Project management software is an application that helps project managers to organize and manage their tasks and projects effectively. It helps in planning, scheduling, resource allocation, change management, collaboration, and communication with stakeholders.
Google project management tools are the apps in the Google Suite that helps project managers organize and manage their tasks and projects effectively. You may integrate the G-Suite apps with dedicated PM software like Trello and Astana to manage your projects more effectively.
Project management software is essential because projects can veer off track without a means to keep everything in check.
But what exactly are the Google project management tools, how do you measure goals using these apps, and what are the benefits and limitations of using these apps?
This ultimate guide to Google project management tools will answer these and more questions.
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Google does not have any software dedicated to project management. However, Google has different apps that serve specific project management needs to some extent.
You’ll find these apps in the Google Workspace (formerly G-Suite). They include Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms, Calendar, Gmail, Google Meet, etc.
Though they are not designed for project management, these Google apps are called project management tools because each caters to particular project management needs.
For example, some allow collaboration between stakeholders; some allow communication between stakeholders, some enable you to create events and help you stay on top of your deadlines, etc.
Let’s dive deeper into these tools!
The most common Google apps used for specific project management functions are:
G-Suite with Asana
G-Suite with Trello
G-Suite with Slack
G-Suite with TimeCamp
Gmail is currently the world’s most popular email platform, with 1.8 billion users worldwide (29.5% of the email client market share). Thus, Gmail is the most widely used Google project management app.
Some people are surprised that their Gmail accounts have project management capabilities. So how does Gmail help in project management?
Gmail helps project managers carry out one of their most important jobs – communication.
The job that project managers do most of the time is communicating, making it one of the most critical aspects of project management.
Project managers must send messages to the team to ensure everyone is aligned on project goals. They have to send messages to vendors to know the delivery status of project essentials.
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Gmail comes in handy for sending out important information and communicating with project stakeholders (clients, team members, vendors, etc.). Gmail allows you to send files or media attachments (images or videos). You may also add links to Google Drive files.
You may also use Gmail for personal messages and video calls via the GChat and GMeet feature.
However, Gmail is not the perfect project management communication tool for many reasons:
Drafting and responding to emails can be stressful and take significant time.
Once you send a mail, you are left in the dark. There’s no way to tell if the other person saw it, read it, or understood it.
An email can easily get lost in overflowing inboxes, and scrolling through such a Gmail inbox to find a particular communication can be stressful.
It is possible for the email you sent to the recipient’s spam folder. It means there is a big chance that the person will not see your email.
Communication via email can be slow as the recipient may not open their mailbox on time to take necessary action.
2. Google Sheets
Google Sheets is a spreadsheet program that structures data in tabular form (that is, the data is in the form of rows and columns). Sheets is Google’s rival to Microsoft Excel. So, if you are familiar with Excel, you will enjoy using Google Sheets.
What makes Google Sheet unique is that it is a cloud-based app for individuals and teams. This means you can store files in one place, and you and your team can edit documents and collaborate in real-time.
Thus, Google Sheets is perfect for team collaboration. It provides links you can share with your team, allowing them to view or edit the file (depending on the rights you grant them). Thus you will not need to send an updated file to everyone every time you change something on it.
Members can also view the history of file changes, fostering transparency.
Since Google Sheets presents data in tabular form, Project managers can use them to create tasks. You can also use them to create a project timeline, giving you an overview of how your project will progress.
When creating a project timeline in Sheets, you may start from scratch or use templates provided in the software. The Sheets project management template gallery includes a project timeline template (pictured below), Gantt chart template, project tracking template, and event marketing timeline template.
With some effort, you can use Google Sheets to create basic dashboards for visualizing certain aspects of your project performance.
For example, you can chart actual and budgeted expenses to give you an overview of your project’s cost performance.
However, while Google Sheets is okay for creating task lists and timelines and particularly good for collaboration, it is seriously limited because it is simply a spreadsheet. For example:
It cannot help you identify bottlenecks in your project.
It does not have reminder capabilities.
While it gives an overview of tasks, it does not allow a more granular view. Thus, filtering tasks by specific elements (like assignee) is impossible.
