July 26th, 2011
(Guest post by Sara)
Google Docs snuck up on me like Rickey Henderson on speed skates. There was no getting-to-know-you period, it was like, “Pleased to make your acquaintance, now will you marry me?” I said “yes.”
Here are 3 reasons why Google Docs. makes my work day a breeze:
1. Unassailable amounts of feedback
One of our clients has about sixty people giving us feedback on a website project. That’s right, I said sixty. No project manager I know of wants to aggregate that kind of feedback into one cohesive voice so a developer can take action. So we use Google Forms.
Every time we release a URL for our client to provide feedback, I create a new form that is skewed to the kind of feedback we need to receive. If we’re not taking any copy edits at this stage in the project, I make sure to use short text fields. If we only want functionality feedback, but no design feedback, I ask them to qualify their comments with a drop-down menu that only offers choices pertinent to functionality.
Then I watch my spreadsheet fill up with targeted, useful feedback all in one spot. To avoid getting duplicate feedback from different reviewers, I assign sections of the website to separate people. They feel like their workload is minimized, and everyone still gets a voice. The project manager on the client side thinks I am a genius because he has to do exactly nothing. Thanks Google Docs.
How does this affect the end product with so many cooks in the kitchen? You might think the site is “built by committee”, but we’ve found that using a form addresses this particular client’s need that each voice be heard. The finished product includes each reviewer’s thoughts and this reflects perfectly on their culture and ultimately their brand.
2.Unruly and elusive content
Maybe I baby our clients too much, but when left to their own devices, they wreak havoc on content organization. I get emails that refer me to other emails that refer me to people who refer me to where to locate assets. This I cannot abide. So I use Google Spreadsheets.
When we’re building a site with lots of assets, like downloads or webinars, I create a spreadsheet for the client that lists the assets we’ll need. I add columns for them to plug in the name of the page or the url where the assets should go, a column for them to link to where the asset can be downloaded, and a notes column. Then I sling the spreadsheet over to them via a link or a share and let them populate it. They love it. They can share the spreadsheet with other departments and pretty soon all my assets are in one place. I then make a few little notes and loop in the developers, and off they go.
What do we do when the client has an asset that has to be delivered as a file? I dunno yet. The day my clients can upload files to a Google Form or Spreadsheet, I’ll crack a beer at lunch.
3. No one deserves an email inbox that is in constant motion because new messages keep booping in
Google Spreadsheets keep the noise turned down to a sufferable level. Our clients and our development team can stay in touch with what’s coming next in our project by looking at the spreadsheet. No query email needed, no reply from me needed. They can tap into the latest project news online and stay just as updated as I am. I can also see if a developer is logged into the sheet and send a quick IM to give them bits of info. Keeps my inbox quiet, keeps the project managed.
So far, the marriage is going swimmingly. Since all my stuff is online, if I get all OCD I can even check on my projects from home in the middle of the night. And in the end, that’s why I married my project management practice to Google Docs in the first place, I just wanted a project management tool that would be there for me always.