If you are working on a group project and need to keep in touch with everyone, we show you how to do it effectively, online, for free.
Collaborative projects crop up all the time and, although the people you need to work with may be in the same city - sometimes they are spread all over the place.
Here at WeLikeArtists we work with advisors in 8 countries spread through 9 time-zones. There is never a time when we are all awake at the same time and there is no chance we can all travel to a single location. So we use the Internet and it works.
Here we look at four tools to help you work effectively, with a group, for free.
It may seem like an obvious choice, and one you are using now, but e-mail provides the first line of communication and is particularly effective for small projects with small groups.
To make it simple, set up a group mailing list, add all the addresses of people you need to communicate with, then use that to send everyone a message at the same time. That way all participants are kept up to date.
The drawback is that you end up with an inbox full of mail, made up of forwarded copies or copies of copies of messages, which can become very complex, very quickly.
Google Documents provides an online ‘space’ where you can create or upload files (text documents, spreadsheets, presentations, etc) and invite people to view or change them.
The system is as private as you want it to be, so you can select people who can see, and change, the stored information. To make it work, you first need a Google account (which many already have if you use Google Mail). That is free to set up and you can also use the connected e-mail address for the project - handy if you want to separate it out from your ‘normal’ work or social e-mails.
Let’s say you are writing a statement for a group show. Set up a Google Document for it and all the people you have invited to work on it can log on, whenever they have time, read it and make changes, which are then instantly visible to the rest of the group.
You can also set up an online calendar and fill it with key dates and events - also visible to everyone working on the project - no more “I forgot to put it in my diary” situations.
Huddle is an interesting one in that it provides you with an integrated work space online. You can set up virtual ‘spaces’ in which to work on a particular project where you can store relevant documents, a ‘whiteboard’ for jotting down group ideas, a private ‘chat’ service where you can type in real-time with people in the ‘space’ as well as inbuilt phone and video conferencing.
Schedule a meeting (real or virtual) and it automatically goes into the inbuilt calendar.
Set up a task - something which has a deadline and needs completing for the project, and Huddle will keep track of its progress, who is involved, the deadline and when it is completed. The system will even e-mail participants to remind them on their normal e-mail address.
On the whole this integration could save you time and money and it seems even large UK companies and Government departments have realised this and are using the system to streamline their working projects. You can test out how well it works completely free of charge.
Remember the Milk is worth exploring just for the name! This is an organisational tool which allows you to keep any number of lists, with ‘to do’ dates. The system will send you reminders via e-mail, SMS and instant messaging services. You can also share these tasks with your contacts or make them publicly visible if you need to.
Not as extensive as Huddle but it is a way of micro-managing specific tasks within a project. You can also take your tasks with you by accessing the information on any web- enabled mobile device. So if you are an iPod Touch or iPhone user, have an Android, BlackBerry, use Google Mail, Windows Mobile or Google Calendar, you can keep ‘task’ organised.