It is inadequate for project tracking.
3. Google Docs
Google Docs is one of the best word processing tools. It has been a game changer for content creation since it was launched.
Like Sheets, Google Docs is a cloud-based tool. This means Docs allows you to store your data in one place where you can edit it in real-time for effective team collaboration.
The cloud-based real-time edits that Google Docs allows means that you can invite multiple people to work on a document simultaneously, you’ll see the changes as your team makes them, and every change is saved automatically.
It also eliminates the need to send updated versions of documents to team members every time a user makes a change.
Wondering why a word processor is a project management tool? A project manager needs a word processor to detail project plans, project roadmaps, milestones, etc.
Google has added different project management features to Docs in recent years, and one such feature is the “roadmap.” The feature makes Docs okay for managing projects. You can add your project and related files and notes. You can indicate the project statuses and change these as they evolve.
Another reason Google Docs is a fine word-processor for project management is that it supports collaboration. After creating the document, you can invite members for comments and suggestions, helping you get valuable feedback and buy-in.
While Google Docs is excellent at detailing plans and creating basic dashboards for an overview of your project, it is very limited. For example, it does not allow you to manage projects from end to end.
👉 Read also our article about feedback: Feedback – Why Is It Critical to Improve Employees’ Performance?
4. Google Drive
Google Drive is a cloud-based documents management software. It provides 15GB of free cloud storage along with offline capabilities.
Google Drive allows you to store all your project documents in one place. You can store your project documents, images, and other files in Drive. Importantly, it allows you to organize project files into folders and sub-folders.
It also supports collaboration as you can share files with particular team members and grant different access types (view only, comments only, or editing access).
While Google Drive is a great tool for storing, organizing and sharing files, it is incapable of other project management functions. For example:
You cannot use Drive to create tasks or reports
It does not show project progress
However, iterating Google Drive with robust project management software boosts its capabilities. While you use the dedicated project management software to create necessary project files, you can use Drive to keep the files in one place, organize them, and make them accessible.
5. Google Calendar
Google Calendar is a digital version of the wall calendar you use in your office for planning and marking important project events.
Google Calendar allows you to schedule your project tasks on a digital calendar space. You can share the task calendar so everyone on the project can see full event details. You can also create reminders of approaching deadlines, helping you to stay on top of your events and deadlines.
One of the best uses of Google Calendar is scheduling team meetings. You can quickly share your calendar with your team members and check others’ calendars to find the best times for meetings.
The learning curve for using Google Calendar is virtually non-existent. You can add events to your calendar and share calendars with only a few clicks.
Check our Google Calendar time tracking!
6. Google Slides
Google Slides is a presentation program that is part of the free web-based Google workspace (G-Suite).
Google Slides helps you and your team members to visualize your project. You can sketch your vision and create dashing project reports using visual elements like charts, graphs, maps, etc.
Slides is Google’s version of Microsoft PowerPoint. You can use Google Slides to create online slideshows for beautiful presentations. While Powerpoint outdoes Google Slides in terms of functionalities, Slides has the advantage of offering real-time collaboration.
You can share your slides with your team and give them comment-only or editing rights, allowing you to build your ideas together.
With Google Slides, you can enable screen-sharing during online video meetings (via Google Meet and other video conferencing software), making it possible for others to stay updated. Thus, Google Slides is an excellent tool for aligning remote team members.
7. Google Forms
Google Forms is a survey administration software you can use to create and share online surveys easily and to analyze real-time responses.
In project management, gathering feedback from team members, customers, and other project stakeholders is often important. Google Forms allows you to do this quickly.
With Google Forms, you can create an online form as easily as creating a document. You can select between multiple choice, checkboxes, and drop-down answer types. You can easily reorder questions using drag and drop, and you can easily customize values.
You may also add custom logic that shows questions based on answers. You can also customize the fonts and colors, and use images so that the form reflects your organization’s branding.
Forms also give you automatic summaries for the analysis of responses. These come in beautiful visual charts for easy understanding and reporting. You can also open the raw data with Google Sheets for a deeper analysis.
