No doubt we’ve all needed to be part of a team collaborating on the one document, for all sorts of different reasons. Whether it’s by email, by print, or by heck, we’ll do it somehow.
For me, Google Docs has been a stand-out winner for collaborative efforts. In some instances, it is for projects where team members are spread far and wide – from Adelaide to Malaysia and back again. For other times, it’s the desk next door, but it’s happening in the final hours of a deadline. Either way, Google Docs somehow makes this work.
It’s not a matter of the usual make changes, review changes, accept changes, and, sometimes accidentally
lose a few of those changes.
Google Docs seems to understand that even when more than one person is working on the same sentence, both people might need to ‘win out’. The bolding of the word muddle is not more important than a correction of the spelling to moodle. And that’s the thing. These two changes could have happened at the same time, but both would be accepted by Google Docs. No emails, no red pens, and very few conflicts and missed changes.
When conflicts occur, there is always the revision history and the ability to revert to earlier editions.
I’ve also worked on project spreadsheets with a team of people. As Google Docs can highlight which cell other editors are working in, you can see right then and there what other members of the team are focused on. For anyone working on a project with colleagues in different parts of the country, or the globe, this is like magic.
Recently, John Day-Richter, one of the software engineers at Google, has been sharing – in laymen’s terms – a bit of the logic behind the magic. And while this is, for the truly nerdy among us, fascinating, in a way it doesn’t matter. What matters is that it works. And that Google are continuing to work on making it better.
The key to this being a true collaborative tool is that sharing is only limited by you. Send the invite by email and build the project team to suit the project. You aren’t limited by ‘people in the company’ or by ‘people in your domain’.
Time and again, Google Apps has made the pain of distance bearable and the tightness of some deadlines manageable. True collaboration, thank you kindly. Just my cup of tea.