Agilewords Blog

Document revision - Why MS Word Isn’t Enough (part 1)

MS Word“I have Microsoft Word. Why isn’t that enough for me to write, proofread, edit and produce my business document?”

The answer to the question above is multi-level, but it comes down to the basic idea that, for efficient business document management you should reconsider using MS Word because there is no way of sharing documents directly in MS Word.

Business documents requiring editing, subject matter expert or client review, and multi-person functions (project manager, writer, editor, subject matter expert, etc.) are better off with online document collaboration because there is no way to collaboratively review a document in MS Word.

MS Word does not offer a time- or trouble-saving mechanism that benefits document collaboration and review, nor does it offer the opportunity to assign roles, notify reviewers or create schedules and deadlines – business functional requirements for productive group collaboration on business documents.

The document management business process using MS Word typically looks something like this:
1. The author (writer) creates the document and puts it in a business document template.
2. He/she emails it to several parties from whom he/she requires input.
3. The author waits for comments, emails the reviewers and requests input.
4. Some of the reviewers respond, and some do not – the first obstruction in the document workflow.
5. Of those who respond, some have not received the email, some don’t see or cannot open the business document attached, and those who have provided the input have done so in a way that makes the business document management difficult and the original document unclear and confusing. Or they provide input in a separate email, and the author has to combine the comments into the original file.
6. Then the author has to look through the original business document while comparing the comments received.
7. The author manages to create several versions of the file, prints out an enormous amount of sheets (because by now it is difficult to read new remarks even “redlined” or crossed off, and it is easy to forget the topic).
8. By now the collaboration system doesn’t seem very efficient: the author is very confused, has wasted undue amounts of time and paper, and is frustrated because not all the reviewers have replied.
9. He/she makes a schedule just to track reviews, when he/she could be working on the next business document.
10. The author finalizes a second draft and sends it.
11. One of the reviewers sends comments to the FIRST draft.
12. Another reviewer wants to know why he/she did not incorporate his/her comments and address his/her questions in the business document draft … the author NEVER RECEIVED THEIR EMAIL!
13. The author creates a read-only file as the second draft, many hours after incorporating all the versions’ comments. And some important things were missed, because by now, the author is seeing things.
14. In this part of the document workflow, the project manager becomes frustrated as well, mostly because he/she views this waste of time as the fault of inefficiency, and the proverbial stuff hits the fan.

But why exactly was this document management business process inefficient? We will analyze the situation and discover its weak points in the second part of this article.

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  • Mike Starr

    3-19-2010

    You've criticized MS Word because of reliance on email but at the same time, the process you're advocating is also reliant on email. I'm not sure I understand how one process that's reliant on email is better than another process that's reliant on email.

    And I never waste time waiting for emails... I've got plenty of other things to occupy my time.

    What I do is use Microsoft Word to create the document, then use Adobe Acrobat Professional to create a .PDF file that anyone can comment on with Acrobat Reader. When the commented versions are returned to me, I can then use Acrobat Professional to merge all of the comments together.

    No problems.

    Reply

  • admin

    3-24-2010

    Hi Mike,

    I'm not sure how you see the Agilewords process as being RELIANT on email. One of my points is that you get all the feedback in one central location. You login and see all the comments there. You don't waste time on merging the feedback you gather from different sources.

    Although Adobe is an improvement, you still have to merge feedback. We try to solve these issues.

    Thanks for the comment!

    Reply

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