One of the most important aspects of running a small business is to keep an organized office. With a small operation, there typically isn’t a lot of money in the budget to put into an expensive IT infrastructure, and most small businesses don’t worry about it too much because their small amount of employees allows them to communicate and collaborate easily. However, email is still a huge part of the business world, shared calendars are invaluable, and collaborating on documents that are constantly changing is a big part of service-based small businesses. Google Apps offers all of those features and A LOT more. If you own a small business and you don’t want to pay $300 per MS Office license, then keep reading.
Google Apps Standard and Google Apps Premier
For small businesses with less than 50 employees, the recommended product is Google Apps Standard which is COMPLETELY free. You don’t pay a dime. It’s a pretty sweet deal for you business owners out there. The reason it’s recommended for businesses with less than 50 employees is because the free version only allows 50 Gmail hosted email addresses. For businesses with more than 50 employees, there is Google Premier that charges $50 per user, per year but it offers more space and more features. Here’s a chart to show you the differences:
Advantages of Google Apps
- It’s FREE for the first 50 users!! This works out great, because a lot of small businesses have less than 50 employees.
- It’s cloud computing at its best. All of your email, important documents, calendars, and other project management information can be accessed anywhere there is an internet connection.
- You get all of the great advantages of Gmail such as their sweet SPAM filter and their accurate search function to easily find archived email.
- Sharing is everywhere. ou can make changes to a Google doc at the same time that a co-worker is making changes to it. Also, the shared calendar is a beautiful thing.
- It’s a great solution for a company without an IT department because it’s fairly easy to set up, and it doesn’t require any hardware or software to install.
The Disadvantages of Google Apps
- If you have a business over 50 users, they charge you $50 per user per year. That’s still not much for what you get, but it sucks for businesses with 52 employees.
- Technical support is not personal. If something goes wrong or the Google server goes down, who do you call? Your guess is as good as mine. You pretty much just wait. However, Google rarely has outages, so this isn’t that big of a deal.
- Google Docs may not be as feature-rich as the desktop office apps by Apple and Microsoft, but it’s getting there, and it can easily import/export the most common file formats.
My Experience With Google Apps
I’ve used Google Apps as an employees and I’ve used it with my personal freelance business to keep things organized and to help my partner and me collaborate best. I’ve set it up on my own, and if you have some basic knowledge of DNS name servers and records, it’s really not that hard to set up. I’m a big fan of the Google products, and I’m forever a fan of Gmail, so this is a no-brainer for me. I love that my business lives online rather than on one network or only on work computers. Google Docs is great because it literally allows you to work together with someone on a document without overwriting each other’s changes.
I would highly recommend that small businesses make the switch to Google Apps if they do not already have a cohesive inter-office system. Organization is key to a successful business, and what I like most about the Google Apps suite is that it all connects together. It only requires one login for each user, and it offers simplicity to your employees. Also, Google is in the works of allowing your Google Apps login to be able to be used in conjunction with a ton of their other applications like Picasa, Google Maps, Google Alerts, Google Trends, and Google Analytics, just to name a few. If you want to make the switch but you aren’t tech savvy, look for a Google Apps specialist in your area.
Have you worked directly with Google Apps or even Gmail in general? What’s your feedback on their products and features?
(photo credit: ottopress)