If you’re a project manager, work as part of a team, or have to get your work signed off by a wide range of stakeholders, you’ll know how much of a difference the right – or wrong – document collaboration software can make to your feedback process.
Document collaboration software helps you and your team work more productively. It makes problem solving faster, brainstorming more effective, and feedback significantly easier to collate.
No more confusing email chains. No more jumbled screenshots.
There are dozens, if not hundreds, of document collaboration tools out there, but we’ve highlighted the best of the bunch.
Let’s talk about the elephant(s) in the room
Two of the most popular document collaboration tools are Google Docs and Microsoft Word. They’re a staple in just about every workplace, and they’re great for creating written content.
Google Docs is a free online word processor and document collaboration tool available to anyone with a Google ID or Gmail account.
Some of its key features include:
- Cloud storage, so you can access your files on any device
- Autosave, so your files are automatically backed up
- 15 GB of free cloud storage (you can upgrade for as little as $6/month for more)
- Multiple sharing permissions, so you can choose whether collaborators can view, comment, or edit
Word has been the go-to word-processing software for decades. And now it’s online, with even more features to help with collaboration.
- Shareable links, so your collaborators can access, comment on, and edit your document
- Real-time sync, so you’ll never lose your documents
- Built-in translator, for collaboration with non-native speakers
Word costs $159.99, but it can also be bought as part of Microsoft 365, starting at $6.99/month.
When to use Google Docs and Microsoft Word for document collaboration
When you’re working on something in real time and collaborating with just one or two people, Google Docs and Microsoft Word are ideal. Perhaps you’re working with a colleague on a job description for a new hire, writing a short press release, or drafting an email to send internally.
Both of these platforms are easy to use, widely accessible, and great for straightforward tasks that don’t require too much in the way of review and approval.
When not to use Google Docs and Microsoft Word for document collaboration
These tools are great for content creation and simple collaboration tasks. But they don’t stand up when you need to get feedback or approval from multiple stakeholders.
Whether you’re writing the script for a brand film, rewriting landing page copy, or drafting long-form blog content, when there are several stakeholders involved in the review process, you need something better.
Why Google Docs and Microsoft Word fail on feedback
I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again, Google Docs and Microsoft Word are great for the creation part of the process. But when it comes to collecting feedback, juggling multiple stakeholders, and meeting deadlines, they fall short.
- It’s easy to forget your feedback once a comment has been marked as resolved
- You can’t compare versions and feedback side by side
- You can’t set due dates for feedback
- Sharing permissions is difficult to manage for larger teams
- Neither tool supports PDF annotation
- You can’t clearly see who has approved your document
- You can’t stop reviewers from making copies and sharing new versions
Three ways Filestage helps with document collaboration and feedback management
Filestage is a review and approval platform that makes collaboration and feedback that much easier. With Filestage, you can set up a document approval workflow so that it’s clear to you – and your collaborators – who and what is involved at each step of the review process.
Here are three ways it helps with document collaboration and feedback management:
1. One platform for team document collaboration and approval
The usual scenario: You send your document by email and await feedback. It trickles in gradually. Some in the same email thread, some in another. Some via Teams, others in person.
It’s time-consuming. It’s confusing. And it’s very, very frustrating.
With Filestage, you upload your document to our online platform. You invite as many people as you like to review the document. And you set up a clear and consistent collaboration and approval process.
Here’s what’s included:
- Creating review steps for each stage of your project
- Setting due dates to keep your projects on track
- Inviting unlimited reviewers with no need for account set-up
- No download links – it’s all online, in one place
2. Comments and annotations for real-time document collaboration
The standard feedback process tends to involve all sorts. Screenshots. Long-winded descriptions. Not to mention a whole bunch of conflicts and contradictions.
And you rarely get it all in one go, which means you’re left piecing it all together, going back on yourself, and spending a lot more time on amends than you should be.
Filestage keeps collaboration transparent and organized. Reviewers can see what others have already suggested, and they can leave feedback in a way that helps them explain themselves best:
- In-context comments that show up in real time
- Team-only comments to keep certain conversations private
- Visual annotations to bring comments to life
- Highlights and strikeouts to make sure feedback is clear
- Attachments to share references and anything else your team may need
3. Passwords and email verification for secure document collaboration
When you’re working with marketing content that’s under embargo, or other sensitive content that needs to stay under lock and key, knowing you have full security is vital.
Filestage helps you collaborate securely on documents, so you can rest easy knowing your content is safe. Here’s how:
- Password protected review links to give your files an extra layer of protection
- Single sign-on (SSO) for maximum security
- Email address verification to confirm who your reviewers are before they share their feedback
- Secure storage and file encryption using the latest technology
What is online document collaboration?
Online document collaboration is the best way to work with your team on a document in real time. The document is hosted online, with Filestage for example, and you and your teammates can review, amend, and edit at the same time.
How does document collaboration work?
With document collaboration software, you and your teammates can work on the same document at the same time. Everyone’s suggestions show up in real time, and everyone’s changes are made in the same document. Easy!
What is the best way to collaborate on a document?
The best way to collaborate on a document is with a document collaboration tool that’s specifically designed to help you, your teammates, and other stakeholders work together on the same document.
The best tool for the job depends on your situation.
How to choose the best online document collaboration tool for your situation
The best online document collaboration tool depends on what you’re working on, how many people you’re collaborating with, and how many stakeholders need to provide feedback.
If you’re a Google user collaborating with one or two others, and you don’t need to go through a review and approval process, use Google Docs.
If you’re an Office user collaborating with one or two colleagues, and you don’t need to collect feedback on your work, use Microsoft Word.
If you need to collaborate with lots of people and get feedback from an array of stakeholders, use either Google Docs or Word to create your content. Then use a document collaboration tool like Filestage to collect feedback and keep your versions organized.
Document collaboration software can make your feedback process so much easier. If you’d like to see for yourself how Filestage could help with collaboration and feedback management, you can request a free trial here →