Tips and Tricks

Category: Tips and Tricks (24 posts) [RSS]

May 21 2019

Five things successful remote teams share

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This article was first published on LinkedIn

More and more companies are starting to work in distributed teams, as they’re looking to reach a global pool of talent and service clients in multiple time zones. Working across geographical boundaries and time zones can become a competitive advantage when you’re trying to reach a global audience, but it also comes with challenges. In this piece, we explore five things successful distributed teams share.

1. Tools for the digital workplace

In a remote setting, communication is key. Relying solely on email is not efficient. With team members and clients spread across different timezones, your inbox will quickly fill up with messages, making it hard to stay eloquent, organized and productive. Your team will likely rely on different tools to get work done and for day to day interactions. Both synchronous and asynchronous communication are important.

Tools like Slack, Matrix, XWiki, GitHub, GitLab, Jira offer a convenient way to store knowledge, work on projects and keep in touch with your team.

Non-verbal cues give us context. Without them, it’s easy to misinterpret the text. So you’ll likely also be using solutions like Zoom or Hangouts for video and voice meetings.

An eSignature tool will often help you avoid the hassle of scanning or sending physical documents back and forth.

2. Trust & transparency

When hiring for a distributed team you’ll want to work with people who have a track record of getting things done. Trust is essential, when you’re not sharing the same office with your colleagues and results are not measured by the number of hours spent in the office. With trust, comes the responsibility of getting things done.

Accountability is built on trust and trust is built on transparency. In an open and transparent culture, people can communicate freely and enjoy quick access to the information they need to get their best work done.

Many teams favor an agile approach, where each team member posts what they’ve accomplished that week, what they’ll be working on next week, as well as any issues they’ve come across.

3. Processes

Good processes are important for providing structure and not reinventing the wheel. However, processes should not be rigid or set in stone, blocking innovation (aka “we’ve always done it this way”).

4. Core hours

When you’re working across multiple time zones, most work hours will not overlap. Some core hours might be useful though to easily organize meetings and resolve urgent matters.

5. Face time

Successful distributed teams regularly have all hands and team meetings, as well as one-on-one talks to align on the company and career goals. Recording meetings is often a good idea, so team members who couldn’t join the live events may be able to check them out.

Direct, personal interactions are also extremely valuable. Many companies have regular retreats where the whole team get together to better know each other, work on projects, have fun and celebrate their accomplishments. Smaller teams might also have their own trips to align and work together.

In the end, companies find their own recipes for working in distributed teams, with the best ones building unique cultures along the way.

What are some of your tips?

Silvia Macovei, Head of Cloud Business

Apr 08 2019

Building a powerful knowledge base with XWiki Pro

Collaboration tools are enabling both large and small businesses to digitalize and transform their operations.

At XWiki, we help companies centralize and organize their information, so knowledge doesn’t get lost and teams work better together.

If you’re looking to go one step further in your knowledge management journey you don't want to miss out on XWiki Pro, a full set of apps that will extend the standard platform to improve productivity and achieve clarity across your organization. 

XWiki Pro addresses three key challenges that companies share:

  • fostering collaboration and aligning teams;

  • displaying and organizing information, in the best and most efficient way;

  • integrating with other tools, so everything remains accessible from one place.

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When it comes to boosting team collaboration and transparency, the Calendar app is an excellent choice to keep up with events, while team meetings can be planned using the dedicated app. The Forum app encourages conversations and knowledge sharing between team members, while the Ideas application offers the perfect setting for fostering innovation.

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The second set of apps addresses your needs for creating and organizing content. The File Manager can be used to manage files inside the wiki. With the Diagram app, you’ll be able to enrich your content and create various types of diagrams straight from your wiki pages.

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We know that teams can use lots of other different tools to create and manage content. Depending on your specific needs, you can also work seamlessly with integrations such as Office365, Google Apps, OnlyOffice, Active Directory.

XWiki Pro is not only about apps though. It’s also about real support, performed by real people. Our team of experts is ready to guide you through each step of your XWiki journey.

Last, but not least, your contributions to XWiki Pro go towards building and improving the XWiki open source product and applications.

If you’re a technical support customer or a cloud user, you already have access to XWiki Pro starting with the Silver level.

XWiki offers a great way to create and organize information. Using structured data and XWiki Pro you can go a step further in adapting knowledge management to your needs, implementing a tool that is completely customized for your organization.

To try it out, search for XWiki Pro in your wiki's Extension Manager, then install the app and get the trial.

