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Collaboration: 3 Keys to Keeping Your Documents from Getting Lost in the Shuffle

Often, collaborating documents in a team or in a business can feel like a complex sports play gone wrong. The ball gets passed off to the wrong person, dropped, or even lost. In addition, most document collaboration happens electronically. We are always told to save and resave these electronic documents, but it gets to the point that we can't even keep track of which draft we're on. Not to mention our hard drive gets overloaded with so many similar document names that it blows the whistle on us until there are no longer "too many men on the field." Huddle up! Let's talk about 3 keys to making sure that every document we collaborate on is sure to score with our bosses, our clients, and each other.

Create Compatibility

Collaboration requires compatibility. In order to create compatibility, we need technology on our side. If you have ever tried to open a document from a member of your team that was in a format that was not compatible with the applications on your computer, you are not alone.

Whether you are making a presentation, a budget, a report, a notice, a memo, or anything else that will be written in collaboration with another person or other people, all involved need to be able to read documents written in various applications. You will send it to a team member or a boss or a client via email, and you will want them to be able to open it, add their changes in collaboration, and send it back without any problems.

Too often in trying to collaborate, we have to keep emailing other members of our team, asking them to switch the document from one format to another, prolonging the can't-be-prolonged projects. This way of working does not fit into a fast-paced business culture.

Leave No Player Behind

All too often, drafts come back without you knowing it, and inevitably, some changes are not included-you left a player behind. Applications that send notifications about changes save time and increase collaboration effectiveness.

Think about the people to whom you send collaborative documents. Usually that group of people includes someone from your upline and probably even a client. Those are key players whose changes and suggestions must never be lost in the collaboration process. The side effects may be severe.

The most important thing is that nobody knows everything, but everybody knows something. And, when making collaborative changes in a document nobody will catch every mistake or add a helpful insight, but everybody will catch some mistake or add a helpful insight. If players get left out, that important document, whatever purpose it may serve, glides further away from perfection. Just imagine the CFO of a company being left out of an important financial presentation or document. What if one number is off?

Don't Drop the Ball

The last point is that organization is key to collaboration, and that despite our best efforts there are times when we forget something; we drop the ball. In document collaboration, you've got to hold on to the ball, because it may roll out of sight if you drop it. That means that you might have to start from scratch, lose vital information, get in trouble with the boss, and get in trouble with the client.

Automatic notification, which tracks any work or changes on a MS document, acts a sticky note that will post itself immediately when a new draft of a document arrives in the MS email or other applications. Now-a-days, you can even receive notification immediately upon arrival of the document.

The trick is to avoid any guess work, to maintain detailed records, and to keep everyone in the loop. Collaboration will take place on every level business and most often cross managerial and company borders. Clients will be involved. Bosses will be involved.

Remember these three keys of collaboration. Document collaboration in your company needs to be compatible with your software, it needs to keep everyone informed, and it needs to help keep the business organized.

Joe Miller is specialist in online advertising. For more information on collaboration, please visit

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