Working as a team

Our workforce environment has changed significantly in the last 20 years; it is getting more dynamic and effective.  Not all of us work in the office from 9 – 5 every day.  We can work at home, airport, and even holiday resort (I don’t like this one).  3G, internet, VPN, and mobile devices have given us more flexibility as to how, when, and where we work.  Now, we may work with people from different continents and time zones, it is getting difficult and expensive to have face to face meeting.  How can we make sure everyone is on the same page and remains connected?

Fortunately, technology never disappoints us.  Here are a few examples how it can help us working as a team!

Online Collaboration

Our project manager is in Toronto, and business consultant is in China; our solution architect who is in India, wants to show us his latest application prototype and get our feedback.  Microsoft Office Live Meeting may be the most cost effective solution that can connect all of us.  It is a powerful and easy to use online collaboration and web conferencing service that empowers business people to conduct real-time, interactive presentations and meetings over the Internet.  We can brain storm with our business partners or provide training to our customers regardless where they are.  As long as everyone has internet access, then all of us are connected.  We can share with them our PowerPoint presentation or demonstrate our latest application.  It is only for US$4.50 per user per month and only the organizer needs to subscribe for the service.

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Co-authoring

How often do we email a document to our co-workers to edit, review or approve?  And after a few cycles of exchanging email, everyone is working on their own version.  It can take us days or even weeks to consolidate them back to a single version.  We know we can get the work done in couple hours if all of us can work together in a meeting room.

Microsoft Office 2010 allows multiple users to simultaneously edit the same document from different locations.  We would be able to tell who are co-authoring the same document and we can communicate via email or instant message.

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If anyone is editing a paragraph, then the paragraph is locked and other people would not be able to modify it until it is saved.  It would show us who is editing it now.

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We would be notified that updates are available if the other author saved the changes.

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Co-authoring features are available in Office 2010, Excel Web App, and OneNote Web App.

Access, edit, and share documents online

Microsoft Office 2010 Web Apps are online companions to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote which allows us to access, view, edit and create documents virtually anywhere, anytime in a familiar environment.  Everyone uses the same version of Office; we don’t have to convert the documents.

We can also create / upload a document to SkyDrive and share it with our team members, business partners and customers.  We don’t have to worry who has the latest version because there is only one document rather than everyone has their own version in their machines.

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We can decide who to share and what they can do in SkyDrive.

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SkyDrive provides version control, so that we can restore to previous version if we don’t like the current version.

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Broadcast PowerPoint Presentation

Conference call is very common to let everyone hear what’s going on, but what happens if there’s a Microsoft PowerPoint presentation.  Office Live Meeting can definitely do the job; however a thin client is required to install on our machine.  Microsoft PowerPoint allows us to broadcast the slide show to remote audience via a web browser; and not setup is required.

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Once we click the Broadcast Slide Show button; we would see the Broadcast Slide Show dialogue, then we click Start Broadcast button.

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It would start preparing broadcast.

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When it is ready, we would be given a link that we can email to our audience.  We can start the broadcast anytime by clicking the Start Slide Show button.

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And you can end Broadcast anytime you want.

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Apart from broadcasting your slide, PowerPoint also allows us to create video.  We can upload the video to YouTube or our own website.

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Using OneNote to Share Our Ideas

Planning is the most important step toward success and sharing idea is one of the most crucial elements in planning.  How can we share our idea if we work at different physical locations?

A lot of people may use color stickers when they are brainstorming together in a conference room.  We write down our ideas on the stickers and stick them on the whiteboard.  It is very effective to capture ideas; and this is exactly how OneNote works.

We gather information from many sources, e.g. email, web page, Word, PowerPoint, and Excel and the information can be in a wide range of formats—text, handwritten notes, images, tables, video and audio clips.  OneNote provides an intuitive way to organize all information in an electronic notebook.  We can share notebooks, simultaneously add and edit content, make comments, and respond—all in near real time. It’s like gathering your team around a virtual whiteboard.

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OneNote Web App allows everyone to participate even if you don’t have OneNote 2010 installed—they can do it all through their browser.

OneNote was introduced in 2003 and designed as a collaboration tool from scratch; it facilitates both online and offline discussion in a multi users environment.  If I have to introduce only one collaboration product in this blog, then it would be OneNote!

I even use OneNote to capture the idea of my blogs.  When I read an email or web page and I think it is a good subject for my blog, then I just send it to my OneNote.

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There are many other good collaboration solutions available;  Google Wave is free and powerful collaboration tool if you don’t mind to use beta product.  And there are many open source collaboration software if you have couple programmers available.

Stay connected and work together!

Andrew Chan is the owner and founder of ALG Inc.

We help you to make better and faster decisions!

About Andrew Chan
Andrew Chan is an Business Consultant who gives you accurate, consistent and timely information so that you can make better and faster decisions. He is an Associate of Society of Actuaries with over 20 years of IT experience. Apart from strong analytical skills and proven technical background, he was also a former system director at Manulife who had extensive project management experience. If you are looking for someone to gather, consolidate, validate, visualize and analyze data, look no further! Andrew can provide the most cost effective business analytics solution so that you can explore, optimize, predict and visualize your business. Don’t guess on any decision, no matter it is finance, operation, marketing or sales! Always ask for evidence!

3 Responses to Working as a team

  1. Eddie says:

    Very good review, Andrew. I recently tried MS web apps and was a little disappointed after my experience with Google Docs. I am glad that MS is moving in this direction, though.

    • Andrew Chan says:

      I love the competition among Google, Microsoft, Apple and open sources. Google has Google Docs and now Microsoft has Office Wb Apps. Microsoft has OneNoe (you must try this one) and Google now has Google Wave. Who is the winner? As far as I know, we are!

  2. Pingback: Risk + 2.0: The week in links 7/2/2010 « Risk + 2.0

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