Agilewords Blog

Sharing Word documents: why email is not effective

The classic expression “time is money” is also pertinent to document management collaboration. Especially when faced with a big group collaboration effort, document workflow definitely needs to be optimized.
It is still a common practice to use email attachments in order to submit documents for review. When this happens, each collaborator gets another copy of the original document.

Best case scenario

Each collaborator sends out his feedback by posting comments on the document, or using a change tracking feature. Now we’ll assume all feedback comes back timely, even if, most of the time, you can’t expect this to be real-time document collaboration. Still, even if you receive a quick answer, you, as author, will waste time on merging all comments from the collaboration groupware in one collaborative document. And you still have to deal with conflicting comments and such.

Worst case scenario

Each collaborator has his own style of providing you with feedback and thus the document management collaboration can get quite messy. One may actually use "track changes" and inline comments. But others could simply reply to your email and write the feedback there. Or they can leave you a sticky note on your desk, or send the collaboration document back modified, but forget to use "track changes". The list goes on to include some collaborators who might forget to give you feedback at all, or forget about the project collaboration deadline.
It’s useless to iterate all the time wasting activities the author has to undergo in order to incorporate team feedback. You get the idea!
Most document collaboration situations are somewhere between the two described above. But either way, you waste time you could use to actually do something productive for the company.

How to improve document collaboration

My idea is simple: Use an online document collaboration tool. That’s it! Choose a tool that can offer you:
1. Guaranteed secure collaboration
2. The option to start discussions right on the document (this is so you avoid conflicting comments)
3. Role-based collaboration
Now of course, we suggest you try Agilewords, a free web-based collaboration tool, just to see if it “fits” you. But ultimately it comes down to what you need most from this kind of tool.
  • Agilewords 101: Review a document and post feedback

    Agilewords 101: Review a document and post feedback Watch this video

  • Agilewords 101: Make online edits and track document changes

    Agilewords 101: Make online edits and track document changes Watch this video

  • Agilewords 101: Invite collaborators to review a document

    Agilewords 101: Invite collaborators to review a document Watch this video

  • Lokesh Datta


    I totally agree with you that email is not the way to go. However, our recent survey on the State of Collaboration found that people consider email to be the most effective collaboration tool, followed by voice conferencing, web conferencing and file transfer. Granted, the survey was for collaboration at large and not specifically on document collaboration.

    Thus, the challenge for both the tools makers and collaborators is to move to the next stage of collaboration, leaving behind the old ways of doing things.

    Our survey, Assessing the State of Collaboration: Return to Essentials, is available at:

    Regards, Lokesh Datta


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