Most people are now familiar with Google Drive as a great service for storing all of your different file types, including non-Google formats like Office documents or PDF’s, and giving you access to these from any device. Google recently announced that it’s fast approaching becoming their eighth app with more than a billion users. Despite being known for being a solid storage service, one of Drive’s most powerful aspects is the work it allows individuals, and especially teams, to get done through seamless collaboration on documents of various kinds in real time. With such a fresh, groundbreaking approach, there are certainly a few best practices to follow to make sure your team are all on the same page.
Creating & Sharing Folders
The best way to get started when working with a team is by creating and sharing a folder, which only takes a couple of clicks to do. Just click on the folder, then on the share icon in the top right menu bar and enter the names or email addresses of your team, or even a contact group. This will give everyone access to files stored here so everyone can work on the same files – avoiding a clutter of unnecessary duplicates.
Here’s some tips for working within shared folders:
- Adding files to your team’s shared folder will quickly provide access for the required team members
- Avoid removing files which others may need access to
- If you want to sync a shared folder with other devices, select the folder and click on the Add to My Drive icon
- You can easily spot which files and folders are shared in Drive by the person icon displayed on it, along with the word “Shared”
- If you remove a file and you aren’t the owner, it’s still visible to everyone else who has access – only the owner can delete a file for everyone
When you’re setting up a folders sharing settings, remember that all items placed into the folder will automatically gain the folder’s sharing permissions. Sharing permissions are a key concept in Google Drive – understand that and you’ll be free to take full advantage of all it’s smart technology. Make sure you pick the best sharing option for your team:
- Make changes to the file
- Invite people to access or remove collaborators
- Download, sync offline or make copies
- Add/remove items
- View, download, sync offline or make a copy of files
- Add comments to files
- View, download, sync or make a copy of files
Real Time Collaboration
We’ve all been in the situation where one document requires input from multiple people. This traditionally would bring on the frustrating process of forwarding files via email around the office and making amendments to what you thought was the original version, only to be left with a desktop full of duplicates.
G Suite’s (formerly known as Google Apps) collaboration tools thankfully make this nightmare a thing of the past, by allowing you and your team to work on the same document at the same time. It’s incredibly easy to do, and to get started you simply have to add the document to a shared folder or send the link to your team.
The document is of course saved in the cloud, which allows multiple users to access it at the same time, and when one person makes an edit, it’s displayed instantaneously across everyone else’s devices. It even displays the persons name who is making changes so you can communicate and discuss what alterations are needed right there and then.
There’s also no need to worry about someone making an edit you don’t like, or maybe removing a section that you liked because each and every version is saved automatically and can be reverted to at any time. Users can also leave comments on specific sections of a document if they want to leave any notes or ideas for their colleagues.
Research shows that employees spend around 20% of their time at work searching for internal information and project details. That’s almost one whole day per week. To battle this, Google have introduced Action Items to G Suite which allow you to leave comments on documents that automatically tag colleagues who have a related task to carry out. This is done thanks to Natural Language Processing (NLP). Once an Action Item has been assigned to someone, they’ll receive an email notification and see a badge placed on any files that require their attention the next time they’re online, along with notes on what needs to be done.
Team Drives allow for users to save and access their files from anywhere, on any device. It works the same way as files stored in My Drive, although any file saved in a Team Drive belongs to the entire team rather than just one individual. This can be an incredibly useful feature if someone leaves the organisation, as the files will stay exactly where they are so everyone still has full access and carry on as usual.
Ease of Use
You may be thinking that all of these collaboration tools are great for teams within the same organisation, who are all working on the same systems and IT set-up, but what if you need input from someone else, who may not have even heard of G Suite before? Fortunately, users don’t actually need to have a Google account to collaborate and access documents, all they require is a link and an internet connection to get going and contribute to the project, whether it be from their laptop, desktop or mobile device.
If you’d like to find out more information about G Suite best practices, or you’re considering adopting it for your own organisation, please don’t hesitate to get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org. We would be delighted to have a chat about how we could help.