As digital workers, we spend a lot of time collaborating online. TalentCulture has previously featured several articles by the great Jeff Wilfong and Chris Jones highlighting some of the high-level processes and theories that dictate successful collaboration. Now, it’s time to get back to the basics.
This is part two of a two-part series. View Going Back to (Collaboration) Basics Part 1
1. Use descriptive file names.
The Problem: We often share documents that are stored in our own space and with out own organizational method (or lack thereof). The trouble is your naming convention might only make sense to you. When you send that document titled “FINAL_draft” to your boss, it might not be easy for her to know what that “FINAL_draft” document in her downloads folder is. Your third grade teachers wouldn’t accept Spelling tests without your name at the top. If you’ve ever tried to figure out where a document came from and who wrote it, I’m sure you understand that need for an effective label.
The Solution: Put your name and a brief, accurate description in the document title of everything you save (if applicable, include a date as well.) If you download a file with an ambiguous name, rename it right away. It will save you and others time and effort.
2. Use Microsoft Word’s “Track Changes” feature.
The Problem: Many times, we try to collaborate by passing around multiple copies of the same document at different stages of the editing process. That usually ends with collapsing four or more versions of the same document into a final copy.
The Solution: You can of course use a collaborative document editor like those found on online collaboration services such as Bascamp, Wiggio and Google Docs. But we’re focusing on the basics here, so let’s talk about what features Microsoft Word has to offer. If you use the Track Changes feature in the Tools section of the menu, you can see which user on your team made which suggestions or comments. You can then accept or reject those changes. It’s an easy way to pass a document around and see edits before crafting a final draft.