Handy Reminders, Smart Page Diffs and Easy-to-use Timestamps in Confluence

November 22, 2022
#Confluence#Project management#Task Management
15 min

It can be tough to find a person who knows every single Confluence macro and, especially, uses all of them. Usually, you choose 4-5 favorite macros and add them to your content depending on your needs.

In this blog post, we will show you the capabilities of the Handy Macros for Confluence app that improves your user experience in Confluence. It is a set of 12 macros that add more interactivity to your content. The Data Center pricing of this app for up to 500 users is 1,400$ per year.

Handy Macros for Confluence is a must-have solution for teams that keep a lot of project information like dates and statuses on one page. And what if they need to update this information regularly?

Let’s dive deeper to see how to use different macros of this app and what our customers think of each of them.

Handy Page Diff

Every time you update the content of the page, Confluence creates a new version of this page. To check the page history, go to the page and choose > Page History. You can preview any version or restore any of them.

tracking page changes in Confluence

Handy Page Diff helps you quickly see what changes were made to the Confluence page that you have visited more than once. Starting from the second view of the same page you’ll be informed of all the changes made on the page, the count of changes and users who made them. It’s very useful for large and frequently edited pages.

The diff between the current and the last seen revision is just one click away from you. You can always be aware of all page updates since the last visit. You can confirm that you have seen all the changes after viewing the diff. Next time you’ll be informed of only the changes made since your last acknowledgement.

contributors to Confluence content

To acknowledge the changes, just click the tick icon.

You can easily disable this feature in case you do not need to track changes to your content.

Here is what our customers think of Handy Macros.

The Handy Macros are an extremely helpful suite of powerful macros. Especially in combination with the page properties and page properties report macros you can use them as a kind of workflow engine – very nice!

by  Mirko Schäfer

Handy Timestamp in Confluence

It’s hard to believe but Confluence users have been waiting for the timestamp feature since 2008. However, Atlassian decided not to implement it.

You can only quickly insert the date by typing double slash (//) and either typing the required date or selecting one. However, for some activities, it’s crucial to fix the exact time. Confluence misses this functionality.

The good news is that you can use the Handy Timestamp macro. The macro is quite simple and can be used when you need to insert the current time. For example, you can insert the start and finish dates and time for your tasks/releases or track when exactly you installed a new software version on your server.

Insert it on the page and select the appropriate timestamp format. The timestamp format is saved and the next time when you insert the timestamp you’ll get the same format for it.

timestamps in Confluence

You can always change the timestamp format and the date. In this case, the timestamp remains the same. This allows you to protect the timestamp from unwanted changes.

Confluence timestamp settings

Our customers are just happy that the timestamp feature exists in Confluence.

Yay! a timestamp feature. Just what I needed.

by Stuart Bowman

Handy Reminder

By default, Confluence doesn’t have reminders. However, we should remember a lot of things in our everyday life:

  • We play volleyball on Fridays, so we need to book a volleyball court.
  • We purchase software and want to remember the dates of repeated payments.
  • When we plan events, we need to keep up with our schedule.
  • We want to meet the deadlines for our tasks.

You can come up with tons of situations when a reminder comes in handy. That’s why the Handy Reminder macro is among our Handy Macros family. Now you can add reminders to any content on the page be it text, table, or task list.

Add reminders in the page edit mode, and there you can type the text of the message and choose to show it next to the reminders icon or not. Also, you set the date, time, and recipients.

reminder in Confluence

Edit reminders in the page view mode. You can set reminders for your own needs or for your team, and use periodic reminders.

Set the frequency for getting notifications and define the time period for reminding. For example, you can remind your colleague to check your tickets in the Helpdesk every day while you’re on vacation. You’ll get an email notification.

notification from remider in Confluence

You will also get a notification in the Confluence workbox when the reminder’s time comes.

reminder notidication in Confluence workbox

Here is what our customers say about Handy Macros and reminders.

