by Matthew Moran

Google Drive for Team Collaboration

Sep 16, 20146 mins
Cloud ComputingCollaboration SoftwareMobile

Google Drive is an amazing tool for cloud-based team collaboration. Here some ways you can use Google Drive to enhance communication within your team.

I expected to have this blog post ready on Monday. I’m blaming my tardiness on Rock & Roll!

rock and roll

Meet Rock & Roll! So named because our neighbor’s cat had kittens outside and pushed them out of the nest almost immediately. We saved them, and their names were assigned due to my current musical obsession with one of my daughter’s favorite bands – Fall Out Boy. Here is their song, “Save Rock & Roll” – clever eh?

This happened last week on Wednesday. We bottle feed them every few hours which takes considerable time.

Google Drive’s Team Collaboration

If you are not using Google Drive and Calendar as a part of your team collaboration and information management, why not? It should be a standard utility in any organization’s toolkit!

When Microsoft started their “To The Cloud” advertising campaign a few years back, several of my client’s said to me, “Haven’t we been doing that for years?”

Umm.. that would be YES!

I love Microsoft! I do. We automate the hell out of their products and create all sorts of streamlined efficiencies in the process. But.. their cloud implementation – for instance – with Office 365, is nearly incoherent.

Most of their cloud products work OK, the problem is, knowing what’s available and finding it. And so, Google remains the gold standard for team collaboration for me, my team and my clients.

(Note: for another pretty cool application suite, check out

Google is awful at being amazing

In fairness to Microsoft’s poor implementation – with fun and interesting marketing – a nearly opposite truth exists for Google. Many (most) people using Gmail or Google Apps for Business hardly understand Google Drive even exists – let alone how they might use it.

But, once I get them to taste the Kool-Aid, they drink it! Are you ready for a sip?

What is Google Drive?

Google Drive is both an online (cloud) repository of information and provides access to Google’s office application suite of products.

It comes in various flavors – Free (with your Gmail account), and in a few versions of Google Apps for Business and Enterprise.

As far as an office suite goes, Google Docs and Google Sheets, the equivalent of Microsoft Word and Excel respectively, lack the robust features of their desktop counterparts. Although, given the typical tepid use of those robust features by most users, Google Docs and Sheets do most things well enough for most users.

Most importantly, you can get to them from any computer, any browser, and from virtually any location. Lest we miss this critical buzzword – we get mobility too! Android and iPhone have Google Drive, Docs and Sheets applications that allow you to create, edit and share information and files directly from your smartphone.

Google document types

You can use Google as a FREE and low-cost drive to store any file type. However, true collaboration is realized when you use the native Google file types. I’ve identified them below with a link to a sample of each. In fact, I’ve created a publicly shared folder with each of the example file types.

  • Documents: similar to Word documents.

  • Sheets: similar to Excel workbooks.

  • Slides: similar to Powerpoint.
    Great for creating live documentation and instructional tutorials. They are live on the Internet – and you can embed YouTube videos right in the slides. I used Slides for a WordPress tutorial here.

  • Drawings: basic graphics.

  • Forms: Internet forms – surveys, etc.
    Forms are special Google sheets that let you gather information. I’ve included a basic form here you can look at.*

* If you use WordPress, the GForms plug-in provides a simple way to embed complex forms on your blog/website. I use one here as a survey for webinar follow ups.

Cloud, mobility, and collaboration – oh my

You really do get it all with Google Drive. Secure access to my documents and files anywhere and anytime – with revision tracking – from my laptop, tablet, or phone, and, the coup de grâce: collaboration.

Collaboration is the Killer App

I work with a LOT of teams. Whether creating content for clients, life and business plans, writing for my publisher, technology/software projects, planning and executing musical performances and recording, or sharing information with my family, Google Drive’s live (real-time) collaboration is remarkable.

Sharing Documents

In Google Drive, you can share documents (any native Google file) with one or more other Gmail (Google Apps) users, giving them permission to view, comment only, or edit the document.

Once shared, Google can send them a notification telling them you’ve shared the document with them. When they log into the document, each user can see the other users in the document. You can watch their cursor as they type and even start a group chat from inside the document.

Google Drive live collaboration


Sharing folders

Sharing document by document with a team can be tedious. The real power of collaboration comes with sharing folders. As with most operating systems and security, the permissions you set on a folder are inherited by the documents and sub-folders in that folder.

This is a great way to create a folder structure for specific sharing/collaborations.

Collaboration examples

I’ve written and speak about how I use Google Drive to create a collaborative workspace for myself and other musicians. We use a similar structure and setup for enabling company/team generated content for social media.

One client, a construction company, uses a folder structure with shared project folders. They upload job-site images and notes directly from their Android or iPhone using the Google Drive application.

For all my clients, I create a client folder with a shared collaborative folder for my client’s key personnel. Our in-house consultants have access to the root client folder to make notes about their projects.

We’ve used the same technology to enable collaboration and more streamlined information sharing for non-profits, school volunteer groups – like PTSA – and other organizations.

Collaboration increases creativity and boost morale

Looking past the obvious benefits of collaboration, faster creation and access to information for a team, no version control issues, etc. – we witness an increase in creative output and better morale because something magical happens when two or more people work together on a document and can see the information come to life in real-time!

Are you Google-ized?

Are you using Google Drive? If not, do you have an alternate collaboration platform? I’d love to hear your ideas on the topic.