Improving Confluence: an Alternative Intranet Solution
Atlassian Confluence is an amazing wiki tool that we use to help our collaboration within Clearvision. But like any product and company, it has some flaws. Product specialist Dan Tombs gives his insights into what he has noticed about the tool.
The Confluence intranet has many benefits to a business, such as allowing real-time collaboration, promoting transparency within a company, and creating a shared knowledge base for employees. However we’ve been exploring ways that we can extend that functionality even further with Linchpin.
Linchpin is all about turning Confluence to a social collaborative intranet. In 1.0 we just had top-down comms. 2.0 allows everyone to carry on contributing and collaborating like before but with added features and functionality.
One key issue we discovered was that the Confluence intranet is a little ‘limited’ in its navigation. Unless you favourite either spaces or specific pages where your data lies, you have to go to the spaces tab, find your space, then navigate the hierarchy.
God help you if you forget halfway down the hierarchy either what you were looking for, or you click on the wrong structure and end up totally lost. Don’t worry we will save you some dinner for when you return!
Linchpin allows improved navigation by giving Confluence a bit of a facelift. It features a nav bar that can be designed and changed depending on each employees needs and job role. This means that they can move around the intranet in an easier and more fluid way, saving time and increasing productivity.
Confluence can be great for communication if you know how to use it properly. The use of blogs for each space allows the contributors to communicate to the rest of the team or company what is going on.
The trouble comes when you start mixing a little bit of socialising with your blogs, or forget to subscribe to them and therefore start to miss out on important information. However, one issue many users cite with Confluence is the volume of emails when you are subscribed to multiple spaces.
So you either miss news for not subscribing or subscribe and still miss out on the news as you are driven so mad by email notifications that you direct them to a folder that never sees the light of day!
Completely customisable dashboards in Linchpin allow us to improve communication in ways I didn’t even think of. It includes mandatory news areas, categories and the cover stories macros. We started to brand our news making it very recognisable that news was being updated and much easier for everyone to follow!
The mandatory news features allows HR to post about policy updates. All staff members would have to click a button saying they had read the news. This ensures that with Linchpin the most important information simply cant be missed.
Linchpin also features a microblog app that acts more like a forum than actual blogs and news, so encourages social interactions. With designated areas for different types of communication within the intranet, it makes it much easier to control what news you see and make sure you don’t miss anything you really need.
Ever found yourself recreating content because you either did not know it existed, knew it existed but just couldn’t find it, or you didn’t search for it correctly? Let’s be honest, we’ve all done it at least once! Don’t worry I won’t tell!
Linchpins DCD (Duplicate Content Defender) allows us to scan the whole of our intranet system to check for any possible duplication of content. It scans both content and titles. This saves time wasted recreating content that already exists and stops avoids when people don’t use the most recent/ relevant versions of information.
Speaking to Customers
You cannot reorder things, with most recently updated appearing at the top. There is no IM like messaging structure and it has a limited text editor. The biggest struggle I had with it is the fact we were duplicating work and wasting time. We created and stored everything in Confluence, but then recreated it for Basecamp so the customer could see it.
So for me, to find out Linchpin has a purpose-built extranet that allows you to invite external users into Confluence pages blew my socks off, almost to the point where I went crazy with excitement. They can only see the specific spaces they have access to. They cannot search for any files, people or anything outside of those extranet spaces.
Our PMs no longer had to constantly duplicate the content. They could just use the template documents we already had in the system. Our support team, consultants and the rest of the product specialists are able to talk directly to our customers and partners using the Microblog app, which in this case, functioned as a very well constructed IM tool.
Using the new features found in Linchpin, it was very clear and easy to keep updated with important information, as well as still having our social interaction. It also makes finding and creating content much easier.
Personally, I feel much more comfortable now we have one source of truth and one content owner for each page. It means I know exactly where to look anytime I am trying to find out information for anything within the business.
I could not have been more excited when I learned about Linchpin and I was given the opportunity to learn all the features and little buttons I could press in the configuration panels. This is a product that massively saved me time and effort, let alone the whole company. I know I cannot be the only person wishing I knew about the features beforehand.