Silvia Macovei, Head of Cloud Business
 

May 18 2018

How to update the color theme of your XWiki

We all know that the more aesthetically appealing something is, the more drawn we are to it. This is why an attractive theme that matches and acts as a complement to your brand or the subject of your data is key.

Here, at XWiki, we provide you with a number of great options in terms of look & feel and, recently, have launched five new color themes you can apply on top of the Flamingo Theme Application. These custom color themes were created by our Usability team and are offered for free to XWiki users.

Preview the five color themes below and take advantage of the quick installation guide right after them. We are also curious if you'll be up for the challenge we launch at the end of this article.

Snowdrop - provides a spring-inspired color theme with white and light green.

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Mandarin - provides a clean and fresh color theme with orange details.

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Cotton Candy - provides a colorful theme with a delicious palette.

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Dawn - provides a color theme that uses transparencies on top of a bordo background.

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Pantera - provides a dark color theme with yellow details.

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Your favorite can be easily installed using the Extension Manager (follow the link for the extended documentation). Here is the brief guide to installing a new color theme:

1. Go to the Administration Panel of your XWiki instance (upper right corner);

2. Select Extensions from the Global Administration: Home menu;

3. Select Extensions (Search for new extensions to add to the wiki) from the Global Administration: Extensions menu;

4. Search for the color theme you like (Cotton Candy, Dawn... );

5. Follow the installation instructions;

6. Go to Global Administration: Themes, select the Look & Feel menu;

7. In the Color Theme tab select the one you just installed and save.

Have fun using them and let us know if you have any feedback. 

In a future blog post we'll be talking about how you can create your own color theme, so we are looking for beautiful ones done by you. Let us know if you want to showcase your work and share it with our readers emoticon_wink 

Nov 07 2017

How to write a SOP with XWiki Procedures

Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are a set of step-by-step instructions compiled by an organization to help workers carry out complex routine operations. XWiki offers you a versatile and ready-to-use structure for all interested domains: management, IT development, marketing, HR, transportation and many more. This is a solution suitable for any department of an enterprise searching to put in place a procedure which would streamline their processes.

Here are 4 steps to create easy-to-follow SOPs:

1. Do your research

A key planning activity for writing effective procedures is to understand the process that will be documented within the procedure. That starts with research or, in other words, collecting information.

This would include doing things like interviewing process owners and process doers. They are the go-to people when requesting related information because of their insight and involvement into the process. In addition, research should help you build objectives by learning process capabilities and by benchmarking industry leaders performances in targeted areas.

Do: Include screenshots, images, videos and best case practices.

Don't: Avoid connecting tasks to specific tools, as they might change over time.

Search tool

2. Establish the bigger picture

Your task is to create a situation where employees aren’t simply just following procedures. They want to understand the roles they play in company success.

By setting goals aligned to the organizational strategy, they will be more motivated to improve the procedures as they will grow along with the company. Therefore, keep in mind that your procedures would need to explain the actions towards the accomplishment of your business plan, while documenting the involved steps and the effects of interactions with other processes. 

Do: Show where a procedure's success falls under the company's growth plan.

Don't: Forget to brief in all departments involved in the well-going of the procedure. 

Procedures categories

3. Provide a structure 

A written procedure is a step-by-step guide to direct the reader through a task, so keep things simple and clear. With XWiki Procedures you have the chance to expand procedures to a company level, or just keep it neat for a team. Give your procedure a structure that will ease the efforts done by your employees instead of sending them on a time consuming path.

Do: Insist on the sequence and correlation of the tasks, as it will help when following them.

Don't: Leave out steps just because they seem obvious. They never are. 

Procedures sidebar structure

4. Involve employees

Give employees ownership so they can contribute to the way things are happening in your organization. For most companies, the problem isn’t necessary with the procedure, but with how the procedure is presented to employees. Make them enjoyable, easy to follow, and most of all - appreciate those taking the time to improve them.

Do: Brainstorms and offer guidance before instilling a new procedure, so everyone is fully on-board. 

Don't: Just add a procedure, take the time to explain all things left unclear and amend where necessary. 

Assign user responsibilities

Conclusions:

1. Research what the competition does and what steps you need to follow, customize it to your needs. 

2. Emphasize the bigger picture and how procedures help your company thrive. 

3. Take the time to make the procedure structured, easy to follow and have clear tasks.

4. Give ownership to those working on the procedure. Encourage them to improve it. 

TRY NOW

Not yet convinced? Try it for 10 days, for free, with no strings attached and no credit card required.

