Real-Time Collaboration Delays

When you work at a agency, you spend a lot of time collaborating. It’s relatively painless to shuttle files back and forth when everyone is using the same software, like Microsoft Office.

Today we were working on a a pretty important piece of client work with another professional agency. Despite being on the same Windows PC and Office platform, the account manager and I struggled to collaborate in real time.

Want to know why? Email.

Yup. Every time we make a change to the shared file, we had to share it back and forth. That meant emailing through each other’s corporate mail system. The collaboration went something like this:

Me: “Okay, I am adding some stuff to the Excel file and changing the graph on the PowerPoint. I’m sending it now.”

Her: “Okay. Did you send?”

Me: “Yes, you should have it in about 30 seconds.”

Her: “No, nothing. Are you sure you sent it to the right email address?”

Me: “Yup, I clicked reply to your email to me and attached it. Check again.”

Her: “Okay, let me refresh. Hmm.”

Me: “Did you get it? What do you think of the slides I changed?”

Her: “Huh? No, the ‘hmm’ was that I just got other email from people, but not from you.”

Me: “Did you check your spam catcher?

Her: “Checking now. Nope, not in there.”

Me: “I’ll send again.”

Her: “Okay, I’ll do some stuff while I wait.”

Me: “Me too.”

Her: “Do you have a website?

Me: “Yeah. Are you on it?”

Her: “Yeah.”

Me: “I think I am looking at you on Facebook.”

Her: “This is frustrating. Let me check again.”

Me: “I found you on Facebook and you found my website in under a minute. But we’re still waiting for emails to arrive. Very nice.”

About 5 minutes later.

Her: “I got it.”

Me: “All of them?”

Her: “No. Just the one with the Excel. Did you send the PowerPoint separately?”

Me: “Yeah, it was under one meg.”

Her: “Wait, I got it. Okay, let me make a quick change and email this back to you.”

Me: “Oh. Great.”

And on and on and on. We were both corporate victims of a slow email system that’s not really built for this kind of real-time collaboration.

Here’s what bums me out. There are good software solutions out there. Smart people have developed clever collaboration applications. Real-time sharing for productivity.

When can I have that on my computer?