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Teams - you need ONE person to maintain your data

Do you find it easy to get information for your team processes or companies products?

Many teams routinely go through a 'reorganise our information' process in an effort to combat this, and it often coincides with a change of manager or new worker struggling to work out how to do things.

Everyone has their favourite styles, and technologies - one place I knew of, had redone the same information in static HTML wiki pages, linked word documents, sharepoint, trello, and of course "emails that you save". In this case, it worked though - because at each 'reinvention' there was a person interested in that technology/method so that they guided others on how and where to document things.

The problem many teams have, is that there is no one looking after the structure. If no one cares about it, then the minimal effort will be done to 'get their notes on there'.

No matter WHAT system you use, or how simple or powerful it is - you WILL get a mess happening for any non-trivial amount of data.

Lets start with a simple layout
Work Processes
- how to find customers details
- marketing guidelines
- handling complaints

- Widget A
- Widget B

- Sales reps
- Developers
- Customers
- Industry

This looks nice and well laid out, and it is exactly the sort of thing you see on 'examples on how cool this product is', but the problem is that when it grows, people have different ideas on where to put the information.

What happens when the pages grow?
Someone wants to add Widget C = no problem, it goes into Products, but what about 'How to refund Widget C' - is that in products or is that a Top level work process?

The correct answer, really is that it doesn't matter as long as all the pages are done consistently - once everyone understands where things will be, it works. Librarians may argue there is a better way to do this, and there probably is, but the important thing is to make something easy for your team to use. (Those not trained as librarians).

So why not create a guideline for updating the wiki?
This is a good solution, and should be done anyway, but unless it is monitored it will gradually get messy and out of structure. This happens, not due to laziness but often due to deadline pressures - when you are fixing production errors or trying to recall 5,000 defective widgets, the LAST thing on your mind is updating the wiki pages.

Assign a wiki maintainer
You need to assign someone to be the 'controller' of the wiki - the one who checks that people are making pages in the correct areas, and reminds the relevant staff member that after fixing the production error, can they please update the notes on the wiki page.

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