Confluence is a web-based corporate wiki that has been likened to an internal library for both big and small organizations. You have your instance (the library itself), your spaces (sections in a library), and your pages (library books). Just as librarians must ensure readers can easily find what they need and that the library stocks quality books, Confluence admins are responsible for doing the same, i.e., users must be able to quickly find the information they need and ensure that content is of value.
Given the overlapping nature of their duties, it is only natural that Confluence admins look to successful libraries for inspiration to solve existing challenges. The most critical difficulties often are
- user navigation of content
- keeping track of (and managing) a rapidly-increasing amount of content
- maintaining organizational transparency.
Read on to find out more about these challenges and easy steps you can take to resolve them.
Challenge #1: Users Can’t Find What They Need in Confluence
You can walk into almost any library in the world and easily locate what you need with minimal help. You can thank the Dewey Decimal System for this, which helps organize all books neatly by subject area and author in a standardized manner.
Unfortunately, with Confluence that’s not always the case . Especially in larger organizations, information can be dumped rather haphazardly into Confluence for reasons ranging from time constraints to a lack of best practices. For instance, users may create either too many spaces that fall under the same category which diminish navigability or cram too many unrelated content under one space. It’s a double whammy—users can’t find what they need while valuable information from contributors never see the light of day.
Solution #1: Improve Space Management Practices
There really is no point going to the best library in the world if you can’t get the one book you need. The same goes for your Confluence instances. What you need is an effective system that helps users navigate what they need, similar to the Dewey Decimal System.
You can start by creating spaces according to well-defined categories. You are limited only by your imagination here. You can create spaces based on function (sales, marketing, HR, strategy etc.), projects, and level of confidentiality (internal-use vs external-use).
Once you’ve done that, you can take it up a notch by using apps like SubSpace Navigation for Confluence to create central navigation menus that clearly demarcate spaces, pages, blog posts, external links, folders, and CQL queries. Via a simple drag-and-drop mechanic, you can effortlessly create these menus to be used company-wide OR tailor these menus to suit individual preferences.
Challenge #2: Lack of Organizational Transparency Leads To Confusion
Going along with the library analogy, there are some obvious limitations with a simple classification system. For example, it would be rather hard to sort out library books according to the price they were purchased for, nationality of their author, or even the color of their cover.
It may not be a big deal for libraries, but it can be rather problematic for Confluence users in huge organizations where full data transparency is highly valued. For example, it’s not enough to only know which space a project management homepage sits in, who created the page, and what specific project it pertains to.
Critical project information like who the person-in-charge is, the allocated budget, and progress status etc. are also essential. They can help remove information silos, avoid clashing priorities, and ensure better resource allocation. Most importantly, everyone is aligned from day one of any project.
Solution #2: Use Metadata
According to Forbes, metadata is the elixir to your organization transparency woes in Confluence.
Because metadata gives additional data about your content. What that means is that you have different ways of categorizing your content in your pages or spaces beyond just the simple labeling system native to Confluence. For example, you can categorize data by product owner, upcoming releases, and even technology.
With advanced metadata management, you can significantly improve searchability, categorization, and organization of content in ways that promote organizational transparency as mentioned above.
Unfortunately, Confluence lacks effective metadata configuration. That is why users are turning to applications like Metadata for Confluence to achieve the goals above and more. By managing your metadata, you can rest assured knowing that data in your Confluence will remain fully transparent no matter how large your instance grows.
Challenge #3: Users Aren’t Adding Content The Right Way
Even the best library in the world would be a mess if new books were constantly added without being properly categorized. Imagine if young adult (YA) novels were tagged as encyclopedias, or literature books were tagged as magazines. Worse still, imagine if the pages in these books were either empty or didn’t contain anything useful.
Similarly, you could put in place the most intuitive metadata organization system to manage your content, and your Confluence will still be a mess if your users aren’t cooperating with you to populate the requisite metadata fields.
Solution #3: Provide Preset Metadata Fields
As an admin, what you can do is reduce the cognitive load of your users whenever they want to add new content to Confluence. This increases the likelihood that they will adhere to whatever system you have in place and contribute to a more organized Confluence overall.
Specifically, you can do this by creating preset metadata fields and sets for pages and spaces, along with predefined values to fill in.
That way, whenever a user wants to add a page or space, they don’t have to think about what kind of metadata to add, or what format the data should be added in. All they have to do is select from a dropdown menu with preset choices.
Let Us Help You Run a Tighter Ship
Organizing a large Confluence instance is no easy task, especially given its current limitations. However, effective management of spaces and metadata in Confluence can make such a daunting task a lot more palatable.
If you’re a Confluence admin and you’ve encountered any of the challenges mentioned above, click on the link below to find out more on how we can help make your life easier!