Speed-up and Simplify Collaboration with Google Docs

March 23, 2011
Project Management

Collaborating on documents or getting feedback from a group can be a headache. Even when tracking changes or using a document version system, it’s often a mess to handle. One simple solution to this problem is to use Google Docs. If you haven’t yet given it a try, here's how to get started.

Create a Document

To get started, head over to docs.google.com. Click on create new and select the type of document you need. Next, bring in your content or just create it from scratch in your browser. If from scratch, you may also want to browse their template gallery for a quick start.

Tip: If you’re a compulsive “saver” like I am, you can click on file then save now, but the program will also automatically save your work periodically.

Sharing settings in Google docs

User Access

Once your content is ready for collaboration or review, it’s time to set up user access. Just go to the “share” button in the top right of the screen. Select sharing settings and add in the email addresses of everyone in your group. You can set individual access rights, such as can edit and can view for each. Once submitted, that person will get a notification email with a link to the document.

Start Collaborating

Now that your document is set up and your users have been given access, let the collaboration begin! For starters, you can edit the same document in real-time and see changes instantly as they’re happening without a page refresh. You can also add comments instead of making an actual change, or chat with others viewing the document to get everyone on the same page.

Working like this may not be practical in all situations, but it’s can be a huge convenience at times. Instead of exchanging 5-10 emails and watching each “reply to all” roll-in, you could block off 5 or 10 minutes of time and knock-out a review at one time. When getting everyone together isn’t an option, others in your group can make changes individually and you're able view their changes by going to file and then revision history.

Give it a Shot!

Real-time editing and cloud-based documents have improved dramatically over the past year or so, so don’t confine yourself to old, inefficient methods of collaboration and review. Give something new a shot and if it doesn’t currently work for your group or business, you’ll at least be one step ahead of the curve the next time the opportunity presents itself in another setting.


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