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Monday, May 28, 2012

Seven tips to survive Going Google

Are you Going Google on your campus?

Michigan is going Google in 2012.  A few of us migrated from existing IT systems at the University of Michigan in January, and so have been living the Google dream, but needing to still work with our colleagues who are still using legacy systems for email, documents, calendars, etc.  I've seen some of the complaints people have had as they have moved to Google, and I can also see some of the future problems ahead.  You can save yourself and your colleagues hours of frustration by following a few simple rules.  And so I present the tech@icpsr survival guide to Going Google.

One, stop organizing your email.  You don't need to spend your time that way any longer.  The only reason you  needed to do that in the old world was that you had a low quota for storage (and so kept moving folders off of the mail server and on to local storage) and you have a bad search.  Now you have plenty of storage and a great search.

Two, stop asking people when they are available via email.  Look at the shared calendar.  If you cannot see the person's calendar, tell them to fix the access controls.  And if they won't, then make them schedule the meeting instead.

Three, never, ever download a Google Doc and start editing it in Microsoft Office.  Once you move the document out of Google Docs and into Office you break sharing, introduce odd formatting, make it difficult or impossible to fold the changes back into Google Docs, and commit other crimes against documents.

Four, do not send documents as attachments.  Make a Google Doc.  Share it with your collaborators or readers.  Do not fill up their Gmail allocation with your documents.

Five, use Chat for the quick stuff.  Got a quick question?  Need a real-time response?  Stop using email. Got a long question?  Do not need a real-time response. Use email.  Long chats are just as bad as 4-minute voice mails.

Six, stop doing THAT in email.  If you find yourself encountering barrier after barrier trying to execute a business process via Gmail, it is likely that email is simply the wrong solution.  Need a shared archive of email?  Use a Google Group.  Need a help desk, ticketing, or request system?  Use Footprints or JIRA or any one of many open source or hosted solutions.  Need a place to share and edit a catalog of information?  Use a Google Site.  Many of the Gmail-related headaches I've seen on campus are caused when people are trying to use email as a substitute for a more complex business process.

Seven, get a personnel email address NOW.  My experience is that it is always risky to rely upon an employer or a telecom to supply your email.  People who were using their @umich.edu email address for personnel use and using their @department.umich.edu for work are now in a pinch at UMich.  The @umich.edu address is necessarily becoming the one for work use, and they are now scrambling.  Don't wait, go get a personnel Gmail or Yahoo or Hotmail or other email address and mail account today.

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