Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Google Spreadsheets - Two Uses

I find I'm using Google Spreadsheets more and more. Here are two ways I've been using them with my i2x customers:

  • As a lightweight project management tool. Rather than setting up BaseCamp, a related project management tool, or a Wiki, I've been creating and sharing, Google Spreadsheet with my clients. Whether it's todo lists, requirements, questions that need answers, names of key players, or other information, it all tends to fit well in the tab of a Spreadsheet. Google Spreadsheets takes care of the details of how you share and this info, and it provides version control too. For bigger projects, setting up the infrastructure is definitely worth it - but for little jobs, it's amazing how useful a Google Spreadsheet can be. Especially when the alternative is lots of e-mail being sent back and forth.
  • As a remote interactive requirements gathering tool. I was on the phone with a client today, working on a spec, and it called for us to fill in some sample values for a feature. Rather than me making up bogus values, I was able to ask him, in real time, to fill in the values what he thought made sense. This simultaneous editing was ideal, as it allowed him to put in the domain specific information he knew, while I could add in the development notes I needed.

Google Spreadsheets is turning into my digital whiteboard of choice, and frankly, I can't think of any higher praise than that.


  1. Got any great samples to share? We love samples.... ;)

  2. Good point JR -

    Unfortunately, the documents I'm talking about are private, as they are for individual clients.

    I think, more than anything though, using a Google Spreadsheet in the way I'm talking about is about having the right frame of mind. Instead of jotting down notes in an e-mail and sending them off, or tracking them locally, or even writing them on a scrap of paper - stick them in a Google Spreadsheet.

    Then share the spreadsheet and you're all set.

  3. Anonymous12:16 PM

    I dunno. I might have set up at Zoho rather than BaseCamp had it been around when we were ramping up.

    As it is, I'm jumping away with our web person to a little wiki there we can share that doesn't overburden BaseCamp.

  4. BaseCamp, Wikis and Zoho (thanks for the tip, by the way), all serve a great purpose.

    And are mightily useful.

    Where a spreadsheet comes in handy, I've found, is when you have the project started before you have any infrastructure in place.

    Like most spreadsheet uses, you'll outgrow this one too. But while you need it, it can be really handy.