The Email Alternative: Using An Extranet For Online Document Sharing
Why is an extranet better than email for sharing documents? The answer is simple: email is perfect for one-to-one communication, but not ideally suited for groups engaged in project collaboration.
Most e-mail programs provide little ? if any ? effective way to prioritize your messages and attachments. Everything arrives in the same place, in the order in which it was sent.
With an extranet, all project related documents are automatically captured within a folder dedicated to a project.
Not mixed in with the latest joke circulating around the office.
In addition, an extranet can handle any size document. With e-mail, you run the risk of large attachments not passing through the company firewall.
Sharing a power point presentation with a group is a perfect example. With email, you have to break the presentations into small parts, with each section attached to a separate email. The sections don?t arrive at the same time, and it can be quite confusing for everyone involved. Imagine sharing three presentations, each in 3 parts, to six people. That would be nine emails to six people. Fifty-four messages!
Using an extranet, the presentations can be sent at the same time, all intact, automatically filed into a single project folder along with all the other related materials.
And everyone has access at the same time.
Many extranets make it even easier, using automatic email alerts that inform the recipients that the presentations are available, and providing a comment function that allows each user to share their point-of-view.
An extranet assures that important documents get to the right place, ready for instant response. And it puts related documents and messages together. The budget, schedule, strategic plan, power point presentation, everyone?s notes and comments -- they all appear on the same page. No sorting through a long list of unrelated emails.
One final point. Many extranets are secured with 128 bit encryption, the same protection used for protecting financial transactions. Email, on the other hand, can land in anybody?s hands, which is OK if you?re sending the latest joke, but not at all funny when it comes to the confidentiality of your most important documents.
About the Author: Malcolm Brown is vice president of Trichys, providers of
advertising agency software and
extranet solutions to customers around the world.