When you need to get a lot of people to provide input (sales forecasts, marketing plans, customer feedback), your options are pretty limited. You have to send files around or invite people to add something to an online, shared spreadsheet, like Google Docs (as we introduced in Close the loop).
Things just got easier. Google docs (a free online spreadsheet), has just added the ability to create forms. These forms let you turn their online spreadsheets into an easy way to reach out to others for the information you need. Here’s how it works. First, open up a regular Google doc spreadsheet. Choose to share the document and then indicate that you want to create a form. Fill out the different sections using tools similar to those you’ll find when creating an online survey. Then, you can automatically send an email to anyone from whom you would like to gather information. Your recipient will receive a simple request and be directed to a web page.
As people fill out the form and provide data, you can track the data as it comes in … on your spreadsheet. Where else? Why are you still sending around spreadsheets for people to complete?