Culture, Process

The Benefits of Using Confluence for Team Collaboration

Amy Holcomb — December 11, 2014

Atlassian’s Confluence is a document management system that facilitates collaboration and knowledge sharing across a variety of departments and functions. White Lion began using Confluence six months ago and we have already seen huge benefits and organizational improvements company-wide. The investment of setting up Confluence as a new foundational system in our organization has already paid off and we expect that trend to continue. We think that Confluence – particularly when used in combination with JIRA – is a great tool for any organization and we are excited to share the ways in which it is working for us and our clients.

Why We Use Confluence

White Lion uses Confluence for many different purposes and in many different ways. We have found Confluence to be an extremely effective tool for client collaboration, document management, project development, internal communication and cross-functional knowledge sharing. Confluence has quickly enabled an organized and efficient structure of information within the company, which in turn has helped us to be more effective and efficient in delivering successful products to our clients.

Prior to Confluence, we were using a variety of different tools and online platforms, including:

  • A shared network of folders for client assets and project documentation
  • A proprietary knowledge base for internal document management
  • Outlook contacts to manage client information
  • A forum to internally share announcements and information about projects

With Confluence, we can now manage all of these functions with a single online platform that is easily accessible from the office or when we work remotely. No remote connection required.

Client Benefits

First and foremost, Confluence has improved our organization of client information. Confluence uses “Spaces” to group pages together and organize content – you can think of it like a top-level folder on your Desktop. Everything in that one folder is related, and this helps keep you organized. Confluence is structured in the same way, allowing you to group certain content together in an organized fashion. At White Lion we use Spaces to keep our client information organized. Each of our clients has a dedicated Space in Confluence where we store information about that client’s business, their history as a customer, as well as a detailed functional summary about their website and how it works. This is a great resource when it comes to training new employees. All of the information that one would need to know about a client is contained in one digestible area, and folks can simply read through the client’s space to learn more. Confluence also has a sophisticated permissions system that allows us to manage who has access to what information. This ensures the right people have access to the right information at the right time.

In addition to our Client Spaces, White Lion uses Confluence to help manage the planning and development of new projects. Information about any project is stored within that client’s space in Confluence. This might include project requirements documents, project schedules and budgets, creative materials and wireframes, client files and contracts, and any other administrative details that a project team member might need to know as they are working through the project. Meeting notes for the project are also stored in Confluence, providing us with a central place for all project communication and documentation. Confluence also allows you to upload and store any type of file attachment, which means that all project assets and files can easily be stored with all of your other project information. For any page in Confluence, users can comment on the page, like the page, or share it with another Confluence user. You can also “@ mention” another Confluence user in a comment or the body of a page, and Confluence will automatically send an email to that person. This is a great way to collaborate with other project team members, both inside and outside of our organization.

Confluence Screen Grab

Confluence offers page templates for things like Meeting Notes and Project Requirements, making it easy to collaborate, communicate, and stay organized. Here is a sample meeting note template:

Confluence Screen Grab

Most recently, White Lion has explored the process of sharing our Confluence project spaces with our clients. Confluence’s permission schemes allow you to limit a user’s view to a single space or set of pages, which is a great way to share specific content with our clients and collaborate from a shared platform. This has allowed greater visibility on things like schedule, budget, development progress, as well as our Quality Assurance process. Everyone on the project team – including the client – is able to view and edit the same project documentation, and also collaborate in the same space. This helps keep the project on track and mitigates unforeseen challenges and obstacles throughout the life of the project.

Here is a sample outline for a typical White Lion Client Space:

Confluence Screen Grab

Internal Collaboration

Another huge benefit to using Confluence as part of our project workflow has been the built-in integration with JIRA, which is the platform we were already using to manage development and production. Confluence and JIRA (both Atlassian products) integrate seamlessly together which means you can create project reports in Confluence using your data from JIRA. This might include project timelines, budgets, or general progress reports and status updates. You can also easily create new JIRA tickets directly from your project documentation, allowing a seamless transition between project planning and project development.

Confluence Screen Grab

In addition to helping White Lion manage our client and project information, Confluence has also provided the team with a great platform for storing and managing internal documentation. Each area of our business has its own Knowledge Base, which translates to a space in Confluence. All of the documentation and templates and training materials for that department are organized within the same space, and any White Lion team member has access to develop new content or edit existing content in any of our Knowledge Bases. This has been a great way to share information in a transparent, collaborative, and organized manner. Additionally, Confluence has a powerful search function that allows any of our internal content to be easily browsed and navigated.

Overall White Lion has seen tremendous and immediate benefits from our use of Confluence, and we think that it is a great tool for any organization.

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