What is Software as a Service?
Software as a service (SaaS), also called “on-demand software,” is becoming increasingly popular. In this case the Software is hosted in a central location and licensed to users through a subscription service, instead of a one-time installation and fee. The costs of maintaining the software and hardware fall on the provider instead of on the business who is using it. Companies no longer have to worry about paying to upgrade each program in order to keep with the latest version and they do not have to pay someone to install the program throughout the entire company. As the program evolves, it is updated in the central location and the effects are immediate for everyone.
Most offices today have integrated computers into their operations to eliminate tedious paperwork procedures. These computers mostly operate on basic software and operation systems such as Microsoft office. Businesses vested on remaining relevant in the industry need to upgrade to more user friendly applications that allow for increased efficiency in tasks and most importantly, ease of access from any location and device.
How to increase business proficiency with Google apps for business
What options are available for a business seeking these two crucial operational advantages?
Google Apps for Business To most people, ‘Google’ simply refers to the popular information search engine. Google, however, is a multinational corporation dealing with broad technology and internet related services. The company has grown popular among business owners due its innovative package of business oriented applications. The package was initially named Google Apps for Business but it was later renamed ‘Google Apps for Work’. The package entails 13 apps divided into four functionalities namely: Communication, storage, collaboration and management.
Google has provided an entire suite of apps solely to help businesses perform in an efficient and seamless manner day in and day out. The apps are grouped in categories for ease of use and productivity.
For better understanding the categories are as follow:
Underneath the umbrella of communication are the following apps:-
- Google +
I’ll highlight each of these briefly:
Gmail for business
This is a professional email service. Gmail features that enhance business operations include: 30 GB storage capacity in the inbox, compatibility with other email services like Microsoft Outlook, round-the-clock customer support and filtering of advertisements. Gmail also allows for creation of mailing lists and a customised business domain for a more professional sounding email address. Gmail is compatible with common browsers such as Mozilla and Chrome and the Gmail app for mobile phones and tablets is available for download.
Gmail is a mail platform that is widely known and easy to use. There are several key advantages of having a business Gmail account as opposed to the free Google version that is available to use. With the business app, your company can have a custom email address (for example, firstname.lastname@example.org). In addition, you will automatically receive 30GB of storage for the inbox and it is compatible with popular email clients such as Microsoft Outlook and more. The business email service has available support 24/7 and is free of advertisements.
Hangouts- Hangouts is a feature that supports voice, text and video interaction with contacts in the Gmail inbox. With Hangouts, you can chat with colleagues or business partners, dial phone numbers and participate in video meetings. Hangouts allow for up to 15 participants and activity is stored in the Google cloud for future retrieval.
Hangouts allows your employees to meet face to face and/or have on-line face to face meetings with clients. This has several obvious benefits like a reduced travel cost for the company, ease of use, high quality video meetings and allows for flexible scheduling or last minute changes.
The calendar feature allows for efficient scheduling of business activities, for example meetings and corporate events. With Calendar, you can check availability of your workmates, share marked out dates with colleagues and associates, publish calendars on the web for external audiences and even reserve office venues and equipment for your events.
The Gmail calendar allows teams to collaborate and share important meetings on a shared calendar that link directly with Gmail, Google Drive, Hangouts and Sites so no one misses a beat!
Google + simply put is a “social network” for businesses to make sharing and communicating easier than ever. There are dozens of social networking sites on the web but most of them have a casual outlook. Google+ is a professional social networking site that allows for sharing of business related content with workmates and with customers.
Storage App – Google Drive
Storage is simple. Google Drive is your business storage area. Team members can save their files in a safe, online storage area and have the ability to access these files from anywhere including mobile devices!
This app enables online business files storage, which means you do not have to carry a flash or hard drive around to access your documents. You simply log into your Google account and access the files that you are interested in. The drive has 30GB storage space shared with your Gmail account, and there is also the option of purchasing unlimited storage at $10 per user.
The collaboration apps include the following:
This application allows for creation and editing of text documents on the browser without the need for software such as Microsoft Word. With Google Docs, work progress is saved automatically and you can export your final copy in various formats such as .docx, .pdf or .html.
Google Docs is your word processing app for your team. The beauty of Docs is that there is no software required. All input, edits and creation is done directly through your browser. Any number of people can be in the document at the same time and all changes are automatically saved. Features include a built-in-chat that users can utilize to ask questions, provide feedback etc. Docs give you the ability to import documents and make changes and re-save. It is compatible with Microsoft Word and PDF documents and you can save them with multiple file extensions including .html, .txt, .odf, .rtf, .pdf and .docx.
You always have the ability to keep track of all changes that are made and undo anything that you don’t want. The previous versions are kept and do not count towards your storage quota!
This is a virtual alternative to dedicated spread sheet software such as Microsoft Excel. Google Sheets enable you to handle data analysis, table, chart and calculation tasks on your browser on any compatible device.
Google Sheets is googles spread sheet app and it has speed and advanced on-line spreadsheets. You can choose simple functions or more advanced features like utilizing charts, graphs, tables etc. all with the ability to perform any desired data analysis. Sheets, like docs, is compatible with all major programs and also allows you to save with various file extensions without losing any of the integrity of the document.
