How can I help my coworkers user Gmail/calendar/etc
May 19, 2014 10:54 AM   Subscribe

My company recently decided to move everyone from Outlook to Google Apps. Now a lot of people who are used to Outlook (and MS Office) in all things are being hit with a new environment. It's going okay, but I've volunteered to give a short presentation on how to make the most of the new tools, since I have a lot of experience using them for my personal stuff. Can folks suggest good online resources either for me to mine for tips, or to hand out to users for their own reference later?

I've been mining stuff like lifehacker and google's own help files, but there are bound to be other resources out there.

I plan to go over how to use labels and filters, clever search tips, using multiple calendars, and collaborating with docs. I have to stick to the highlights, since I'm probably looking at half and hour talk time and half an hour Q&A, and as this will be informal, there are likely to be distractions, latecomers, etc.

If you've done a transition like this before, what were the pain points and what do you wish you'd been able to communicate to the user base? From a business (rather than personal) standpoint, what plug-ins/settings/tips are really key? Is there stuff that might seem too obvious to mention to me that I should include anyway, for less technical users?
posted by Karmakaze to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
The biggest difference I've seen for email use (especially coming from Outlook) is the difference between folders and labels. You can't hammer it into people's heads enough that an email can have multiple labels and yet doesn't need to be "filed" - just archive when you don't need it in the inbox! Outlook's email search is slow and terrible, so people meticulously set up folder systems in order to find what they need. Absolutely don't gloss over the freedom and power of labels, filters, and searching. Set up a demo to show how it works and how easy it is to use.

Even in a workplace with Sharepoint and other server-side tools, most people still default to emailing documents back and forth using track changes. To fully explain how easy it is to collaborate with docs, you should probably set up a demo. Show how to create, how to share, and then have another colleague sitting there with you to show everyone how easy it is to collaborate in real time.

I'm not as familiar with the calendar functions (meeting requests, resource calendars for conference rooms, etc.) but the latest versions of Outlook have all had the ability to create and layer multiple calendars, so this may be the easiest piece of the transition.

If at all possible, maybe just make this presentation about email, since that's so important - plan a different session for calendars, document sharing, etc.

Don't immediately focus on all the power-user functions and tools. Step one should be about getting up and running with basic knowledge. You can always plan later sessions for more advanced features (using forms to get end-users to populate a spreadsheet, for example) as you need them.

Finally - I would suggest creating a document (shared to the entire org) with links to the various online resources you are using to plan your presentation. That way people who miss the session, or just forget stuff, can easily find it later as they need it.
posted by trivia genius at 11:23 AM on May 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

We use Google Apps for Education for my job (I'm a break fix tech in a school district) and our district has long been a user of Office and its ilk. We have access to their training stuff like this: but I know they have related stuff for the business side of things (I assume that's what you're using it for).

We're still in transition, but we've gone over Gmail, Docs, and Drive as a whole repeatedly. Some things that people routinely don't understand is that Docs is used to both store AND create documents. I have to explain this on a daily basis to the teachers and admins I work with and while it seems common to heavy users like you and I, it's completely alien to most people.

Are you using a management console? We have a domain that we purchased from Google to oversee our Apps network and manage our ever-growing fleet of Chrome books, that allows us to send out changes to an individual user/chrome book, a handful, a cart, an entire building, or the whole district. Do you have access to anything like that?

I assume you're using the Chrome browser for this and that's something that should be driven home to your users as well. Sure, I know that "Chrome" works on IE and Firefox, but it's made to be used on Chrome. That may seem obvious but we are still heavy IE users here (BIG SIGH) and stuff doesn't always work like it should.

Point out that in order for changes to be made to documents that they have to be in Drive format. I constantly receive tickets about people not being able to make changes to their documents because they typed it in Word or Excel and didn't convert. If you're shifting to Google, either go Google all the way or make sure they know about file conversion.

We don't have a lot of extensions on our domain for people just yet, but I personally use the Drive extension religiously all the time and have suggested adding it to our domain so that our end users can utilize Drive out on the open internet.
posted by ThaBombShelterSmith at 11:27 AM on May 19, 2014

Explain the different ways of uploading files into Google Drive - uploading and keeping it's file format vs uploading and converting (and how to change those settings).

Also explain the pros and cons of using Drive for general cloud storage (like Dropbox) vs just using it for Google Docs file storage/sharing. Personally I like the Drive desktop app is really clunky and I don't recommend it.

Definitely folders/labels/filters/etc. as trivia genius mentioned.
posted by radioamy at 12:01 PM on May 19, 2014

I did this for a small business I worked for. I spearheaded the transition from Outlook to Google Apps, including the research, the set-up, the training, the beta roll-out, the office-wide execution, the troubleshooting, and all tech support that came thereafter.

I made up my own how-to instructions and job procedures, focusing on the tools and options I knew my company would use the most. I did not go into that transition trying to throw everything at my company at once; I kept it simple and stuck to the basic, have-to-use-now features for the first year. I had planned to get into the bigger and better things App had to offer after everyone got used to the new system, but I left the company before that happened. Just try not to overwhelm people with everything Google can do, unless you know they can handle it. The presentation I gave, complete with a Q&A session, was based on screencaps of how to complete simple tasks in the calendar and email. Keep it simple, unless your company is a tech firm with people who are comfortable with technology.

The biggest focus points was transitioning from a paper calendar to Google calendar (e.g., color-coding, all day events vs. timed events, available vs. busy, who could edit events, who could add events, which events would be on the master calendar vs. which events could be on only one person's calendar) and how to file printed e-mail from Google vs. how to file printed email from Outlook (Gmail organizes differently than Outlook, and we had many meetings about how to get our filing system working again). I tried to focus most on how Outlook features translated to Google and if any features did not translate to Google. Another big focus was on archiving vs. deleting, which was a battle I had to fight.

Know your people and know what is going to be the biggest, most important points to communicate and follow-up on when rolling out the new system. Seriously, just know your people. If at all possible, make it a job procedure to do things one way only, so that everyone isn't off making a mess of things; that is, have an office-wide color coding system for the calendar, and have an office-wide procedure for how to label and handle e-mail. My small company was five people with a boss who tended to micromanage certain things, so it was simple to hold people accountable to that system. (Complete honesty, our 20-year office admin didn't know how to make a table in Word and never wanted to stop using her typewriter, so s/he was the denominator my boss and I based the transition on. So, again, know your people.)
posted by coast99 at 2:44 PM on May 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

We went through this about a year ago and I second the Labels vs Folders issue as the most frustrating aspect for all of our users. Filters have also caused some frustration as there is no easy way to reorder them and changing a filter automatically drops it to the bottom of the processing list.
posted by Jacob G at 3:25 PM on May 19, 2014

Response by poster: In case people were wondering, it went pretty well. I went with four slides for Gmail (Search, Labels, Filters, Marking/Tasks/Autoresponder), two for Calendar (Multiple Calendars, Find a Time) and one for Drive and liberally popped out of the slides for live demos on my own mail, calendar and drive (suitably sanitized before the presentation.)
posted by Karmakaze at 9:51 AM on June 2, 2014

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