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TWiki Success Story of SecureWorks

SecureWorks is an Internet security company; providing intrusion prevention services for banks, credit unions, utilities, and hospitals. We adopted TWiki in April 2002.

We had a one-webmaster (me) intranet that was rarely updated and rarely used. In addition, as our development team grew, we needed a place to serve project documentation. I was tasked with rebuilding a piece of the intranet for project documentation. Looking at the little-used intranet, I was worried a traditional intranet would become very cumbersome to maintain.

A coworker turned me on to Wikis and I found TWiki after researching several others. I knew my development team and I knew the consumers within the company. They needed a system that:

  • Tracks revisions.
  • Looks professional out-of-the-box.
  • Notifies of changes by e-mail.

Our need for revision control is really a concession to managers who are worried someone will mess up important project pages. The managers initially signed off on using TWiki because it has revision control. An unintended benefit is the diffing feature. Users tell me they like to view the last diff to quickly review changes in longer documents.

Professional looks in our Wiki choice isn't nearly as odd or shallow as it sounds. Since the SecureWorks Wiki was to be written by developers and read and commented on by just about everyone else in the company, I needed a home for documentation the Operations and Marketing teams wouldn't balk at. An ugly Wiki could mean failure because of our wide readership.

Finally, because Wiki culture wasn't ingrained at SecureWorks, I needed a way to tell users about changes. Telling users to check WebChanges wasn't viable. Daily e-mail reminders are an excellent way to pull readers in to the Wiki.

Installing TWiki was so painless, I contributed an article to linux.com about my experiences.

In less than a month, I converted the developers from their previous systems of documentation to TWiki. I watched as more developers contributed to TWiki each month. By month four, 90% of the team was regularly contributing.

Early on, it took some persuasion to get readers to visit our TWiki site. I visited hesitant readers, including several vice presidents and directors, and showed them how TWiki works. I spent about 20 minutes training users individually and it made all the difference in the world. Trained users visited and contributed to our TWiki more often.

A year later, we're still going strong. I find that there are two types of users: contributors and readers. The developers contribute project documentation and stakeholders read it. Converting readers to contributors has proven almost impossible. That's ok, though, because our TWiki is doing exactly what we set out for it to do: provide an easy mechanism for sharing project documentation written by developers with internal stakeholders.

-- MeganGolding - 23 Feb 2003

Update: January 2004

TWiki has gained three more sets of users at SecureWorks: system administrators, technical support, and sales. All three began using TWiki after they saw how the software developers had used it. Get TWiki adopted by one group and it'll spread when others see how useful it is.

System administrators are responsible for maintaining servers in-house and over 700 appliances on-site with clients. My favorite part of the sys admin TWiki web are the Wisdom pages. Picture a bulleted list of all those little nuggets you learn about a system and you'll understand what goes into a Wisdom page. They keep separate pages for each major system. And, of course, they can always refactor when a Wisdom page gets too long.

Technical support documents howto details in their TWiki web. It's mostly business process documentation. The beauty is that anyone can contribute new answers. As with many support environments, ours changes frequently. The old manual was about 200 pages long and kept in Microsoft Word, with hard copies on every desk. No one used it. Since switching to TWiki (a major copy-paste-update effort that everyone helped with), tech support docs are updated daily.

Sales is still a read-only group. I created a visual guide to our marketing materials available as PDFs. They get a series of thumbnails and titles, with a link underneath. Choose the doc you want, copy the link into an email and send it to a sales prospect. It's a great way to share our literature (by link, not attachment) plus its easy for me to update.

At SecureWorks, we now have four departments using TWiki daily: sales, software development, system administration, and technical support. It's been about two years since we started and I couldn't be happier. The key to TWiki adoption is "easy does it". Plan from day one to see resistance, so start getting it adopted in a small, but visible corner.

-- MeganGolding - 31 Jan 2004

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Topic revision: r5 - 2010-07-04 - PeterThoeny
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