Adds function and fun 🙂

We love using Handy Macros to make sure, we check up on certain pages in a periodic cycle, handy reminders makes this super simple and straight forward for all types of users (not just advanced and admins).

by Merle Fischer

We have many lists with expiration dates for keeping track of maintenance and inspections. To keep track of these more easily we wanted to have the date shown for reminders (with coloring on expiry). This way we can very quickly see which positions are due and have a reminder at the same time.

by Alex Scheele

Handy Status

By default, you can add Status Macro in Confluence by typing {status}. After that write the title for your status and pick its color. The native Confluence status can be changed in the page edit mode only.

status macro in Confluence

Handy Status is an interactive status macro you can change right from the page view mode.

Create personal statuses with no need to contact your Confluence administrator. At the same time, Confluence administrators can configure some default sets of statuses available to all Confluence users.

You can browse through all available status sets and choose the one that fits your case.

changing status in Confluence

You can track status change history by hovering over the status. Handy Status is essential for teams that work with Page Properties Reports because changing a lot of statuses on different pages becomes an easy task. Moreover, you can link the status to the page label which will be updated every time you switch the status.

changing statuses with page properties report in Confluence

Learn about the best practices of status management in Confluence.

Here is how one of our customers uses Handy Status.

I use Handy Status macro in my project workbook template for all my project pages. It’s a very useful macro to use especially when I’m using page properties report as it allows updates to the Handy Status from the page properties report view. I really appreciate the quick responses to my inquiries.

by Dailin Young

Handy Date

You can rapidly add dates to your Confluence pages. Just type // and choose the required date in the page view mode. However, you can change dates only when you edit the page.

Handy Date works great together with statuses in reports or task lists. You can change Handy Date on the fly while viewing the page.

changing date in Confluence

This macro can help you be more productive when it comes to scheduling tea, activities, and events, or tracking deadlines and project statuses.

Here is how a bundle of Handy Status and Handy Date can work for you.

This is a cheap and handy add-on, especially if you do a lot of status or schedule in Confluence. We keep one page with LOTS of projects’ status and dates, many of which change a LOT.  Use this add-on to STOP dropping into Edit mode, finding your spot on the page again, making your status/date change, and then saving.  With this add-on, those 4 steps become ONE – just click and edit your status or date, directly in page view mode.

All changes are saved to the page history, and the Status changes even provide a handy change-log by just hovering over the status itself.

by James Tuttle

Try Handy Macros for free

Try Handy Macros for free and improve your workflow with the help of this app. Get some inspiration on how to use this app from reviews of our customers.

The great thing is that in this blog post we described only a part of macros from the Handy Macro family.

If you have any questions, feel free to add comments below.

Table Filter and Charts with the Jira macro

November 8, 2022
6 min

The Jira macro helps us fetch the list of Jira issues and transform it into a table with user-defined columns. We’ll show you how to arrange Jira issues just right to get the data you require at the moment.

The Jira Macro

The Jira macro is a native Confluence tool that allows you to fetch the list of issues matching the entered JQL query. After inserting the macro on the page, you can select the necessary application link and type the JQL query for issue output. Alternatively, you can filter the issues in Jira and copy the link to the pre-selected category.

Additionally, you can pick the settings which help you regulate the count of displayed issues (up to 1000). You can define which columns to show and which ones to hide in the generated table if needed. If you use custom fields in your Jira projects, you can list these and standard columns.

After saving the macro and the page, you will get a table with Jira issues. If you want to choose different settings and request a more detailed list of issues, you need to go back to the edit mode and change the JQL query and the settings of the macro.

Native Confluence features don’t offer many options for further processing the table apart from sorting its columns in the view mode.

If you want to manage your tabular data comprehensively, you can apply the bundle of macros from the Table Filter and Charts for Confluence app. Here’s what it can help you achieve.

