Communications

Bitrix24.Documents and the Perils of Online Collaboration

Bitrix24.Documents and the Perils of Online Collaboration
Irina Valyanova
June 2, 2021
Last updated: June 3, 2021
We’ve all been there. Every time you and several other people have to work on a document together, you end up sending attachments back and forth, creating multiple versions so that no one knows which of them is final, and basically overcomplicating what should’ve been an easy thing to do. Is there a way out? Of course, there is - and we’re going to talk about it right here in this article.

How Not to Collaborate on a Document


Now, let’s say you created a perfectly fine document on your computer and all you need now is to run this document by your coworkers and/or supervisors. The process has been quite enjoyable so far and you really love the way your document ended up. That’s when all hell starts to break loose as you’re slowly descending deeper and deeper into collaboration limbo.

Nine Circles of Collaboration Hell


  1. Wanting to collaborate with a colleague on your nearly finished document titled Project (for the sake of example), you email it to them as an attachment expecting to receive it back fully completed.

  2. Your colleague emails the document (now titled Project1) back to you cc’ing another teammate of yours named John (it’s always either John or Mary) since they would also like to contribute.

  3. Now that John is in the loop too, he takes it upon himself to work on the document and email the revised version (now titled Project11) to you.

  4. Having looked through the document, you realize that one of your colleagues (at this point, you don’t know which of the two) must’ve used last year’s numbers cause they don’t make sense. You email the document back asking the guys to check the numbers and correct them if needed.

  5. John realizes it was his fault, corrects the mistake, and emails the document (now titled Project11_corrected) back to you.

  6. Glad that you did manage to get the document together, you send it to your supervisor for one final approval before showing it to the boss. In a desperate attempt to be of any help, your supervisor comes up with a few notes and remarks regarding the document’s presentation.

    Now, you have to consider those, update the document (now titled Project11_corrected+), and send it back to the supervisor receiving the long-awaited approval.

  7. Seems like the document is good to go and it’s about time to email it to the boss, especially if you consider that the deadline was yesterday and the boss is already fuming.

  8. Like any other person in your company, your boss wants to be needed so he emails the document back to you with a long list of notes and also asks you to run the numbers by the accountant.

  9. At this point, you are not you - you are a hollow shell of a man practically devoid of any human features. So you quickly engage in a bit of back and forth with the accounting department until you finally clear all the numbers with them. Now you’re ready to send the final version of the document (now titled Project11_corrected+++_edit_verified123) to the boss, which you do.

  10. Having received the document, the boss thanks you but also tells you off for taking too long to prepare a simple document. You want to go home and cry. 

    Oh, and all of the previously mentioned colleagues of yours have been in the loop all this time - that’s right, these poor people were (largely against their will) receiving copies of all your emails even though their work on the project had already been done by then.

So, those were the nine circles of collaboration hell as experienced by most office workers and people who work in teams consisting of more than two people. Not a very bright example of collaborative work on a document, eh?

Collaboration Breakdown: It’s Always the Same


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Even though it’s obviously inconvenient to collaborate this way, a lot of people still prefer to email their documents back and forth predictably ending up in a versioning mess. So what exactly are they doing wrong?

  • Too many different versions

When there are three or more people contributing to a document that’s being constantly emailed back and forth, the outcome will always be the same - multiple “final” versions of the same document. Go figure which one is the final “final” one.

  • Impossible to track changes

Stemming directly from the previous point, having multiple people collaborating on a document via email means it will be nigh impossible to track everyone’s input. Oh, and if there’s been a mistake, good luck finding who made it.

  • Slow speed

Sending emails and responding to them takes time. So does downloading a document and editing it on your hard drive. It all adds up slowly dragging out what’s supposed to be a quick, effortless process.

  • It’s not 2001, come on

Like, really. No one relies on email as their primary means of communication and collaboration anymore - we’re living in the world of cloud-based services and instant messengers.

Okay, that’s enough of “how not to do something”. The question you are probably asking yourself now is “So you guys laid out all this criticism here - it must mean you have something to offer instead”. Oh, you bet we do!

Bitrix24: Online Collaboration Done Right


Before we get to the collaboration part, we have to say a few words about Bitrix24 and why it is mentioned here. Bitrix24 is an online collaboration and automation platform designed to facilitate a company’s work. You create an account using an email, invite your team members to your account, and start collaborating.

Among the plethora of tools featured in Bitrix24 is Online Workspace, which is all about collaboration and features the following tools:

  • Instant messaging (chats)

  • Video calls and conferences

  • Calendars

  • Live feed (where users can post articles, leave comments, give likes, etc.)

  • Drive (online cloud storage)

  • Documents

That’s a lot of functionality already and - mind you - these are not separate tools. Cross-integrated, they are all part of the same software/environment - Bitrix24. Since our main topic is collaborating on documents, let’s take a closer look at this component.

Despite having been added just recently, Documents were, in fact, a long-requested feature. So what are they?

Bitrix24.Documents: Overview


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Bitrix24.Documents is a full-fledged online document editor allowing you to upload, create, view, co-edit, and share documents online with both your colleagues and external users.

It supports all popular file formats (docx, pptx, xls, ppt, pdf, txt, html, csv, and others), which means you can work not only with plain text documents but also spreadsheets and presentations.

Bitrix24.Documents: What Makes Them an Ideal Tool for Online Collaboration


“So what? You basically reinvented Google Docs” the skeptic in you might say. Sure, there’s nothing original about an online document editor by itself these days - Google has it, Microsoft has it, and who knows who else does.

What makes Bitrix24.Documents stand out is the fact that it is not just a standalone editor. It is a part of a larger ecosystem - an ecosystem that features everything you need to run projects, grow sales, and manage your team, whether it’s remote or in the office.

You co-edit a document, write a message in the chat, make a quick video call, read a new post in the live feed, and then get back to working on the document. Without having to switch between different tools. All within Bitrix24.

So what else makes Bitrix24.Documents great?

Real-time editing

Create and edit text documents, spreadsheets, and presentations in real-time. Invite other users (whether they have a Bitrix24 account or not) to co-edit your documents.

Real-time collaboration

No matter how many people are co-editing a document, you can always see who's worked on it recently and what changes have been made.

Document management

All your Bitrix24 documents are managed via a single dashboard where you can view all the recent activity, changes, and updates. You can manage access permissions and enable document lock to prevent it from accidental editing.

Document sharing

You can easily share your documents with external users (even those without a Bitrix24 account) by simply sending them a link.

All formats supported

Bitrix24 supports all popular file formats (docx, pptx, xls, ppt, pdf, txt, html, csv, and others) making your text documents, spreadsheets, and presentations always a pleasure to work with!

Conclusion


The modern way of working a document together is online collaboration via a cloud-based service like Bitrix24. If you’re new to Bitrix24, be sure to test-drive the product and see what it can do for your business by creating a free account (and by “free” we mean completely free: no sneaky free trial, no 14-day evaluation period - you get it for free and for good).

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