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7 Tips for effective document collaboration

June 23, 2017

employees collaborating document teamwork

From greater productivity and coming up with new and exciting ideas, to boosting morale and motivation, there are lots of advantages to working together. New businesses may be searching for effective and efficient ways to help promote teamwork and one of the best ways to do this is through document collaboration.

Document collaboration has a number of benefits. Most notably, it keeps everyone ‘in the loop’.

The practice makes it easy to see changes, understand processes, and maintain strong communications, both internally and externally. However, while some may think of collaboration as being simple, getting it right can be tricky.

So to help you get it right first time, we asked, author and document management specialist, Kent Raju to share his tips on how startups and small businesses can successfully collaborate on documents:

1. Real-time collaboration

New businesses that are still finding their feet won’t always have everything quite in place, and that’s natural! However, try to ensure that networking and internet connections — including those from outside of the office — are made a priority.

While real-time collaboration benefits from instantaneous back-forth communications, changes made offline can easily become lost should the process not be undertaken correctly, or to an inconsistent standard.

2. Cloud Storage

More and more businesses are turning to cloud computing, which is a relatively recent digital technology which allows for live versions of documents to be stored remotely, or ‘in the cloud’, rather than locally.

There are many advantages of cloud computing, particularly for small businesses who can save money while also promoting flexibility in the workplace. However, one of the biggest advantages undoubtedly comes in the form of document collaboration; it enables all relevant team members to access an up-to-date document from wherever, whenever, as long as they have an internet connection.

It’s ideal for startups who do not yet have long term office space and has an added advantage of secure backup.

3. Synchronisation

While document collaboration is hugely important, it does have one very significant downside: it’s very easy to lose track of a live document. A simple local save is all it takes for confusion to arise, and this confusion can escalate as more members are added to the team, all using a wide range of devices, including PCs, laptops, tablet PCs, and smartphones.

Emailing documents between users, and between devices, is simply not enough to keep track of changes. To maintain a single version of the truth, consider using synchronization software. These tools can synchronize document updates across multiple devices, ensuring that everyone always sees the latest version.

4. Invest in hardware

Small businesses may shudder at the word ‘invest’, but in terms of document collaboration, ensuring you have access to the best tools for the job is one of the most important factors affecting success.

While remote collaboration is possible, there is nothing quite like face-to-face interactions, so if your team can get together to collaborate on documents, they should be encouraged to do so.

A 2-in-1 hybrid laptop can make this an easier and more enjoyable experience. 2-in-1 laptops are the convertibles of the computer world and can be used as a traditional laptop or in tablet/notebook form. This makes for easy viewing by all team members and makes it simple to hand the digital document around the group.

5. All-in-One solutions

No business will ever deal with just one type of document. In fact, as new companies especially will understand, business operations can sometimes seem like nothing but mountains of paperwork!

When you’re working to determine the needs of your teams, don’t be tempted to separate them; instead, look at the whole picture.

For example, rather than selecting a dedicated file sharing solution for project teams, and a separate document management system for HR, look for an all-in-one solution which doesn’t restrict how collaboration can take place. Custom access settings easily address security issues.

6. Choose carefully

Some business will choose to use some sort of document collaboration software to help them in their endeavors, but selecting the wrong software could be more detrimental than not using any software at all.

Document collaboration software is designed to make sharing easy, convenient, and accurate, and it’s supposed to guide you from the initial sharing stages through to effective collaboration, so there are some questions to ask before making a decision.

Think about whether a piece of software is likely to be around long enough to continue supporting your business as it grows and develops, if the software is priced competitively, and if the software can be customized as your business grows.

7. Write it down

There are many different ways to collaborate on documents — offline, real-time, in the cloud, face-to-face, and so on. There’s no right or wrong; it all comes down to personal preference.

Your team will find their own way of doing things that work for them, so it’s important to remember that your method may differ from methods used by other teams.

As your business grows, and there are team member relocations and additions, ensure that your new members are fully versed on how you undertake document collaboration to reduce the risk of errors. Take some time to create a comprehensive overview of practices, which can be provided to new team members upon arrival.

The importance of collaborative working

Document collaboration is just one factor which makes up the concept of collaboration as a whole; a concept which involves everything from document sharing to knowledge transfer to working with someone to produce something valuable.

It can be argued that collaboration is the backbone of practically every business process and that without teamwork, things simply wouldn’t work.

So, although you may already have a lot on your plate working to grow and develop your business, spare a thought for collaboration and its importance in creating a successful and thriving company.

About the author

This article has been written exclusively for ByteStart by Kent Raju, document management specialist, guest marketing lecturer at Tallinn University, and author of the business book “The Trick of Advertising”. Kent works as the CMO at Folderit.com

Image: DepositPhotos.com