Even in 2016, the search for a small business cloud solution continues for most small businesses. There are many ways to “get in the cloud”, all of which serve a slightly different type of business. However, if you’re looking to get your small business in the cloud and begin collaborating and operating 100% online in a timely and cost efficient manner, look no further than Google Apps for Work.
What type of business is Google Apps for
Essentially, any business of any size can take advantage of the many features of Google Apps for Work. Businesses that will see the most use out of the service are those that work online or on computers for the majority of the day, and most likely produce or make use of digital assets (design files, spreadsheets, animation and video production, to name a few).
That being said, companies that deliver a service or even develop physical products will see an increase in administration efficiency by communicating and collaborating online through this small business cloud solution.
What features does the service provide
I’m sure most of you are familiar with Gmail, Calendar, and Drive, these services are included as part of the Google Apps for Work suite. All be it, in a different scale then the free personal versions. The major difference, and feature improvement is that these services become business managed environments and seamlessly integrate with each other and with each member of your team.
On of the major benefits in my experience is the ability to collaborate in real time with other team members on the same google doc while watching what each person is doing. Working with various other cloud services, this is a feature that is somewhat absent. The level of historical/revision information is amazing also. You can even roll back version of documents with the click of a link.
The other major feature to Google Apps for Work, is the integration with so many other systems and applications. From calendar integration, to various Project management tool integration, the flexibility and scale ability to enhance the platform with particular services is second to none.
Pricing structure and options
The pricing for this small business cloud solution is painfully simple, US$5 per month per user. That’s for the basic storage for email and drive files which is 30GB for both combined (as of Feb 2016). If you require more storage you can buy more and assign to a particular user. This comes as addon to the regular pricing, for US$10 per month. That will provide unlimited storage and an increase in Drive administration features such as Google Vault, Drive auditing and reporting features for the admin users.
Insights from a transition to Google Apps
I’d like to provide some insight into Google Apps for Work and the challenges I faced when transitioning a decent sized agency over to the platform. It addresses the basic questions and issues you’ll have when making the move. All of which you can overcome and end up with a much more streamlined and secure way to collaborate and communicate.
1. Exchange Mail compared to Google Mail
We moved from a Hosted Microsoft Exchange environment to Google Apps. The issues were historical emails that are somewhat important when you’re spending millions of clients dollars on media and various services, So having a record of email communication is pretty important when it comes to audit time. Thankfully, Google has provided a tool to help you migrate all those emails into the platform. You can find it here. It does require some technical details to connect with the server and move the emails, but its pretty straight forward for an IT guy/gal to figure out.
Another seemingly small issue to me, but gigantic to others, is the way that Gmail uses tags instead of folders (even though they are essentially the same in functionality. If you’re someone who files all your emails into exchange folders, you may find it hard to get your head around tags. But the way I sold it was to help these folks change their way of thinking to understand that Gmail has the power of Google search right there in the inbox. So there’s no need to file 1000’s of emails in nicely named and sorted folders. But if you must, tags work the same as folders.
2. Office Programs to Google Docs
I mentioned earlier that Google docs allows for collaboration. A big issue to overcome here is the reluctance to stay with the installed office products. Even something as simple as switching from PowerPoint to Slides took some convincing on a personal level for some of the accounts team who had become pro’s in PowerPoint. But the ability to collaborate and even share with clients in the same environment far outweighed the couple of inefficiencies that had been developed by using PowerPoint for so many years.
3. Support from Google
Another issue is when there is a hiccup in the service and documents may become temporarily unavailable, or emails are unavailable for a few minutes. There is essentially no-one to call and yell at. Which was disturbing to some of those resistant to the cloud in general. But understanding that Google infrastructure is a little more power and redundant than your average office network, I think you’ll be better off with Google Apps (sarcasm is my specialty).
4. Technical Transition required steps
Part of moving to any small business cloud solution is the altering of your DNS settings (domain name server settings). You need to essentially point your mail traffic over to the google apps service. They provide a tone of info on how to perform this setting change, and even a temporary domain to get you in the system prior to making that switch. But if that’s out of your comfort zone you’ll need to find your web guy or It guy. They’ll know what to do. If you don’t have that guy or gal. Let me know. Ill help ya out.
Give this small business cloud solution a try
I hope I’ve given you enough info to give Google Apps, a small business cloud solution, a try. Click here to try Google Apps for work, and if you’re interested in getting started and making the switch here’s a code to get you 20% off for the first year 7EUA9WWQ3YN3Q7 Might as well save a few bucks right!
If you have any questions about what type of business might not work, of just looking for some more info, ask away in the comments below. As someone who’s gone through the transition process I’m sure I can help in some way. But I promise, if your business is a fit, it’ll be the best move you make for so many reasons.
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