Finding relevant data

The Table Filter macro provides a broad set of filters for different data types. After you add the macro, it automatically applies relevant filters to each table column. After that, you can select filter settings. Filtering data allows you to easily navigate through large tables and find the necessary information in just a few clicks.

Getting more insights

Tables with Jira issues usually contain repeated values, such as types of tasks or statuses. You can aggregate data based on these values and perform simplistic calculations. For example, to discover the workload of each team member, you can use the Pivot Table macro to summarize the number of tasks of each status per employee.

And if you want to calculate something more complicated or set conditions for table formatting, you can use the Table Transformer macro. It requires writing an SQL query to define the settings but gives you more freedom in managing your Jira issues table.

Creating engaging visualizations

Charts and graphs can give you a different perspective on data and help you understand it better. The Chart from Table macro offers you various chart types and suggests the most suitable options for data organization. All charts are customizable, which means you can change included table columns, chart types, and even the color scheme however you prefer. And if you update the source table, the chart will renew instantly.

If needed, you can use a combination of macros to create engaging and interactive dashboards. You can read our article to learn more about it.

What’s the next step?

Watch our video to learn more about using Jira issues in Confluence with the Table Filter and Charts app.

And if you decide to try it out, just follow the instructions below!

Best Practices of External Collaboration in Confluence

September 29, 2022
#How To#Confluence#Collaboration
11 min

The information provided is relevant to Server and DC deployments.

External collaboration is a neverending story in the Atlassian Community. The Confluence users keep bombarding the community with questions on how to share content externally securely and cost-effectively.

Indeed, Confluence is a well-known tool for internal communication. But what if you need to share content with someone without access to your Confluence? This might be a partner, user, auditor, or any freelancer you work with.
In this article, we’re going to address the real use cases of Confluence users about external collaboration and uncover the traps of this process.

How to share a Confluence space

Use case: I run a partnership that is not an Atlassian customer. Is it possible for them to view and/or edit an individual Confluence Space? In doing so, I also want to make sure we are not giving them access to the rest of our Confluence database.

Let’s see approaches to implement this.

Anonymous access

You can collaborate with an external organization by enabling anonymous access in Confluence. Before going any further, let’s figure out who an anonymous user is.

An anonymous user is anyone on the internet who isn’t logged in your Confluence instance. Users that have profiles in Confluence can log in to it and see the Confluence content. For your clients that are missing profiles in your Confluence instance, access to Confluence is closed. It means they are anonymous users as well.

To let anonymous users see your Confluence pages, ask a space admin to enable anonymous access in the space settings. They can do it in the following way.

anonymous access in Confluence

This approach doesn’t require any licenses for end users. However, by giving access to a space this way, you grant it to all content within a space to anyone on the internet. The information shared can be confidential to both sides. This is where another approach comes in.

License a user

Another way of sharing the Confluence spaces is to create profiles for external users in your Confluence. A better option is to make these external users a part of a specific group in user management.

create user group in Confluence

After that, allow this group to at least view that single space.

However, in this case the maintenance of users can become chaotic. The Confluence admin needs to make sure that these users are not members of any other group in user management.

We advise testing whether other spaces uncover sensitive data because of the incorrect permission setup. You can create a test user, add them to a relevant group, log in, and verify that the only space you see is the one you want external users to access.
Another limitation of this approach is that when you add customers to Confluence, you may reach a user number threshold for the next pricing tier for your Confluence instance. This consequently increases the price of the apps you’ve subscribed to.

💡 Tip from our team

When you give access to anonymous users in Confluence, they will see all inline comments made internally on the page. It’s often the case that these discussions contain confidential information.

anonymous users can see comments in Confluence

Our Talk – Advanced Inline Comments for Confluence app prevents this security gap. These’re only Talk inline comments that allow setting up visibility restrictions. Define a group of teammates or specific colleagues to share your talks with  in Talk Permissions on a space level. This helps you protect your private data from exposure.

How to share a single page

User story: I want to share a page with a customer, where I provide current information on the production process.

