Using Google Forms to Improve Productivity

I chose this topic for my Improving Productivity and Essential Skills Wales ICT Project, because there’s one job, I have to do every month and it’s stressing myself and other staff members out badly, additionally the amount of paper that is being wasted printing the documents is unbelievable.  I also wanted something that would remind the training staff that I need the relevant  information by a certain date every month.

After discussing with my tutor what I wanted and how do I go about achieving it, we decided a Google Form would be the best option I had no skills on using Google Documents, I’ve heard about them and members of staff sharing documents with me, but I’ve never actually gone in and tried to develop one myself.  I started off by searching how to use Google forms surprisingly a long list came up, so I decided to go on Google’s own web site, which give a lot of information, some not so helpful.  I decided to try another site, hopefully this one will explain in my language, it did explain step by step with helped.  I then asked Stella give me some basic training, which I did need, plus she explained even better.  Then it was down to me to design the layout and also decide exactly what I wanted and needed out of the form.

My main priority was that the document was easily accessible and the lay out of the form ran in the right order, I knew exactly what questions the training staff would be filling out regularly,  so the form needed be clear, easy to read and easy to fill out.

Once I decided on the main questions that were going on the form, it was time to have a go.  Not too bad at first the training Stella give me came in handy I learnt a few things myself, like using the question type box to decide on how I wanted the questions answered, from text, paragraph or chose from list.  Using the duplicate feature that Stella showed me came in very helpful, saved a lot of time.  I also decided clicking on the required questions box, for most of the questions to make sure the form fields had been completed fully before submission.

A draft form was sent out to all training staff, to see what they thought, one very good response came back, making  a suggestion about using a three way box to enter start date, end date or change level.   I decided that wouldn’t work if more than one activity was being added or closed, so I will need to keep separate boxes for each.

Every time I went into the document, I would see something that I wanted to change; I think I was being a bit too fussy.  Once I was happy with the form, we sent it out again to all the training staff, one response came back about listing all the qualifications on the form, which I decided would be a good idea.  I changed the list to a drop down entry so it doesn’t take up too much room on the form.  Another response came back, saying they tried to use the form to close an activity and submit, but the form wouldn’t allow it until she opened an activity first, that’s when I decided to remove using the required question box on all the questions.

Activities (Maytas)

The form is looking good and it’s going to make my life and the staff’s easier, it does what it says on the tin.  Only one job left to do,  I need to utilise an IT tool so that a message or email is automatically sent to the staff reminding them about the form and when it’s needed to be filled out by.  The training staff will start to forget to fill out the form, if they are not repeatedly reminded.

For this I am considering either a schedule on the Google Calendar but I think there are more cons than pros, are the tutors going to see the reminders on the Google Calendar, I don’t want to have to remind them all the time.  The only other option would be an automated email, there is a browser plugin called Boomerang Gmail which would let me schedule emails, which in turn would remind the tutors about the form that needs filling out and I don’t have to leave my desk, this I think I need to try out.

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