Organize your slides and presentations like the pros. SlideSource.com was developed over many years working with teams in some of the largest companies in the world who need to manage a large amount of presentation content. Now these same tools are available to every presenter.

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Slide Versioning in SlideSource

We believe your presentation content is a valuable asset. In other words, we think every slide really does count. Slides have a lifecycle. They are created, edited, used in a presentation, modified and used in other presentations, and eventually they are retired or replaced. SlideSource was developed to help you manage this lifecycle. At the heart of this lifecycle management is version control of both individual slides, of presentations themselves and the specific versions of slides used in different presentations. This may sound complex, but SlideSource makes it all pretty easy.

Slide Versioning

Slide versioning is accessed through the slide properties page. As you see below, the current version number is shown along with a link to the version history page. Notice that at the bottom you will see what presentations this current version of the slide is used in (click image to enlarge).

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Click on the “view version history” link to see a thumbnail of the different versions of the slide available. In this case there are only two versions of this slide.

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By clicking on either version you will see the properties page for that version including a list of any presentations that particular version of the slide is used in. You are also able to post comments about any version of your slides. Comments can be used to indicate what has changed on a specific version, or to suggest changes you would like to have made to a slide. Below is an example of a comment on a version.

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Comments are a helpful way to collaborate and communicate on slide development. In an upcoming SlideSource Pointer email, we will focus specifically on presentation versioning and the options to choose specific versions of slides in presentations as well as how to lock or save certain versions while still maintaining access to a Working Copy that can be used for further editing.

Only One

email-506pxAs we have discussed in previous posts, the lack of version control can cause no end of heartache for anyone who has ever created presentations in a group setting (which is almost always the setting in which presentations are made). Practicing the “Only One” principle prevents lapses in version control and the waste of time, energy, and effort they cause.

The fully articulated version of this principle is: “There can be only one file that contains the latest, greatest, most current version of a slide (or a specific collection of slides) and all edits must be done directly to that file.”

In practice, this means that the impulse to email out a copy of a PowerPoint file should be suppressed. Email is often the path of least resistance and it can be a hard impulse to resist. Sometimes there is a great deal of pressure from other team members or, even worse, management to do this. Everybody wants complete access to the file all the time.

Emailing slide files for review, approval, production, or any other collaborative activity can be bad. Email is the sworn enemy of version control. It’s very easy to lose track of slides once released into the wild. You can never control how the file is going to be returned or when. You won’t know how many versions will need to be reconciled or which set of changes take precedence over the others. What if someone you sent the file to sends it onto others for review without letting anyone know? It’s also not unusual to receive a copy of a file back after the deadline for changes has passed and the slide or presentation has been finalized. Most importantly there is no way to see what all of the work done by each of the team members actually adds up to, or to gauge what progress has really been made, until all the individual working versions have been laboriously folded back into a single file.

• • • • •

There is no way to completely avoid the problems that arise when email is your go-to collaboration tool. All you can do is mitigate them with robust communication. Everyone on the team must know…

  • Who the file was sent to
  • Who is doing what
  • Who needs to know if team members send it on to someone not in the original group
  • Who has final responsibility for ensuring all the changes actually get made to the final version
  • How changes need to be indicated
  • The deadline for requesting changes
  • What will happen if the deadline is missed
  • How conflicting change requests should be resolved
  • and so on…

Even with the best proactive communication however,  it is almost impossible to avoid spending extra time, energy, and effort managing all the challenges inherent in this collaboration workflow.

And obviously, as I’m sure many of us have experienced, buy-in on these important measures is never guaranteed. There is almost always at least one team member who tends to “go rogue” and ignore even the most sensible and least restrictive protocols.

The best way to allow both access to the file, as well as to ensure strict version control would be to avoid email altogether. To do this, you must maintain the presentation file in a central location that is easily accessible. Ideally the location would allow users to make changes and manage version control at the same time. A tool like SlideSource.com can help you accomplish this and is the perfect example of a system that simply and easily gives collaborative teams the needed access and control. Instead of multiple copies of a file going out to all team members, all team members come to edit slides in a single file and in a single location. The latest, greatest, most-up-to-date version is always available to the entire team and every version of every slide and presentation is available should it be necessary to roll back.

Stop for a moment before hitting the send button the next time you need to involve a team in working on a presentation file. Consider the hidden costs behind what may seem to be the easiest way to collaborate. Enacting and enforcing the “Only One” principle will make the collaborative creation of a presentation more efficient than email can ever hope to be.

How Santa Automatically Updates Four Presentations by Updating One Slide

Knowledge Workers Struggle to Find and Reuse Work

The Research Presentation Strategies PPT Use survey found that workers who use PowerPoint in their job: 1) like to re-use slides frequently and 2) have trouble finding the slides and presentations they have created. Now a very interesting survey by Coveo has some supportive findings. The Coveo study examined the work practices of 412 Knowledge Workers and 337 Knowledge Management Practitioners and was conducted from June to August of 2014. According to Diane Barry of Coveo, “It’s been well documented that employees spend a great deal of their time searching for, not finding and recreating information. What this study uncovers is the impact on new work: respondents report that they mostly do rework, as Knowledge Workers rarely have easy access to information relevant to their current work.”

Coveo ResultsBarry goes on to say that “Rework simply should not happen in a digital workplace.” We at SlideSource.com completely agree. In the Coveo survey, when asked if they were able to quickly find and reuse work that had been created before, almost 40% said they were only able to do this less than 25% of the time. That means 75% of the time they are re-working, re-creating and being far less productive than they could and should be.

The Coveo survey also found that knowledge workers believed their organizations would benefit from better performance in innovation, higher sales and profitability if they had better access to existing content. In other recent research, PowerPoint was found to be part of the “machinery of knowledge production.” SlideSource.com is committed to helping companies achieve better results through improved management of and collaboration around their presentation content. In other words, every slide should count.