To tackle this dilemma, we can suggest the following recipe.

  1. Give access to your space to anonymous users.
  2. Grant them view permissions in the space settings.
  3. Go to the page restrictions by selecting the lock icon on a page.
  4. Add any licensed users and groups that you want to view and edit the page.
  5. Share the link to a page with users outside Confluence

Using the page restrictions, you limit external users from seeing other pages in the space with anonymous access.

When a space has a complex page structure, it can take much time to apply this scheme. To make life easier, we have some painkillers for you.

  • Instead of restricting all pages, you can apply viewing and editing restrictions only to parent pages. In this case, child pages inherit parent viewing restrictions.
  • Group all your company users in one team. Now, you need to add 1 group to the page restrictions instead of 15 users separately.

viewing restriction for discussions in Confluence

Keep in mind that if you share a parent page with an external user, they will also get access to referenced child pages. Thus, before sharing content with anyone outside your Confluence, ensure that you’ve set up page permissions for internal teams to view and edit for the child pages, as mentioned earlier.

Instead of confusion with permission management for your existing space and pages in it, you can use this method:

  • Lock all your spaces from Anonymous access.
  • Create a new space that Anonymous users can view.
  • Make a copy of a page you want them to see and move it into this new space.
  • Once your client makes changes, you can take the content of this page and put it into the original page.

If after reading these instructions you feel like this:

Good news! The next part helps you bypass this tricky solution.

Apps for page sharing

Another way to share a single page is to add your customers to a licensed users list. But is that really reasonable if someone needs to view a Confluence page occasionally?

External Share for Confluence and Comala Share It apps can fix it. They don’t use any Atlassian account and get down the whole process to a few clicks.

This way of content sharing generates secure and unique links to your Confluence pages. The most significant benefit comes from using these apps to work with infrequent collaborators. There’s no point to let them consume a whole license and increase your Confluence and apps price. With the apps you pay for the number of users in your Confluence, but you can share pages with any number of external collaborators.

External sharing in Confluence is worth it

It’s a good idea to share knowledge and work externally with Confluence. It ensures that you always give access to an up-to-date online content repository. But, you need to juggle a lot of things in this process. We recommend saving this article and getting back to it every time you need a hand in this subtle art of external sharing in Confluence.

You can also read our blog post to learn how to create extrenal documentation site right in Confluence.

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

Manage Tables in Confluence With Ease

September 23, 2022
11 min

If you are an accountant, statistician, or analyst, you know MS Excel from A to Z. But how will you deal with tables if your company migrates to Confluence? No worries! Keep reading this blog post to find all the answers you are looking for.

Using native Confluence tools

Confluence is bundled with a visual editor that allows you to insert tables similarly to MS Word.

Just click the button on the control panel to add the table. After that, you can add as many rows and columns as you need and define the table header.

These are a few options Confluence offers you for customizing your table:

  • Inserting or removing a row or a column in a chosen place
  • Cutting, copying, or pasting a table row
  • Defining the width of the whole table and each column separately
  • Merging or splitting table cells
  • Setting header rows or columns
  • Coloring table cells

You can also enhance the look of your table with other macros, such as dates, statuses, symbols, or emojis.

Even though Confluence offers an abundance of native features for table creation and customization, manual entry of the table is quite time-consuming, especially if it performs as an extensive database.

Let’s see what you can do to minimize your time and effort while uploading tables to Confluence.

Importing from Excel

If you already have a table in MS Excel, you can copy-paste it into Confluence.

But this will reset the formatting and leave you with a plain table with data.

To enhance native Confluence features, you can use third-party apps. We’ll show you how you can benefit from the Table Filter and Charts for Confluence app and how to add it to your Confluence instance.

Importing CSV tables

Table Filter and Charts for Confluence suggests another solution for working with already existing tables.

