17 Dec SavvyDox Improves the MS Word Experience

Can you read it?

As we progressed through the design of SavvyDox, it became very clear that we were coming up with a solution that went way beyond version control – it was a whole new paradigm surrounding change tracking and collaboration. The final piece of the puzzle was sorting out how to elegantly allow the document author to incorporate the reviewer feedback back into the source document while using Microsoft Word. After several experiments, our design wizards came up with a very easy to use solution that highlights suggested changes in a side bar on the right hand side of the word document. We stepped back and thought “Wow, we have something that is much better than Microsoft Word Track Changes even when using Word as the tool to update the document”.

I decided to try out our hypothesis on a few customers and thought maybe 10% to 20% of the users would not like Microsoft Word Change Tracking. Was I surprised with the results! The more people I asked, the more shocked I became! I have talked with numerous people about this over the past several months including leading analysts in the document management space and the feedback from all of them has been consistent – “I don’t like Microsoft Word Change tracking, but I have no alternative” – until now. One person even said “I don’t care what else your solution does; I will buy it just to replace Microsoft Word Change Tracking”.

Why don’t people like Microsoft Word Change Tracking? Here are some of the reasons:

  1. Multiple colors on the document make it very difficult to read after a couple of revisions.
  2. Strikeouts on the document make it very difficult to read after a couple of revisions.
  3. It is extremely difficult to pick up the most recent changes (especially if you are color blind like me!).
  4. With all the difficulty reading the document, unintended loopholes may be added to a contract when changes are made.
  5. The authors despise having 5 different word documents coming back from 5 different people who have no idea what changes each other are suggesting. The author winds up calling or emailing reviewers to understand why they have differing views on text revisions.
  6. In a contractual review, the reviewer has many options to hide changes from MS Word Track Changes so that the author doesn’t realize that changes have been made – contract owners hate that. In other words, collaborative authoring is not a good solution for contract authoring.
  7. To find all the current changes, a reviewer still has to read through the entire document to try to find the changes – and in most cases, they miss some.

I heard an anecdotal story about a large multinational corporation that was about to sign a major deal when a lawyer rushed in to see an executive ten minutes before the planned announcement and proclaimed “they changed something that we didn’t pick up”. I would never want to be that lawyer – how about you?

To see how SavvyDox eases the pain surrounding Microsoft Word Track Changes, the following 2 videos will highlight the improvements dramatically.

iPad Reading Experience

Publishing Using MS Word

What are your thoughts? I’d be really interested to understand more of the reasons why people don’t like Microsoft Word Change Tracking and why some people turn it off to avoid confusion.