Google is more than just a search engine. Over the years the company has developed a wide range of online services that are readily available to all users. This article highlights how one can use Google services for simple project management.
As a student, I have worked as a part of several teams at a given time and realize the need for cheap resources, information sharing capabilities, time management plans and most importantly effective communication methods. Along with this, I have also dealt with multiple egos. While fixing egos doesn’t have an easy solution, I want to call out a solution for the fixable components. I have successfully used Google’s many free resources: Google Drive, Google Docs, Google Calendar, Gmail, etc., to manage our teams and my schedules. The best part about these apps are that they are user friendly and are interconnected with each other through my email address/es.
For one of my school projects, I worked as a part of a team to design and produce a manufacturable hair dryer. Working in a team requires intense organization to make sure all the course submissions are being met on time. Below, I have explained how we organized our team schedules and the project’s information and timelines using Google’s free resources.
Managing and sharing of files-
We used Google Drive to store files and folders in a location that could be accessed by all. Using this app, any member of our team could manage and save documents, images, and videos. Since, Drive syncs to the cloud, everyone always accessed the most up-to-date content.
Additionally, Google Drive contains platforms that work similar to Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, and Microsoft PowerPoint called Docs, Sheets, and Slides respectively. Our team used Docs to create documents for meeting agendas, and project requirements or even to brainstorm ideas for the project. To project plan, assign tasks, track statuses, and record completion dates we used Sheets. The app also has the capability to create Gantt charts that helped us better visualize the project and its timelines. We used Slides when we needed a tool to create quick presentations to show our project, distribute tasks, establish key deliverables, and share timelines. The visual graphs and charts helped us to better visualize our project’s schedule.
Two big advantages of using Drive was, first, all team members could directly update or edit files together in real time allowing us to chat within files, and second, the revision history allowed us to see who made which changes and when, or to revert to earlier versions. This eliminated the need for multiples drafts. With people accessing and updating the same project plan, it became easier to distribute tasks, and manage changing schedules, and update statuses.
To consolidate our team’s project information in one website, we built a Sites website to keep project information, updates, timelines, deliverables, tasks, calendars, and documents in one place. This way everyone had a one-stop destination for all important information.
We created a shared team calendar on Google Calendar to track the project’s milestones, deadlines, and reminders. With each team member sharing their own Calendar with others, we were better able to plan work or brainstorming sessions and stay on the same page.
The only way for a team to function like a well-oiled machine is good communication. Gmail and Hangouts helped in this regard. We used Gmail to quickly exchange information among our team. To speed up this process, we created an email list using Groups for the team. It became easier for us to send status updates and share resources with each other at once. I managed my multiple teams by organizing my inbox using filters, labels, or stars to mark certain emails. This helped me effectively distinguish and prioritize my emails.
Times we couldn’t physically meet before critiques we used Hangouts. An easy tool for us to share project updates, brainstorm ideas, or get virtual feedback on a task. In a team, it’s important to keep everyone connected and this app makes face-to-face contact easy.
All these services can be downloaded as apps onto cell phones or tablets, which in turn gave us accessibility on the go. To sum up my personal experience, Google has definitely helped my teams and me be mobile and efficient. I highly recommend this resource to those in need of a free and basic project or life management tool.