Why Should I Use Collaborative Editing in Project Management Software?
It’s pretty unusual to have a project team of one without any other team members, approvers, reviewers, or critical stakeholders. And the minute you add a second person, you create the need for collaboration.
Collaboration is simply the act of working together to produce, create, or achieve something. Which means that collaborative editing is working together to edit, revise, and improve a file, document, or other deliverables.
Two types of collaborative editing
There are two types of collaborative editing in project management:
Task collaborative editing is when project tasks are assigned to multiple team members at once, allowing them to work together collectively.
For example, imagine you have ad campaign copy that’s ready for review. In a larger organization, you may have one reviewer checking the content, another approving the visuals, and a third ensuring there are no legal concerns.
Thanks to task collaborative editing, they can all be assigned to the work at the same time. Which means if one of them requests a change, the others can see it and determine if that will impact their own review and approval.
Document collaborative editing is when multiple people are editing the same document simultaneously. This is similar to task editing except it’s solely in relation to documents and files attached to project tasks and excludes any other task work.
Document collaborative editing can be useful for several different scenarios:
- If you have a long document such as an ebook and you want the editor to be working on older chapters or pages while the writer is still creating more content
- If you believe there will be multiple revisions and back and forth required between the writer and editor
- If you have multiple editors who need to review the content at the same time
Online collaborative editing
In the past, collaborative editing may have meant putting everyone in one room, sitting around a table discussing edits and changes while one person took notes. Then that person would later need to make the agreed-upon changes.
As you can imagine, there were several drawbacks to this approach:
- Changes and requests could easily be missed during the cross-discussion.
- Requests could be misunderstood or miscommunicated.
- If they didn’t take proper notes, the person making the changes may have forgotten what was asked by the time they go to make the actual change.
- It required everyone to physically collocate in one place at one time.
The other option, which was even slower and more likely to require rework, was to pass a document or deliverable off to one person and then another.
For example, a designer might provide a draft to the senior designer to be edited. They’d get it back, make changes, and then have to send it off again. Once the senior designer approved it, it would then go to the project manager or another stakeholder for edits and so on.
In some cases, you could end up with the second editor asking you to change something the first editor just told you to do.
Thanks to technological advances today, it's possible to have multiple people review, mark up, and edit a document or review a task all at the same time.
For instance, Google Documents allows multiple people to make edits, suggest changes, and leave comments simultaneously.
With online collaborative editing, the review cycle is shortened, people aren’t requesting duplicate or conflicting edits, and the risk of miscommunication and rework is decreased.
Benefits of collaborative editing within project management software
When you have collaborative editing functionality within your project management software, it provides a number of benefits for you, your team, and other stakeholders.
You can solve conflicting feedback in real time, work toward the best ideas quickly, and save time consolidating feedback across email, spreadsheets, etc.
Instead of keeping multiple versions of a document in different places, you get a single master document or task that everybody can access. Everyone on the team can view, edit, and update information easily at any time. Your team members can discuss requirements, elaborate on product design, create a conference agenda, and find solutions to problems.
It minimizes the necessity of meetings and calls to update a piece of work. It also saves team members from having to send emails with revised documents back and forth or compare versions.
Collaborative editing, revision history, email notifications about changes, and links between pages all work together to ensure everyone who needs to be kept in the loop is updated about changes to tasks and documents on your project.
Any changes are instantly visible to all of the team members online and via email and RSS. This allows everyone to stay up to date and quickly react to the changes when they need to.
While collaborative editing lets many people access and change a document or task at once, your project software provides version control, so that no original thought is lost or overwritten in error.
Compared to traditional project management tools that place the project manager in the center of project communications, systems with collaborative editing allow everyone on the team to immediately see the latest updates and contribute to the project plan in real time. This streamlines communications and increases the productivity of your team.
Meanwhile, the ability to restore tasks to the previous version at any time allows the project manager to keep control firmly in their hands. Your system keeps the information about what changes were made, when they were made, and by whom. Plus, it enables you to review, compare pairs of revisions, and restore tasks to previous versions if needed.
Change-tracking features allow you to see exactly what was added, edited, or removed by each of the contributors.
Teams can take advantage of document collaboration tools to share ideas, develop plans, and pass along important data. This approach makes it simple to provide immediate access to drafts and updated information. Conducting real-time collaboration online allows each team member to develop concepts and proposals individually, instantly share with the group, and immediately receive feedback.
Collaborative writing in a document or spreadsheet can become one of several means of communication for team members, along with phone, email, and instant messaging.
Team collaboration tools can drive expanded engagement in several ways:
- Collaborative editing promotes transparency as employees in different departments can see each other's drafts.
- Project management software with collaboration features can create new opportunities for communication, breaking down silos that damage efficiency.
- Employees have more opportunities to share their expertise and build trust, rather than competing with one another.