In this post I'll explore a few ways you can manage your projects using Google Apps.
When you sign up for a Google Apps account, you automatically have access to Google's suite of tools: Gmail, Google Docs (file creation and storage), Google Calendar, Google Tasks, and Google Chat. All these tools will allow you to manage a project, so in this post we'll explore the six ways you can manage projects with Google Apps.
One of Google Apps's elements that is great for task and project management is the spreadsheet and document collaborative editing and file sharing. It means you can share a link to a spreadsheet or document with others and then line up your tasks and to-do's and follow others as they are completed. This removes the need to keep emailing back and forth, and so everyone knows where to look to stay up-to-date. You'll also be able to see the entire revision history of the document. This is helpful so you can see who has worked on a document most recently, and removes the need to send any documents around, and remember which is the most recently edited version.
At the beginning of each project create a folder in Google Drive, where you and your team mates can upload all the files related to the project. This will give you a central repository for all your files and documents related to that project, it will also be accessible from any computer or device where you have access to the Internet. Once you have built a folder for your work you'll be able to easy track all the different parts of your project. Using folders for more than 3-4 projects may become cumbersome, but for small teams with relatively few projects Google's folders can be a quick and easy solution.
Gmail can be used as a great way of tracking all the conversations you've had relating to a particular project, or even with a particular person. If you are working on a project with a client, you can easily search for all the communications you've had using Gmail's excellent search function. The search will then quickly organize all the emails by your filter term, and allow you to view all the relevant communications. You can even create labels and rules within Gmail, so that whenever emails relating to a project are sent you can put them in a folder, making it easier to check them later.
Google Calendar can help you manage your project due dates and schedule. It's a sharable calendar that your entire team will be able to log into from any browser, or mobile app, and see precisely what is due and when. It will reduce the amount of back and forth in your team figuring out when to do meetings, or other project events, because your entire team will be able to see the schedule updated calendar. Creating and sharing events is easy, and will let you plan out milestones that your project team can see, you can also set reminders for events. At the beginning of projects it's good to set out all your agreed milestones in the calendar, meaning your team will be able to quickly view what's due. Also, if you or your team use GTasks, you can also view your tasks in the calendar, so you can see what items you have coming up too.
Communication will be easier with your entire project team using Google Apps, you'll also have access to GChat, Google's instant messaging service. This will allow you to see when your colleagues are online and communicate in realtime on any project or other issues. This will reduce your need to email each other with questions and the chance of the something being forgotten about or remaining idle while you wait for a reply. GChat conversations are also saved in your Gmail inbox, so you will be able to search through them later and remember what has been agreed.
Google Apps, may not be ideal for managing big projects with many team members, but if you are managing some small projects with a fairly small team, Google Apps can be a great solution. Using the file sharing and document options will make it far easier to quickly share content, create shared task lists (in spreadsheets) and create documents collaboratively.
At Siasto we love Google Apps, so much so in fact that we integrate with it pretty tightly. You can create Google Docs inside Siasto, import files from Google Drive, create tasks, events, and documents from your Google Apps Gmail inbox. It adds an extra layer to Google Apps, that makes project collaboration even easier, particularly if you are managing a big team, or multiple projects.
You can also check out Google Apps here: Google Apps for Business