It provides a set of macros to generate them from external sources:

  • The Table from CSV macro allows you to import, format, and display comma-separated values (CSV) data from external sources.
  • The Table from JSON macro allows you to import, format, and display tables fetched from JSON strings from external sources.

This is a convenient way to upload your MS Excel tables to Confluence. Save it as a CSV file and attach it to the appropriate Confluence page. You can work with this table in Excel and export a CSV when you need to depict it in Confluence. Each time you upload a new CSV file, all the data will be automatically updated.

Just add the Table from CSV macro on your Confluence page and set the appropriate parameters. You can select the the table’s source (attachment or URL) and choose the necessary settings for the correct table depiction, such as delimiter, encoding, or data format. You can also preview the table to see if you are getting the desired result.

Confluence spreadsheets

If you are migrating to Confluence but don’t want to give up spreadsheet capabilities offered by MS Excel or Google Sheets, there is a solution to that problem. With the Table Spreadsheet macro, you can embed a spreadsheet into your Confluence page and benefit from all the features you are used to. The macro is designed to resemble Excel as much as possible, both with its interface and functions.

Again, you don’t have to reproduce the tables you previously managed in other tools manually. Just upload your file into the spreadsheet and keep working with it in Confluence. XLXS, CSV, and ODS formats are supported.

Easy filtration of data in your tables

Sometimes your tables can get very large, and limiting all the information and getting a currently needed piece of data becomes challenging. In this case, you can use the Table Filter macro from Table Filter and Charts for Confluence. It allows you to filter both standard Confluence tables and tables generated by other macros. Moreover, you can do all of it on the fly right in the view mode.

The macro automatically suggests relevant types of filters for each table column, depending on its contents. Alternatively, you can set up a global filter to search data across the entire table. Additionally, you can hide columns you are not currently using or save the filtered table as a file of a chosen format to share outside Confluence. After you finish filtering the table, the app will highlight the Save changes button with a red asterisk, reminding you to save the table in its final form.

You can find even more options for filtering your table in the edit mode.  You can select the settings relevant for your table, choose filter display mode, add a numbered column, calculate totals, add pagination, or freeze rows and columns. 

Aggregate data in pivot tables

For cases when you need to group repeated values from an extensive table, the Pivot Table macro will come in handy. It allows you to get a brief overview of a big table and look at the data from multiple perspectives, depending on the chosen parameters and types of calculation. After adding the Pivot Table macro, you just need to select the columns you want to aggregate and the suitable calculation type.

If you previously applied filters to the source table and keep using them, the pivot table will adjust accordingly.

Visualizing table data with charts and graphs

You can easily visualize numeric data for further analysis and presentation. With the Chart from Table macro, you can turn your table into a graph of a chosen type in just a few clicks without leaving the view mode. When you add the macro, it suggests multiple types of charts relevant to the source table, allowing you to add the chart in no time. After adding the chart, you can still change the data reflected on it or adjust the size and the colors.

Again, if you filter your source table or base the chart on the pivot table, the graph will automatically update to reflect the most recent version of the table.

Power up your table management with Table Filter and Charts for Confluence

Even though out-of-the-box Confluence features can limit your table management capabilities, you can enhance them with third-party apps, such as Table Filter and Charts for Confluence. Check it out on the Atlassian Marketplace and try it for free. Just follow the instructions below!

If you have any questions regarding the Table Filter and Charts for Confluence app or need assistance with using it, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Confluence Tips and Tricks: Using Interactive Statuses

September 15, 2022
#Confluence Tutorial#Confluence#How To
12 min

In this blog post we’ll dive deeper into the process of status usage in Confluence Cloud. If you use another Confluence hosting type, the corresponding functionality with slight platform-related differences exists in Confluence Data Center and Server.

Engineering or finance, healthcare or IT – whatever their industry is, all data-driven companies need a powerful tool for document management and collaboration. Atlassian Confluence is an advanced wiki for teams that need a secure and reliable way to collaborate on mission-critical projects.

