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SEB Garden

Illustration of a person sitting by a desk talking to another person

Have you ever had a difficult time finding the needed documentation for a project? Are you interested in how a documentation platform became SEB's most popular and used internal site? Follow along to learn more about Garden.

Why Garden?

With the increased focus on digitisation and automation, a good developer experience is crucial. However, we noticed a few things that have been challenging for internal developers within SEB. Finding relevant information, such as the right manuals and instructions, is said to be the hardest task. In this case, SEB lacked an information channel that was easy to access, navigate and update. As many previous initiatives had failed to solve this problem, we needed a new approach. 

To gather information in one place and improve the development environment, the community-driven platform Garden was created. We wanted to build a space where competencies from all over the bank could be shared, as we know that there is so much valuable knowledge amongst SEB's developers. In April of 2019, the 1.0 version of Garden was released, containing 30 + pages and features such as a “toolbox” and a blog function.

Fast growth and internal value

We started this initiative with the goal to reach about 1500 people every month, which roughly corresponds to the number of developers within the bank. However, we soon noticed that the interest in Garden was much larger than that. Today, reaching an all-time high in readers is not uncommon. For every year we manage to increase the traffic on the site by 50 %, reaching just over 3500 unique visitors in the month of May. Without doing any type of marketing, Garden has sparked curiosity amongst people from all parts of the bank.

But why has the site become so popular? To begin with, Garden is a broad channel that is open to everyone. Compared to other internal platforms that often have limited access, Garden enables users to create dialogue and distribute information to a large number of people in a more efficient way. Adding, deleting and updating content is both fast and easy, which makes the site a great collaboration tool amongst SEB colleagues - even those who are not techies. As the site heavily relies on its contributors to actively add up-to-date information, this ensures that Garden continues to keep itself alive and thriving.

The Garden concept strategy

Another main reason why Garden has become so successful is thanks to its basic concept strategy, which can be compared to an open-source project or Wikipedia page. So, why does Garden build around this same concept? Well, there are five main reasons.  

  1. One of the primary advantages of writing documentation in a wiki is its collaborative nature. It enables multiple team members to contribute simultaneously, where each member can create, edit and organise the documentation in real-time.  
  2. A wiki provides centralised storage of all documentation related to a project. This ensures that all members have access to the latest version of the documentation, which reduces the risk of duplicates and outdated information. 
  3. The search functionality makes it easy to find and access information quickly by searching for specific terms or phrases. This is especially useful for large projects that require a lot of documentation.  
  4. Updating documentation in a wiki is easy and straightforward, which ensures that all information remains accurate. The revision history also provides a record of all changes made to the documentation, making it easy to track and revert changes if necessary.  
  5. Lastly, a wiki web-based platform makes it easy to share documentation with others - team members, clients or stakeholders who might not have access to the site. This assures consistency in communication.  

So, if you haven't yet considered writing documentation in Garden, it's definitely worth exploring to see how it can benefit your work.

The future for Garden

We are currently looking into adding a new function to the platform, which aims to adapt Garden to future needs, such as how to handle applications moving into the cloud. Here, developers will for example be able to find relevant information and essential steps on how to create a new cloud application. Other than that, our main goal is to let Garden grow organically and continue to be a platform that encourages innovation through collaboration.