Document Online Collaboration Still Not Catching On?

Despite a plethora of online collaboration tools, people in many up-to-date technology friendly workplaces insist on e-mailing word-processed documents back and forth, even though that business organization may have already installed a perfectly good system for online collaboration and document sharing. This situation begs the question, “What is the obstacle to accepting online collaboration tools?” Perhaps, it isn’t just as simple as spreading the word throughout the organization that a better method for sharing documents exists. Often, when such tools are introduced in the workplace, employees experiment by editing and sharing one or two different documents through the common database collaboration systems but invariably revert back to their old habits of exchanging files back and forth through e-mail. There are a few theories about why this occurs, including:

  • Inherent Resistance To Change – Employees are now faced again with another ID to remember in order to login to the system. Although the system usually employs a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editing interface and all the applications employed, there will be a certain adjustment period as well as a particular learning curve when people need to get used to something after becoming so used to the specific look and feel for the word processing program they’ve always been using. Most people involved in the computer-based work environment are used to using the editing tools of Microsoft Word (before 2007) and facing a completely different and foreign online collaboration editing environment is daunting and often overwhelming. If the document collaboration solution does not possess a familiar editing interface, the path of least resistance is to revert back to exchanging documents via e-mail.
  • Offline Editing Abilities – another area that offers employees a reason to resist the use of online collaboration tool occurs when an edited document through this tool loses its ability to be accessed in any off-line situation. Implementing an online collaboration tool that does not offer either a plug-in solution or conversion to a.txt or.doc format for off-line access is another reason why employee may be opting to revert back to previous methods for sharing work document files.
  • Reading The Paper – Many people, regardless the wonder of modern day computer technology, still opt to review any work documents in a hard copy version, more comfortable making corrections, additions, deletions and commentary on a paper version. Often, people working within the editing process online miss typos that are typically caught in a traditional proofreading process of reading hardcopy. Too often when a file is printed from an online collaboration environment it loses formatting as well as the headers and footers it may have had provided in the word processing program from which it was originally created.
  • So What Do You Think? – Many times when documents are shared and corrections are made, explanations have to be offered before the entire project team can accept the changes. Most word processing programs present users with the ability to write in the margins about specific parts of the document. This popular function is missing in many online collaboration tools.
  • It’s Too Darn Slow – Even though there is a version of Microsoft Word that has run on any computer made in the past two decades, and despite its bloatedness, most users find it runs far faster than any online collaboration tool does.


The solution is not to completely avoid document collaboration tools, but to select one that matches your organization’s needs and your team members’ preferences. In addressing the resistance to change, find a tool that offers an extremely user friendly and intuitive interface. The

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