6 min read

Confluence, by Atlassian: Understanding the Software

By Kye Hittle on Jun 23, 2021 4:42:15 PM

Blogpost-DisplayImage-June_Confluence Atlassian- Understanding the Software

If you've ever asked the question, "What is Atlassian Confluence?" you might have received one or more of the following common answers:

  • "It's a wiki."
  • "It's a knowledge base."
  • "It's an enterprise-friendly collaboration workspace."

And although these answers may be accurate, they aren't that illuminating if you're not already familiar with terms like "wiki" or "knowledge base." Confluence is meant to be used by everyone in your organization; every additional contributor increases the value of your instance. On your Confluence journey, it's important jargon doesn't intimidate users before they even get started! They are much more likely to jump in if you use simple, clear language and explanations.

As always, we're here to help! Let's look at each of these common methods of explaining Confluence and some alternate approaches.

What's a wiki?

Since most users are familiar with Wikipedia, Confluence champions may assume the first answer above ("it's a wiki") is a good way to employ the time-honored tactic of starting with something users already know. However, while most users have read a Wikipedia article, there is very little chance they've actually written or edited content on the site. This is where the analogy doesn't take us as far as needed for new Confluence users.

For most users, Wikipedia is just another read-only page on the web. Even if aware Wikipedia is user-editable, they almost certainly don't have the experience of easily creating and editing wiki pages and then having the content immediately available to other users. It's powerful, but hard to really "get it" if you haven't actually done it before.

This concept is critically important in understanding Confluence's value:

You can create and edit content that's immediately available to your team, or even our entire organization on Confluence. It's as easy as editing a document in a word processor but more powerful because you don't have to worry about how others will access the new content.

What's a knowledge base?

Next up in common ways to explain Confluence: the term "knowledge base."

This is even more unfamiliar to most users outside of IT. We may be able to better meet users where they are by using the phrase Frequently Asked Questions, aka the infamous "FAQ." Thanks to it's popularization as a go-to spot for answers on many websites, this might be a better entry point to explaining the value of Confluence as the central repository for an organization's knowledge.

We're all familiar with the struggle to find answers in our organizations. Our clients have tackled this challenge by centralizing their knowledge in Confluence. Users need to know:

Confluence is the single place where we store our FAQs. When you have a question, it should always be your first stop. Since you generate new organizational knowledge each day, help teammates (and yourself!) by storing answers, historical information, and future useful content in Confluence!

What's a workspace?

The problem with the term "workspace" is overuse. We hear it used to describe project management systems, collaborative editing in documents, physical locations (e.g. desks, lab tables, kitchens, classrooms), the main area of an application where content is manipulated, and even online portals. And that's just the beginning of things that get called "workspace."

We need something more precise when describing Confluence. Sometimes it's better to use an example to illustrate the value of Confluence instead of abstract jargon. Quickly explain how you or one of your teams have used Confluence. The more germane it is to users's daily responsibilities, the better. In other words, avoid using a software dev team's use case when talking to the accounting department. While Confluence can enable very complex use cases, stash those for advanced users. With new users, make it approachable and the value immediately obvious.

Drinking our own champagne

Recently at work I joined a three-person ad hoc team to reach out to attendees at Atlassian Community Events about career opportunities here at Praecipio Consulting. We started with a single Confluence page and simply attached one Keynote file as the starting point for our presentation. That's it. It took our team lead 15 seconds to create our team's "workspace."

During a subsequent remote meeting using collaborative editing we added sections to our page for talking points, an email template to event leaders, a table for tracking progress, and a Team Calendar to prevent schedule conflicts. All of us updated the document simultaneously. Additional meetings generated additional content sections, sub-pages (e.g. lessons learned), and more.

Because this was a one-time effort, a full project-management system or "plan to plan" would've taken longer than our actual project. But not having Confluence would've made it much harder to stay organized and make quick progress. Confluence is flexible and grew with us as our project evolved. Confluence also stores every edit as a previous version which can be referenced if the change information is ever useful (e.g. when did we reach out to a particular city last?). Since it was so successful, we'll likely repeat this effort in the future. Our work is stored in Confluence for when that day arrives. The wheel will not need to be reinvented, even though Confluence made that first round very efficient and effective.

That simple, thirty-second example of a one-page project "workspace" demonstrates several components that make Confluence so powerful:

  • Quick ramp-up and flexible for any kind of work
  • Evolves and grows with your team as needs change
  • Real-time collaborative editing allows everyone to stay on the same page, even in remote meetings
  • Add-ons and features, like Team Calendars, add deeper, dynamic functionality
  • Confluence automatically versions edits, allowing us to go back in time if needed

The Journey to Confluence Success

Making Confluence approachable for new users is a critical first step in successful Confluence adoption, but it's not the only one. Here are some other resources to ensure your success.

Professional Services

Confluence is easy to get started with, as long as users aren't intimidated by jargon. It's also easy for it to grow out of control without some guardrails in place. To prevent your Confluence from becoming an overgrown forest - and to make it easy, especially for your newer users - a good design for space organization, permissions, add-ons, and more will save you lots of pain. Praecipio Consulting engagements range from accelerators to get up-and-running on common Confluence use cases to custom-designed engagements tailored to your organization's specific requirements. Let's discuss what would work best for your situation.

Training

Atlassian documentation is great but most users don't read it. We offer instructor-led training to make sure your users get the practical how-to knowledge they need to be effective with Confluence from day one. Contact us for more details.

Atlassian University

For learning the basics of Confluence, you can always direct users to Atlassian University which offers on-demand online courses.

