Atlassian for Startups - Part 2

Confluence: Team collaboration and knowledge sharing is not difficult as people say
Nabil Nassar

Let’s be honest: we have made this a bigger problem than it truly is.

We’ve all heard about companies having problems getting teams to collaborate effectively and trying to break down “knowledge silos.” This has stoked plenty of fears – but where are the solutions?

When it comes to “accessibility”, we are in a golden age of communication. I am sure we can all agree that today its costs are lower, its reach is wider, and even its options are more diverse than ever. But having the tools readily available is not enough — just as paying your monthly gym membership alone isn’t going to take care of those noodle arms. You need the resources, dedication and know-how to use them effectively: communication is no different.

Without healthy communication practices and culture, it’s almost impossible to promote productive and effective collaboration and knowledge exchange in your company. Your teams need to not only adopt a different approach to communication, but to also make better use of the tools available to them.

4 challenges to collaboration and knowledge sharing and how to overcome them

Don’t get me wrong: knowledge sharing is valuable, as it is useful to document your processes properly. Nevertheless, you will need a couple of guidelines in order to make this practice productive. This goes both for the taking the time to do the work and for the company trying to instil a collaborative, knowledge sharing culture.

Below are four of the most common challenges teams face when trying to improve collaboration or to foster a genuine knowledge sharing culture, from ideation to publication.

1. Unclear audience and participants

Okay, here’s another analogy. Say your piece of content is a brand-new toy that you and your team members are designing together. Your content’s audience are customers who will “buy” (read) your product. You need to work together as a team to design and produce something of a high quality that your customers will actually want to buy. Yes, some people would love “Swiss Army Knife Barbie”, but is it appropriate for the people you’re trying to sell to? Maybe not. Similarly, if you produce something with value but aim it at the wrong “customer”, your product — as exceptional as it may be — will, sadly, not be consumed (we’ll come back to this in a moment).

The same goes for your collaborators. Work with the wrong crew and you have already made it more difficult to produce “consumable content.” This may sound obvious to you. You may even argue that actually, it shouldn’t matter who consumes a piece of content if its quality is outstanding. A counterpoint: content is created to be seen and read. The success of collaboration and knowledge sharing relies on your content being clear, relevant, and appealing to the target group.

Confluence enables you and your team to build a culture of teamwork. Features like “invite people to edit a page with you” (aka collaborative editing), as well as social features and user mentions, allow you to share content with your collaborators. Forget about those meetings where one person shares their screen and the rest frantically yells out ideas and suggestions like stock traders in a Wall Street trading pit. These simple yet useful features greatly improve how teams work and collaborate, regardless of their physical location.

Blog Post: Atlassian for Startups 2, Video: Project Planning

2. Lack of a consistent structure

Sometimes, you just do not know where to begin. You stare at the blank page and can’t think where to go from there. An artist (and an optimist) might say that a blank canvas is a world of possibilities — nevertheless, you need to narrow down those possibilities if you’re going to achieve anything productive with your team members. When you start from nothing, there is a lot of decision-making for you and your collaborators to do, which could cause a great deal of tedious and time-wasting disagreements.

You do not have to reinvent the wheel. Confluence provides you with efficient templates already used and endorsed by thousands of teams around the world and across a wide range of industries. No matter what your team is working on or what your project goals are, you can use Confluence templates to keep the content structure consistent. Want something more customised? No problem — you can easily create your own templates and edit them just how you’d like. Whichever suits you, with Confluence, it is easy to maintain a consistent design without losing important information.

Blog Post: Atlassian for Startups 2, Video: Confluence Templates

3. Making feedback complicated or opaque

Feedback: it makes the world go round. Companies are spending more and more on their teams’ feedback processes every year — how else are you going to make sure you’re all on the same page? Only through transparent and structured feedback processes can you turn a team’s knowledge and expertise into useful pieces of content. That’s why Confluence tools aim to make feedback easy to share and crystal clear.

Simply click-and-drag over the word (or words) you want to comment on and then click ‘Comment’. Write in your feedback, tag your colleagues with an “@” to ask for additional info or to just keep them in the loop, and throw in an emoji to make your point even clearer 😉 . Once a comment has been made, you can go on creating a thread of interactions, “like” comments (useful if you sometimes want to passively agree), and “resolve” comments once you have reached consensus and made any suggested changes. Resolved comments remain visible, too — so you can finally see the end of those irritating “out-of-context comments” or infamous bullet-pointed emails. __With Confluence, teamwork is easy and feedback is always clear and simple. __

Blog Post: Atlassian for Startups 2, Visual: Content with Feedback

4. Low content visibility

So here we are, at the end of the road. You worked together to produce an impressive piece of content, you’ve all shared your insight to hone it, you used visual tools to give it a slick, readable design, and then after all that: nobody reads it. Sure, you should prioritise your content’s quality over its visibility — but if a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, then it’s not much use to anybody.

Confluence provides your teams with structured page trees and the ability to create multiple “spaces”, which can be ordered by topic or assigned for internal use by teams. Throw in its powerful search functionality and you’ll have just boosted your content’s visibility that much more.

Blog Post: Atlassian for startups part 2, Gif:Knowledge Sharing

It’s perfectly natural that different teams within a company will have wildly different processes, just as every individual has a different way of working. That’s why it’s important to bridge this gap by catering to everyone’s different processes and needs with an accessible and easy-to-use tool. There’s no need to put up guardrails or change the ways teams work. Confluence offers the flexibility to integrate your teams in a single location, while working with their individual needs and preferences.

For the past few years, we at kreuzwerker have helped a wide range of start-ups improve how they work to achieve unbelievable goals. Before giving our totally transparent assessment, we make sure to work closely with their teams — it’s an important step towards understanding their needs, problems and limitations. Every project is totally unique, so we strive to look at each new client as a brand-new challenge. We always tailor our advice and solutions to their specific requirements.

We are not just from anywhere. Our heart and spirit are pure Kreuzberg. Digital technology is a real and honest craft for us: we tell it like it is and we believe that listening properly can solve more problems than any Ted Talk ever could. That is who we are and what we do.

What’s next?

Stay tuned for our next piece in this three-part series, which will focus on Jira Service Desk,* Atlassian’s flexible, collaborative ITSM solution built for rapid service delivery*.

If you would like to find out more about how Confluence can help you and your team manage tasks and projects, click HERE or feel free to get in touch – and don’t forget to mark your calendar for June 11th, when kreuzwerker is hosting the event: “Atlassian for Start-ups” in Berlin. Click HERE for more information and tickets.

Images by Atlassian
Cover image by luvmybry from Pixabay