Nov 08, 2021

All You Need to Know About Cloud Document Collaboration

All You Need to Know About Cloud Document Collaboration

If you said to the average person twenty, or maybe even ten years ago that you work on the cloud, they would have had no idea what you were talking about. But now many people do just that. Cloud based collaboration is the new norm. This is where people work simultaneously at any time online. This may be across particular documents, collaborative tools, or anywhere data is stored in the cloud. There are now a host of cloud collaboration services out there, and a lot of things to consider when adopting them. This article explains what cloud document collaboration is, highlighting some advantages and challenges that adopting this approach can bring, and suggests some useful cloud collaboration solutions. 

What is document cloud collaboration?

Document collaboration generally occurs when a document is stored in the cloud, allowing multiple people, in any location and at any time, to access, edit and download the documents they are working on. 

As technology has developed, so have team document collaboration tools. These allow for safer storage, truly synchronized work, and can be integrated into other programs. 

Generally, online document collaboration has become particularly more useful as more people work remotely, as teams can work together at any distance, without having to edit documents separately and re-send. The benefit of such a system overall is apparent to most, but it is important to understand the pros and cons of collaboration software, that you should consider when adopting new tools.  

What are the advantages of cloud collaboration?

Productivity

Being able to pick up a task with ease, from any location, leads to higher productivity and efficiency.  Team collaborators do not need to wait for confirmation or edits to be done, everyone can work together, at the same time to finish tasks a lot quicker. Also, thanks to other software out there, such as messaging, calendars etc. online workers can be very productive in general. 

Security

Document collaboration tools are considerably safer than physical or locally stored documents. They are generally behind several layers of security, and are subject to a range of updates. It is much harder for anyone to access sensitive documents behind this level of security. 

Archiving

By keeping all document editing online, you’ll create a clear log of changes and edits to documents. Multiple versions of documents can be kept and stored with ease, so that nothing is lost in translation.

You can also store all internal and external communications safely in the cloud and allow access to master documents and templates for any future tasks. This means that documents are easily accessed and stored securely, leading to better efficiency. 

Project management

With an archive of documents, project managers can measure the progress of their projects. By having everything in one place, including communications, project managers can easily monitor everything without chasing up individual team members. 

Most of these real-time collaboration tools are integrated with a host of other useful project management softwares too.

Wider workforce and audience

When companies embrace the new working model, and adopt cloud based collaboration, they can access a wider workforce. If their employee wants to relocate, they can continue to work on the project, and now potential workers around the globe can bring their skills and expertise to the project, without having to move anywhere. 

It’s not just workers that can take advantage of cloud collaboration services, but in fact the stakeholders, executives and others who may need to check on particular documents. They can be shared easily in one place, rather than via emails which can get lost, or physical copies, so everyone can be brought up to speed easily. 

Key challenges of cloud based collaboration

While we have discussed the benefits of cloud collaboration services, there are some challenges that you need to consider. Being aware of them can help you choose the right cloud document solutions for you and adopt approaches to alleviate the difficulties you and your team may face..

Impersonal

Working online, as opposed to in person, can lead to a sense of disconnect and a loss of the personal, informal discussions, or brainstorming sessions that can lead to high-quality teamwork on a project.

To solve this problem it is important to have messaging apps set up to discuss working on documents or projects with all relevant members of the team. This also ensures that everyone is on the same page and no one does anything that can jeopardize the quality of work. 

There are a range of apps out there for this communication. Some are internal to other tools and apps, such as Google Chat in Google Workspace, or in Microsoft Teams. Others are external, though can be integrated with other programs, such as Slack, or other less known alternatives

Upset of work-life balance

One of the biggest challenges of online work is that while it’s easy to work from anywhere and at any time, the line between work and leisure time blurs. This can lead to unmotivated and unhappy employees, and a sense of anxiety surrounding work tasks and looming deadlines. 

To solve this, project managers should assign tasks and create guidelines around the length of time spent per task and what hours are expected of employees. This can help alleviate stress and restore balance. Additionally, ensure you have regular meetings scheduled to keep up face-to-face time among employees. 

Too many people

While lots of people being able to work simultaneously on a document or project, and having a wide workforce can help it has a downside. First, many people may have radically different ideas on the project, and different approaches which may not mesh together well. 

Secondly, with such a large amount of people working on a project or document, there may be a lack of clarity on roles and responsibilities. 

To solve this problem, limit the number of participants on each project and document, assign clear roles, and have meetings and chats explaining the overall goal of the project to align everyone. 

Security risks

While cloud collaboration solutions and cloud storage brings many great security benefits, there is a different risk. That so many people may work on a project or have access, perhaps some who are outsiders to the organization, there is a potential for security breaches. Furthermore, some clouds can become victims of hacking

To solve this, proper hiring of external parties needs to be in place. In addition, a proper storage organization should have good security measures to prevent theft and vandalism, and also prevent any hacking with proper security measures. This requires a degree of research before using any software to check they are accredited and trustworthy. 

Need for dedicated management

Due to the need for management to ensure security, task assignment, and proper productive collaboration, there is generally a need for dedicated management of the programs and tasks. This may be expensive and time-consuming. 

However, if projects are taken online properly and project managers can use the programs with ease, this can be handled. Ensure that there are not too many programs and sufficient integration of programs, to bring everything together under one system, allowing management to be done with ease. 

Tools to enhance your online document collaboration process

There are a range of useful cloud collaboration tools out there to make the process productive, efficient, secure and easy to manage. 

Document creation tools

These are the most common tools you will find for document collaboration. Google Docs or Dropbox Paper allow you to create text documents, edit them, comment and track changes. This is a great way to keep an eye on changes made and collaborate together. 

Other programs are out there, though, such as Bit.ai.

Each have their own strengths and weaknesses, so consider researching before you settle on one program.

PDF editing-  Lumin PDF

PDFs are a more complicated type of file. They generally have required expensive and/or cumbersome software to edit, and many people simply convert to word files and back. 

Lumin PDF eliminates the need for any of this. You can collaborate together to edit PDFs, add comments and share with ease. Lumin PDF also boasts integrations with Dropbox, Google Docs and Google Classroom.

Lumin PDF has also set up Organizations, to help organize and store documents for larger teams to help with collaboration.  

Communication tools

We stressed the importance of communication when collaborating online. Programs such as Slack, Microsoft Teams or Google Hangouts are all very popular communication tools you can use for individual and group messaging. Without clear communication, it is hard to have successful collaboration. 

Management tools

Programs such as Trello, Toggl, ActiveCollab, or ProofHub (among others) all can allow for the setting of tasks and online collaboration. This can help coordinate activity, define roles and responsibilities, and ensure that everyone is on the same page. Some offer options for collaboration on certain documents or images. Some such as Toggl also offer time tracking services to see how long is being spent on tasks. 

Conclusion

We explained what is cloud based collaboration and document collaboration, and the many benefits and challenges you may face when undertaking tasks in such a way. There are a range of cloud collaboration solutions available, and it is important to choose the right one. Cloud collaboration services generally lead to better productivity, an effective archive, secure storage, and provide opportunities to widen the talent pool. Ensure the tool you choose  is easy to use, manage and boasts good security. We also gave examples of the different tools you can use, such as Lumin PDF, to help collaborate on the editing of documents. You can find out more about our services here. 

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