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Google Drive – the Mechanism for Finally Going Paperless

By Jim Doyle on April 05, 2017 hst Print

Not all that long ago, our monthly league meetings consisted of stacks of three-ring binders. Often, progress would stall because, in spite of everyone’s stacks of notebooks, no one had the schedule, the past minutes or the updated bylaw in question.

When getting ready for committee meetings, the search would begin for the correct manila folder, the right legal pad with the notes halfway through the pad. And when in such committee meetings or other professional conversations, one might say, “Oh yes, I have some information on that back in my office somewhere.” Hopefully, the information would be found and distributed upon return to the office.

When on the sidelines at games and events, and parents, coaches or other constituents would ask me to email them something. Hopefully, I would remember to send it later.

These days, the only item brought to meetings is a laptop computer with access to all the necessary documents, files, folders and notes. Need to see last year’s soccer schedule? Got it. Further, all of these files can be accessed from my smartphone – anywhere and anytime.

So, the request at the field hockey game for a copy of the upcoming basketball season schedule can be fulfilled on the spot. At our state conference this year, an apparel rep who wanted a copy of our logo and branding standards guide received it in 30 seconds.

We have been hearing about “the paperless office” for many years, but the advent of Google Drive (or other web-based file storage and sharing platforms such as Microsoft’s OneDrive) has provided a new and better way to save and organize documents, files, photos and other electronic documents for easy access.

In addition to having access to virtually all of your files and documents anywhere and anytime, Google Drive has two other features that can change the way you do business. First, it is a back-up and storage mechanism. Gone are the days of worrying about backing-up files – or not doing it and losing everything when something goes wrong. Second, it is a file-sharing system, allowing multiple users to access – and if they choose – update and modify files and documents.

Back-up and Storage
Google Drive was first introduced as an easy way to back-up files. Rather than save to a network drive, an external drive or a commercial back-up website, Google Drive will duplicate files stored on your laptop. It will take the place of your “Documents” folder, and at the same time, automatically back-up your files to the Drive on the web.

Google Drive is a web-based storage system. Once you establish a Google account, you will have a Google Drive account (My Drive). When in Google Drive, click on the settings icon in the upper right; you will see “Download Drive.” Having Google Drive on your laptop will allow you to easily upload files from your computer to My Drive, but more importantly, to sync a copy of all files in your Drive for availability on your computer. In other words, all files on your laptop “Google Drive” will be stored on your laptop (and accessible offline), and will be automatically backed-up to Google Drive online every time you connect to the Internet.

Google Docs, Google Sheets and other Google apps are webbased, and are not accessible offline unless you designate them so. They can also easily be converted, when needed, to Microsoft Office documents, etc. and be made accessible from your laptop when offline. So, when you save that attachment from an email to your computer, if you save it directly to a folder in your Google Drive, it will be automatically backed-up.

If your school has an institutional account with Google, you could have unlimited storage in your Google Drive, with the ability to store all documents and archives, photos, video and more. Since all the files are backed-up, you no longer have to worry about damage or loss of your laptop – at least as far as the files are concerned.

File-sharing
Google Drive also allows for shared folders and files. Any file or folder in your Drive can be shared with other Google users. This has been a game-changer. Our league, the Chagrin Valley Conference, now has a CVC Google Drive folder, in which we keep folders for constitution and bylaws, directories, schedules, meeting minutes, rosters and more. All athletic directors and assistants have access, so everyone has access to all files in our meetings.

Today, all of our files – updated rosters, eligibility certificates, last year’s awards – are stored in our office Google Drive folders, so anyone can access what they need – even on a Saturday when they are not in the office.

In our partnership with the Alumni Office to execute our Athletic Hall of Fame process each year, having shared files and access to them from anywhere has allowed us to collect, store and utilize research and information with tremendous efficiency.

Anywhere, anytime
Because Google Drive is a web-based storage system, with a sync capability to files stored on your laptop, and an app for your smartphone to provide access to My Drive, you can now carry all of your files and folders around with you in your pocket. The ease with which files can be sent by email or text makes it extraordinarily simple to share files and other information with a few taps and swipes, no matter where
you are.

After you have set-up your Drive, download the Google Drive app to your smartphone. Now you have your entire set of computer files available to you at all times. Access is not necessarily Internet-dependent. Even when traveling and on an airplane, or when otherwise offline, all of your updated files remain on your laptop, and your work will be synced once you reconnect.

One last suggestion is to check out Microsoft OneNote. OneNote is an electronic notebook platform, also available online and offline, with tremendous organizational capabilities.

Getting started
Not sure how some of this works? Google has great information on getting your account, Drive and synced (download) Drive set-up – just Google it! There are also many good YouTube tutorials that will help you get going. Once you are set-up, get organized. You will find that going paperless can truly be all that it is cracked up to be.