Working Together in a Mobile World
Creating and improving documents anytime, from anywhere
By: Daniel Chalef
Jun. 21, 2011 09:45 AM
You are always on the move. One day you build a presentation at your home office. The next, you're running through a contract at a client site. No day is the same, but one thing is consistent: the need for you and your group to collaborate on documents.
The documents that are most essential to your team are often built and used by globally distributed and mobile teams. These teams need instant, anywhere access to view, edit, approve, and share their documents across large numbers of professionals.
This article looks at best practices as we follow a project team that is building a proposal for their board.
Jointly Create a Proposal: Chicago, 8:00 a.m.
Patrick's team includes numerous professionals that must contribute to the document. Marketing adds information about market sizing from the satellite office in the UK. The legal team, based in New York, is including information about contracts. And the project team must add timelines and resource requirements.
Because of the large numbers of participants it's critical that the contributions are well managed. It can become impossible to control if team members are simply emailing differing versions of the presentation to each other. Plus, it's not always convenient for team members to download a file, modify it, and re-upload it.
A good practice here is to use tools that plug-in to Microsoft Office. Some document management tools provide you with the latest version of a document directly from your vault via Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint, Word, and Outlook.
In advanced tools, users can even review prior document iterations and see user comments on those versions without leaving Microsoft Office.
Critically, the tooling must control content as multiple people work on a document. It must detect version "collisions" and notify users when others have modified a document. This allows users to resolve and merge their contributions with ease.
The globally distributed Project Galaxy team has now successfully created the draft proposal document. It's time to start sharing it with other colleagues.
Some document management tools allow you to share files as attachments or links back to your vault. Business users should be careful to look for solutions that allow users to share with groups of co-workers, like all members of the Project Galaxy team and related executives.
Review the Proposal: Departure Lounge, 11:30 a.m.
Meanwhile, Stephen is at the airport preparing to leave for New York. He receives a notification on his mobile device that the presentation is pending his approval.
On-premise technologies struggle with this use case as Stephen would need to log in to a VPN on his laptop in order to access the document. Instead, some document management tools allow Stephen to connect to the document vault, search for, and preview documents to avoid opening the wrong items.
Once opened, Stephen reviews the document and decides he wants to take another look while on the plane. You should look at document management tools that permit use even when disconnected, for instance by saving your document to a secure vault locally on your device.
Even while sitting in the lounge Stephen has some ideas about how to improve the presentation. For example, he must be able to modify metadata that describes the document. He may want to re-categorize the document to make it more searchable.
Stephen must also be able to easily share the presentation, even when on the road. Once satisfied with his review, Stephen shares the file with the executive team with a few simple clicks on his mobile device.
Stay Connected: New York HQ, 12:45 p.m.
She simply drags and drops the file from her desktop into the Project Galaxy folder. Drag-and-drop functionality makes document uploading simple, and is a must-have for your document management tools.
The project team had set up notifications for the Project Galaxy folder. That means that when new content is added or modified, members receive an update. Now that our CFO has added the spreadsheet, all Project Galaxy team members are instantly aware.
Entering the Glide Path: Chicago, 1:00 p.m.
Some document management tools offer "hot folders" that make that task easy. The concept allows Patrick to select which folders in the vault he wants to stay on top of. These folders are automatically synchronized with the desktop.
That means that Patrick can head to the airport knowing that his laptop already has the CFO's spreadsheet synchronized for offline access. That allows Patrick to review and edit the document with his own computer on the plane.
When he's reconnected, his changes can be synchronized back to the cloud vault. This kind of synchronization is important for your document management tool.
Including Final Comments: Chicago and New York HQ, 1:30 p.m.
Patrick goes to the document page, reviews the comments, and includes several suggested changes in the final version of the presentation.
He now moves the document to the final stage in its workflow, and is ready to go to the board. He shares the email securely with the administrator for the board, who saves the file so it's ready to be presented.
Reader Feedback: Page 1 of 1
Latest Cloud Developer Stories
Subscribe to the World's Most Powerful Newsletters
Subscribe to Our Rss Feeds & Get Your SYS-CON News Live!
SYS-CON Featured Whitepapers
Most Read This Week