How to build a Wikipedia style knowledge management tool for your project
A well-defined knowledge management tool (think data dictionary) is a big differentiator for any data warehousing project. It plays a pivotal role in facilitating change management, user training, application adoption, and enables seamless transition from project to operations team. In a previous blog I discussed a reference framework for using HANA as a data mart where I highlighted the need for a data dictionary or Knowledge Management tool. In this blog I will discuss the use of MediaWiki (free and open source software wiki package written in PHP) to develop a KM tool to go along with your SAP HANA or BW project.
Knowledge Management is the process that helps organizations effectively manage resources and information. Actively managing information assets can help organizations increase efficiency, reduce costs, and provide dynamic access to information. It facilitates the creation and transfer of knowledge across many members of an enterprise by organizing information so that it can be easily accessed and utilized. On large transformation projects clients and project teams often find it difficult to organize and consolidate information leading to risks and issues as they get closer to user acceptance testing or training phases of the project.
On a recent large scale SAP transformation project for a pharma client our team used the enterprise version of MediWiki to develop a knowledge management portal for their business intelligence solution. Access to the landing page of the tool was integrated in client’s SharePoint to provide global visibility. It contained business centric information about the dashboards and reports that were developed as part of the project including the purpose of a given report, what type of business questions did it help to answer, how frequently was it refreshed, the specific roles required to access it and a high level overview of the key dimensions and measures that it contained. There was also a section dedicated to the data models and flows including metadata, it catered to the advanced users to enable them to perform free form data analysis and exploration.
The best part of using MediaWiki to develop the tool was the ‘Wikipedia’ like look and feel. After only a couple of roadshows and webinars and some initial wireframes the tool caught the attention of the users and turned into a community driven effort.
What is MediaWiki?
MediWiki is a self-service knowledge management tool and is distributed under the terms of the GNU General Public License version 2 or any later version. It is free, open source wiki package written in PHP, originally for use on Wikipedia. It enables developers to create a portal that allows members of an organization to easily access company knowledge and information. The admin can create user groups to allow members and users to share and edit the content as they wish, there are built in templates to jump start the development. Using MediWiki as a knowledge management portal enables collaboration, content management, access to expertise, and transfer of knowledge.
To provide some visual context I have included couple of sample wireframes of the KM tool from my project.
The key to success is to document and analyze the learnings from past projects and use them to be more efficient and effective on the future ones. Below I have documented some from the experience of using MediaWiki to develop a KM tool, hopefully you will find them useful as you think about developing a KM tool for your SAP project.
- Develop guidelines & wireframes to maintain consistent look and feel for the tool in case if you plan to make it a community driven effort
- Set content development standards
- Create a how-to page on common tools and snippets for media page development
- Send periodic reminders to fellow contributors to follow the recommended guidelines
- Encourage the use of factual statements instead of opinions with content developers
- Avoid the urge to document every single bit of information regarding the data models, remember that some of them may take a while to stabilize
- Don’t lose sight of the content, remember it’s the quality of content that differentiates a good KM tool from a mediocre one.
- Consistency is key. Be consistent with color schemes, page structures, typography, spacing, and delivery.
- Make use of hyperlinks to connect key terms and definitions across different sections
- Before creating new content, research what content already exists
In my opinion MediWiki is an easy and flexible tool of choice for developing KM repository or data dictionary to go along with your SAP project. The Wikipedia like experience helps with user engagement and turns it into a community driven effort with a clear path to maintain and govern the content from long term perspective.