Just about everyone will claim either to use or at least be familiar with Gmail and Google Docs. Since its inception in 1998, Google has led the way in online resources, and the corporation now offers dozens of applications, many of which are free, in an attempt to allow for more connectivity and organization in the lives of its users.
When people think of Google, they think of Search and Mail. The fact that Google offers a powerful business solutions software suite is often neglected. True, many people use Gmail for business and most people are familiar with AdSense advertising opportunities, but Google can be a project manager’s dream if certain apps are used in concert. Here are a few necessity apps designed to let project managers do just that.
Google+ for Business
As every project manager knows, interoffice communication is 99% of getting the job done. The PM must direct the big picture by coordinating internal and external parties involved in the project. Google+ is tailor made to be the project’s communication hub. Here, you can do what PMs do best: play puppet master, coordinate team activity and communicate by setting up a project specific “circle” or network. Individual team members working directly on the project associated with a specific “circle” will reap the benefits of not having to hunt for contacts among the many different projects they’re involved with at the time.
Apps for Business – Sites
Project managers can use Google Sites to create an ongoing project work site. Often, the final vision of a project in flux can become ambiguous. Google Sites can give the project a website of its own, creating a working model for the final product and keeping the end vision of the project tangible as it progresses. Sites has excellent permissions control, so you can keep your work-in-progress behind closed doors until you’re ready to unveil it.
Apps for Business – Drive
You can integrate your Sites version of the project with Drive. Drive allows team members the ability to access project files remotely, similar to a closed network. Using permissions control options as you did in Sites, you can allow any team member the ability to access project-related files from anywhere at any time. As you develop the project, team members can access associated files to edit and collaborate with each other and then load their finished products into the work site. In this way, Drive can operate as a backend tool for the Sites version.
Apps for Business – Vault
Vault allows project managers to monitor team activity and project progress. Vault stores and grants you access to all project-related file history and information. Multiple genres of activity are possible such as logins and logouts, edit history, etc. Further, Vault allows you to compile activity datasheets, which are useful when reporting to the client and maintaining accountability within the team.
Finally, you can integrate, cross-reference and share the data compiled in Vault by using Fusion Tables. Fusion Tables can construct data tables for team, client or project manager review and paint a vivid picture of what has gone into the project thus far. As of November 2012, Fusion Tables is still considered experimental, but it is available to the public through Google’s website.