8. Google Tasks
Google Tasks is a to-do list app that lets you track all your tasks on your computer or mobile device.
You’ll find Google Tasks on the right sidebar of most Google PM software, including Gmail, Google Docs, Google Slides, Google Calendar, Google Drive, etc. You’ll find Google Tasks as a checklist icon – a small blue circle with a centered blue tick.
Google Tasks allows you to create personal tasks you’ll like to follow up on. You can add the task title, detail, and date/ time with just a few clicks.
Thus, at best, Google Tasks is a personal to-do list. You can use it to do nothing more than visualize and be reminded of your tasks. You cannot use it to assign tasks or manage projects like an actual project management software.
9. G-Suite with Asana
Asana is a project management software that allows you to organize and plan your team’s work in one shared space.
If you integrate G-Suite with Astana, you can import your spreadsheets directly to Astana to create actionable timelines that help you hit your deadlines. As work progresses and deadlines change and shift, Astana allows you to adjust your plan to keep your project on track easily.
You can also see and track your work on Kanban boards and create automated processes to coordinate your team.
10. G-Suite with Trello
Trello is a PM visual tool that helps you manage all types of workflow and projects. The app has Board, Timeline, Calendar, Dashboard, Map, and Workspace views, so integrating G-Suite lets you see your projects from every angle.
The Trello board, similar to a Kanban board, allows you to instantly see the status of your every task. The Timeline view, a dynamic Gantt chart, helps you see tasks coming down the pipeline and identify bottlenecks. The dashboard view helps you visualize key metrics.
11. G-Suite with Slack
Slack is all about project communication. Integrating G-Suite with Slack solves all the problems with email communication.
Slack allows you to organize your communication into channels. A Slack channel provides you and your team with a shared view of the work being done. It provides everyone access to the same information, allowing everyone to work in sync towards achieving the main goal.
12. G-Suite with TimeCamp
TimeCamp is a quintessential time tracking software that helps you see how long your project tasks take.
While G-Suite is excellent in helping you detail your tasks, integrating the apps with G-Suite will help you analyze your time performance. This helps you identify tasks/ events that may cause your project to overshoot its schedule.
TimeCamp also has a Chrome extension which works with 70+ extra tools including most of the Google tools. The TimeCamp Chrome extension allows you to track time inside the tools you use.
With the Chrome plugin, you can use TimeCamp to track time without leaving the tool you are using. That is, you do not need to jump between a given app and TimeCamp to log time. All you need to do is click on the green TimeCamp button, and the time entries will appear on the timesheet in TimeCamp.
Project goals give you and your team a direction, as it shows you where to channel your efforts. However, as the project progresses, you need to measure goals to know if you are on course or veering off course.
That said, measuring goals is imperative to project success. Any software you use in your project management systems should allow you to measure project goals. You should measure performance, schedule, cost, quality, and stakeholder satisfaction against the business case at various points in your project life cycle.
Since the different “Google project management software” caters to specific project management needs, you can use them to measure different project goals.
You can use the Google project management tools to measure goals as follows:
Gmail is fine for team communication (though it is not the best). You can use responses to measure whether or not your team members are aligned on project goals.
Sheets has excellent features for developing project plans, timelines, and dynamic Gantt charts. So, you can use them to measure whether or not your project is sticking to the original schedule.
Use Sheets to make your tasks and deadlines into visual timelines. Then, look at your milestones on Sheets and check whether you will achieve the milestones on the exact dates.
That tells you how work is progressing, helps you identify slippages, and how slippages will affect your overall project baseline.
Docs is extremely helpful in creating documents and collaborating on them. So, you can use Docs to measure the evolution of your project plan.
The business case changes as the project progresses, especially when requirements are amended, adopted, or discarded. Docs can help you see how your project is shaping up concerning your business case.
Use the “version history” (File > Version history > See Version history) to see the different versions of the documents that users have made since you created it. It can help you see how your current plans differ from your original plan.
Drive is your Google suite app for storing and sharing digital assets. Since each user’s changes are attributed to them, you can use Drive to track the different contributions of every member of the entire team towards achieving project goals.
