The Most Painful Document Versioning Scenarios


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Collaboration in the digital workplace is the new norm. With many employees often contributing to a single file, version control has been a management pain point for the last two decades. Oddly enough, while the problem has gotten more complex, the solutions have not. Here’s our list of the most common versioning scenarios that cause organizational headaches and network inefficiencies.

Branching and forking of a document
When employees move from office to home, they often create duplicate copies of files to continue their work. This also commonly occurs when two or more employees must make contributions to a single file at the same time. Copies are made and distributed, and edits are expected to come back in a format that can be combined. As each copy is made, there is more potential for error.

Conflicting edits to the same document
A technical problem found in document collaboration software, conflicting edits occur when multiple users make edits to the same file that cannot be reconciled. Rather than helping manage the workflow, the system simply errors out, resulting in a corrupted document, or contributors’ changes being wiped out or copied to a new version. Either way, conflicts are never pretty.

Exporting a document from the view of others
Exporting is simply breaking files out of collaboration software prison. The problem, of course, is that when employees remove the files from the collaboration environment, they effectively create new copies that do not report back to the source. In other words, the files are exported and forked at the same time, circumventing safeguards and adding a new copy of the same file along the way.

Resolving the wrong changes
When employees are tasked with resolving files to create a “clean copy” there’s always a chance an error will be made. This chance increases as more employees make contributions. Judgement calls need to be made to get the best version in front of the right recipient. Tight deadlines and frayed nerves can contribute to a negative outcome.

So, what’s a manager to do? The opportunity lies in the understanding that the biggest challenges to document collaboration are found in the people that need to collaborate. Solving their frictions will create an environment that leads to silky-smooth versioning and control, and fewer IT headaches down the road.

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