Atlassian Community

Finally, Atlassian has a thriving user community which meets online and in-person every day. Check the forums to see if your questions have already been answered or, if not, post it.

Confluence can dramatically streamline knowledge and project management. It can become one of your users' favorite tools for getting work done. We're experts and ready to help. Please get in touch and let us know how we can help.

Topics: atlassian blog confluence knowledge-base
2 min read

Confluence: Ultimate Documentation Tool

By Nicholas Redwine on Jun 16, 2020 12:15:00 PM

2020 Blogposts_Confluence as the Ultimate Technical Documentation Tool

Where do most of us go when we want to find answers to work-related questions? Like, "How to set-up a PC" or "where to find the best supplies for your workspace"? 

Below are some of the common ways we find answers at Praecipio Consulting when things get "too technical" or our expertise is limited. We want to ensure we're getting the correct information that will draw us closer to the solution:

  1. Ask an experienced co-worker/direct superior
  2. Web Search (Google or Wiki)
  3. App Store (There is an app for everything right?)
  4. Books (If applicable - we're no strangers to "Topic X for Dummies")
  5. Internal Documentation

No matter what route you go, Confluence can bring all of the information that you find into one centralized landing spot with templates, articles, blogs, company intranet spaces, and many more helpful tidbits that connect you to your most mission-critical Atlassian applications.

Providing external access to specific Confluence spaces can also assist in answering any technical questions the client may have. By creating a knowledge base in Confluence, we can give people's time back by reducing the number of calls and emails, which create noise and distract from primary work functions. Instead of having to set up a call or go back and forth over email, having a knowledge base allows you to provide a self-service resource for the client to look up information on their own time. 

Not only can the knowledge base help with organizing technical information, but it also allows your team to work more efficiently, leading to shorter response times and improved Service Level Agreements with clients and external users. With JIRA being the baseline of projects, software development, and ticketing, Confluence comes heavily integrated along with other supporting applications to serve as the ultimate documentation hub. 

For a more detailed Webinar around Confluence essentials, check out Confluence Fundamentals, and check out this post to learn about our tips for what NOT to do when setting up your Confluence Knowledge Base. 

Topics: best-practices confluence knowledge-base
3 min read

Building Your Confluence Knowledge Base for JSD

By Rebecca Schwartz on Jun 10, 2020 12:30:00 PM

2020 Blogposts_What’s the difference between Affects Version & Fixed Version- copy 2

Building a successful Jira Service Desk requires a lot of moving parts. It can be difficult to find the perfect balance between ease of use for your agents (those who work on requests) and your customers (those who submit requests). One of the most important ways of achieving that balance is to create a great Confluence Knowledge Base (KB). If your articles are relevant, concise, and easy-to-navigate, your customers can avoid submitting a request, giving time back to both the customer and agent. Below are some common mistakes to avoid as you work towards creating your ideal Confluence Knowledge Base that is a reliable, single source of truth for your agents and customers.

Note: On November 9, 2020, Atlassian announced Jira Service Management, the next generation of Jira Service Desk. Jira Service Management is an ITSM solution built on Jira to help IT, operations, development, and business teams collaborate at high velocity. It empowers teams to respond to business changes rapidly and deliver great customer and employee service experiences.

Don't Put Your KB Articles in a Space Used for Internal Documentation/Non-Service Desk Related Content

If you create KB articles in a Space where non-service desk related pages already live, confusing or unwanted information may appear when customers search for help. This may push your customer away from reading the content and make their overall experience less enjoyable. Compiling your Knowledge Base articles in their own separate space is key to ensuring the most relevant articles show up when the customer uses the Service Desk. If you need to centralize documentation for both agents and customers alike, leverage page restrictions in the Space to allow for internal and external content.

Don't Create Lengthy Articles Using Technical Terms

When writing articles for customers, it's important to keep them top of mind. The customer may not understand the technical or team-related verbiage your agents typically use. It can feel daunting for them to look at a wordy article, so we suggest using bullet points, numbered lists, and mixed media (images, videos, etc.) to break up the content. Applying screenshots to your articles can also be useful, as it provides the user with a visual guide on out troubleshoot the issue on their own.

Don't Create Every Single Article From Scratch

Although they may not be useful for all of your articles, Confluence has built-in templates available for you to use when creating most of the content in your Knowledge Base. There are templates specifically for Troubleshooting articles and for How-To articles that have handy macros and formatting already incorporated. You can even customize these templates to better meet the needs of your users. If the out-of-the-box Blueprints aren't the right fit for your requirements, you can create custom templates (although you won't be able to create them from the Jira issue directly in the same way), which will save your agents time when creating articles and allow for a consistent user experience when navigating through the KB. 

Don't Ignore Reports on the Usefulness of your Articles

Jira has several native reports that allow you to see how your Knowledge Base articles are performing. The Requests Deflected report illustrates how often your customers find articles useful. This report shows deflected requested and how often articles are viewed in the portal. The Requests Resolved report displays the number of requests that have been resolved with an article, those that were resolved without an article, and requests deflected in the portal. These reports are key for determining which articles are beneficial to your customers, which allows you to tailor your content to meet customer needs.

 

Now that you know what not to do when building your Confluence Knowledge Base, explore how Praecipio Consulting has answered other Service Desk questions, like How does Jira Service work with ITIL? or Can you really set up an ITIL-based Service Desk in 3 weeks?

Topics: blog confluence knowledge-base jira-service-desk customer-experience

Praecipio Consulting is an Atlassian Platinum Partner

This means that we have the most experience working with Atlassian tools and have insight into new products, features, and beta testing. Through our profound knowledge of Atlassian environments and their intricacies, we can guide your organization as you navigate these important changes.

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