By: Ginny Garzón, Director of Operations

Tell me if this sounds familiar: you’re working on a project with a colleague.  You know that they sent you some information to use for this project, but you saved it to your desktop computer and can’t access it until you get back to the office.  Or how about this one – you and a colleague are both charged with reviewing and editing a final report.  You decide that one of you will review and then send over the updated draft. Then that colleague will review and update your edited draft.  Then you review that draft and so on…for about 3 more times.  And then when your boss requests that final report, you realize that you have 6 drafts saved and they are all have file names like: Final Report 1; Final Report 2;  FINAL FINAL Report; FINAL_NO_THIS_ONE_REALLY, etc.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if you and your colleagues could shared and save documents somewhere and have access to them in or out of the office?  Or better yet, wouldn’t it be fantastic if you could work in one document, simultaneously if you wanted, and only have one draft from start to finish?  Does such a magical place exist?  Why yes it does!

Many of us already utilize cloud-based services for our personal photos, music and digital files.  Cloud based storage is also a fantastic way for teams to stay organized, collaborate in real time and have access to important work in or out of the office.

For the last several years the IEP Team has been using Google Drive to house our documents.  Here are some of the things that we love about it as well as some of our challenges.

 

THINGS WE LOVE

Collaboration

Using of Google Docs and Google Sheets allows colleagues to work together in the same document at the same time or individually.  No more sending word processing documents back and forth through email.  You need only create one document and then update.  Talk about time saving!  If multiple teammates are viewing a document at one time, you can see who is viewing the document and making edits.

Multiple Modes

Within Google Docs there are also multiple modes you can choose from when working: Editing, Suggesting and Viewing.  Editing allows you to edit directly in the document.  Suggesting allows the author to review and either accept/decline suggested edits.  And Viewing allows other to read or print a final document.

Sharing Made Simple

Housing our documents in the Google Drive allows us to easily share them with colleagues.  You can set up specific permissions as to who can view what items.  You can easily grant access to colleagues within your organization and simply send a hyperlink for them to access your online docs. Once your team knows where items are housed, it also begins to eliminate the requests for documents.  Instead, colleagues know that the enrollment reports are saved in the Enrollment folder and they can easily access that information themselves.  Again – time saving!

Free Storage

With Google Drive our team has up to 30GB of free storage.  Also, Google Docs and Sheets are smaller files than their Word/Excel counterparts, so if you can make the switch you can save time and space.

 

CHALLENGES

Search (and rescue…)

While the ability to search your Drive is great, we have found that you need to remember the name of the document, or as much of the name as possible, in order to locate it.  One way we are working around this is designing a Table of Contents that links to all of our shared docs.

Sharing Restrictions

While sharing with teammates in your organization is a cinch, sharing with a colleague outside of your organization often means making a copy of the document or downloading a document and sending it to that colleague.  The restrictions make sense for security purposes, but can create a small hurdle for collaborating with colleagues outside your team.

Unsupported Document Types

Some document types cannot be opened or previewed in Google Drive and do require that you download them.

 

While there are a number of other pros and cons I could list, the bottom line is that Google Drive is a great tool for team organization.  If you are looking for a better way to organize your team or even just yourself, give Google Drive a go.  And if you are using another cloud-based service let us know how it’s working for you.