It has often said that “two heads are better than one” or “many hands make light work”. From my own experience I know that I learn new ideas and concepts more effectively when I am learning with a partner. Some people are better at observing the details while others are better at visualization. But how can I leverage this powerful concept of collaboration using Excel in order to create more engaging workbooks? There are several ways that you can invite others to collaborate in the creation of your Excel workbook.
The Review ribbon Tab presents the best area where you can work with others on the same Excel workbook. Two commands groups within the Review ribbon Tab area allow you and others to make comments within the Cells of a worksheet, protect the workbook or any of the individual worksheets within the workbook, share the work with others, and even allow others to edit specific table ranges within a worksheet.
One of the easiest ways to collaborate with others on Excel workbooks is through the use of Comments. You can add new comments by clicking on the New Comment section of the Review ribbon tab. Others can then comment on comment or even add their own comments. You can easily and quickly scroll through all of the comments by clicking on the Previous and Next menu items in the Commands command group. This is where you can also delete comments if they are no longer needed. When all of the reviews are done you can “hide” or better yet “remove” all comments for the final published version. When you publish a final version it is in fact recommended that you remove all contents within the workbook as they reveal past decisions that were made and may contain information that you do not want to share.
Now that you and others are commenting on the contents of the Excel workbook you can also elect to Share it with more people to expand your collaboration efforts. Sharing a workbook is done through the Changes command group of the Review Ribbon Tab. You click on the Share Workbook menu icon.
The Share Workbook dialog box will open and allow you to configure how you want to share. This is where it gets really cool because you can allow multiple users to work on the same workbook at the same time by checking the box in the Editing Tab. Under the Advanced Tab you can specify how long you want to track changes for, how and when changes will be updated to the file, how to resolve change conflicts between users, and what to include in your Personal View of the workbook.
Finally, during the collaboration process you can track the changes made by others by using the Track Changes menu icon in the Changes Command Group within the Review Ribbon Tab. A Highlight Changes dialog box will appear in which you can select filter results criteria so that you can narrow in on just changes by a specif user or when a change was made or within a specific area of the worksheet that the change was made. You can also specify whether to highlight the change in the current workbook or open then as a list in a new worksheet. When you click on the changed cell you will see a dialog box pop up within information about the change that was made detailing who made it, when, and what was changed.
The end result of multiple people participating in the creation and review of your workbook will most often result in the creation and presentation of a better workbook which will in turn create better engagement with the community of users you publish it to.
Sharing is Good 🙂
TIP: This blog post is based on content from the Introduction to Microsoft Excel course 1361