Recently, I was meeting with one of our education customers about piloting Confluence, and during our conversation I shared some tips and suggestions from my own experience piloting Confluence in higher ed before coming to Atlassian. I thought I’d share some of them here:

  • Early Adopter — It’s important to have someone who’s eager to use the tool to it’s maximum potential, so you can make sure that as use grows it can handle increasing demands. Early adopters are often the wiki’s most vocal evangelists. Their use can pave the way for others by demonstrating a wiki’s potential.
  • Respected Moderate — In the early goings, it’s also important to have a “moderate,” that is, someone who is well-respected as a thought leader, using and embracing the new technology. Some people may look at an early adopter as a biased user — someone who’s not like the average user — and therefore not reflective of more mainstream needs. A respected moderate, on the other hand, is someone whose opinion can’t be ignored and who better reflects general needs and typical use.
  • Run a closed pilot — In the first phase of your pilot, hand pick a small group of people who will use the wiki, and then keep the pilot closed to other users. This allows you to focus on the people you’ve accepted into the pilot, make sure they have a positive experience and their needs are met, and more closely observe their experience. You’ll have plenty of time to grow the service, and if you limit access at first, it will build plenty of interest and demand.
  • Controlled expansion — Once the first phase is complete, run future phases in a similarly controlled manner. If you accepted three projects in the first phase and you’re satisfied that people had a good experience and the software performed well, expand to 8 or 10 projects in the second phase. The goal here is to test how well things scale, but on a limited enough basis that if you find a weakness or a problem it only affects a small group.

I hope these tips are helpful and if you have further questions about any of them, please leave a comment on this post and I’ll reply back right away.

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