Genealogy societies, local civic and social groups and friends of the library often need to coordinate projects, events or publication reviews among a team or committee. The most common way of doing this is by email, but as team members respond with their changes, suggestions and ideas, things can get confusing quickly. Has this change been approved? Is that task completed yet? Which draft is the most current? And, if you’ve been out of the loop for a few days, catching up can be a nightmare.
There’s got to be a better way!
Posterous supports a group space capability in addition to its blog site. Using Posterous Groups, you can turn a round-robin email nightmare into an online conversation and project management becomes a whole lot easier. All team members are invited to become members of the group. When one has something to say to the team, she sends an email message to the group’s address (firstname.lastname@example.org in this example). That message becomes a discussion topic and is listed in the left column. When a member clicks on a topic, the contents of the conversation appears in the right column.
In this example, the Spring Newsletter topic currently has two messages – the initial message and the first reply. As team members reply to the message, their notes appear here in the order they are received. In addition, each team member gets a copy delivered to their Inbox. Any team member can become part of the conversation by replying to a message or by visiting the site and clicking the reply icon at the top of the message you want to reply to. Any links, photos or attachments included in the email message are also accessible at the group site.
If you’ve been away and want to catch up quickly, instead of wading through all the email traffic, stop by the group site and scan through the conversations for each topic.
Creating a Posterous group is easy. All you do is send an email to email@example.com. Put the name for your group in the subject line of your message and add one or more email addresses of group members in the body of your message. Posterous will send you an immediate reply with a link to finish the set up. Follow the link and you’ll see a screen similar to this where you fill in the needed information, then click the Create Group button.
Next you will be taken to the People screen where you can add more team members and define who can contribute to the group conversation (Contributors) and who will only read the conversation (Subscribers). You can also choose how they will receive their messages – instantly or as a daily digest. Note that members can change this from their profile page.
With the group created, your first message should brief members on the group’s purpose and how it will be used to support the team. Ask them to reply with their feedback and ideas on how to use the group. This gives them the opportunity to start a conversation and see for themselves what the group’s all about.
Note that subscribers and contributors do not have to become Posterous members to participate in the group. However, contributors who are not members will not be able to post or reply to topics using the web-based editor and, if the group is set as a private group, only Posterous members can see the group site. You will need to set your site as public-read only to allow non-members to see the group content online.
It won’t take long for all members to get comfortable with the group platform. It might require a few gentle nudges to team members unfamiliar with online collaboration, but the benefits will become obvious very quickly. If you’d like to learn more, the Groups Help section at Posterous has all the answers.
Combine function with free and easy and you have a great collaboration tool. That’s Posterous Groups.