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How document versions cost the company

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The July 2012 Knowledge Worker Survey has revealed that poor document collaboration can cause serious business problems, including missed opportunities, damaged reputations and poor impressions on colleagues and customers.

Poor document collaboration practices are very expensive, time-consuming and the source of much frustration, according to Perforce Software, which commissioned an independent survey of business professionals.

Conducted online by Harris Interactive, the July 2012 Knowledge Worker Survey of 1,004 knowledge workers in the United States and United Kingdom shows that document collaboration problems in the workplace are pervasive, frustrating and the cause of costly productivity issues—even when document sharing tools are in place. It also indicates that these issues have far-reaching consequences, including missed business opportunities, damaged reputations and poor impressions on colleagues and customers.

Document collaboration issues occur as documents pass through multiple contributors and, while doing so, are often saved as multiple versions. These widespread and time-consuming issues include such things as searching for the right version of a file, working on the wrong version of a document or having to manually enter edits from others.

Known by Few, Felt by Most While less than half (45%) of knowledge workers are familiar with the term ‚”version issues,‚” the survey found that more than four in five (83%) lose or waste time each day from these problems. Issues include:

– Searching their hard drives or email inboxes for the most up-to-date or correct file (73%)

– Having to wait while someone else finishes working on a document (59%)

– Manually reviewing documents to sort out the changes from one or more contributors (56%)

– Working on a document, only to realise after some time that it was the wrong or outdated file (47%)

Interestingly, of the 69% of knowledge workers whose companies use a document management or file sharing service, about 9 in 10 still experience document versioning issues (86% and 90%, respectively), indicating that existing solutions do little to solve these problems.

‚”This study helps to quantify an issue that nearly everyone experiences in one way or another,‚” explained Christopher Seiwald, CEO and founder of Perforce. ‚”Current collaboration practices and systems do not mitigate the versioning issues that hinder an organisation’s ability to collaborate on documents. We’ve largely solved this issue for software development teams, which are the most complex collaboration environments, but most business teams have yet to adequately address the root of the problem‚Äîversion management.‚”

More Time-Consuming than Spam, More Frustrating than Parking Tickets The survey found that document versioning issues are productivity killers. They combine (75%) to have an impact on productivity for a higher percentage of knowledge workers than:

– Not having network access (71%)

– Dealing with spam and junk mail (59%)

– Leaving a mobile phone at home (34%)

The survey also found that document-related issues (83%) are frustrating to a higher percentage of knowledge workers than:

– Locking keys in a car (78%)

– Getting a parking ticket (78%)

– Having to work on a weekend (64%)

– Not being able to dial-in to a conference call (57%)

And workers react to these issues quite strongly. In fact, 81% report having worked on the wrong version of a document or spent too much time looking for the right file. Of those, 29% stop working on a project altogether or leave work early when they realise all the time they’ve wasted. Other startling responses include:

– Yell at their computers (33%)

– Think about heading to the nearest bar or pub (21%)

– Throw something (12%)

– Banged their heads against their desks (12%)

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