Thursday, July 15, 2010

Google, Can You Hear Me?: Ideas to Improve User Management for Google Apps for the Enterprise

Two ideas popped into my head in response to recent requests for domain administration at my company.

If you are a Google Apps for the Enterprise developer and would like to steal my ideas, I give you full permission. You can take all the credit… just make sure to give my domain free licenses.

Idea #1: Branded Email Signatures for Domain

Now that Gmail supports html email signatures, it would be great if domain administrators could create and update branded html email signature templates for all users.

2010-07-15_143214

This would prevent having to tell all users “Please update your email signature and don’t forget to make the phone number look like *** and use a state abbreviation like ** and …” and prevent branding inconsistencies.

If admins could leverage user information (including custom fields) managed by tools such as Directory Manager by SherpaTools, they could include fields such as Title, Phone, Address, etc. based on individual user information.

It would make email signatures easy to update (such as when the Company Name changes or formatting needs to be modified) and hassle-free for end users.

Idea #2: Profile Directory for Domain Users

We have gotten several requests for a profile-directory of sorts that shows a photo, brief bio and contact information for all employees. Currently, there isn’t an easy way to manage this and Google Groups profiles can be confusing for users to update (one example of this is that the picture they use in Google Groups can be different that the profile picture they specify in the Gmail Settings).

It could look something like this (although it would be great to allow filters by specific criteria in custom fields such as: “Reporting Office Location” or “City”) rather than one giant list:

2010-07-15_145419

This is a screen capture from a google site that I created to store contact information for a specific project. I manually transferred info from each user’s profile in Google Groups (which isn’t too labor intensive for a small subset, but would be wonderful to automate).

Do you have other ideas for domain management improvement with Google Apps? I’d love to hear about them. Please share them in the comments!

Additional Resources

JennaBazesml Jenna Baze is a rather geeky girl with average social skills and an affinity for: all things Google, Remember the Milk, Salesforce.com, Inbox Zero, Etsy, natural light photography and finding creative ways to avoid doing dishes (which includes updating a handful of blogs).
Email:
rathergeeky@gmail.com
Twitter: @Rather_Geeky
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Thursday, July 1, 2010

Missing Google Chats?

I read about this tip on Lifehacker and immediately tested it out. Sure enough, there were three or four chats that I had never noticed!

Note that the tip below can be found here: http://lifehacker.com/5576828/from-the-tips-box-ios-4-colors-portable-launchy-and-missed-ims/gallery/3

Find Missed GTalk Requests with a Gmail Search

Ram07 shares a way to search for all those missed pings from your friends:

I leave my Gmail account open in many different computers and I would venture to guess that most lifehacker readers probably do the same too. All is well except when some friend pings you on Gmail Chat and it appears only in the window that's open on the corner computer in the office. You would probably never see it and not get back to him. And that's probably not good for your friendship either.

However you can search for all such ignored pings by just searching gmail for "is:chat -me" without quotes. You'd be surprised how many rare pings you have missed in the past.

If you're the type that gets caught in this situation a lot, you could also make a bookmark using the URL for the search results page. It would give you the up-to-date results of the search every time you clicked on it. Also note that for this tip to work, you will need to have chat logging enabled in Gmail's chat settings (Settings > Chat).

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