May 29 2017

3 common issues with intranet data import and how to avoid them

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Designed by Freepik

Many managers approach intranet migration with the feeling that all they need to do is move all their content onto the new system and everything will work seamlessly. Obviously, most of the time this is not the case. Not only can this approach lead to user experience problems, but it also denies you the opportunity to manage and refine your content database.

Take the time to read about the following three mistakes that most people make when migrating data to their intranet so you can avoid them in your organization.

1. Omitting a content audit beforehand

The mistake of thinking that all content on their current system is equally valuable is the most common amongst companies migrating to an intranet. This leads them to the conclusion that they should migrate all their content over onto the new system. However, as we found out during our 14 years of experience, migrating all your content is very inefficient.
A better approach is to perform a content audit to find out what content you have on your current system, and out of that what you really need.

Your content audit should answer the following questions:

  • How much content do you have?
  • How old is your content?
  • What’s the metadata of your content?
  • How valuable is your content?

We provide help with any migration project from an existing solution to XWiki, by taking over your existing data. As part of our data recovery projects, we implement the following methodology, meant to smooth the transition for you:

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 2. Forgetting to install the structure to the new intranet

Most organizations upgrade to a new intranet because they want to reap the benefits of a new or better platform. However, moving to a new platform can throw up some unexpected problems in the way your intranet works. A good structured intranet identifies important differences between the old and new platforms, so you can predict problems that might occur after migration and address them now.

This strategy should let you know which data you need to migrate, what you should archive, and what you can delete. All companies should have a content governance strategy in place anyway, but if you don’t currently have one, an intranet migration is a good opportunity to develop one.

For example, your content might end up being stored in surprising places on your new intranet, which could make it difficult for your users to access it as part of their daily activities. Use your governance and structure solutions to predict issues like this and address them before they become a problem for your users.

 3. Doing the migration by themselves

To capitalize all the information and knowledge of your business, it is important that the new solution is able to handle this transition. This is why we offer to assist you with the process. To avoid losing data and to save time, we have developed this import to be fully automated and secure.

These are the top benefits of performing a data import process with XWiki:

  • Each document becomes a webpage;
  • Documents are accessible from any web browser;
  • Edit and View interfaces on the same page (no back office);
  • Decrease or disappearance of information silos;
  • Addition of various features to collaborate around the content: comments and annotations;
  • Our technology allows you to perform massive imports of documents in your wiki, reducing the risk of losing data to almost none.

 

Want to know more? Drop us a line at sales@xwiki.com or try our solution, for free, to convince yourself. No strings attached.

Alina Luchian
Content Marketing Specialist @XWiki

May 10 2017

[Infographic] Reasons to start collaborating right now

Thinking that you can do all by yourself? Well, we think you'll be very much interested in this infographic showing how collaboration impacts success in business.

Download it to get a better view.

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DOWNLOAD THE INFOGRAPHIC

What successful companies have in common

Forbes 500 companies. We’ve all wondered what it gets to be one of them. Researches show that the answer is simple, but the implementation is the tricky part. The way we see it, it goes beyond numerical attributes such as brand value, market share or power of investment.

It’s in the way you think

Let’s start with the beginning. At their core, any self-sustained business, regardless of the industry, has a competent management team, a well-structured organizational chart and a product or solution meeting the needs of an audience.

Easy so far, right?

Well, that was the answer. Understanding how these common attributes differ when comparing an average company to a successful one lays in the way they are approached in the organization. Now’s the tricky part.

So, you ask yourself, what it takes for a company to break the chain of average events and truly be a disruptive force on the market?

Here, at XWiki, we have studied how these things happen and we have concluded that all successful companies have in common the following characteristics:

  • They all communicate efficiently both internally and with their clients
  • The management team focuses on being leaders and not simply bosses
  • They share knowledge within the company both ways

They all communicate efficiently both internally and with their clients

Have you ever wondered how sometimes you are simply not informed in due time about a last-minute meeting or a report has been lost in the long thread of emails?

This is where successful companies get an advantage. They use internal collaborative platforms enabling anyone in the organization to easily get access to any information.

Think about the way global offices work. The difference between time meridians can sometimes pass the 8 hour work day so, basically, when some get to meet their friends for a few drinks, on the other side of the world, the others share stories about last night’s dinner over a cup of coffee.

Getting back to a local environment, you still need to have a global approach on ensuring transparent, up-to-date and easy to access information as your employees will be empowered to do their jobs efficiently. Eventually, your customers will get better customer service, which leads us to the way successful companies approach their audiences.

The management team focuses on being leaders and not simply bosses

An authoritarian approach over managing your employees and especially the millennials, is a sure way to reach a high employee turnover. You can change that by recruiting the right talent from the beginning.

