Tackling a large project as a group has never been easier with online file sharing communities, but don’t let the convenience derail your organization
By Rachel Lombardo
Taking on a group project – whether it be for work, school, or a local organization you are part of – can be one of the more rewarding tasks you will work on. You’ll have the opportunity to work with people from various backgrounds, all of whom bring new ideas and diverse talents to the table to create a project that is sure to surpass your expectations. Something else that may surpass your expectations: the stress of it all. With a multitude of ideas being thrown around and strong personalities clashing with one another, it can be hard to keep your group organized and on track for project completion.
To keep yourself from pulling your hair out (and perhaps doing worse to your strong-willed group members), here’s five tips for staying organized and on-track with your file sharing project.
- Create a clear outline of tasks and deadlines
- Logically organize file storage
- Create file permissions that best suit your group
- Decide on a document format that speak a similar language
- Clearly comment and communicate ideas & discrepancies
Outlining Tasks and Deadlines
The key to your group project: get it done on time. When working with a group, getting everyone to cooperate and finish their part of the project in a timely matter is vital in ensuring that the next group member can take over and finish their portion of the project, and so on. Here are the best ways to make sure the group works together like a well-oiled machine:
- Make a calendar: Before even starting, make a timeline for which each part of the project that needs to be completed, assigning dates that each portion should be completed — you can even keep your calendar within your shared files so your team can easily reference it.
- Assign tasks that highlight the skills of your team: The best way to ensure that your project is as successful as possible is to highlight the skills of your team. Allow team members to volunteer for tasks that best fit their schedules and skill sets.
- Outline tasks thoroughly: In order for the team to function properly, be sure to thoroughly outline what eat individual task entails from start to finish and how files need to be shared to keep the group moving. Be explicit and lean towards being overly detailed to ensure that no steps are skipping over.
Organizing Project Files
For large, multi-faceted projects, it can be difficult to keep track of where different files are located within a file sharing site. Confusion can easily hinder progress, so it’s important to keep each part of the project organized.
A great way to do this is by creating folders for each part of the project: “Assignments” for keeping a calendar and files with detailed instructions, “Proposal” for organizing the beginning stages of your project, “Images” for keeping photos, tables, and graphs that are created, and “Data” to keep raw data files safe and separate from other portions of the project. When portions of the project are kept in specific folders, other team members can locate them for future use.
Using File Permissions
Especially for large group projects, it’s important to make sure that only certain people are working on certain documents. Luckily, by assigning file permissions to the various documents you are sharing, you can ensure that certain files are only referenced and edited by specific group members.
File permissions go beyond what group members can access, but also allow you to create “view only” and “can edit” options for specific individuals. This way you can keep your calendar and
instructions set in stone, but can collaborate with team members when needed. Additionally, you can often revert back to a previous document after edits are completed — just in case. Having the peace of mind that your group has access to documents that pertain only to them is vital in an organized project.
Uniform Document Formatting
Nothing is more frustrating than spending time formatting documents correctly that could have been done right the first time around. To avoid issues, it’s important to decide on common formatting early on so that documents speak the same language, per say. By creating proper headings, using uniform fonts and spacing, and establishing stylistic unity at the beginning of your project, you’ll save time editing and revising portions of the project.
Additionally, it may be important to decide how editing will be done on written portions of the project. If peer editing is done, it could be valuable to establish a similar language in how editing is completed as well. For instance, your team can decide to highlight area where more detail or clarification is needed, boldface problems with grammar and word choice, and leave comments for questions and other concerns. Once everyone is on the same page with editing and formatting, the project will move along easier.
Communicating Ideas & Discrepancies
Probably the most important aspect of any group project is ensuring that communication is done efficiently and respectfully. Make a plan on how to communicate issues – whether your data
sharing site offers a messenger, or whether email will be your preferred method of communication – and always communicate about deadlines and issues that arise.
This is a sponsored post for Dropbox. All opinions are my own. Dropbox is not affiliated with nor endorses any other products or services mentioned.