With project diversity, one thing remains unchangeable for all projects. Effective status management is vital to achieve goals faster and find the bottlenecks in the current processes quicker.

Ideally, every team member can learn about any project or document status on request. That’s why many companies organize workflows with attention to status management. They create dashboards, track page statuses, and look for better ways to update information across pages.

Adding statuses to Confluence pages

In Confluence, you can highlight statuses with the native Status macro. Just type /status when editing a page to add a colorful rounded box to it. You can select one of five colors to customize its look. Once you save the page, the Status macro will appear on a Confluence page to highlight the status for documents, tasks, or project requirements.

add status in Confluence

The Status macro is also great for tables highlighting priority, risk, feasibility, or progress. You can always change the status value in the edit mode if needed. Start editing the page, click the status that needs an update , pick the new color, and enter the new status text.

Status macro in Confluence

Pro tip: try to add labels identical to statuses.

If that sounds like a useless activity , think of the time you needed to find all pages in Confluence that were in the Critical status (or any other you use in your company regularly). Not a trivial thing to do, indeed. For page labels, it suddenly becomes a two-second action. Just click the Critical label, and here you have all the pages in front of you. This trick can save time on searching for other efficiency-related activities on your task list.

add labels in Confluence

Creating dynamic status dropdowns in Confluence

If you use Confluence statuses a lot or plan to bring this enhancement to your company processes, you’d love to have an advanced tool for status management like Handy Macros for Confluence. It comprises a set of macros for content creation and formatting.

Let’s take a closer look at the Handy Status and Handy Date macros. Their key features ensuring better project management in Confluence are:

  • status and date switching in the page view mode
  • custom sets of statuses corresponding with your needs
  • unlimited number of dropdown statuses for each set
  • enriched functionality for faster status tracking

Managing status sets

Once you start using Handy Status, you get a place for centralized management of status lists. Here you can create sets with custom options. Later on, your teammates can reuse these sets in Confluence whenever needed instead of creating statuses each time from scratch.

While managing statuses, you can add or modify sets and status values, choose from a wide range of background and text colors for your statuses, and delete them if needed.

create status set in Confluence

Working with Handy Status and Handy Date

When you have your status sets set up, it’s high time to add them to your Confluence pages. You can do it like with any other macro in Confluence. So you can either select from the Insert menu or enter the macro name on the page via the /macro name. Use the Handy Date and Handy Status macro names to insert interactive dates and statuses correspondingly.

inserting status into Confluence content

You can change statuses and dates on the fly when viewing a page by clicking them. This functionality brings optimization to your Confluence data update process. You and your team will get rid of time-consuming edits for minor page changes.

interactive status in Confluence

You can still be sure that your data is safe as only users with edit permissions for the current page have access to this functionality of Handy Status and Date.

add interactive date into Confluence content

Moreover, you can track all the changes via the page versions.

tracking page version in Confluence

Bonus tips and tricks for using statuses in Confluence

Track status changes

With Handy Status, you can immediately monitor the history of changes. Click Handy Status in the page view mode to see who, when, and how updated statuses. This functionality allows you to monitor the process workflows in Confluence easily. Now you can always reach out to the right person to get an update on the project task or see whether the task got stuck.

tracking status change history in Confluence

Track progress of teams

You can easily keep track of your team progress by creating a table for project tasks. Adding Handy Status and Handy Date to each task will make task updates a breeze. To visualize the progress even better, try using Handy Slider next to the task list.

add slider in Confluence

Create interactive dashboards

You can collect and organize information across many Confluence pages for data overview and live updates. If you have multiple pages related to one project and need to quickly manage them, try the combination of the Page Properties and Page Properties Report macros with Handy Macros for Confluence.

