Learning collaborative software

As a freelance article writer I worked on one project at a time with a single person in mind, the editor. (And, of course, too, my readers.) Now, working as an independent contractor, I am part of a multi-national team with a manager, many writers, and a website designer. Each of us are in different time zones, each of us trying to create the best possible web work for clients scattered across two countries. How do we keep things straight? The answer is collaborative software. And while we’re not yet masters of the program, we have a goal and we’re steadily working toward it.

The program we’re using is called Wrike (external link), and eventually we hope to bring together all of our complex tasks within its secure framework. Every e-mail, file edit, brainstorming session, and task assignment will be coordinated using Wrike’s eco-system. If it’s not done in Wrike it won’t exist.

Like any new program, there is a learning curve. To me, Wrike’s interface is daunting at first because of all the similarly shaped rectangles it employs to present information. Within those shapes are photos and icons of people and folder trees and different colors competing for attention. I sometime feel like I am a novice pilot looking over the dashboard or control surfaces of a 747. Sure, the plane is capable of flying halfway around the world. But where is the on switch?


One thing Wrike is already helping with is tracking files. You don’t have to wonder who has the current document. Wrike keeps track of that and leaves a well documented trail of where it was and who has it now. Better yet, with Microsoft Office documents you can edit a file on-line.  A lock icon notes if someone is working on the file, thus preventing one person from overwriting another’s work. Multiple versions are kept along the way, so you can always go back to previous versions. The original file is always safely stored at the beginning of the task process. A system of privileges allow clients to view their projects and to make comments.

I think the efficiencies gained by the program are going to be well worth the time spent learning it. We may use just a tiny percentage of its capabilities, but the benefits will be huge. I welcome any comments you may have in working with Wrike.

By thomasfarley01

Business writer and graphic arts gadfly.

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