Now that the decision has been made to pursue Google Apps here at Allegheny I have jumped right in to emerse myself in the environment and paradigm of using an integrated suite of calendar, email, tasks, documents, and start page. From a user perspective, I am finding more and more advantages of such an environment. A few of the postitive features I have found are from labs particularly the “send and archive button” and the “multiple inboxes” both of these are key time savers for me.
- The send and archive option allows me to send the message and clear out my inbox all in one step as opposed to the two steps it would take prior(not to mention I never did step two in my personal gmail account thus causing my inboxe to be unruly).
- The multiple inbox allows me to pull less urgent messages out of my main inbox into sub mailboxes thank’s to the use of filters. This allows me to focus my energy on the inbox which contains the messages that need my attention first. It did not take a lot of time to set up initially (5 -10 minutes) and only 30 seconds or less to add new filters for messages that I want to skip my inbox and be displayed in one of my 4 sub mail boxes (Bulk News, Listservs, Help Desk Stuff, Sales). I can go to my sub mailboxes when I have the time or interest and read those messages. For a week now I have been able to keep up and respond to messages in my inbox before I leave for the day.
Other features are just a part of how an integrated suite works
- For instance take a look at this email invitation to a meeting I received this morning.
Two things not seen in this image but worth noting is that the meeting was made on the department’s common calendar that can be a layer on my personal calendar. Also, should there be documents necessary for the meeting they can be uploaded and shared along with the meeting time.
- I am still struggling a little with the conversation mode a bit, perhaps more because it seems like magic to me how Google strings the threads together but the fact that when I archive (not delete) prior threads are brought back when new messages arrive.
- I have also given up on the need to organize messages beyond what it takes to direct messages to the 5 mail boxes because the search is so good. All I need to remember is something, anything about the message I want to find and plug that into the search box. In the last week I have been able to find every message I want quicker than when I was organizing into folders in my desktop client. Archive and Search is the way to go!
The biggest struggle that I have found to this point is the paradigm shift of how email calendar and document sharing was done to how it needs to be done within this suite. I believe this will be a common experience from the community, especially those that have pushed the edges of the what our current client can do.