My first entry in the Bob Cratchit Hall of Fame comes from Justin, who took time out of his day to call me (at the company's suggestion) to say how pleased his team of realtors has been with Syncplicity.com, an online backup and collaboration service. His team had been using Microsoft Office SharePoint and a series of other products, including Box.net, but all had drawbacks.
"We use mostly Microsoft products," Justin said, "so with SharePoint there was some familiarity with the tools, but it had too high a learning curve for my users, and it was expensive."
Justin wanted all his files -- and those of all the realtors in his firm -- to be available at all times, no matter where anyone was working or what computer they were using. And by "always," he meant not only when someone remembered to upload those files. He didn't want to spend a lot of time or money maintaining a system to make all that happen.
"We work from the office, from home, from cafes, from the hoods of our cars. And we need to collaborate on brochures, contracts, and other documents. In order to do that, we need to be able to get at our files from where we are. There were so many things we had to remember to do, so many steps to take, when we were using SharePoint that we would just give up on working at our remote location and go into the office to work. Box.net was easier, but uploading the files to it was a step everyone had to remember to take."
Syncplicity -- once it's set up -- syncs all the files on your computer with a copy of those files online, and it lets you stipulate which of those online folders to share (and with whom). Save a file in one of your Syncplicity folders on your office computer, and it is automatically saved online and synced with your other computers. When someone opens a file to which you have given them access, they get the latest version.
"It has saved us a lot of money," he says. "It allowed us to work efficiently. We were pulling our hair out before. This product has taken a lot of the 'painstaking' out of syncing and collaborating."
But more than that, it impressed him: "I told it to sync everything on my desktop computer and my laptop. So it doesn't matter which computer I turn on. They all have the same files on them. Pretty cool."
Got a gripe or an entry for the Bob Cratchit Hall of Fame? Send it to email@example.com.