Sunday, July 12, 2009

Using Excel in Multi-User Applications (or Excel - SharePoint Collaboration)

Excel is a great tool when it comes to a one-man-band show. However, when you need to collaborate with others, especially when the source data is continuously changed or provided by others, there are versions and synchronization issues that require extra care.

Many Excel advanced users are not aware that one of the main objectives of SharePoint from Microsoft is to address exactly these issues and does it extremely well for Excel.

For example, you can post the latest version of an Excel document to a SharePoint library with an automated email sent to interested parties who will continue working on the document with 'Check-in, Check-out' capabilities and post it back. Thus you eliminate the 'last version' issue.

But there are even more powerful options. Let users enter data in a SharePoint web form and easily pull the data into your Excel as the basis for Pivot Tables, Charts, or models you developed.

SharePoint is pretty much known to most companies. Its base product, WSS 3.0, comes free with Windows 2003 Server or later. It is likely that your company already uses it and your IT team will be happy to create a sub-site for your needs.

In future posts, I will demonstrate how Excel works with SharePoint in a multi-user application.

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