Work With Me, Here!

Published Date
01 - Oct - 2005
| Last Updated
01 - Oct - 2005
Work With Me, Here!
Every single day, there are tens of files that go across your computer screen on to those of your co-workers. You make a change, then he or she makes one and sends it back to you. This goes on for a while before both of you lose track of what changes are final. What's worse, along the way, several other versions of the file are created-the one you saved on your hard drive, the one he saved on his, and so on and so forth.

Eventually, no one knows which is the final file with all changes and approvals, and as Murphy's Law dictates, the wrong one goes through to the boss-only to have both of you reprimanded! And all this while the two of you are still in the same office!

Imagine the same scenario with two co-workers in different offices, separated by a few time zones. There's a time lag; add to it mistakes and lack of communication, and you have a recipe for a comedy of errors! Only, you won't be laughing-others would.

Is there no solution? Is it not possible for two people to be in the workspace and work together on the same file? What about time differences? Well, not much you can do there, but at least you could both be on the same page!

Let's Groove
No, we aren't digressing from the topic! Groove Networks has a product that could well solve the problem we've mentioned-the Groove Virtual Office (GVO). This software allows you to share files, manage meetings and projects and also track data and processes. This is a real-time workspace, where you can add multiple teams and create an environment where information can flow back and forth seamlessly.

But it's not restricted to just one workspace. You could create a workspace for every team. Other features include instant messaging, file sharing, collaborative editing and real-time management of data. GVO is not a free product, though. There are three variants available-the File Sharing Edition (Rs 3,000), the Professional Edition (Rs 7,800) and the Project Edition (Rs 10,000). The latter variant offers a full deal, but for a small office setup, the first is good enough.

A user can quickly see which other members of the workspace are currently online, whether they are working in that workspace, and even the 'tool' they are using

After an installer download, the software downloads other necessary files and installs in around 30 minutes on a decent Internet connection. But beyond that, it's not always necessary to be online to work.

Information that others edit in a file can be available to you offline as well-so long as you collect the latest update of a file. Hence the restrictions of having a slow or low-bandwidth connection are also negated.

How It Works
Creators of a workspace and members with all necessary permissions can invite other users to the workspace. This can be done using 'Contacts' (which can be imported from Outlook or Outlook Express) in the 'Launchbar' or from within the workspace itself. Those not already using Groove can also be invited via e-mail.

Set by default, the workspace creator is the 'Manager', and can set the roles and permissions of others in the workspace as a whole, or within specific workspace tools.

One of the most significant features is the contextual presence awareness within workspaces. A user can quickly see which other members of the workspace are currently online, whether they are working in that workspace, and even the 'tool' they are using. This allows good use of 'presence awareness' (as against the limited information afforded by Instant Messaging), which lets people determine whether to interrupt someone else based on their current work status.

If someone is in a workspace and in the 'Files' tool, that worker is also open to a chat or phone call. However, if he is not (because he may be heading off to another project in another workspace), you could send a message, which causes less interruption.

Once the workspace is established-from scratch or via a template-team members with the required permissions can add and delete tools and tool content as required, a frequent occurrence as the workspace evolves.

From within the 'Files' tool, a user can select another online user and initiate a co-review of a presentation or document. Normally, such functions are found only in advanced online meeting products. But with the Groove, you can combine real-time and persistent collaboration.

What Groove Offers 
  • You can see which members of your team are online
  • You can conduct a conversation, post questions and get answers about files, projects or processes
  • You can plan, conduct, and follow up on real-time online meetings. Let team members update their own action items and project tasks
  • The Project Edition includes advanced features such as Gantt charts, milestone tracking, defining predecessor tasks, and integration with Microsoft Project.

Some of the other impressive tools include a Text editor, discussion areas where earlier discussions are saved by default and include the topics and responses of indvidual members too.

But this is not merely a workspace where online collaboration is possible. A Forms tool allows the manager of the workspace to create custom forms that can be filled out by other users of the workspace.

Scheduling online meeting with other members is also a breeze with Groove. Just fill in the time and date and members of the meeting.

You can choose how you want to view all details and also assign tasks for the meeting like the minute-taker and the chairperson for the meeting. Very useful.

There you have it... your entire team finally on the same page!

Team DigitTeam Digit

All of us are better than one of us.