Groupware: Answers the 5 Questions of Document Collaboration

Every organization which creates collaborative documents, whether they are budgets, presentations, reports, spreadsheets, or other documents recognizes that collaborative efforts are requirement. That collaboration always forces the 5 eternal document collaboration questions: Who? What? Where? When? How? The reason I refer to them as eternal is that every day businesses are faced with these questions and rarely find the answers when they collaborate on documents.

Business frantically searched for groupware solutions that answers the 5 questions of document collaboration, and this informational article is written to provide helpful information on technology that is now available to bring answers.

Three helpful groupware software technologies will be presented and referred to throughout this article as means of answer-finding, as a refreshing relief to the more common question-making of collaboration. These technologies are Digital Thread technology, Version History technology, and Document Signature technology. These three teamware technologies function as the "triple threat" against document chaos.

Who?

From the start, it is important to state that accurate records are the key to keeping track of the editorial or collaborative process. So much record keeping gets jumbled because documents and drafts are spread out across many different places and collaborators like butter over too much bread. As the deadline nears, searches become more frantic. "Who has which draft?" or "Who made this change?" are questions that will frequently arise.

Imagine finishing up months of contract negotiation yielding a contract of hundreds of pages and asking your committee at that point about changes that have been made in an effort to track who did or has what. It simply will not work. Not even the participant will remember all of their own contributions.

No business wants messy records. The groupware market has advanced to such a point that a teamware solution to the question "who?" is now available. Digital Thread, for example, creates a tracking device in the meta data of all documents created in the everyday MS applications businesses use. This tracking reaches across servers and emails to create a virtual family tree of document drafts, even if you are working with clients or others who do not have this technology. Version History compiles the document family tree into a flowchart, and Document Signature lets you know who has worked on the draft every time you open a draft from your hard drive or email. You will never lose track of who did or has what.

What?

Often, when opening an email attachment, you might be asking yourself "What version am I looking at?" "What draft is this?" "What am I supposed to do now?" or a myriad of other "what's." The time for questions like this is not time your company can afford. This groupware technology will track documents and their drafts, allowing you to always know what you are looking at and which draft it is. Then you will know exactly what to do with it.

You can refer to the flow chart created by Version History and Digital Thread. You can also rely on the Document Signature to open with the document to tell you exactly what you are looking at. Next question please.

Where?

It is important in collaboration to share information and to refer to others' findings. When that happens, especially in the electronic document world we work in, you may be asking later "Where did that document go?" You may also receive information and ask "Where did this come from?" These questions are not uncommon among businesses. Business is fast-paced, and we cannot remember everything without a little bit of help from a good teamware.

Help is available with the proper groupware that tracks documents and lets you know exactly where documents are and where they come to you from.

When?

The toughest part of tracking documents and drafts is knowing the chronology of the changes. Drafts are flying back and forth, via e-mail, so quickly that without the proper teamware, changes could be made out of order.

Confusion need not reign in electronic collaboration. Version History's flowchart, tracked by Digital Thread, and available with Document Signature every time you open a draft, puts everything into proper editorial perspective.

How?

Saving the toughest question for last, imagine that you have various versions of the latest drafts recently emailed to you from your faithful committee. You will see them there, you will look at them, and you will probably want to weep. "How am I supposed to put this all together?" is the cry heard down the hall.

Since groupware is now available which tracks everything, including the who's, what's, where's, and when's, you can now rely on that same groupware to know how to merge the changes together. It will put information together and suggest changes that might take one person hours to come up with.

Search through the groupware software suites available for Digital Thread, Version History, and Document Signature. It is refreshing to have answers during a potentially confusing and chaotic collaborative process.

Joe Miller is specialist in online advertising. For more information on groupware, please visit NextPage.com.

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