When working with staff members through electronic means, all parties must be able to access the same information. Sometimes, however, the information cannot be accessed due to incompatibility issues. Incompatibility may be due to file formats or hardware.
The most obvious incompatibility issue takes place when participants are using competing software, or different versions of the same software. The software may perform the same general function, but may not use the same file formats or protocols. Examples of competing software include:
In some cases, developers have provided bridges that overcome compatibility issues. For examples, Microsoft Word and Lotus Word Pro permit users to save files to mutual file formats, including PDF and RTF.
Version incompatibility happens when:
Backward compatibility issues, or the inability to read older file formats, are rare because most applications support older file formats. An example of this is Microsoft Word. The newer versions of Word create files with the extension .docx. This newer version of Word can read the older .doc files, but older versions of Word cannot read the newer .docx files.
Older hardware may not be able to handle the resource requirements of newer software. Many newer applications, particularly those that use video or high-resolution images, can overwhelm old systems.
Should a staff member not be able to read a document due to software or version incompatibilities:
In situations in which older hardware, such as a computer or device, cannot perform the desired function:
Proactive planning can prevent problems. When preparing to communicate with others: