhyTWikiForExecutives, and a WhyTWikiForGeeks. Oh, there is already a ValueOfTWikiForManagers.

-- PeterThoeny - 05 Jan 2006

Excellent topic, Amanda; very useful arguments you gathered. I like the bottom-up approach, this fits straight in with the typical stealth / anarchistic nature of initial TWiki deployments ("we" see its value, now "they" need to).

The "active directory" / "MS" part is an important issue, as the people who will ultimately be managing TWiki will typically be the same people managning the local SharePoint-setup, meaning the "Desktop"-support people, not the "Server" people.

The trend is with us on this one (there's a shift towards OSS, in the corporate settings too), but it'll take a while to get there, still smile

Thanks for inspiration!

-- SteffenPoulsen - 06 Jan 2006

Good job. Curious to see what others have to say.

-- DougRoberts - 07 Jan 2006

In my case I am the Boss, and ended up installing TWiki after much pleading by the engineering department for a Wiki. I initially was looking at a commercial package (confluence) and only ended up with TWiki because a colleague of our CTO had experience with TWiki (Intelligrid) and we ended up using it on our external TWiki (openami.org). The first install was somewhat rough (Cairo) - but after about 5 or 6 hours, and some incredible consulting assistance from Matt Wilkie who we hired to polish, clean up some of the rough edges and rescue us from some self created situations, we got it up and running. Six TWiki's later I'm hooked. One of the important angles to take with an IT department is low startup costs, and low maintenance costs. The line "It's easy to install and virtually runs itself" is attractive. smile

-- GordonShephard - 12 Jan 2006

Gordon, it's funny that you should mention low startup and maintenance costs--because that is exactly what turned off my IT department. They were afraid that meant no support of any kind. Our IT folks would have felt better with a commercial product like Confluence. It's taken some work to convince them otherwise! Also, being a Microsoft house we actually had quite a bit of trouble getting it to work in Windows. We finally found another department that let us install on their Sun Solaris server. I'm happily trying to figure out how to configure it all now. smile

-- AmandaSmith - 13 Jan 2006

I just read http://strange.corante.com/archives/2006/03/05/an_adoption_strategy_for_social_software_in_enterprise.php - "An Adoption Strategy for Social Software in the Enterprise" by Suw Charman, which I found pretty interesting. While it really brings "nothing new" in its recommendations, it is a very nice example of writing together a lot of disperate pieces into an easily communicated step-by-step plan - and for something as difficult as a stragy for adoption.

- Something to put along with that report that says "go for TWiki"? smile

-- SteffenPoulsen - 29 Jun 2006

Thanks for this link Steffen : very useful indeed !

-- BenoitFauvel - 29 Jun 2006

The Register had this one the other day: http://www.theregister.com/2006/07/21/it_managers_guide_to_social_computing/

"If your company is averse to openness and transparency and is unlikely to change, then this article is not going to interest you much. Unless, of course, you are considering a change of direction."

The article sees wiki as just one of many social computing technologies that are entering the enterprise, and it emphasizes the benefits for the enterprise, both in terms of human interaction (wikis helps in harmonising views of staff) and monetary terms (wikis dramatically cuts cost of IT).

I like the trend that this kind of article is getting more frequent and imho having this circulating in the media now definetely aids in putting some of the new web 2.0 terms on our managers desks.

-- SteffenPoulsen - 24 Jul 2006

Great news everyone: It looks like somebody out there has had some success convincing their boss! (Now if we could just get the working recipe? :-)).

A collegue mailed me today that he had stumbled on something that looks like a real "TWiki job offer" out there; I'm hasting to bring to you what such a thing looks like:

Wiki Analyst

Description: The basic function of the Wiki Analyst is to monitor information creation on TWiki, EP's web-based collaboration platform. The ideal candidate will be responsible for tracking wiki usage, guiding and shaping it's organization, and helping EP to get the most out of this powerful tool. Develop best practices. Other responsiblities include training and educating users, monitoring projects and activity, and linking content for maximum usefulness.
Qualifications: Work with departments and authors to ensure that content is linked appropriately and uses the best methods and practices. Monitor Wiki technology to understand the latest state of technology and plugins and make recommendations for usage at EP. The ideal candidate will have a solid understanding of web technology and be wiki savvy. Excellent communication, training, and writing skills are required. EOE

Even if this is the first one and might be "a loner" for a while I think it is really interesting to see TWiki mentioned as a major part of a job description like this.

