Five of us are working on a proposal together in Microsoft Word. Unfortunately, we don’t have SharePoint at work. Is there another (better) way to contribute to the content than incessantly emailing Microsoft Word documents back and forth? We are sick of dealing with versioning problems! Help!!
You could use Microsoft SharePoint Workspace, previously known as Microsoft Office Groove.
It is a desktop application designed for document collaboration in teams with members who are regularly off-line or who do not share the same network security clearance.
It does not provide you with SharePoint like versioning but it is still very nice collaboration tool. It does not require SharePoint or any other server to be installed*. It is part of Microsoft Office 2010 Professional Plus suite.
Note: * For some advanced stuff you will need a server but I do not think you have such a case.
You can synchronise a document library with Microsoft Outlook.
With this, everytime you hook up to the network, Outlook will synchronise the documents from the library to your computer. When you go offline, you can work on the documents, and your changes are uploaded back to the library when you reconnect.
You probably will get conflict issues, so break the document down into smallest sections possible, and use a master document to string them all together.
Also notice that Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 and the new SharePoint 2010 Foundation is free. Those editions include alot of functionality for team work, like the Team Site template.
Download SharePoint 2010 Foundation here
There are some of third party tools out there that let's you collaborate directly in Word. DocVerse (non-free www.docverse.com ) and CodoxWord (free www.codoxware.com ) are two of them that comes to mind. I'm not sure if you can get DocVerse now they are being bought by GOOG.
In comparison to SharePoint, these tools often let you work in the same document WITHOUT having to break up the document into a Master and subsections (which is the cause of some major versioning woes). DocVerse tracks the changes you and your collaborators make in a way similar to Word's Track Change feature, though you will need to manually merge the changes together. CodoxWord will actually merge the changes for you automatically like in Google Docs, so for us that was a BIG plus. Both of these tools have their own document sharing services. CodoxWord has a way of letting you share a document directly with people without uploading it, if security or confidentiality is an issue for you (as it was for us).
We also use SharePoint at work, but only as a way of hosting documents. We check out the document from SharePoint and use CodoxWord to do the collaborative authoring part, then check the document back into SharePoint.
Hope this helps.