10 Signs It’s Time To Ditch Google Docs

Joe Corcione

June 09, 2021

You know something is wrong with the way you train your team. But you can’t seem to pinpoint exactly what it is. It just feels like how you’re going about it isn’t sustainable. 

And while we don’t like to point fingers, there is a usual suspect for these training troubles: Google Docs. But they’re such a staple in the business world, so it can be hard to admit that they’re the problem.  

That’s why we’re here to diagnose if you need to #DitchTheDocs (at least when it comes to training your team). Plus, we’ll even prescribe what tool your business should use instead.

👉 Spoiler: This tool is Trainual! Thousands of businesses have already moved their training from Google Docs to Trainual and made training their teams a lot easier. But don’t take our word for it – try it free today.

Google Docs is great (but not for training)

Don’t get us wrong – Google Docs kills in some areas, such as cross-collaboration and drafting ideas. But when it comes to getting your new hires up to speed, it really sucks!

And when you’re trying to grow your business, training is something you can’t afford to mess up. Because if you do, your team spends 20% of each workday searching for information they need to do their job. And, as a result, your business’ growth will flatline.

Of course, Google Docs is free (that’s half the appeal). But all of your company’s wasted time is not, and it adds up quick. When need-to-knows are hard to find, you spend $4,000 per employee per month on lost productivity. And you might not even know that it’s happening! 

I know – you’re probably thinking that if this was you, you would’ve noticed the money burning. And, for your sake, I hope you’re right! But let’s make sure just to be safe. 

Here are the most common symptoms businesses deal with when they train their team with Google Docs. And if any of them affect your business, you need to ditch the docs… like yesterday.

1. Your company knowledge isn’t all in one place

Where can I find that process? Do you know which Doc has that information? Can you just tell me how to do this?

A similar experience to looking for something in Google Docs

Sound familiar? If you’re constantly getting questions like that from your team, this is a sign that Google Docs isn’t cutting it. That’s because it means one of two things: your team is sitting around waiting for answers. Or, they’re making it up as they go along. 

That’s because for each person that follows up on the process they know nothing about, there’s someone who doesn’t. And even if they ask questions, they might not get the answer right away. 

So, the team member is either waiting for the answer (even if it means possibly missing their deadline). Or they’re making it up as they go along. Which can lead to a lot of costly (and avoidable) mistakes. 

Think about it this way: most people are going to help themselves first. So, if they’re asking you these questions, they’ve already looked for the answer, couldn’t find it, and gave up. Whether or not they took this first step, the results are the same: your bottom line is impacted. And hitting your company’s goals takes a lot longer than it should 

But it doesn’t have to be this way! You can use Trainual to keep every how-to and need-to-know in one centralized place. That way, your team knows exactly where to find the answers they’re looking for. And there’s no confusion on where they should start (and finish) their search.

2. Getting info takes more than a minute

Similarly, even if your team can find the information they need, it should fall within what we call the minute test. Meaning, if it takes you or a team member more than a minute to find what you need (go ahead and time it), it’s too long. And that’s a sign! 

For starters, it’s no fun reading Doc after Doc until you find what you need. It’s not efficient. And it’s super overwhelming. 

Plus – as I said before – those minutes add up fast. And all that lost time can be the difference between propelling your business forward and staying stagnant. Or, at the individual level, the cost of a promotion. 

That’s because getting the answers you need should be as simple as a Google Search (the irony). But Google Docs proves time and time again that it’s just not there yet. 

Meanwhile, Trainual is there! Teams that house their company knowledge in Trainual can find the answers they need in seconds by searching inside their account. Or they can get those same answers from Slack – without interrupting their workflow or disrupting others. Meaning, with Trainual, your team spends less time finding the answers and more time working.

Google Docs vs Trainual's Search Results

3. No one updates your processes

Your processes are always changing. But when they do, do your Google Docs change too? AKA is your process documentation up-to-date? The easiest way to tell is to look at any of your Google Docs. If that process doesn’t break down how you currently do things, you’ve got a problem. 

