Collaborating on proposals, studies and reports from different locations
23. Jun 2020 |
6 min read
With more and more companies expanding geographically and doing business across far-flung global offices, shared workspaces, private homes, and hotel rooms, virtual teams have been on the rise for years.
As a result of COVID-19, even more of us have stepped into the new reality of virtual teams. Virtual is here to stay (and that other situation is hopefully not).
Virtual teaming brings many benefits but also presents quite a few challenges and issues, including communicating effectively, managing people and different file versions, compiling multiple formats into one consistent document, and dealing with language and cultural differences as well as technology barriers.
Read on to learn more about why having the right document creation solution is key when multiple contributors in different locations are putting together a complex and highly polished proposal, study or report.
Good tools are half the work
Say you have a billion-dollar bid where multiple contributors and stakeholders are part of the authoring process, and in various offices globally. Your center of excellence is in Houston; your project in Lagos; your assembly line in Mobile; and your key executive has just moved to Kuala Lumpur.
If your team members are using standard document management and desktop publishing tools based on files, they are compelled to break the document down into multiple subdocuments, assigning responsibilities to each part. Key pieces of content are disjointedly scattered in multiple files and repositories across multiple systems and locations.
In a fragmented ‘serial’ document creation and authoring process like this, your contributors may check out a portion of the document, work offline, and upload again. This means that part of the content may not be available to other team members for maybe 24 hours.
Then, as the deadline draws nearer, the person responsible for compiling the document needs to collate a variety of files, generate the document, and ensure that the formatting and layout are consistent.
At the end of the day, quality and efficiency – and sometimes sanity! – are threatened by a lack of cohesive tools and techniques for co-authoring.
So yes, collaborating and communicating on proposals, reports and studies in a dispersed team environment has its own unique set of challenges – if your team doesn’t have the right tools for the job, that is.
The solution: Database-driven co-authoring software
The key to tackling the challenges of collaborating from different locations is leveraging enabling technology. Evidence suggests that if virtual teams are equipped with the best collaboration solutions available, they can outperform traditional teams that work in shared office spaces.
“70% of business professionals expect the use of online collaboration platforms to increase in the future. Virtual teams truly need to explore and incorporate technology into their ways of working to succeed.”
Database-driven document creation solutions provide multiple contributors and stakeholders a unifying platform to not only collaborate together but also co-author and manage complex documents in a way that ensures a high level of process quality, security and efficiency.
With a database-driven document creation system, you would have real-time access to your team’s contributions, enabling your colleagues to see how you plan to solve the task, and adjust their language accordingly. Or they can provide feedback and guidance while you are working on the narrative, as opposed to later when you have may have moved onto another task, thus disturbing two processes.
In a serial process reliant on files, it is difficult to have the complete picture of what has been done and by whom, whereas in a database-driven document solution this is all visible to the project manager from day one. No formatting or versioning issues. The document is always the latest and greatest, with built-in workflow and reports to provide estimates of progress at any time.
When your company combines single-source authoring with composite content management and master content management you can ensure that your virtual teams work with consistent content across all documents when their output is used across a wide range of documents, from tenders and proposals to studies and reports.
At any point in time, there is only one document, which is always the most recent version. The result is increased document control and integrity, at less cost.
With an increasingly mobile workforce and virtual document production becoming the new norm for more and more organizations, traditional tools just aren’t adequate.
It is crucial for a virtual document collaboration team to have the right technology for managing the task – both for contributors, managers and executives. By providing the correct document collaboration and co-authoring solution, you can make it easier to meet local challenges with global input.
Silje is Marketing and Communications Director of Xait. She holds a Bachelor in Marketing Communication and an Executive Master in Business Administration. She is an analytical, efficient and results-focused marketing and communications professional and her career spans over 15 years within real estate, oil & gas and IT. When Silje is not busy growing the Xait brand, you can find her at her family cabin in picturesque Sirdal, Norway, hiking, trekking and cross-country skiing.
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