Google+ Is The Best Free Business Collaboration Tool
There are more than fifty popular business collaboration suites available, most costing anywhere between $50 to $150 a month. Countless thousands of companies pay this amount gladly since it allows all of their far-flung staff to communicate in a categorized environment where projects can be implemented in real time.
Paying around $1,000 a year for this level of facility is not a consideration for major corporations, but to a small business operating in what seems to be a perpetually recessionary economy it can be a considerable expenditure.
There is one business collaboration suite which is completely free and not only allows your personnel to do almost anything that the leading packages can, but it comes with the extra added advantage that it is offered by the world’s leading online juggernaut. It’s Google+.
The Poor Man’s Basecamp
You won’t find Google’s social network advertised as a business collaboration suite, but it works remarkably well as the poor man’s Basecamp. To be fair, it needs to be paired up with Google Docs, but given the Googleplex’s proclivity to harmonizing all of their various offerings so that they all interact seamlessly, it’s not much of a stretch.
1 Project = 1 Post + 500 Comments
Google+ project management communication is easily accomplished by simply typing a heading name into the Stream dialog box: PROJECT #1 – WIDGET R&D. From that point on, any participant in that project can easily post any comments as easily as leaving a message on Facebook’s Wall, and opt to receive an email notification of each comment. Each comment is time-stamped so it’s an easy task to reconstruct who said what and when. There is no limit to how many projects can be ongoing at any one time, and Google+ will automatically reshuffle them to show the latest commented projects at the top of the list. There is a limit of 500 comments per post, but that’s easily worked around for very long projects by creating a new post: PROJECT #1A – WIDGET R&D CONT’D. When the number of posts become too voluminous to scan, your browser’s Find dialog will readily pop the desired entry up.
Circles within Circles
The Google+ Circles can be harnessed to create an almost endless variety of subgroupings. By setting up your Circles appropriately, you can have a large circle encompassing everyone, and unlimited smaller circles, where Mary and Bob can privately discuss the particular cog in the widget they’re designing together, and where John and Sally can gossip behind everybody’s back.
Google+ works seamlessly with Docs
Collaborating on files is Google Docs’ middle name, so it’s easy enough to keep track of the individual contributions to any given project. Bringing Google Calendar into the fold can take care of all your progress scheduling and deadlines. If you want to show your collaborators a quick image you don’t even have to resort to uploading it to the Docs, as you can use the photo upload facility to post it right to the Stream. One of the greatest advantage to the “Google+ business collaboration suite” is its inherent portability and ease of use. There is effectively no learning curve (a claim many “real” packages can’t make) and access is as easy on a smartphone as it is on a desktop PC.
If you have a regional office in each state and hundreds of employees who need to work on single projects, then not only can you easily afford a major suite but it’s likely going to be a better fit for your requirements. However, if you’re a small business squeezing quarters until the eagle squeals then you may want to cobble together your own suite through Google’s surprisingly broad range of collaboration services. You’ll find them capable, reliable, portable, and best of all: Free!
About the Author: Francis Santos is a blogger for Benchmark Email and also the executive editor for a popular news blog.