I came across Agilewords a few days ago – a new web-based application for co-authoring of Microsoft Word documents.
A few comments:
1. The co-creation of documents, with a lead author and many reviewers, or even with many authors, is a painful process. The dominant approach today is still email and attachments, leading to huge coordination and collaboration problems. In my workshops, I often find that a change in the way co-creation is done, away from email and into a collaborative space, can cut the actual hands on time by 50%. There’s a real opportunity here.
2. With Agilewords, the discussion about the contents of the document is in a separate pane – and it looks like it’s persistent from session to session. Also, the remaining review time is shown at the top of the screen, sending a clear signal about how long someone has to get their edits in.
3. Comments and edits are shared in real-time with everyone who is currently looking at document. There’s a single copy of the document, that everyone is working on.
4. For people not currently looking at the document, updates and changes trigger an email notification, thus pulling authors and editors back to the document.
5. Until you have registered and taken a free trial, Agilewords won’t disclose pricing.
6. It looks good – definitely worth trying out.
7. Keep in mind that there are risks with early-stage collaboration, which means that people may converge too quickly on a final edition of the document when divergence is needed first. You’ll have to use a service like Agilewords at the right time, or the effectiveness of the review may offset the efficiency gains.