It all starts at the interview stage. Here, at XWiki, we are looking for people who take accountability for their actions, are passionate about their area of expertise and actively take part in collaborative projects.

Image boss vs leader

Source: wittyfeed.com / arving.lakhani2

Ok, now you must be thinking. “How these guys know what to do, when there is nobody there to give orders?”. Well, we only hire people who don’t need orders to make great things happen. XWiki has a culture of empowerment which focuses on fairness, leadership and collaboration. This is why we have only leaders and not a single boss.


They share knowledge within the company both ways

Who knows better what the company is up against on a daily basis if not you employees. They know what resources, processes and steps are needed for a smooth task completions.

Use their expertise as it might impress you, but remember to share knowledge top-down too. Your employees need to be on the same page with the management to act as an entity and not as separate departments always chasing latest updates.

Conclusion

In conclusion we can say that there is no magic formula for becoming a successful company over night. Changing your mindset and allowing time for things to develop naturally is the first step to a Forbes 500 listing.

George Nikolic
Marketing Team Leader @XWiki

Dec 20 2016

XWiki’s special Christmas theme

“Deck the office with pixels of holly, ‘tis the quarter to be jolly” We’re feeling merry emoticon_wink

Decorations, carols in the hallways, gifts, parties, leave days... December has fully taken over offices and working spaces around the world. Whether you’re full onboard or went full Grinch when the first signs of Christmas decorations hit the supermarkets (in November!), chances are that, by now, the Christmas spirit got you.

The holiday season is upon us, and that begs the question: what more can you as an employer/manager to keep your employees happy and motivated? Just like any other Christmas enthusiasts, we thought of contributing to this movement and have taken this spirit to the next level: a special Christmas theme for your company’s XWiki. This way => XWiki Christmas free demo.

We have joined forces with the design team at the North Pole, drafted versions, then got the elves, the snowmen and the reindeers to provide feedback, did the implementation, asked for Santa’s blessing and agreed that this is the perfect picture of the season.

Since we’ve been praising it so highly, here’s a sneak peek of how the theme looks and feels like:

Gather your team around the XWiki Christmas theme and go through this year’s holidays with a smile on every face, even if at work. We challenge you to show us the best use of our special theme, whether it’s a blog post, internal newsletter or anything you might think of.

Let’s make the most of these Holidays! - XWiki’s little helpers

Alina Luchian
Content Marketing Specialist @XWiki

Dec 06 2016

✔️ Top 5 benefits of organizing information within your company

Article updated on the 22nd of July 2019.

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We all get frustrated whenever we misplace our belongings and looking for them is a time and energy-consuming effort that could have been avoided simply by being more organized. What happens if they are not personal belongings, what if we would talk about your work emails, presentation files or quarterly reports? The consequences of this lack of organization would be catastrophic not only for you but for the entire company.

How to avoid this type of hardship? The solution might seem obvious, yet often gets overlooked: organizing information.

Its advantages are various and the top 5 most relevant benefits are:

Efficiency
The greatest advantage of organizing information within a company is the efficiency of the resources. An organized professional will spend less time correcting mistakes, searching for information and fixing any clutter. The time saved means more time for doing productive things and more resources for other projects, therefore more money. Apart from the positive impact on time management, organizing information will make it more comfortable for employees to share any information with each other, thus working better as a team.

Tracking progress
Of the company. Progressing is the aim of every business, but how can you measure it? Having a clear overview of the company’s projects, activities and resources help management while decision-making. Compiling and recording the data of your company’s incomes and expenditures will help timely identify bottlenecks and support the decision to redirect resources and energy to more profitable elements.

Of the projects. Organizing information also makes it easier for every employee to have access to relevant information, to have a  snapshot of all ongoing projects, so the inter-teams communication is more effective and to be on the same page with their teammates.

Better management skills
For any business, organizing information is all about keeping things in proper order such that the path from inquiry to result is clear and time-efficient. Information, in the business’ world, comes from various sources and takes lots of forms: employee records, news, internal meetings minutes or political context. A company’s information portfolio is the key action influencer in any matter concerning the company, so understanding the data and filtering the noise is essential to management.

Daniel Keys Moran said that “You can have data without information, but you cannot have information without data.” and his reference applies undoubtedly to the companies’ need to make rational decisions, through timely and reliable information procured through a logical and well-structured method of collecting, processing and disseminating information. 

Instilling trust
Organizing information establishes a sense of trust and professionalism in the workplace. A well-organized company projects an image of reliability and control. The strategies adopted by rational decision makes with the help of thoroughly disseminated information help winning the trust of employees, clients, and associates effortless.

