Jes Breslaw, EMEA Marketing at Workshare, discusses why his company is delighted but unsurprised at the appreciation PowerPoint users are expressing on the launch of its new Comparison product, aptly named Compare for PowerPoint.
Last month’s launch of Windows 7 should remind us all of the ongoing ubiquity and power of Microsoft and just how much it has become an integral part of our working lives. Office 2010 is the next big release from Microsoft and will do things its Office ancestors could only have dreamed of. One change, unlike previous releases, is that PowerPoint is set to play more of a starring role. This is not surprising, given that these days it is used by many enterprises, organisations and even consumers, not just as a core presentation aid but as the means to create, distribute and share information. Yet even with all the fabulous new features Office 2010 will bring, one of the biggest bugbears with PowerPoint will remain – the editing and review process.
Word has been able to track changes for years and has a whole category of supporting products like our own Workshare Professional that enable efficient and detailed comparison between document versions. PowerPoint has never been able to offer its users this level of management control and productivity gains. The danger of missing changes and the time it takes to decipher comments and amendments seriously weakens one of our most useful and trusted tools.
Collaboration or contamination?
One MD of a London-based marketing services agency has first-hand experience of this. Over 90 per cent of his initial contact with clients involves the use of some sort of presentation or slide deck. He recalls an occasion where a mismanaged approach to revisions made on his presentation caused him significant problems.
“I remember one example where I was pitching to a new prospect, and was totally thrown by two changes made by a member of my team that I didn’t see when I was doing a final review,” he recalls. “We didn’t win that contract – and I still wonder if that’s because we let ourselves down with what they must have seen as a lack of professionalism.”
Maintaining integrity, improving productivity
If we have mechanisms in place to keep on top of changes in our word-processing work, should we not give the same courtesy to our presentations? Many organisations frown on allowing multiple instances of fiscal spreadsheets to float around. Yet until now we have been unable to take the same precautions with PowerPoint when communicating our expertise, value proposition, arguments and teaching.
To make the process of collaboration much more watertight without being overly time consuming, we need a better way of comparing and validating the work we do with other people’s content.
Co-authoring and collaboration tools such as Microsoft SharePoint can provide some capabilities for working on documents collectively within a group, but for situations where a document has to be reviewed by many, where greater control is a requirement or specific ownership needs to be applied to the review process, a different approach is called for.
This is particularly the case for the many users of PowerPoint in professional services, sales and marketing, or management positions, where maintaining ownership over authored documents is important for a whole host of reasons. Audit trails may be a strict business requirement or part of a necessary compliance process. Content being incorporated is also more likely to be of a confidential nature. In these cases, ensuring data integrity is protected and that content remains accurate is important throughout the review process, as are stringent checks that the correct people have vetted any changes made to the document.
It is this requirement for greater control and management over document revisions that drove the development of Compare for PowerPoint. Where this differs from some of the other collaborative software solutions available is that it effectively treats collaboration as a workflow process rather than a free-for-all opportunity to participate in a working presentation. As a result, authors have the ability to manage sequential versions and can compare changes that have been made and finalise amendments in a more structured fashion. The emphasis is on driving efficiency and making the process of document assessment as easy and as streamlined as possible.
By streamlining the review, check and comment procedures, those participating in the presentation review process can save considerable time. This is especially beneficial where there are multi-party review cycles. As a result the team operates more effectively and productivity is increased, proposals can be completed in faster time, the business can be more responsive to third parties and the time required by individuals to check documents can be significantly lowered.
By applying a more structured approach, businesses can alleviate risk by catching inaccuracies in presentations and can maintain quality control. This provides additional protection over compliance responsibilities and safeguards the presentation of sensitive information, which is critical to business reputation and professionalism.
In short, we can finally apply the experience and best practice learned from Word comparison to PowerPoint. By adopting an automated way of managing changes in PowerPoint we can spend less time manually comparing presentations and focus more on the content. Move over Word and Excel – PowerPoint is finally standing up for its rights!