Btw: The job offer is at EBSCO Publishing (found at http://careers.epnet.com/info.php?id=513), as far as I can tell work location is in Ipswich (somewhere in the Eastern Massachusetts?) - if anybody want to pay this more than reading attention smile

-- SteffenPoulsen - 25 Jul 2006

Nice one. That is pretty much the description of a WikiChampion.

-- PeterThoeny - 29 Jul 2006

My IT department seems to be sold by Micro$oft Sharepoint 2007. They claim wiki and blog capabilities are integrated with this new version. Does anyone have a suggestion how to convince my boss Twiki > Sharepoint?

-- MiloValenzuela - 09 Dec 2006

Seems my recent bookmarks had a little more relevant media on wikis in the enterprise, the topic is catching on in other wikis as well:

Milo, what will make the difference between TWiki > SharePoint or TWiki < SharePoint will be which setup will carry the best WikiChampion. So, start selling yourself! wink

-- SteffenPoulsen - 22 Jan 2007

I have come across some more food-for-thought I would like to share. Could probably make sense to split into a few Codev topics on its own, but I would like to see if there are any comments from a Boss-perspective here.

Successful communities in the enterprise

Let's first try to establish some characteristics of successful communities in an enterprise:

  • They have vitality
  • Their discussions are genuine
  • They talk about what the members need
  • They feel a sense of urgency to develop their domain
  • They strengthen the social fabric of their organization
    • by creating ties that bind people across teams, departments, business units, etc.
  • They deliver value to members and the organization
  • They are (often) initially built around existing networks

Drivers

What are the main drivers for community participation then?

People are drawn to participate in communities for many different reasons. Some find them intellectually interesting or useful. Some like the feeling of connection. Others find they are a way to hone their skills. But whether their motivation to participate comes from their head, heart, or hand, the community needs to make room for them.

Head

Primary intellectual drivers for community participation include:

  • Passion for the topic. Some people are simply passionately interested in the topic, will talk with anyone about it, whoever they are.
  • Value. Many people receive direct value from participating in the community, help with a problem, new ideas or technology, better or cheaper methods, saved time looking for information. For many people the direct benefits of participation are a primary driver of their participation.

Heart

For most people community participation is not merely a matter of intellectual value. Most also participate for reasons of the heart.

  • Connection. In communities of practice, people can meet others with whom they share something important. For some, like those in the sciences and professions, this is a field or practice they have devoted most of their lives learning and developing. Connecting with people who share that passion is itself rewarding.
  • Contribution and recognition. Communities of practice are also a place where people can make a genuine contribution, their mark on the field. Since the community is composed of practitioners, they can genuinely appreciate the contribution, so recognition from them is particularly rewarding.
  • Influence. Some communities are very influential in their organizations. As a source of insight about technical developments, they can play an important role in forming business strategy. For a “technical person” the opportunity to have this kind of influence can be a big draw.
  • Belonging. Communities of practice also give people a chance to feel part of something is important.

Hand

Primary craft-oriented reasons to participate include:

  • Perfecting the craft. For some people the community is an opportunity to learn new tools, techniques, and approaches in their personal desire to profit their craft.

I think it is reasonable to say that for many people participation is driven by a combination of these three, with some drives stronger than others.

We are currently entering a Enterprise 2.0-scheme in which communities are enjoying are central position. I have been thinking about using some of this input for a "high-level presentation" with focus on the softer head-heart-hand-concept. But this is somewhat PR-stuff to me and I can't quite make head of how our limited ressources are best invested here.

But idea would be - adding in where "TWiki technology" makes a difference - that this could be another and different way to try to introduce the TWiki strong points, other than purely focusing on the pure technological aspects, i.e. the stability of our software or that it has revision control.

Again, this is meant as food-for-thought, please share any comments.

-- SteffenPoulsen - 09 Apr 2007

I really like your additions Steffen. Great stuff, I fully intend to rip it off and use it internally! wink I would also like to explore another topic that is related to this one, CorporateWikiPolicy. For those who need sample policies on how to handle corporate wikis to work on convincing their boss.

-- AmandaSmith - 28 Apr 2007

I almost forgot: Steffen, I have referenced your text in TWikiSuccessStoryOfLostBoys!

-- ArthurClemens - 29 Apr 2007

This is very good material for our marketing: noted. smile

-- MartinSeibert - 03 Aug 2008

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