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Who’s in version control? A houseplant versus technology…

By 5th March 2019October 10th, 2023No Comments

We can be asked some weird and wonderful stuff during a technology adoption programme. For one team we worked with recently, outdated technology meant that the team had delegated the responsibility of document version control to a third party. The arrangement was specifically for one document, which was produced weekly for a senior executive. The responsibility was assumed by…. a plant pot.

The process involved up to 10 people where a document was sent as an attachment (along with other supporting materials) in an email to a shared mailbox. Each person would take it in turn to update the document by opening the attachment from the email, and making and saving changes, so the attached document updated in the email. The plant pot was placed at the desk of whose turn it was to update the document, so everyone knew that person was in control of the document. And, then the plant pot was passed on to the next person, and so on.

Once reviewed, the document was given to the senior executive to hand write any comments on it. The updated document was then scanned in and circulated as a pdf with supporting attachments to key people, who would often print off copies to keep on their desk. This was a time-consuming process that could take approximately three hours and often resulted in save conflicts in the document.

Following a migration onto Microsoft Office 365, the team wanted to create a new and more efficient way for managing the production of the document. And, the plant pot wanted to be retired so it could concentrate on what it was put on this earth to do – bring joy and an improved sense of well-being to its co-workers!

Here’s what we did to help ‘team plant pot’ out:



  • Consultation and a workshop with an Inform training leader to gain an understanding of the process the team was trying to improve and their expectations.
  • Creation of a to-be process model using Microsoft Office 365 SharePoint.
  • Development of a lesson plan to train the team on key SharePoint functionality so they could implement the proposed process model.
  • Creation of a governance document covering co-authoring best-practice e.g. document creation, change tracking, how to share, ownership, reviewer responsibilities, editing restrictions, change alerts and publishing.
  • Two-hour training session for the team on SharePoint and the to-be process model. This involved going through example documents and road-testing the proposed to-be process model to ensure it was feasible.



  • A to-be process model that has been agreed by the team.
  • The document is produced in Word, in a SharePoint team site with an owner managing the template, editing and tracking process. Following an email to the shared mailbox, team members co-author the document online. The reviewer restricts editing, manages changes and publishes the document. Once the document has finished being reviewed it is scanned as a PDF and saved on the SharePoint team site.
  • In the future, supporting materials will be saved in SharePoint and linked within the documents/ email.

No longer being responsible for version control, the plant pot is now able to sit peacefully, purify the air and help co-workers to improve their concentration and creativity.


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