This solution allows you to add dropdowns to Confluence tables and update them without editing the page. Use Handy Status for text dropdowns and Handy Date for date pickers with the Page Properties macro. Once you choose new values for these dropdowns, you’ll get an update on both pages (with the Page Properties and Page Properties Report macros).

status change in Confluece with dropdown menu

Update page labels automatically

Did you like the idea of status and page label connection for search optimization? You can automate this process with our Handy Status feature.

Link each Handy Status to the page label. This label will be updated every time you switch the status. You need to enable this feature when you insert or edit Handy Status. Try using prefixes for labels for better traceability. For example, prefix can help you differentiate between projects having identical statuses.

update page labels in Confluence

The label changes after each status update automatically. With this functionality, you avoid the risk of outdated page labels in case of status changes.

automatic update of labels in Confluence

You can benefit from this status connection with labels even more if you use Handy Status synchronized with the page label in the Page Property macro. In this case, you can create an interactive Confluence dashboard with the help of the Page Property Report macro for each status you use in your workflow.

dasboard in Confluence

Now you’re all set to boost your status management in Confluence. Use the best practices provided, brainstorm new ideas with your teammates, and experiment to achieve better results. You can try Handy Macros for Confluence on the Atlassian Marketplace.


Related posts

How to Organize Documentation for ISO Certification in Confluence

April 29, 2022
#How To#Case Study#Collaboration
14 min

Those companies that have passed ISO certification know what a challenge it is. A company goes through intensive audits to get it. But it’s worth it. Achieving ISO certification unlocks new opportunities. It demonstrates that your products, services, or systems are safe and efficient.

When it comes to preparing documentation for ISO certification, Confluence is a go-to. It’s essential to build the process to provide easy navigation and streamlined content. Without organized documentation, you reduce your chances of getting the desired paper.

We talked to our trusted client Kinarm about their experience building ISO documentation in Confluence. In this article, you will find some feasible ideas to prepare for ISO certification.

ISO certification in Confluence at Kinarm

Kinarm produces scientific equipment and software that allows neuroscientists to take a closer look at brain functions. Kinarm Labs and Kinarm Standard Tests address the lack of objective assessment in the management of brain injury and disease. Virtual reality, computer programs along with robotic mechanisms in Kinarm Labs help to study such brain diseases as stroke, cardiac arrest, cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, and Parkinson’s disease.

Any appliance needs to adhere to the requirements of ISO standards to register it as a medical device. Kinarm works with the following ISO standards:

  • ISO 13485 that outlines the requirements for organizations that design, produce, and service medical devices and related services.
  • ISO 14971 that describes the process of risk management of medical devices.

Being a veteran of this process for more than ten years, Kinarm shared their insights on one of the main challenges during ISO certification.

“For us, as a small company, there are a few challenges. First, the standards are often large and complex documents themselves. Just making sure that we’ve covered all of the “shalls” in the document is very time-consuming. Once we have developed procedures and forms to cover all the “shalls”, the next major task is making sure we stay on top of creating all the required documents and sign-offs. It’s unfortunately easy to drop the ball and forget to fill out a document that’s required, fill it out incorrectly, or forget to sign it off when completed.”

The typical workflow for passing ISO certification at Kinarm goes like this:

  1. Review the standard
    • Build a document that lists all the actions and documents the standard mandates
    • Create procedures, instructions, and forms to meet the standard
    • Train staff to use the procedures for creating the required quality records. It demonstrates that they are following procedures as prescribed
  2. Apply the procedures and forms 
  3. Do an internal audit to make sure they are using the system as designed
    • If they are not using their own system properly, then either re-train or modify a system
  4. Pass annual audits

How to structure information in Confluence spaces

ISO standards require documenting different types of information. However, it’s your company that develops the forms and types of documents according to the requirements. But this flexibility has some pitfalls.

“Of course, every company is different, so there is unlikely the “best” way to document something, but even having some suggestions would be helpful.”