Google Calendar is excellent at scheduling meetings and assigning work to team members. So, you can use it to track team members’ availability.
The notification feature of Calendar makes it a fine tool for enhancing team productivity. If you find that team members often miss their deadlines, you can set Google Calendar to send daily notifications to remind your team of upcoming events, due dates, etc.
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Since Google Slides is a presentation-focused app, it is fine for measuring project status.
Use the basic features of Slides to create reports showing the status of your ongoing projects. Slides’ visual elements help stakeholders better appreciate data comparing performance to baselines.
Forms is an excellent project management tool in Google Suite for collecting feedback and responses from both internal and external project stakeholders. Thus, it is excellent for measuring stakeholder satisfaction.
Create an online survey and share it with relevant stakeholders. The app also creates automatic reports allowing you to analyze survey responses quickly. You can then see what your stakeholders think and use this to improve things.
As a personal to-do list, Google Tasks can help measure how well you complete project tasks.
Thus, Google Tasks can help as a task management tool. Simply use project tasks to create your Google Task lists. Then check tasks off as you complete them. You’ll see hiccups in your workflow and develop solutions to enhance productivity.
👉 Check also our list of Best Free Task Management Software to Help You Organize Work
While Google project management software has many benefits, they are not without limitations.
The limitations of the Google project management tools include:
The software is not integrated as one.
It does not allow effective tracking of project goals.
It is difficult to monitor multiple projects.
The Google project management software does not offer time management.
It does not provide project-focused communication and collaboration.
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The Google project management software is not integrated as one
As mentioned earlier, no dedicated Google app handles all the functionalities that a project manager needs. The Google workspace (Google Suite) provides virtually all the basic functionalities, but these are provided in an array of apps – Docs, Sheets, Forms, Slides, Calendar, etc.
Thus, a project manager must combine different apps to create simple project management solutions. For example, you may use Sheets to create your project plans and timelines, use Gmail to email your team about the project, include a Forms link in the email to get feedback about the project plan, use Calendar to schedule a team meeting to discuss the project, etc.
The scattered apps of Google Suite mean that you’ll get a fragmented view of the project, with each app doing only what it is designed to do.
The solution to this limitation is integrating Google apps with dedicated project management software like Astana and Trello. These PM apps are designed to carry out different project management functionalities. Thus, you can create your project, collaborate with the team, track progress, etc., in one workspace.
Google project management software does not allow effective tracking of project goals
The G Suite tools are limited in helping you to track your project goal. Some of the apps can help you mark your goals and due dates but fall flat when it comes to following through on plans.
With some work, you can create project timelines on Sheets. But they only help you visualize how work should progress, not how it is progressing in real-time.
The solution to the “ineffective goals tracking” limitation of the Google apps is using the advanced timeline view (dynamic Gantt charts) of an integrated project management software. It will show you project tasks and sub-tasks, dependencies between tasks, critical path, and more.
This allows you to see how things are progressing in real-time and the effect of slippages on other project activities and your bottom line.
👉 For specific information about goals read our list of Top 12 Examples of Caareer Goals for Self- Improvement
Google project management software is difficult to monitor multiple projects
With the Google apps, gauging the performance of even one complex project will require reviewing tons of documents and sheets. It becomes nigh impossible to monitor different projects with competing activities and demands effectively.
The solution to monitoring your different projects simultaneously is using the portfolio feature of an advanced integrated project management software like Asana.
A portfolio is a centralized view of all your projects, giving you real-time monitoring of projects.
The portfolio helps you view each project’s current status, percentage progress, overdue tasks, and more. Thus, you can keep your team updated on the progress of multiple projects.
The Google project management software does not offer time management
The Google project management tools do not have time management features that allow you to assign times to project tasks and track the time spent on each task. Thus, tracking projects using Google Suite can lead to poor time management, time overruns, and project delays.
A solution to the poor time management capability of the Google tools is to use time tracking software in your project management systems.
TimeCamp is the industry leader in time tracking. It provides you with all the data you need to analyze the performance of your projects and your teams. TimeCamp also offers enterprise time tracking, allowing you to track your team’s performance across different projects.
