Shared workbooks is a great feature of Microsoft Excel. You need to set up ‘shared workbooks’ if input from many persons is required to complete a project. This feature allows you to collaborate with others in your team quickly and easily. In short, a shared workbook is set up to allow multiple users on a network to be able to edit it simultaneously. In fact, the team can view the data at the same time. For example, the boss may need to know the status of a project. Many times if the same group works on multiple projects they may also need to know the status of the progress of others.
How is the shared workbook set up? One of the people in the team can create a template or a standard workbook where data from different people can be entered based on their expertise. In a tour operator scenario one of the persons will enter the air fares, another will take care of the lodging and yet another will finalize the local sight-seeing in a taxi or bus. Once the workbook has been prepared using proper formatting, the workbook is saved in a shared folder on the network which is then available to everyone who is working on the project.
Since some Excel features can be used or viewed but not changed once the workbook is shared, the author of the workbook must ensure that features like data validation, charts, conditional formats, merged cells, hyperlinks, scenarios, pivot-table reports, worksheet protection and macros are carefully incorporated and set up before the sharing is implemented.
Now comes the interesting part: If two users edit the same cell in a worksheet of a shared workbook, a conflict resolution window pops up and you can decide the changes which you wish to accept. Also every time a team member saves the shared workbook, you get an update notice. You can also highlight or track the changes automatically.
As you can see, you work in shared workbook as you would with any workbook with the main advantage that the shared workbook improves the productivity of the team by utilizing their expertise in a project and you can view who is working on the workbook at any point of time.