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Reduced stress
A well-organized information culture triggers a more relaxed working environment, as opposed to a cluttered or disorganized office where you are constantly searching for items or through countless threads of emails, attachments, and files. It also allows companies to adapt to modern working models, including remote resources or work from home. 

State-of-the-art tools that enable new ways of working have generated important changes in company management. Traditionally, team members and managers would juggle multiple files, resources, and tasks while struggling to get people on the same page. 

TRY XWIKI FOR FREE

Nowadays, organizing information within collaborative workspaces make planning and managing different projects easier and more effective, while also ensuring that all tasks are finished on time and within budget. Try XWiki and convince yourself of the advantages. 

Nov 07 2016

Less paper. More technology.

Take a second and think about the world’s remarkable innovations that were discovered in the past 20 years. I think we can all agree that the internet is clearly holding the first place and is shortly followed by the computers and the mobile technology. But what all of these have in common? Why they all have been developed in the past two decades? Here is a clue: more people born, more resources needed, more innovative solutions discovered.


Population growth has both advantages and disadvantages

Some might say overpopulation is either bad or good, but let’s not jump to conclusions. The growing population phenomenon is clearly in the grey area. The advantages include economic growth, longer life expectancy due to medical discoveries and innovative social concepts to serve the masses. On the other hand, it leads to resource shortages, property shortages and deforestation.

With a global population of almost 7.5 billion people and expecting to reach around 9.7 billion by 2050 it is mandatory to take action to find an equilibrium between the two sides. A solution is to use the advantages to overcome the disadvantages, but let me be more explicit on that. How about using the internet and the technological innovations to transmit any kind of information without using the old, basic paper.


Deforestation needs to be kept under control

As deforestation is a real concern, let’s think of what drives this trend. In order to reduce the housing shortages, we need to create more properties, but that means more land which in the end means cutting down trees. Another cause is the commercial activity which implies harvesting timber to create consumer items such as paper and furniture. Living without furniture is not really an option, so let’s cut down the use of paper then.

The current paper consumption per capita is 57 kg and considering the current population of 7.5 billion people, we reach to 427 million metric tons of paper per year. Going back to the population growth, let’s redo the calculation. As we expect 9.7 billion people to inhabit Earth by 2050 and considering the current consumption per capita, we end up with 552 million metric tons per year.

If that is not enough of a trigger to start saving on paper I don’t know what is!

Put technology to use

In order to retain the current paper wastage we need to limit ourselves to 43 kg or less of paper per capita for the next 34 years. Ok, now that we are aware of the objective, let’s find a solution.

We live in a world where all kinds of collaborative, social and interactive platforms have been developed in order to reduce the time and the cost of getting in touch with a family member, a friend or a complete stranger situated on the other side of the globe. In the last decade, the wiki technology has experienced an uplift due to the increase attention of companies on being more productive by using less resources to achieve better results.

Using a collaborative tool to share reports, proposals and presentations drastically reduces the need of using printed materials, which in the end slows down the process of producing paper. A small change in the pattern of modern living can have a huge effect on the environment. This concept has been named by Edward Lorenz, a mathematician and the pioneer of chaos theory, as the "butterfly effect".


XWiki is one of the solutions

XWiki offers a wide range of powerful standard tools that will enable you to create, organise and find content. Moreover, all the pages are making use of some default features such as history, versioning and rollback. Are you usually printing your Excel or Word reports to give it to your managers? If yes, let me give you two options to reduce the paper wastage.

The first option is to import any Microsoft Office or Open Office document and transform it into a wiki page. This can be done by creating a new page and choosing the import option as shown below.

Click on the image to enlarge

The second option it to attach your files to any page that you would like. Moreover, your colleagues can write comments, attach their own materials and create annotations.

Click on the image to enlarge

You can check out XWiki Demo for yourself and see how we can help you manage and structure your information while protecting the environment. On the other hand, you can always mass import your documents. Here are some examples of mass imports done and used on production wikis:

EMC, making pre-sales documents more accessible:

  • Number of documents imported: 50 000 + other hundreds every night;
  • Import success : more than 99% (import feature is limited to Open Office Server and its ability to open files).

Fidelia assistance, better organize the company knowledge:

  • Number of documents imported: 900 documents
  • Import rate: 100%

As you can see, big companies are already taking steps in reducing the paper consumption and saving the environment. You can do it too by contacting us to see how you can transfer your physical data to virtual data!

George Nikolic
Marketing Specialist@XWiki