By integrating Google apps with TimeCamp, you’ll see how long it takes you to complete tasks. It helps you determine tasks that have time overruns. Then you can narrow down the causes of the overruns to develop custom solutions for delivering projects on time.
Google project management software does not offer project-focused communication and collaboration
Some of the apps in G Suite offer great collaboration features. However, the collaboration is limited to in-app activities. Thus, Docs lets you collaborate on a shared document, Sheets lets you collaborate on a shared spreadsheet, etc.
However, the Google software lacks organized workspaces for project-related communication and collaboration.
The solution to the collaboration limitation of Google Suite apps is using dedicated project management software. A workspace for real-time project-focused collaboration and communication is a feature of most of the best project management software.
Slack’s “channel” feature is a perfect example of a project-focused workspace for communication and collaboration. The workspace allows all users to communicate where the tasks are. It also provides file-sharing, voice messaging, and video conferencing. So, you do not have to switch between project management tools.
Using the Google project management tools come with many benefits, including:
They have a simple user interface (UI)
They allow collaboration
They allow remote working
They foster transparency
They enhance productivity
They help with effective budget management
They have a simple user interface
The Google Suite apps have an intuitive interface. Whether simple spreadsheets or simple word processors, The G Suite apps are simple tools that are easy to use and have little to no learning curve.
They allow collaboration
The Google suite apps offer excellent in-app collaboration. You can share files with team members and give them commenting or editing access.
Thus, team members can make and get important updates with just a few clicks.
They allow remote working
The collaboration feature of the Google Suite software facilitates remote working.
If you have a distributed team where members are physically located away from each other, the distance will not be a barrier to “coming together” to collaborate on tasks.
You can create and share project documents with remote teams, allowing everyone to make edits and get updates in real-time.
👉 Check also our article about remote working: What Does Working Remotely Mean?
They foster transparency
In the G Suite apps, updates to files are automatically saved. Also, the app keeps a history of all updates. Thus, users can view a history of every version of a particular document from when it was created.
It fosters transparency in your project, as team members can see how plans evolve.
They enhance productivity
The Google project management tools help you handle particular project needs to improve performance.
For example, Gmail facilitates communication, Forms help you obtain valuable feedback to improve processes, Calendar helps remind members of tasks, etc. Thus, the apps allow communication, collaboration, scheduling, etc., for successful project delivery.
They help with effective budget management
An essential duty of project managers is ensuring that projects do not exceed their budget.
Some budgeting tips for managers include working towards goals, evaluating performance, and communicating progress/ results. Interestingly, project management applications help in this regard.
With Gmail (and the related Google Chat and Google Meet), you can communicate with stakeholders to ensure that everyone is on the same page. You can use Google Tasks and Sheets to evaluate cost performance to some extent. You can use Slides and Docs to create basic dashboards to help you visualize your cost performance (tracking expenses to know whether you are exceeding budgets).
Ultimately, the capabilities of the different Google PM apps are to make you achieve your project goals, which include delivering projects on budget.
👉 Read also: Best Budget Management Software
While Google does not have dedicated project management software, it has different apps that serve particular project management needs. These apps make up the Google Workspace (formerly called G Suite) and include Docs, Sheets, Drive, Slides, Forms, Calendar, Gmail, etc.
The Google project management software offers benefits like a simple UI, good in-app collaboration, remote working, transparency, and enhanced productivity. However, the apps come with some limitations – they are not integrated as one, do not effectively track project goals, do not offer time management, etc.
One solution to the many problems of using the Google PM apps is integrating them with dedicated project management tools. For example, integrating G-Suite with TimeCamp helps you track time spent on each task for effective time management.
TimeCamp is a simple yet feature-rich time tracking app that can help you gain insights into your projects. With TimeCamp, you can:
Track time on your tasks and create reports and timesheets in seconds
Mark tracked time as either billable or non-billable, speeding up invoicing and resource management
Get one-click approvals of your team’s timesheet
What is more, TimeCamp offers a 14-days free trial.
Want to be more productive on your projects? Start tracking time for effective time management. Register with TimeCamp today!