|Microsoft Office XP
Microsoft Word 2002
Microsoft Outlook® 2002
E-mail can be a great way to communicate and disseminate information. But if you're looking for a better team effort from your employees, it's time to start thinking about better collaboration tools.
Consider a very long tennis match: At first it's exciting to talk about all the top players and possible outcomes of each game. But after a while, your neck is cramping, your hair is wilting, and you've spent the day watching volleys.
Now think of some of the e-mail you've had to deal with lately: At first it's exciting to talk about all the latest projects and their possible outcomes. But after a while, your hands are cramping, communication is wilting, and you've spent the day watching volleys.
Take a look at some of the alternatives that Microsoft Office provides to that old taskmaster, e-mail:
- A team Web site or project-based Web site
- Online and collaborative document revision
- Online meetings
- In-the-browser Web discussions
- Group calendars
- Easy-to-use scheduling techniques
For enhanced information sharing, easy document collaboration, and efficient scheduling processes, Office has all the tools you need.
Sharing the information
Teams and workgroups usually get by using a combination of e-mail, file servers, and their own hard disk drives to store and share information. This system has become the status quo for information sharing, but it doesn't create an organized record of a team's efforts.
SharePoint™ Team Services from Microsoft is a solution for Web site collaboration designed to improve the way your team manages information and activities. Using preprogrammed Web authoring forms, SharePoint Team Services lets you instantly create a team Web site to use as a central repository of all project information — documents, contacts, tasks, discussions, and more. Once you launch the team Web site, team members can add, edit, and delete information by using their Web browsers.
A Web site based on SharePoint Team Services offers workgroups an easy way to share project information with team members and others within the organization.
Document libraries: one-stop shopping
The Document Library feature of SharePoint Team Services provides a single location for storing all your team's work. Transferring documents to the library is simple — just create your document and then either save it directly to the team site or use the Upload Document feature directly from your Web browser. And when you assign templates to your document libraries using this feature, you guarantee that all documents are consistent and compatible.
Subscriptions, notifications, and discussions
SharePoint Team Services helps team members share ideas through:
- Subscriptions and notifications that alert everyone to changes in the team Web site.
- Inline document discussions in the team Web site that make it easy to collaborate on specific deliverables without altering original documents.
- Discussion boards that serve as a central forum for specific topics.
- Surveys, which are a useful way to get targeted responses on key issues.
Administration of user accounts
Once you've launched a SharePoint team Web site, you can send team members a simple e-mail invitation to register them to the site. Also, you can assign different permission levels to each member, depending on their role. Date, time, and author stamping make it easy to track member participation. Web-based administration lets you manage user accounts quickly and simply from within the browser.
Reviewing and revising Office documents
If you've ever tried to work on the same document with five other people, you know how confusing things can get. It's hard to tell who made what comment or edit, when it was made, and any changes resulting from it. It makes collaboration a time-consuming process. Fortunately, several of the programs in Office have collaboration features that help you make and then keep track of changes in your team files.
Online reviewing with Word
An online review involves making changes or adding comments to a document on the screen rather than on hard copy. To facilitate online reviews, Microsoft Word allows you to make and view tracked changes and comments easily in a document. To preserve the layout of your document, Word shows some comments and tracked changes (such as insertions, deletions, and formatting changes) within the text area while others are displayed in balloons that appear in the margin.
Balloons show deletions, formatting changes, and comments.
With the Track Changes feature turned on, each insertion, deletion, or formatting change that you or a reviewer makes is tracked. As you review tracked changes, you can accept or reject each change. As you review comments, you can delete them or respond to them.
File review tools
You can use the Mail Recipient (for Review) command in Word, Microsoft Excel, and Microsoft PowerPoint® to send a file for others to review. (On the File menu, point to Send To, and then click Mail Recipient (for Review). When a reviewer receives the file, the reviewing tools are enabled and displayed. And when reviewers return files to you, the Office program automatically prompts you to merge their changes into your copy of the document. You can then use the Reviewing tool to accept or reject the changes. Once you receive all feedback from the reviewers, or once you decide to stop accepting feedback, you can choose to end the review cycle.
The integration of Microsoft Windows® NetMeeting® with Office allows you to share and make changes to a document with people at different sites in real time. When you start an online meeting from within an Office application (on the Tools menu, point to Online Collaboration and click Meet Now), NetMeeting automatically starts in the background and allows you to share the contents of your document. Once you are in an online meeting, you can:
- Share applications and documents.
- Send text messages in Chat, which lets you conduct real-time conversations in text with as many people as you like.
- Transfer files between people running NetMeeting.
- Work on the Whiteboard, which lets you collaborate in real time with others through graphic information.
The Web Discussions feature in Office lets users attach comments to a Web page or to any document that can be opened with a browser (such as .htm, .xls, .doc, and .ppt files) so that the comments appear with the document but are stored on a discussion server.
You or a reviewer can insert online discussion remarks and replies to others' remarks in the file. Replies appear nested directly under the remarks. All reviewers can view the discussion remarks at any time. When you use discussions, you don't have to route the file or reconcile individual comments in multiple copies later on.
For information about implementing Web discussions, see Help in Word, Excel, or PowerPoint.
Organizing meetings and schedules
Microsoft Outlook is the one member of your collaborative team you can't do without. It's your e-mail messenger, administrative assistant, date book, and personal reminder service all wrapped up in one.
Group schedules and meetings
Trying to plan a meeting for 30 people? It sure would be easier if you could view the schedules of all the attendees and meeting rooms in a single place. With Calendar view in Outlook, you can find the free and busy times for each team member and locate an available meeting area.
This view also shows a description of each user's appointments (except for those that are marked private) when you rest the mouse pointer over an appointment.
Once you send a meeting request, invitees can use the Propose New Time feature to propose an alternative meeting time.
Now that you've sent out dozens of meeting requests and have even incorporated your personal appointments into your Outlook calendar, you probably don't want to be bombarded with reminder after reminder all day long. In Outlook , a single reminder window provides a better way to manage your appointments and tasks. This integrated "to-do" list allows you to dismiss, snooze, or open one or all reminders at once.