You need productivity tools. Running your business requires emailing, editing documents, analyzing sales data in spreadsheets, building decks and flyers for marketing, organizing company information in databases and more! You just can’t get along without them!
It’s true that free tools are available, but they have their limitations. Free solutions are rarely complete, so you’re more likely to end up with your business data spread over different products and providers, which may put your company at risk. Your customers’ information needs to be treated with much more professionalism than that.
Working with customers might require you to share information. It won’t be long before they’ll be concerned if you keep sending them sensitive information from public domain email addresses (like @yahoo.com or @gmail.com) or share data with them from unsecured online shares.
If you’re planning to build a business that will last, you need tools that will help your customers trust you. Cloud solutions are a good option. When we talk about cloud productivity solutions for small business, two names keep popping up: Microsoft Office 365 and Google Apps for Work. Here’s some information to help you decide wich one is the best fit for your everyday needs.
|Features||Google Apps||Office 365|
|Calendar||Calendar||Outlook (Exchange Online)|
|Contacts||Contacts||Outlook (Exchange Online)|
|Workspace||Google +||Teams / Yammer|
|Instant Messaging||Hangouts||Skype for Business|
|Audio/Video calls and Web conferencing||Hangouts||Skype for Business|
|White Board / Polls / Screen sharing||-||Skype for Business|
|Sites and document Libraries||Sites||SharePoint Online|
Both solutions offer online applications. This means you can edit all your documents from a compatible browser running in a computer at your office, your home or elsewhere, provided you have an Internet connection. Both Google and Microsoft provide online storage so you and your colleagues can save documents directly in the cloud and retrieve them whenever you want from any device.
Speaking of devices, you’ll be able to work on the go, because Google Apps and Office 365 can be installed on smartphones and tablets.
Here’s where the difference lies. Google Apps are not provided in a locally installable version, and you can only work offline with Docs, Sheets and Slides. On the other hand, Microsoft provides the Office Suite for computers, (either PCs or MACs). And you know what? With one single Office 365 licence, you can install your Office Apps on up to 5 computers, tablets AND smartphones!
Both Google and Microsoft solutions provide online storage for your company. You can centralize your document management into this single storage. Google offers 30GB storage per user for email (Gmail), storage (Drive) and pictures (Picasa). On the other hand, Microsoft allows 50GB of storage per user for email (Exchange Online) and 1TB for OneDrive.
To add collaboration features, you can also use Google Sites or Microsoft SharePoint. While Sites will give you basic features, SharePoint will allow you to integrate other apps into your intranet site, so you can use it as your central business dashboard.
Because you can use Microsoft applications on multiple devices with one single licence, it is important to get the data up-to-date on all devices. Whenever your computer, tablet or mobile device connects to the Internet, OneDrive and Outlook will sync. This means that any changes to your files, calendars, contacts and email will be reflected in both the cloud and the device.
Everything in Google is online-based. Mobile applications will sync whenever your device connects to the Internet. It will upload any change you’ve made offline to your Docs, Sheets or Slides files and it will download updated files you’ve marked to be available offline from Drive. Also, your calendar events, contacts and email will be synced. Google uses Microsoft ActiveSync technology to do this.
Because of your budget constraints, it’s important that you only purchase a service when you really need it. That’s where the concept of bundling comes in. If you don’t need a collaborative site, why pay for it?
If you compare Google Apps for Work with Office 365 solutions, you’ll see that Google only offers two different plans. The second plan adds unlimited storage and email compliance services.
You’ll get a lot more options with Office 365. There are different Business and Enterprise plans so you can choose whether or not you want to have email, Skype, SharePoint, the installable Office suite or compliance services with your online applications.
Just comparing prices isn’t the best way to decide. Take the time to look closely at the list of services from each provider. You have to think in the long term. Don’t forget about technical support.