Managing your projects and documentation with Confluence
One of the fundamental aspects of any great project is how it is managed – without an efficient method of tracking progress, roles and tasks, it’s easy to get off track which can result in a less productive team and in turn increase the time taken to finish the project.
Without an easily accessible way to store and share documentation with your team, you’ll spend longer looking for the important information you need.
Using team collaboration software such as Confluence, you can maximize your productivity and efficiency by utilizing a platform which consolidates your team’s projects and documentation in a simple and easy to use format.
Confluence is designed to be a customisable platform that allows you to share content and documentation with your team, featuring many tools to help you manage projects and development. It has many uses with the most common being Knowledgebases, Wikis, how-to guides and personalized work spaces for businesses or educational establishments.
Here are some live examples of uses of Confluence:
Many well-known companies use Confluence for collaboration, project management and documentation. Some notable examples are:
- NASA have used Confluence for communication, planning, and documentation for their design review of their Ares I Rocket
- Spotify used Confluence to help create their Knowledgebase for commonly asked questions
- German airline Lufthansa have used Confluence for their business teams
- The Daily Telegraph use confluence for their Knowledgebase
Confluence can help your company’s workflow in a huge variety of ways, but the primary focus of the platforms is to provide a documentation space, and tools for project management.
Therefore this blog post will explain some of the ways you can use Confluence to aid your workflow and increase your team’s productivity.
Effective communication between team members is a crucial requirement for a successful project of any size. Lack of direct communication is the downfall of many a project – you may not be able to reach goals or deadlines if your colleagues aren’t on the same page. It’s therefore essential to have a reliable way of sharing your progress, requirements, decisions and roles in the project between team members.
Luckily Confluence provides endless tools to aid you in managing your project. In this section I will cover some of the easiest ways you can use Confluence to manage your project in terms of Planning and Task Management.
The first step for a project of any scale is planning. Without a clear idea of how you will approach your problems, achieve your goals and reach your targets, you will find it extremely hard to stay on track and complete your project.
Project plans can be created, shared and edited across the team in an easily accessible place. Project managers can create project plans either from one of the default templates or a customized template.
We will use the Project Poster template as an example:
Included in this template are areas to outline team members, information about the problem that needs to be resolved, and highlight project status. With this you can effectively plan what your project needs to accomplish, as well as how you are going to approach the problem and the primary reasons for beginning the project.
This is only one of the several project-focused templates that are readily available with Confluence.
Other helpful tools for planning include:
- Visual Roadmaps
These can be used in several ways. An example use might be to place a visual roadmap of progress on current projects placed on the dashboard, so that when a user logs in they have an idea of the what stages the various projects are at.
Now that you’ve got your project planned out, you should be focusing on how you assign your tasks.
Another crucial element of good project management is keeping track of the roles assigned to the project members and the tasks given to your colleagues. You don’t want to spend extra time figuring out who is working on what task, when that time could be spent improving the quality of your project.
This is another problem that Confluence can solve.
Tasks can be set within any Confluence page – using the Tasklist macro, you can assign tasks to a certain user or group, for a certain date. Below is an example of how the task would appear:
With a Task Report, you can display a table of tasks in certain spaces, assigned to certain individuals, or due by a certain date. Below is how a task report would show an example task:
This has many uses, you could set a task report to show tasks assigned to one of your colleagues, or to track current tasks within a specific project. Email reminders can also be set for tasks, so your team members have no excuse for missing deadlines!
You can also work this into the dashboard for all your team members to see. In the example below, we have used the Content Report Table macro to produce a table of the tasks that are currently assigned as well as some helpful information. Implementing something like this will allow you to quickly and easily add and edit tasks for a team member, and display their tasks on the dashboard or most relevant page.
Confluence is mainly developed as a tool to aid with documentation collaboration, so it stands to reason that there is an abundance of well developed tools to aid you with this.
Sharing documentation in an easily accessible place will make your life much easier. Instead of spending time searching through multiple systems for the documentation you need, you can login to Confluence and find the information you need in just a few clicks!
In this section I will cover some of the most helpful tools that Confluence provides to aid you with documentation in terms of creating, organizing, and sharing documentation. Some example scenarios will also be provided to give you an idea of how you might effectively structure your Confluence system.
One of the most useful features of Confluence is customizable templates and blueprints. Confluence provides an extensive set of default templates.
As you can see, there is a template for most scenarios. Even better, you can create and customize your own templates!
Let’s take the How-To Article template as an example. This is what you see when you create a new page from this template:
From this template you can easily create a How-To guide for any given subject, in a clear and concise way with steps on how to solve the issue and other helpful information at the bottom of the article. This saves you lots of time which would otherwise be spent structuring the layout of the article.
Now you should have an idea of how Confluence can help you create your documentation quickly and easily, we will move our focus to the accessibility of accessing the content – which boils down to organization.
Without an effective way to organize your documentation, you may find it difficult to locate the information you need.
Information in Confluence is stored in a structure called Spaces. Think of this as a folder where you can store the necessary documentation and files – except each space has a customisable homepage similar to a staff portal.
In the screenshot below you can see the homepage for a knowledgebase space based on the template .
Now there are 3 key things to note here:
- Sidebar – As the name suggests, this is a section of the page which most commonly contains links to other relevant spaces or pages. Here we have several links to some example knowledgebase spaces.
- Options – In the drop down menu which is available in all pages, you have many useful options. As well as being able to copy, move, and delete the page, you can export the page in several different formats and restrict access of the page to certain users or groups.
- Labels – Labels can be added to pages, allowing macros to interact with the content on the page. For example, certain macros allow you to use information from pages containing a certain label.
When you create a page of any kind, you can choose to store this page in a certain space. When this is stored in the space, any information in documentation can be passed between pages. With macros such as Content Report Labels, Table Of Contents and Page Tree, you can link pages and share information such as multimedia files between them.
Confluence has helped companies complete incredible projects and is a powerful team collaboration tool.
If you’d like to learn more about Confluence or start a free trial, visit their website for more information.