Confluence Search Upgrade: The Administrator’s Perspective and Benefits

Read about how how a modern enterprise search solution can help Confluence administrators to make the most of their Confluence search.
Claudia Müller
10 min to read

Confluence Search Upgrade: The Administrator’s Perspective and Benefits

Administrators are uniquely involved in the process of implementation and operation of new software solutions in the company. They have to take charge of the end user’s needs and simultaneously justify the investments to the company’s management. The following example will illustrate how a modern enterprise search solution can help you to make the most of your Confluence search.

A Scenario in 5 Steps

Peter works as an administrator for a larger international company. His duties include the installation, configuration, performance monitoring, troubleshooting and maintenance of software.

1. Confluence is rolled-out company-wide

The company has been using Atlassian Confluence – a popular solution for management of intranets and enterprise wikis – for a long time, even though only in a few departments. The user base consisted mainly of sophisticated users with advanced search skills.

To boost collaboration and productivity in the organization, Peter and a group of department managers convinced the higher management to deploy Confluence company-wide. One issue that Peter didn’t consider at first was that by this, the number of standard users without knowledge of the Confluence advanced search features would dramatically increase.

2. Against Expectations: Numbers of Users decline

Not long after the company-wide roll-out was finished, Peter noticed that the usage of Confluence was dropping following an initial surge. Users just did not return after a few trials. His hope that Confluence would become a one-stop solution did not materialize.

As a consequence, Peter started to reflect on this issue, trying to devise a strategy. He eventually decided to set up a survey. After administering the survey and evaluating the results, he was pretty surprised: Users often complained that that searching for specific information did not yield relevant results. That was why they returned and used their old and inefficient search strategies and tools again. These consisted for example, of searching for hours in single isolated sources for the required information or time-consuming consultations with coworkers.

Next, Peter tried to help the users to improve their search experience with Confluence by:

  1. Adding keyword tagging for each page.
  2. Redesigning the navigation. In this way, he intended to categorize better, bookmark and identify content.
  3. Offering training sessions. He tried to teach users how to utilize the Confluence advanced search to get better search hits.

The results of this approach, however, proved to be short-lived, and with time, the usage of the Confluence search declined even further. Some additional observations made by Peter showed that the main reasons for this were:

  • The users had difficulty balancing the participation in the regular training sessions with their day-to-day responsibilities.
  • Even those users that participated regularly and initially showed some signs of progress forgot their newly learned skills soon thereafter. After all, the syntax search of Confluence was not easy and self-explanatory.

Peter was back to square one.

3. The Search for Solutions

Moreover, the employees started to ask their supervisors more and more frequently for additional and better search tools. This would not only require further investment and incur extra expenses, but also impact the structure of the company’s IT-Processes by unfavorably increasing their complexity. So it was understandable that the IT department wasn’t exactly amused about these requests.

Matters became further complicated because department managers started to complain to Peter. In their view, the expected productivity increase did obviously not come true. After a while, the attention of the company’s top management was drawn to this fact. Peter found himself in a position where he was faced with unpleasant questions: The money on licenses, implementation and training seemed not well spent.

After all, in today’s dynamic and vibrant business environment employees’ success depends on their ability to access the information quickly. Employees in the call center and support need speedy access to customer information and relevant product or service data. The marketing department needs current studies and test results on new campaigns and products and services. And other employees need quickly to familiarize themselves with new topics. Additionally, employees that use search engines like Google in their daily private lives, have the same expectations when searching for information on the job. Otherwise, they may get discouraged and use less reliable sources. As a result, not only their decision-making capacity may suffer, but also the productivity of the entire company and its success.

4. iFinder Enters the Equation

After researching online, Peter learned about iFinder, a Confluence plugin offered by IntraFind. Several aspects caught his attention. iFinder was available in the private cloud, on-premises or as SaaS. Thus, it could easily fit even into a reasonably diverse IT- and software landscape. Further features that iFinder provided were:

  • Dashboards that could be individualized.
  • Ability to search data in other sources like SharePoint, CRM/ERP, Jira etc.
  • Faster search through tools like autocomplete, tabs (simultaneously allowing several searches) and a suggestions of related search terms.
  • Support for several hundreds of file formats
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) and advanced linguistics that allowed for smart searches.
  • Rights management capabilities to grant or restrict access of individual employees to sensitive data or other data worthy of protection.

Moreover, individual search templates could be designed and shared with other users. This made the search more efficient. New or inexperienced users could, in this way, avoid irrelevant results and much of the frustration that accompanies it.

Peter got the impression that iFinder may have every chance to greatly support knowledge management, collaboration and team building in his company. After some talks with his colleagues and superiors, the decision was made to invest into a Confluence plugin and to deploy iFinder throughout the organization.

5. iFinder brings about change

This proved to be a good decision. Users valued the ease of search and that they could search for information in the company as simply as with popular Internet search engines. The positive search experience of the employees, in turn, resulted in quickly growing adoption rates. User numbers rose considerably, and their productivity increased. In this way, the ROI could be significantly boosted, and Confluence became a central go-to system in the whole organization.

Picture from Brooke Cagle from Unsplash

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