Empowering your team with the power of collaborative applications
On this page you will find:
Case studies - examples of people at the University of York who have transformed processes in their teams.
Tool boxes - suggested tools that support a collaborative team approach.
Top Tips on Google for Leaders at the University of York.
You will also find links to more detailed guidance for those who want to find learning material on specific tools.
The University of York has invested in the Google suite of applications. This is a powerful suite that allows people to work together more efficiently.
People can work on things simultaneously with no duplicate copies floating around
You don't need to be in the same room to collaborate -- helpful for busy managers, part-time staff who can't make every meeting, or staff who work in separate offices
People have time and space outside of a face-to-face meeting to work on something collaboratively -- time to reflect and think things through while still being able to add ideas to a shared resource at a time when everyone else may be absent is a huge advantage
Combining several of the different applications together can meet fairly complex needs with just a little bit of learning on your part...
Do you need to keep track of projects ensuring that you, and your team, can see progress with actions and tasks at any time? Then Trello may be a useful tool to explore.
Trello is a free organisation tool that helps many people organise their projects, however big or small. A Trello board is a list of lists, filled with cards, that can be used by you and your team. Within a card you can add comments, upload images, attach files (linking to everything everyone needs to see from one place), create checklists, add labels and due dates, and lots more besides.
Be aware that Trello is a free third party tool -- the University doesn't provide support for it -- and other similar tools are available.
This free tool is very simple and intuitive to use. It works like an online version of post-it notes, allowing you to quickly gather ideas and make connections between them in a more visual way than a text document. But the real beauty is that you can collaborate with other people, gathering their ideas too. It's brilliant if you want people to add their thoughts, either in a face-to-face setting like a focus group (using their laptops and other devices), or remotely and asynchronously. People can comment on and rate each other's notes, making it easier to rank and prioritise tasks. You can adjust your privacy settings in any padlet to lock things down. And sharing the padlet is easy - it uses very simple link sharing.
Be aware that Padlet is a third party tool -- the University doesn't provide support for it -- and other similar tools are available.
As a bare minimum you should develop a basic understanding of the benefits for your team of using Google Groups, Google Drive and the core Google Apps. You may then want to explore the other linked apps.
Use the Chrome browser when you use Google applications, and always log into Chrome with your University Google credentials so that your preferences and extensions follow you around wherever you're working and whatever machine you use.
Consider finding out a bit more about Google Apps Script. Often a tiny bit of code can help automate all sorts of processes using Google tools, drastically reducing the time spent in your team on administrative tasks.
For help and advice you can contact IT Services.
James Browne in Disability Services had an inefficient paper-based process for handling student case notes. With just a little bit of support from IT Services, he replaced it with a few Google Sheets and some Apps Scripts running in Google Drive. James' work shows how a little investment of time can reap huge rewards, giving you back the time you and your colleagues were spending on admin, to let you focus your work on providing a better service.
Caryn Douglas from White Rose College of the Arts & Humanities needed a new applications process that worked for the three different institutions involved, all of whom had different, largely paper-based, systems. Staff at the different institutions needed to be able to view, comment on, and approve the applications. They wanted an online workflow, and with the help of IT Services they wired together existing Google applications in a way that worked for their complex needs.
Tim Saunders in the Accommodation Office inherited a paper-based system task of managing students' requests to change their rooms. Wanting to make life better, for students and colleagues alike, he looked for a way to transform an arduous, error prone process into something more elegant and efficient. Although he initially didn't know how to do this he saw that there was the potential to do things differently and sought support along the way. The process is now handled in a few Google Spreadsheets and Google Forms. Tim shows that anyone who really wants to can take control of both messy processes - and code!