Google has been actively touting the collaboration features of Google Apps and has developed some excellent marketing content around the various components of Google Apps. But, what are some specific, real world examples of how Google Docs and Google Sites can be used for collaboration in business?
As a CRM consulting company with employees in different locations along the west coast, collaborative tools are very important to our overall efficiency and our responsiveness to customer needs. Here just a few of the ways we collaborate using Documents and Sites within Google Apps Premier Edition.
Using Google Sites to Manage Projects
With Google Sites, we can set up a Site for each customer. Each customer Site is shared with everyone within our company. Within a Site, one or more projects is set up for the customer. Within a project we’ve created template pages for areas such as:
- The project summary
- The customer’s CRM functional requirements
- The data migration scripts that were used
- An embedded spreadsheet for managing a punch list of open issues
- A link to a folder that contains all project related Google Docs ranging from Statements of Work to training documentation
Subscribing to a Site or a page generates an email with every single change, which makes the notifications impractical if frequent changes are made. An option for a periodic digest email would be a good enhancement.
We also plan to replace our Twiki content with Google Sites, as Sites is a more user-friendly option and we don’t need to worry about managing uptime as we do with our Twiki.
Google Spreadsheets for Collaborating on Open Items
A Google spreadsheet has proven to be a very effective mechanism for creating a list of open items or issues that need to be addressed prior to a CRM cutover (or even post cutover). As a project manager/business analyst is logging issues found during his/her own testing or from customer feedback, a developer can be simultaneously viewing the same spreadsheet and tackling new issues as they are added as new rows in the spreadsheet.
If someone needs to be nudged to check the spreadsheet, an editor can send a friendly reminder email right from within the spreadsheet to one or more of the other collaborators. This list can also be shared out to customer contacts who already have a Google login or who don’t mind creating one.
Leveraging a Google Presentation to Collaborate on Application Testing
Taking the spreadsheet concept one step further, a shared Google presentation can be used by an application tester to include both text and screen shots to communicate needed fixes or changes to a developer. It’s very easy to take a screen shot of a problem area and the upload the screen shot to a slide along with text annotation. Crystal clear communication can be provided to the developer.
It does not seem that Google Apps Videos can be embedded within Google Presentations yet, but we hope that feature is added down the road. The ability to have a full motion explanation of an issue is occasionally needed — this is currently be accomplished by attaching an MOV or MP4 screencast to a GMail or by setting up a quick GoToMeeting.
These are just a few of the ways we’ve found that Google Docs and Sites can be used for collaboration. What are some of the ways that your organization collaborates with Google Apps?