“I wish I received more email” — said no tech person, ever.
Like it or not, email is the primary communication channel at most larger organizations. People send and receive email anywhere, anytime, and from all sorts of devices. Constantly.
Share Knowledge with Google Groups
A Google Group helps you share and document your team’s knowledge. Don’t repeat your email responses over and over. Instead, write a thorough response, send it to the group, and then link to the post.
A great use of a Google Group is to share hard-earned local-knowledge, e.g. let your NetworkAdmins Google Group know exactly how to configure that quirky setting on your network copier. You can then link to your post when someone in the group asks about the setting in the future.
Google Group members also get a searchable archive of discussions. New team members might be taught to “search the group first.” A new NetworkAdmins Google Group member should search the group when they encounter a difficult-to-resolve problem. They should find your post about the quirky setting when they do!
Each Google Group has its own email address: email sent to that address goes to the entire group. This increases efficiency for the entire group. No more long lists of email recipient in email headers. One email address, one group.
Create your own Groups
You can create your own Google Groups. No need to ask an IT staffer to “Please create an email list for the Finance Team, whose members include…” Instead, create the groups you need. Learn more about Google Groups and how to create an email list for a group. If your system settings prevent you from creating a Google Group, talk to your system administrator.
Group owners and managers control how their Group works. Most importantly, group owners and managers control who can join, view and post to the group. Different settings will produce very different types of groups.
Sam in Sales might configure a group as a public product discussion forum. Elaine in Finance could set up a group for private discussions among an internal team. Morgan in Support might use a Google Group for customer support thanks to the new “collaborative inbox” group option, which allows multiple users to share the same inbox and assign tasks based on the messages received.
Manage the flow
As a group member you control how often you receive group email. You can receive every message sent to the group as it arrives. That can result in a lot of email! More likely, you’ll choose to receive messages grouped into a single email less often. (Gmail filters also let you manage email from groups. I use a filter to automatically have email from low-priority groups “skip the inbox” as well as “apply the tag ‘discussion groups.’” A nice side benefit of this is that mail from groups does not show up in the inbox on my smartphone.)
More email is the last thing anyone needs. But group discussions you can search and link to? That can transform your team’s email workflow.