Friends and customers often ask to me about good groupwares and wiki platforms for Small Business Enterprises.
That means enterprises with small, liquid and high volatile teams with average web skills and no time to learn complex features and workflows. They need high level customization and are worried about security and privacy issues. They have low budgets. They also need strong integration with office suites and mail applications.
There are several platforms available, both commercial and open source. Leaving aside groupwares that are too complex and have not enough flexibility to satisfy the SBE needs I want to focus the attention on enterprise wikis platforms. They are useful to collaborate in project documentation writing but usually are not much intuitive. The learning curve of wiki syntax and the proliferation of orphan pages can be problematic. The user permission management is another problem. Who can edit what? and What can be read by different groups of users? Accomplishing this tasks needs a dedicated resource to the platform management who knows exactly the feature available and the user permission system.
Recently I find a good solution for a customer of mine: Socialtext (ST).
ST it is an enterprise wiki platform with basic but critical features, a simple wiki syntax and a WYSIWYG editor especially designed for an enterprise usage.
What makes ST different from other wikis is the idea of “workspace”.
Admin Users can manage wiki pages within different workspaces, inviting editors to collaborate on single pages. This makes the users permission management fast and easy. If teams change they can remove previous editors and inviting the new one with two clicks operation.
So if your team manages three different projects with different resources allocated on different groups with different cross groups permissions, Admin users simply create a workspace for every project, inviting editors to edit the wiki page that matches the users permission.
Linking or creating additional pages, making table of contents, attach documents and tracking the changings its easy. The navigation is improved by tagging features as well as to follow the evolution of particular document that can be flagged to be notified via mail or higlighetd in the dashboard page.
Every document is exportable in PDF and Word format or mailed to other users. that’s match with the office integration needs of SBE.
Last but not least I appreciate the content syndication feature. Every wiki page has its own rss feed that can be subscribed in the favorite feed reader.
Imagine to use Netvibes personal page the let you subscribe RSS feed and iCal feeds. In a very few time you have mashed up you groupware platform for Small Business Enterprise.
Socialtext has a lot of features to integrate it with enterprise apps and it is available as hosted solution, open source solution and an hardware + software solution that makes it very scalable, to better match the needs of SBE ad larger enterprises.
I opted to start with an hosted solution to be operative as soon as possible. Now I’m working on first customization and basic future training. In the future a more advanced solution can be taken into account.
here the Viki’s Podcast: