From the project manager to team members, each facet of a technical writing team needs effective and efficient communication. Whether you’re on your laptop, desktop, phone, or tablet, Google makes collaborating easy, and even better, it’s free.
Successful collaboration begins with a Gmail account. Your Gmail login is your username across the entire Google platform and allows you access to Google’s applications. Keep track of your email correspondences as well as task lists and calendar reminders.
With the Google Calendar app, not only can you organize your own schedule, but you can add and view team members’ schedules as well. The color-coding feature makes contacts easy to categorize, and you can select only the members’ schedules you want to see, or turn everyone’s calendars off but your own. View the calendar by day, week, month, every four days, or as an agenda. You can request or accept meeting invitations that automatically populate your calendar as well as your collaborators’ calendars.
Within the Calendar app, you also can create a “to do” list in the Task pane. Add due dates and notes to your tasks with email reminders so you never miss a deadline. This is an ideal tool for project managers because they can seamlessly schedule tasks and meetings, create entire agendas, and anticipate deadlines, which can then all be facilitated to their teams, clients, or SMEs with a just a few clicks.
Whether your team members are on the other side of the office or the other side of the globe, send a quick message or have a face-to-face conversation without leaving your desk. Adding team members is as simple as clicking on their names. You can have up to ten people in one chat, and that includes video chat. So, if your team is one location, but your SMEs are scattered throughout the U.S., they can all join in one meeting without having to plan an expensive trip that can actually delay the project timeline.
But chatting isn’t the only perk of a Google Chat. You can also share your screen. This makes demoing software or sharing a design easier. It’s a great way to connect with subject matter experts or clients in real time because the audio and video allows for direct feedback in multiple media.
Google Drive lives online, but you can download an app for your desktop, phone, or tablet. Like other cloud storage, you can access all your files, even when you’re offline. As soon as you’re back online, all your files sync up to the most recently saved version. Google gives you 5GB of free cloud storage. You can upload files to share with your team or create brand new ones right in Google Drive. If an attachment is too large for an email, you can share files with collaborators using Drive. This simplifies the draft delivery process to clients as well as documentation collaboration among various technical writers.
Documents, Spreadsheets, Presentations, Forms, and Drawings
Within Google Drive, you have the ability to create new documents, spreadsheets, slide presentations, forms, and drawings. All of these files can be shared and viewed in real time by any collaborator. You never have to worry about losing work, either—Google automatically saves your document with every keystroke.
Spreadsheets and presentations help project managers share vital project details with both their team members and clients alike. And, without having to launch a different program, update data, resave, and resend, viewers can make updates or changes as necessary, which are instantly reflected.
Google allows you to create your own website or group wiki and host it for free. This is a useful project management resource. You can create a Site for each project that displays the scope, tasks, and updates throughout the project. Plus, Sites can be accessed by collaborators and clients alike.
Using Google Cloud Print, you and your team can print from a laptop, desktop, tablet, or phone to any printer around the world once you have it installed on your device.
Google offers dozens of other apps, some of which are specific to niche markets, such as Finance—a market summary app, Patent Search—a complete list of all U.S. patents, and SketchUp—a 3D drawing tool. Others are just for fun. So the next time your team needs a break, watch a video on YouTube.
For suggestions on how to integrate Google into your technical writing workflow, contact us today!