What is Confluence Document Management?
Confluence Document Management refers to the use of Confluence for the computerized management of all types of documents including policies, manuals, presentations, and more.
Confluence is a team workspace developed by Atlassian, an Australian software company.
Confluence has many built-in features, and you can add additional features through 3000+ apps that are available on the Atlassian marketplace.
Confluence allows you to create a knowledge base for all your corporate data. You can use it to create, store and share information across teams.
You can use Confluence to create and share departmental policies, best practices and procedures, tutorials, how-to guides, and technical information.
For example, if you have an upcoming product launch, you can use Confluence to organize information sharing for all the teams that would work on the project such as R&D, marketing and project management.
You can also use Confluence for team engagement through sharing of announcements, blog posts introducing new members, and more.
With Confluence, you can organize everything in one place. This helps to ensure that institutional knowledge is kept safe even if employees switch roles or leave the company.
Confluence vs Google Docs
Even though Confluence and Google Docs both allow real-time co-editing and inline comments, Confluence supports several features that are not available on Google Docs such as
- Content that is open by default.
- Hundreds of templates for every role, allowing faster project kickoff.
- Robust Jira integration: Jira is a separate software product from Atlassian, and is used for bug tracking and agile project management.
- Hundreds of formatting macros.
Why do You Need Document Management?
You can use document management systems for
- Instant access.
- Reduction or elimination of lost documents or information.
- Fast document search and retrieval.
- Workflow streamlining.
- Document organization.
- Version control.
- Security and access control.
A robust document management system such as Confluence can help you achieve all these objectives and more.
Confluence: Key Features
Intuitive Document Structure
The intuitive document structure used by Confluence allows you to easily create and discover documents. You can also
- Co-edit documents in real-time, publish updates with highlighted updates, and track version history.
- Alert your teammates when you assign a task.
- Protect sensitive information with permission settings.
You can start from a blank page or one of 75 customizable templates.
When you connect Confluence with Jira, your team will be able to
- Link issues and tasks to the relevant requirements stated in documents.
- Convert comments to Jira issues.
- Convert ideas to actionable items by creating Jira issues from within Confluence.
- Easily generate project status reports.
Jira Service management
Use integration with Jira Service Management to efficiently resolve issues faced by your internal and external customers.
Trello allows teams to collaborate visually on projects. Use integration with Trello to create Confluence pages directly from Trello cards.
When you want to discuss something with your team members, the @Mention feature shows names of team members and co-workers with who you have recently shared content.
Edit Attached Files
You can edit attachments directly without having to go through the hassle of downloading and then uploading them again.
With refined filters, you can search in specific spaces or search for the type of content that you are looking for.
Team Calendar Management
You can add items from your personal Office/Mac/Google calendar directly to the team calendar.
The pandemic era has accelerated the uptake in remote work. To facilitate its users, Confluence has released mobile apps for iOS and Android. So even if you are on the move, you can easily create documents, receive notifications and stay connected with your team.
Customization with 3rd-party Apps
- Gliffy diagrams: draw diagrams, wireframes, and flowcharts.
- Comala Document Management: manage documents with reviews and approvals.
- Table Filters and Charts: group data in pivot tables and create dynamic charts.
- Scroll Documents: version management and change tracking for multi-page documents, and publish in Word and PDF formats.
- Scroll Word exporter: create professional Word documents.
- Scroll PDF exporter: create rich PDF documents with control over styling.
- Google Drive for Confluence: to embed Google files in your document pages.
- SharePoint Connector for Confluence: to integrate Confluence with SharePoint and OneDrive.
- Any many, many more.
Confluence Document Structure
Confluence uses a hierarchical structure for all types of documents.
A Confluence page is the basic building block of a document. You can create a page for any type of document such as a policy, project plan, notes, or technical documentation. Confluence includes numerous ready-made templates to help you off to a fast start.
Pages are organized under spaces. You can use spaces to organize related content. Each space on Confluence has its own homepage and blog that allows users to stay updated.
Spaces are organized under hierarchical page trees.
Creating Documentation in Confluence
You can use Confluence to create, update and distribute documentation. Here we will briefly summarize the steps you need to go through for creating new documentation.
Create Documentation Space
The first step is to create your documentation space, which will contain the pages that you and your team members will create and work on together.
To create your documentation space, go to your Confluence site, select Create Space, and then fill in the relevant details including Space name and key. You also need to set up space permissions so that you can control who can view the content, comment, and create, edit, and update content.
Each space comes with its own overview that serves as the homepage for your team. Spaces created from templates come with built-in features, but you can still customize them -by adding a banner or log - to suit your needs.
The next step is to create pages for your content and organize them. You can either start with blank pages or use templates. If you are using a lot of pages with the same outline, then using templates can save you a lot of time. You can create your own templates easily as you work.
To ensure that the page(s) you are working on are not published before you are done with them, you can restrict permissions. This will let you and your team members work on the pages over time, review them and then publish them only after you are satisfied. The workflow that you could use is
- Create a page and restrict permissions.
- Create content.
- Share the page with reviewers for feedback.
- Publish the page when done.
You can edit pages, add images and other media, use markdown and code snippets, and select from two/three column display in regular/wide/full width.
Confluence uses labels to make it easy to identify related pages and attachments. You can give relevant and meaningful labels that help you and your team find information when it's needed.
You can also ensure that all content is relevant by taking time to periodically review the content, deleting pages that are not required, and moving pages around so that your desired content structure is maintained.
Invite Team Members
Once you have set up your site and relevant permissions, you can invite team members to view and collaborate on Confluence documents.
Confluence offers three hosting solutions that fulfill a wide range of organizational needs.
- Confluence Cloud: all your sites and data are hosted on AWS-powered cloud service from Confluence. You don't need to invest in any hardware, and therefore don't need to worry about hardware maintenance. You also get access to all the latest Confluence features through automatic upgrades.
- Data Center: a self-managed solution that you can deploy on the infrastructure of the cloud service provider of your choice.
- Server: if you want to use your own hardware for centralized storage, then Confluence Server is the solution for you. This is the best option for teams that can manage both the hardware and software and need to enforce stricter control for complying with data governance requirements.
Confluence is a great platform for team collaboration and managing corporate information. You can use it to create documentation, and the integrated features on the platform make it easy to manage that documentation so that you can access it easily, update it and share it with internal and external customers.
Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about Confluence document management.
Is Confluence a document management system?
Confluence is an enterprise content management (ECM) system. You can use Confluence to create and manage all types of corporate documents such as technical documentation, project plans, policies and meeting notes etc. The documents you create will be organized, easily accessible, and you can also track changes and maintain version history.
Does Confluence include support for document version control?
Confluence does support document version control. It also allows you to view the changes between different versions, and go back to a previous version if required.
How do I get Email into Confluence?
You need to configure polling of a POP mailbox for incoming emails. All the email messages will belong to a particular space.
If you are new to Confluence document management and technical writing and are looking to break in, we recommend taking our Technical Writing Certification Course, where you will learn the fundamentals and advanced skills of documentation management.
Josh is the founder of Technical Writer HQ and Squibler, a writing software. He is considered one of the top product influencers in the world by Product School and one of the top technical writers. He has been writing software tutorials, manuals, handbooks, and white papers for over eight years. You can connect with him on LinkedIn here.