Document Collaboration Solutions

DocumentCollaborationDocument Collaboration — is there a solution that really works?

Different organizations certainly have different needs in document collaboration. Here are the requirements that I think I am looking for. Please share your thoughts in the comments!

  1. Truly live updating. More than one person at a time can be editing without conflict
  2. Ability to know who said what
  3. Notification of changes by others
  4. Nice bonus would be routing & workflow, such as a way to approve edits, and just to know when somebody else made a change

Sadly, I do not know of any one product that does all these things well! What have I missed?

Microsoft Word‘s “mark revisions” feature is fantastic for seeing who has made what changes in a document. But two people working on the same document at the same time? Good luck with that!

Evernote is a great shared notepad concept, but again, you don’t want two people trying to make changes at the same time. And when edits are made, it’s not at all easy to see who made what changes.

OneNote may be a good bit better at simultaneous editing AND seeing who has done what. And finally, in recent months, it’s become a good cross-platform solution. Without watching and looking at each note, it’s hard to know that someone else updated something. Of course, for some people, there is also the “I won’t use anything from Microsoft” issue that makes this slightly less desirable.

Google Docs (or Google Drive, depending on your reference) let’s multiple people edit simultaneously and does an excellent job of avoiding conflicting edits. After the fact it’s difficult to know who made what changes, and notifications, although possible, are not obvious. There’s also just this strange thing that a lot of people don’t like Google Docs, and tend to lose them and not know how to find them again. For those who are biased toward the familiarity of Microsoft Office products, the different interface and the fewer features can be a negative

Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, and other such technologies all create ways to share,  but don’t much help with the simultaneous editing, and actually tend to cause issues if two people attempt to work simultaneously.

So, what’s a person to do? Google Docs are my current best answer, although I use every one of the above for different situations.

THERE MUST BE A BETTER ANSWER! What am I missing?!

Update, 4:45pm: Thanks @JimMichael for the tinkering with OneDrive.Live.com. Don’t think it’s the answer yet, but like Google Docs, heading in the right direction. We shall see what happens next.

 

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