Using Google Apps in Your Small Business
Google is pervasive. Everyone seems to use it for something. Many small to medium-sized businesses have found that Google Apps for Business offers effective ways to create, update and share documents, get a business email account and organize appointments. Many companies have even considered moving their entire business activities to this platform. Yet, they should think about the pros and cons of the apps before doing so.
Google Apps for Business have many pros which make them attractive to business professionals:
- Cheap: Most of the services are free or very inexpensive. The official Google Apps for Business is $5.00 to $10.00 per user per month. This includes email, video meetings, online storage and other business tools.
- Easy-to-use: Since many people have been using Google for a long time, they’re usually very familiar with how the services work. Even if they haven’t, the services are easy to learn. Plus, they’re all self-contained, meaning that all the programs can be accessed simply by setting up and logginginto a single Google account.
- No compatibility issues: All the apps are accessed through a single provider, eliminating the issue of programs not being compatible. Since Google hosts everything from documents to spreadsheets to presentations, no need to worry that someone has an older version of a program.
- Ability to share and set permissions: Documents can be shared with anyone within the network, eliminating the hassle of emailing documents between team members. Plus, different permissions can be set depending on the person, including what they can do or see in different files and folders. For example, if someone just wants another team member to review, but not edit a file, then the file author can set the permission to “Can View”.
- Files always updated: When a file is emailed back and forth, oftentimes one person doesn’t have the latest version. With the Google apps, the file is updated in real-time, reducing confusion and the update issue.
While there are a lot of reasons to use Google Apps for Businesses, here are some reasons to be cautious about using it for all business activities.
- All documents online: Unlike traditional documents, which are usually saved to a computer hard drive or similar device, Google documents are all online. This means that a person can’t access them if they’re in a place where there’s no Internet service. Documents will have to be downloaded first to access them off-line.
- All documents in a single location: Usually, documents are stored in different locations: hard drives, email, online storage drives like Dropbox, etc. Basically, they’re all over the place. While this can be a problem at times, it also means that the document can be accessed if one location goes down. With all the files in Google, none of them are accessible if Google goes down or is hacked.
- Not overly customizable: No matter how many graphics, logos or templates that are added to the file, the Google doc formatting is still more limited that many standalone programs.
- Must upload current files: Any files that were in other formats will have to be uploaded and converted to Google Docs. This can be extremely time-consuming. Once they’re loaded, however, they can be easily accessed.
Google Apps for Business has a lot of positives, especially for smaller businesses. The business, however, should know the limitations of the system before fully converting all of their business activities.