It’s no secret that document collaboration is essential in today’s business world.
Frequently, the expertise and roles of multiple people are required to complete a single business document; sometimes an editing process has to occur before a document can be approved for publishing.
Unfortunately, too many companies still rely on the network share as the center for document collaboration. Companies create a ‘share’, assign security, and let people create folders and save documents on an as-needed basis. Emails fly from one person to another saying “Your turn” or “Please review this” or “I’m done.” But the network share methodology is never efficient. Plus, managing documents and collaborating with team members in this manner presents several serious problems:
- There’s no way to tell if an item is currently being edited. Consider the following (it’s probably happened to you at some point in your computer life). You open a document, make changes, and attempt to save it, only to receive the dreaded message that you can’t save the document because it’s opened by another user.
- There’s little accountability. Aside from the Last Modified information viewable in Windows Explorer, it could be difficult or downright impossible to find who made that change two iterations ago.
- Locating documents can be quite the hassle. Because users can typically create their own folders and file hierarchy, it’s not always easy determining the latest or “live version” of the document. Users in this situation may spend hours editing a document only to realize later it wasn’t the correct document.
- Version control is virtually non-existent. I suppose you can save a new copy every time a change is made. But that means trusting all users to not simply click Save, but to remember to use Save As whenever making a change to a document.
- Document deletion. Ever deleted a document from a file share? Don’t try it if it’s an important document.
As you can see, there are several important concerns and issues with using a network share as your center for document management and collaboration.
And that’s where SharePoint in the Cloud comes in. Microsoft SharePoint provides many features and functions for businesses, and document collaboration is definitely one of SharePoint’s sweet spots. Coupled with the standard Microsoft Office applications used by most businesses (Word, Excel, Outlook), collaboration with SharePoint is a no-brainer and requires very little training for full user adoption. With Fpweb.net, you can use your hosted SharePoint farm as a collaboration service.
Because Fpweb.net doesn’t limit SharePoint functionality, you’re free to use all the SharePoint features that enable a painless workspace for document collaboration and document management. Among these features are metadata, check-in/check-out, versioning control, the document information panel in Office applications, SharePoint Workspace, and workflow. In a series of following posts over the next few weeks, we’ll review these collaboration features and explain how to leverage them to create a safe and auditable SharePoint document collaboration environment for your company’s users.
We’ll start with the basic features and then move towards some of the more advanced features. As is typical with SharePoint, you can stick your toe in and test out the waters. This will provide you a much better solution than using a network share. But you can dive in and take collaboration to the next level. So stay tuned… in the next blog post we will illustrate the check-in/check-out process AND offer an introduction to “versioning” in SharePoint.