If you’re on a team or a project where you need to collaborate with other people, Google Drive is the first place most people turn. And while Google Docs is often the tool of choice, Google Drive offers so much more.
Sure, you could just start a new Google Doc and share it out with your team members. We’ve often shared how to do that, and the many features Google Docs provides.
The truth is, you should choose the Google Drive tool you use based on the task at hand, and for some tasks, the resources in Google Drive offer more effective options than collaborating on Docs.
Designing Floor Plans Together
If you’ve ever lived with anyone — a roommate or a partner — then you know that sometimes arranging furniture to everyone’s liking can take a bit of work (and sometimes one or two arguments). Thankfully, if you use Google Drive, then you have access to a great collaborative tool called Floorplanner.
With Floorplanner, you have access to just about any object you may need to place around a room — electronics, plants, beds, kitchen furniture — and the list keeps expanding.
You can change the view to 3D mode and spin it round to get a better feel of how the room layout will look from a real-world perspective.
When you’ve come up with your first draft room layout, share it with a friend by going to dashboard view, and under Actions, clicking on Copy to user.
This give you the ability to email the floor design to your roommate, and let them play around with it for a while before sending it back to you to review.
Taking such an approach to planning the layout of a dorm room, bedroom, or an entire house, has the potential of avoiding some massive arguments. Seriously, I think maybe floor planning is one of the top reasons for divorce these days… That, and leaving the toilet seat up.
Create that Video as a Team
In the professional world, there are a lot of reasons you may need to collaborate on a video with a team. It could be to produce a training video for staff, to capture a manufacturing process for engineers, or to produce a promotional video for your company.
In most cases, you need a way to work on the video with others, so having a tool that streamlines that process can make you a lot more productive. WeVideo on Google Drive is the solution.
Like the FloorPlanner app, you can create your first draft of the video by importing your captured audio and video clips, piece them together, incorporate some of the stock video and effects included with WeVideo.
Once you’ve polished the work into a first draft that you feel is ready to share with your team, you’ll notice that there is no easy way to do this from inside the WeVideo app itself.
Not to worry. Once you’ve saved your draft and you go back to Google Drive, you can select the video and then click on the Share button.
Just add the email addresses of your teammates, allow editing, and they’ll have access to the same video and can make their own changes to it.
Short of being in the same room with your team, this is one of the most effective ways to collaborate on video editing.
Make a Killer Business Plan
So, you’re working on a killer business idea with your two best friends. You want to bounce around ideas and plan the layout of your business. For this kind of collaboration, look no further than mindmapping. When it comes to mindmapping, don’t look any further than MindMup.
This is another tool that is available from right inside of Google Drive. Using such a visual format is a perfect method to conduct business planning. Your business partners can add notes, tweak small sections, or move entire chunks of the map around.
When you’ve created a first-draft mind map, you have a couple of options to share it out to your business partners. One method of sharing from right inside MindMup is to use the Share menu option and then selecting Publish to Share or Embed.
The one drawback of this is that the free account won’t allow you to publish mind maps. Also, this feature is meant to publish mind maps to the public. If you’re developing a business plan, making it public is a problem.
The better option is to click on Save button, and then select the Google Drive option.
Once you have your MindMup map added to your Google Drive account, you can share it out and collaborate on it with others in the same way as with WeVideo above. Just share that file with your business partners on Google Drive, and you’re good to go.
Project Management for Teams
If there’s anything that a project manager needs to be good at, it’s working with teams. You’re always prompting a team member on the status of their work, or reminding someone else when they’re late.
This process is easier when the whole team has access to the project plan and can see the relevant dates. One of the best tools for this, available in Google Drive, is Gantter.
Gantter is an online project management tool that you can use straight on the website itself if you like. Its features are impressive considering that the tool is free. You can easily generate a project plan in no time, with tools available to format and manipulate tasks as you like.
You’ll notice from inside Gantter that the Share option is grayed out, so you can’t share the plan directly from inside the tool itself. Again, since this is available from Google Drive, you do have the option to save your project plan to Google Drive from the same menu.
Once you’ve done this, all you have to do is highlight the file in Google Drive, and click the Share button as you have with the other tools in this article. Make sure that you allow “edit” permissions when you add the email addresses to share to.
Once shared, your team members will have a copy of this project plan in their own Google Drive account. It’s the perfect way to make sure the whole team is updated and on board with the latest version of your project plan.
Another popular tool like this is Smartsheet Project Management, also available from inside Google Drive. However, this is a paid tool.
Collect Group Info with Forms
One of the best tools in Google Drive for working with groups is without a doubt Google Forms.
Google Forms lets you design an entry form in a matter of minutes, and with that form you can collect opinions, information and data from large groups of people. We use it frequently at MakeUseOf to collect staff feedback, to collaborate in editorial, and sometimes even to get reader feedback.
One example of a group use of Google Forms would be if you’re a part of a book club, and you want to collect feedback from everyone else on the team about a particular book you’re all reading. Google Forms even lets you style your form in some pretty cool ways.
To create such a form, just create any Google Sheet, go to the Tools menu, and select Create a form.
Once you’ve created your form, the sheet is already prepared to start collecting input. No additional work is required on your part. It’s all integrated and automated. All you have to do is share out the form like you would any other file in Google Drive.
With Google Forms you can even embed the form onto a web page for ease of access.
Just keep in mind that if you plan to accept input from the general public using a web page, you’ll need to make sure you’ve shared out the form to the Public, and not only a limited number of people.
Collaborating with Google Drive
Without a doubt, Google Drive is an ideal environment to collaborate with people. The apps above are some of the most popular and powerful tools that people are using these days to work on team projects, but almost anything you create in Google Drive — documents, spreadsheets, drawings and more — can be shared with a team of people in real time.
This is the beauty of a world where so much work is being accomplished in the cloud. Collaboration with others is easier and simpler than ever.
Do you collaborate with others using Google Drive? What are your favorite tools, and how have you used them? Share your ideas and tips in the comments section below.
Image Credits: Team of paper people via Shutterstock