When you delegate your processes, this documentation is how the person taking over learns how to do it. And if the documentation is out of date, they’re going to learn the old way. 

Or, worse, your teammates might not even look at the Doc you send over – even if it has the answer they need. Because they might’ve spent so much time reading outdated how-tos that they don’t trust that this one could possibly be current.  

But even if you wanted to fix this problem, chances are good that you don’t have someone accountable for making the changes (most companies don’t). That’s why your documentation got so out of date in the first place. Or the person responsible doesn’t know they’re supposed to be doing this.

Typically, everyone who needs to know this process will be shared on the Doc. And it’s not clear who the Doc owner is. So, when updates need to be made, everyone is unknowingly updating the Doc, or no one is. Either way, it’s a problem.

But with Trainual, you can assign a subject owner to each process, policy, and procedure. Meaning, it’s super clear who is responsible for building out the documentation and keeping it up to date. And you can actually hold them accountable for making this happen! 

4. No one knows when you make updates

Great – so your Docs are up-to-date. But does your team know that?

Don't let Google Docs rage on your team like this

If anyone is still doing things the old way, they clearly don’t know about the update. Or they just don’t take it seriously – which is a whole other problem. (We’ll get to that in a minute.)

That’s because Google Doc’s only option to notify others of a change is by tagging them in a comment. And that’s absolutely annoying (not to mention tedious) if you have the Doc shared with more than like 2 people. 

So, your team goes through the Docs once (probably when they were onboarding). Then, they never go through it again. So, when you update your processes, they have no idea. 

Here’s why that’s a problem: when only a few teammates know about the latest and greatest way of doing things, your team is completely misaligned. So, not everyone does the same task the same way, and there’s no way to hold people accountable. The results (especially when it comes to quality) is pure chaos.

Trainual doesn’t leave your team in the dark. The moment you change how you do things, your team gets notified. That way, they know it’s time to review their training content. And they’re always up to speed on the best way of doing things. So, your team is always aligned and accountable. 

🔥 Tip: Design Pickle ditched Google Docs for Trainual and were able to train and scale their remote teams much faster. Learn how!

5. Your team doesn’t complete their training

You put a ton of work into creating your training content. And you know that it’s helpful stuff! Yet, no one bothers looking at it. 

And even if you don’t have proof of this, deep down, you know it’s true. Because some of your team is underperforming. Some straight-up told you they haven’t completed it yet. And some don’t even know the Docs exist.

Google Docs usually leaves your team in the dark

Regardless, these are all indications that your team’s training isn’t getting done. So, your time spent creating the content was a total waste. And your team is just doing their work however they think it should be done (even if it’s costly or dangerous). 

And as a result, you get inconsistent results. You might even constantly finding yourself following people around, redoing their work to make it right. But that’s not healthy – for you or them.

🔥 Tip: Trainual sends reminders to your team whenever they still have to complete training. Plus, you can assign due dates. That way, everyone can get up to speed at the right time. Try for free.

6. If they do their training, you don’t know who’s done

Your employees say that they’ve gone through all of their Google Docs – which is great! But they’re still underperforming. Or they’re constantly doing the wrong things (despite the right way being documented).

That’s because Scout’s Honor is nice, but it’s not an effective training strategy. There’s always that chance that they just skimmed through. Or didn’t even bother opening the Doc at all. Either way, you can’t know who’s completed their training. Not with Google Docs, at least. 

Sure, you can check to see if their face bubbles pop up in the top right corner of the Doc. But that would require babysitting your training content. And nobody has time for that.

Aint nobody got time for training in Google Docs

So, Trainual makes it easy to hold your team accountable. From one comprehensive dashboard, you can see who’s completed their training, what people have left, and who hasn’t started. 

That way, you can know who’s on track – all at a glance. And you’ll know which of your team members need some extra support and encouragement, so they actually get their training done.

7. People don’t 100% get what they learned

Reading isn’t the same as understanding. And your training only works if your team reads through all the information and actually gets it. 

So, if your team is constantly asking what to do or they’re flat-out doing their job wrong, you’ve got a problem. Namely, that your Google Docs aren’t actually training your team. 

