Tips for collaborating via the new co-authoring and virtual presence features Microsoft has built into its Office 2010 suite, to kick your teamwork into high gear.
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-- Pick the right documents to co-author. There's no need to use co-authoring for every interoffice memo. It's a powerful tool, but co-authoring can get expensive quickly if you have several employees gathered around the same document stepping on each other's toes all at once. Co-Authoring should be reserved primarily for documents that would benefit from fast turnaround and high accuracy, with multiple pairs of eyes on every paragraph. Otherwise, retain the time-tested workflow of one-at-a-time access as the default mode of document creation.
-- Call your shots. For documents that will be co-authored, add a cover page as a separate section of the document (in Word 2010, select Page Layout >> Breaks >> Section Break >> Next Page). Or, in PowerPoint 2010, create a separate slide earmarked for that purpose. List the co-authors and their respective responsibilities and deadlines (e.g., "RJ - add stock art and illustrations by Friday"), and add columns for current status, completion date and comments. That way, anyone who opens the document will see what's needed next.
-- Assign a project manager. One person should coordinate participation, set the overall pace and reconcile the work of multiple contributors.
-- Assign content ownership. Just one person should hold primary responsibility for the content of the final document, including all of its component parts, for accountability's sake.
-- Use the right tool for the job. Co-authoring allows two people to work on adjacent paragraphs in the same document at the same time. But what if you need both people to work on the same paragraph at the same time? In that case, it's not co-authoring that you need, but rather desktop-sharing or application-sharing. Within the Microsoft product line-up, if you have Office Communicator 2007 R2, Desktop Sharing will allow you to see exactly what someone else sees on their PC. Alternatively, Microsoft Live Meeting, available by subscription or as part of Office Communicator 2007 R2, allows you to share with someone else a single application as it appears on your desktop. Also, the upcoming Office Communications Server "14," available later this year, integrates application-sharing and desktop-sharing into the Office 2010 environment.
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