Once you determine the information to document, structure it in accordance with the requirements of your organization. Kinarm uses this approach to organize documents in Confluence:

  • They create a single space called Quality Management System with links to all controlled documents in other spaces.
  • Every functional area has a separate space, for example, Software, Hardware, Manufacturing, Accounting, etc. with the relevant documents for ISO procedure.
  • The procedures and blank forms in the QMS space are linked to the spaces they apply to.

ISO documentation in Confluence

Some organizations may opt for collecting documents connected with ISO in one space. On the one hand, this approach enhances document management. On the other, it can lead to duplicating the relevant content by departments involved in the process and thus flood searches. Your “Single Point of Truth” is no longer ‘Single’. The way Kinarm arranges spaces for ISO certification is suitable for small organizations with a lower volume of documents and a plain organizational structure.

Technique for better search results in Confluence

A common practice for better searchability of documents in Confluence is to use keywords in the title of the page. Title-based search helps Kinarm navigate through ISO documentation as well. Any form that relates to the space has a title with the document ID in it.

“For example, our backup audit form is 63BT01. So any time we audit back-ups, we copy the form, fill it in, and name the new page “63BT01 – Backup audit results, March 2022.”

The basic idea of the keyword is [number to describe ISO section number]BT[paragraph number in the relevant section]. For example,

63 – ISO 13485 section number (infrastructure)

BT – abbreviation of the official company name (BKIN Technologies)

01 – ISO paragraph number in the relevant section

ISO documentation Confluence page

Developing a naming convention based on important elements of the project helps you get the relevant content faster. Also, it provides a clear and immediate indication of content.

ISO audit tips in Confluence

Before the official audit, Kinarm passes a documentation ‘health check’ using Comala Document Management.

In the first draft state of the workflow, no one can use an incomplete document. After revision, it goes into the pending approval state. At this point, it’s assigned to a specific document reviewer who has the authority to create official documents. The document must be approved using a password. It guarantees that only the person responsible for this process approves it. The person who approves the document also needs to train staff. Employees must understand the standard and do their job according to it.

After receiving ISO certificate, you need to continuously refine your processes. It’s a central theme of ISO. Talk – Advanced Inline comments for Confluence can be very handy in this regard.

“The talk comments allow us to show an auditor that we’re working on a document and discussing changes. Having the comments allows an auditor to see that we are working on new ideas and improvements to procedures. We will normally leave the talk comments in, but mark them resolved even after the changes have been integrated and approved – this is important for the traceability of why we made changes.”

It’s the Talk Archive feature that Kinarm describes. It helps to have resolved comments at hand and get back to them when you need to see the context for improvements made.

comment thread in Confluence

A helpful tip from Stiltsoft: if you keep all the QMS documentation in one space, the Talk Permissions feature can help you in the following situation. You can set up Space restrictions so that only your team and the external auditors can see the Talk inline comments in this space.

restrict comments in Confluence

It might be necessary when your partners or clients request access to your ISO documentation. The Talk visibility permissions ensure that you don’t expose private information contained in talks and keep the official version of the document ‘clean’ for the Anonymous users.

This is how your page looks for the groups mentioned in Talk Permissions:

talk restrictions in Confluence

This is how exactly the same page looks for the Anonymous users:

talk restriction view in Confluence

Note that auditors also keep track of the version control of ISO documents. To avoid explanations about minor edits made with Talk you can disable the creation of page versions on Talk actions.

Check the difference between native inline comments in Confluence and Talk – Advanced Inline Comments.

ISO certification takeaways

Documentation is the heart of ISO. Confluence is a key to it. Proper documentation management creates a standardized way of doing things in your company and consequently enhances the quality of your product. 

The formula that Kinarm follows to organize documentation in Confluence may not be perfectly suitable for your organization. However, these ideas can be applied to organizations of any domain getting into ISO:

  • identify what processes must be documented
  • group the documents for ISO based on size, industry, and complexity of interactions in your company
  • use a unified approach to name documents to keep them consistent
  • refine your processes for annual audits with the Talk for Confluence app