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Google Groups is a viable project management communication tool

Jack Wallen explains how Google Groups can be used for project management communication and how to set one up.

Use email and Google Groups to communicate about project management.
Image: 4zevar/Adobe Stock

One aspect of project management that cannot be ignored is communication. It is essential, a must and absolutely fundamental to the success of any project. But not every project management tool offers a complete range of communication tools. Sure, there may be comments, instant messaging, and other basic collaboration options, but what about a more elaborate method?

I’m talking about email. Specifically, I’m talking about email groups where you can combine stakeholders into selected organizations and easily communicate with everyone involved. Not every project management can lay claim to such a function.

SEE: Hiring Kit: Project Manager (TechRepublic Premium)

If the ability to type a message to a collection of people in your organization sounds like something you might want, Google has an option for you. Even better if your business is already using the Google ecosystem.

Some of you reading this might be thinking, “I can just create a list of users in my email client and email them.” That’s all well and good, but it’s not a group and it can lead to problems if users reply All or reply only to the sender. If that happens, the right people may not be getting the right information. That’s where Google Groups comes into play.

What is Google Groups?

Google Groups has been around for quite some time and is a simple solution to a problem that could otherwise get quite complicated. Google Groups is a discussion group platform that focuses on specific topics and groups. You can create groups for development teams, project stakeholders, managers, and more. You can be very general or get very detailed.

For example, let’s say you have Project X with three teams of developers: DEV1, DEV2, DEV3. Each of those teams has a manager, and there are also other non-developer stakeholders for things like design and promotion. Here’s how it might fail with Google Groups:

  • PROJECT X: The main group with all stakeholders.
  • DEV-MAIN: All developers.
  • DEV1: All developers for this team and its manager.
  • DEV2: All developers for this team and its manager.
  • DEV3: All developers for this team and its manager.
  • PROJECT X STAFF: Design, promotion and managers
  • MANAGERS: All PROJECT X managers.

That’s seven different groups. You don’t want to try to manage those with just an email client, as that would lead to a significant mess. Google Groups can make that easy for you. One thing to keep in mind is that you may need to change the names if the email address is already in use.

Create a group in Google Groups

Make sure you’re signed in to your Google account from your default web browser, then go to groups.google.com. Once on that page, you’ll see an all-too-familiar Create button (Image A), which is similar to the Create in button Google Drive.

Image A

The Create Google Groups button.
The Create Google Groups button.

In the resulting popup (Figure B), give the group a name, an email, and a description.

Figure B

Creating a new Google group is much easier than you might think.
Creating a new Google group is much easier than you might think.

Click Next and then in the resulting screen (Figure C) choose the privacy settings you want to apply to the group.

Figure C

Set the privacy options for your new group.
Set the privacy options for your new group.

Take care of those options and click Next. In the last window (Figure D), you need to add all members for the group, add an invitation message, send invitations to the members if necessary, and click Create Group.

Figure D

Add members to the new group.
Add members to the new group.

After the group is created, you will be presented with a link to the group (Figure E), where you can manage members, banned users, and a host of other options.

Figure E

Our new DEV1 group is created.
Our new DEV1 group is created.

Users can send messages to NAME@googlegroups.com, where NAME is the email address associated with the group, such as projectx-dev1.

That’s all you need to do to create a new Google Groups group that can be used as a means of long-term communication with team members, project leaders, and stakeholders. This may not be an obvious solution, but if your project management platform isn’t giving your teams enough communication options, Google Groups can certainly fill in the blanks.

Subscribe to TechRepublic’s How to make technology work on YouTube for all the latest technical advice for business professionals from Jack Wallen.

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