Of course, you could always try creating tests. That way, you can confirm your team members know their stuff before heading out into the field. But how are you going to administer these tests – without it being a super manual process?

With Google Docs, it’s not easy. Your best bet is to add the test in with the training content. But there’s no guarantee that people actually took it. Plus, no easy way to check how they did. So, we’re back to Scout’s Honor (which we agreed doesn’t work).

Scouts honor is not a great strategy when it comes to training

Your best bet is to use Trainual. With it, you can build test questions directly in your training. And you can see your team’s results at a glance. That way, you know for sure that your team read and understood their training. 

If someone doesn’t get it, you can pinpoint exactly where their knowledge gaps are. Or if most people aren’t getting it, where your training may not be effective.

🔥 Tip: Build a mix of multiple-choice or written response questions directly inside Trainual. That way, you can automate how you check for retention and understanding. Try for free.

8. Your training leaves people overwhelmed

Take a look at one of your Google Docs that you use to train your employees. (No, really – I’ll wait.) 

If it’s longer than a page or all text, that’s a sign. Because one Doc like this might not give you or your team information overload. But several of them at a time (AKA the training experience) will. 

Here’s another test: ask your team as soon as they finish their training how they feel. If they mention feeling tired, overwhelmed, or burnt out, those are all symptoms of information overload. And it can directly impact how effective your training program is. 

The average person forgets roughly 50% of what they learned within an hour of learning it. But when too much is presented at once, they retain even less. Meaning, your training will be less effective and take longer. 

Rather than going over the same content again and again, make it stick the first time with Trainual. Trainual breaks up your training into different sections – each presented on its own page. 

That way, your team only sees a little bit at a time. And they have clear stopping points any time they need a break. So, they learn at their own speed and retain more!

9. Your training just isn’t fun

Before you say anything – yes, training can, in fact, be fun! For example, imagine if, like social media, your training content featured a mix of audio, video, photos, and text. Chances are good that you’d be a lot more interested in getting it done.

Your team deserves to have some fun when they're going through training! Unlike in Google Docs.

And your team probably feels the same way. But because your training is mostly text – maybe a few screenshots – you likely hear groans whenever you assign someone a Google Doc. 

Now that I’ve mentioned videos, you probably realized you should drop in a few of those. But in your Doc, it’ll just look like more text. Because of this, some people won’t engage with it. And the people who do run the risk of going down the YouTube rabbit hole. (We’ve all done it.)

But with Trainual, you can make your training more engaging – without opening tons of links. Just embed videos, photos, .gifs, and .pdfs straight into your training by dropping a link. That’s it! In seconds, your team has resources that’ll actually engage them. And no one gets distracted because it’s all in one place. 

👉 See for yourself how easy it is to add media to your training in Trainual. Watch the 1-minute clip.

10. There’s no accountability

The biggest sign of all? You find yourself struggling to hold people accountable for doing things the right way. And there’s a reason for that: the other 9 signs give your team an excuse for doing things wrong.

Why Trainual Beats Google Docs

As a result, your company can’t grow – not in a meaningful way, at least. That’s because: 

  • Deadlines will be missed.
  • You’ll spend hours re-explaining things.
  • Onboarding people will take forever.
  • Projects will be wildly uncoordinated.
  • You can’t guarantee you’ll get the same results. 
  • Running your business will feel chaotic. 

But with Trainual, you can finally get your teams aligned and keep them accountable. Because plainly put, Trainual excels at everything Google Docs fails at in the training world. 

This includes getting everyone the same information, tracking that they went through it all, and testing that they understand it. All while keeping your team engaged. 

(We’re not bragging – it’s just a fact. G2 calls us the #1 tool for training and onboarding.)

So if even one of these signs affects your business, it’s time to #DitchTheDocs and upgrade your training. That way, you can finally scale your business to its full potential.

Become a better business leader in 5 minutes a week

Get all the news small business leaders need to know - straight to your inbox.

Related Stories

Try the #1 training tool

See why thousands of businesses use Trainual to get their team up to speed faster!

Try for free Already a user? Sign in.