5 Google Plus Features That Will Immediately Benefit Your Project Team

Google+

Projects move forward through communications among team members. And to achieve maximum impact, project communications should be timely (immediate, if possible!), well-targeted to the specific team members who need the info, and universally retrievable from wherever team members happen to be located physically.

Google’s amazing new web space, Google Plus, can provide your team with a free, easy-to-use, communications infrastructure that meets all three of these criteria.

Google Plus Features & Benefits for Project Teams

Below are five important Google Plus features and their benefits for project teams.

  1. Circles — Allows users to organize their Google Plus contacts into unique subgroups and share announcements, discussions, documents, and more with one particular subgroup — and exclusively (i.e., privately) with that subgroup.  In other words, the “circles” feature will allow team members to isolate your project’s private, proprietary communications and document sharing from their other Google Plus contacts who aren’t working on the project. In effect, project teams can operate behind independent, private “fire walls” by organizing themselves as separate, unique circles.
  2. Hangouts — A “place” on the web (within the Google Plus web space) for up to 10 people to spontaneously hold a group video chat.  You can restrict your hangout to project team members who belong to a particular circle. Or you could invite anyone else on the web (such as one-time visiting experts) to join the hangout by simply sending them the hangout’s unique URL. In addition to simple video chats, participants can share/discuss YouTube videos, conduct Mobile Hangouts, create instant web casts, and (currently in “preview state”) allow sharing of documents, screens, and scratchpads.
  3. Messenger (formerly “Huddle”) — Communicate through instant messaging and/or share photos among all members of a circle simultaneously.  (Requires Android, iPhone, or SMS device.)
  4. Streaming by Circles — Allows members of a particular circle to “cut through the clutter” and filter their overall stream of updates in order to see only updates from those in a particular circle. Also, by entering their update in an input box, users are able to post a status update, upload photos or videos, or share links.
  5. Universal availability in the “cloud” — If you have a device that supports internet access, you can sign into your Google Plus account… period. So each team member’s account is always available, wherever they are.  Even in a worse-case scenario, such as a lost or stolen device, you can always connect to your account through a friend’s device or at a public library! And it’s all FREE!

(Note: My “fact check” source for the above 5 items is the Wikipedia article “Google+” — http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google%2B – It includes lots more info and reference links, so check it out.)

Getting Your Team Organized on Google Plus

Before your project team can take advantage of Google Plus’ powerful sharing features, you’ll need to make sure all project team members have an account and are properly connected with each other through one or more circles. Follow these steps:

  1. Have each person on the project set up a free Google Plus account. If some people already have accounts, they can simply use those. (Remember… the “circles” feature [above] will allow them to restrict their project-related sharing to other project team members only.)
  2. Have each person set up a unique circle for the project. Or you might have them set up several project circles. For example, you could have one circle for senior managers and clients, one circle for certain task specialists, one for SMEs/reviewers, one for everyone on the project, etc. (Note that any individual person — for example a project manager — could be part of several circles at the same time. So all sorts of communication patterns are possible!)
  3. The project manager or team leader should send out a list of all project team members’ Names, Project Roles, and Google Plus IDs.  For example, my Google Plus ID is: https://plus.google.com/104624609492311320731 . Since there are several Michael Greers on Google Plus, this unique URL will help people find exactly the one Michael Greer that is me! (And don’t worry… while you are free to add me to your circles and include my updates in your stream, it’s up to me to “add you back” in one of my circles. So there’s no danger of spam… unless, of course, I was dumb enough to allow a spammer into one of my circles in the first place!)
  4. Each team member should sign in to their Google Plus account and locate the other project team members on Google Plus by their ID/URL. They should then place all these team members in the appropriate project circle.
  5. (Optional) Determine some rules or protocols for communications among members of various project circles. For example, you might want to encourage (or discourage?) routine daily updates among the circle that includes people building your deliverables, while limiting updates to circles that include customers, clients or sponsors to once-a-week (and maybe require pre-approval by the project manager).

The five steps above will get your team organized and ready to take advantage of Google Plus. The rest is up to you and your team.

The story of Google Plus as a free and powerful project management tool is just beginning to be told. The next chapters will be shaped by hard-working teams like yours. And who knows… since you’re getting in on the “ground floor” of this amazing product/web space, you may end up inventing PM uses for Google Plus that the Google folks never dreamed possible!  And, better yet, you may even push Google to develop some new features that will benefit the entire PM field for years to come.

Recommended References

Posted: November 1st, 2011 under Project Management.
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