Google created forms to enable businesses to easily create surveys and forms. You have the ability to collect all of your desired data in forms and then analyse it in sheets. All of the business apps work seamlessly and effortlessly together. This is a tool built mainly for research purposes. Google Forms are used for survey and questionnaire purposes in both data collection and analysis aspects.
Google slides is a simple yet professional presentation building tool that allows users to not only create but edit beautiful presentations right in your browser with no software needed! Just like docs and forms multiple users can be in the presentation at the same time without compromising changes or losing data! This keeps everyone up to date with the latest version without having to email out multiple versions as changes or updates are made!
Slides are used for creation and polishing of presentation without the need for dedicated software such as Microsoft PowerPoint. The slides are easy to design and enhance, with a variety of templates available.
Google Sites was created by Google to enable businesses to have a tool to easily create websites for their teams! It is not limited to a simple web page but can be used to create a standard website, a company intranet, and team pages and even allows businesses to have a customer portal. Using the Google Sites platform, you can create intranet for your workplace, project sites and customer portals without the complicated website coding process.
Management Apps Google Admin
With this feature, you can add users to your Google apps platforms, monitor devices and configure settings so that your data is available only to authorized users.
This app enables archiving and future e-discovery of important business emails and chats. The feature is available at a cost of $5 per month.
This allows for mobile apps management on smart phones. You can keep data secure with passwords, wipe data in case of security breach and distribute work applications to colleagues via the admin console. The best feature about these 13 apps is that they have all been compacted into one account and some apps such as Gmail, Hangouts and Drive are integrated for easy access.
Google for Work vs. Microsoft Office 365
Google Apps for Work and Microsoft Office 365 are two of the most competitive programs in the SaaS market. Though Microsoft has been the familiar name in office programs, Google is taking on the challenge full force. They are taking cloud-based programming to a new level.
The basic premise is the same for both – being able to work in office programs that is based on a cloud drive. They contain email, word processing, spread sheets, video and messaging programs, as well as a few other office essentials. The programs allow people to collaborate on projects and communicate smoothly without worrying about portability or compatibility issues. Both programs are similar in safety and security guarantees. They each carry their own compliance certificates with a few different third-party audit companies. Either one is available on different platforms and devices. There are also offline options available.
Where They Differ
Plans and Costs
Companies are in business to make profits. The more costs can be reduced, the better. Office programs play such an important role in day-to-day operations, but they also take up a lot of budget space. Getting value for money is an important decision.
Google Apps for work pricing is very simple. The entire suite of Google Business apps is only $5 per user. If you want unlimited storage and advanced administrative tools and options you can upgrade to Google Apps for Business including Vault and your company will be provided with an archive of email, chats, document history etc. with no storage limit.
Google apps for business have helped businesses move to the next level of business productivity and collaboration. Hands-down Google apps for business is first-class for a price that is not only fair but downright affordable. You can’t afford to not have Google Business apps for your company today!
Microsoft Office 365 on the other hand has a complex pricing system. There are seven different plans that can be chosen from: Business, Business Essentials, Business Premium, ProPlus, Enterprise E1, Enterprise E3, and Enterprise E5. They now offer a monthly plan on some of their packages, in addition to the annual plans they have always offered. Each package contains a different combination of products and services and they range from $5 a month per user to $35 a month per user. The $5 plan does not include the office apps. With all the options, it is difficult to compare the packages and see which fits best. It can be very confusing to wade through the different options and licenses available depending on your need.
Google offers two simple choices: Google Apps for Work or Google Apps Unlimited. Google Apps for Work is $5 a month per user, or $4.17 a month per user if subscribed to the annual contract. The Unlimited plan is $10 a month per user. The annual plan is currently unavailable, but interested customers can speak with econz IT services for other options. Though there are a few extras included in Unlimited, such as auditing and reporting features, the main difference is unlimited storage and Google Vault (an add-on that lets the user retain, archive, search and export email and chat messages). It does not take a lot of research or decision making to pick a plan with Google.
The simplicity of Google’s pricing structure and monthly subscription availability for both allows for a business to change. Companies are not locked into a package and can change whenever they would like. With the monthly option, they aren’t penalized for removing users or for needing a package upgrade. Microsoft does allow for package upgrades. However, there are many packages that only offer an annual plan, making it difficult for a business to make a change. Some of the Microsoft plans have user limits, whereas Google offers unlimited users.
Bells and Whistles
Microsoft was the leader of the pack for decades. They have created programs that have amazing capabilities and a variety of options that account for the price difference. Google for Work does have the same advanced features that can be found in the Office products. However, most of the features in Microsoft 365 will go unused. Most businesses will not need to extensive options available through the Microsoft version and they should pay for them. Comparatively Google Apps is simple and not cluttered with tools. Microsoft has spent a lot of time bulking up their features and their price at the same time.
The learning curve for new users on Google varies greatly from that of Microsoft. Google’s streamlined features make it less overwhelming and easier for someone to start using it. Administration of the programs also feels these affects. To administer some of the Microsoft Office 365 packages, someone needs to be well-trained in the different options. It negates part of the cost-saving switch to SaaS.
The Bottom Line
Microsoft may have led the way in office programs, but Google paved the way for their transformation to SaaS. Google confirms that it has more than 2 million paying businesses that are now using Google Apps for Work, with over 60% of the Fortune 500 making the switch. Innovative companies such as FedEx, Snapchat, and Uber are now using Google for Work. The value and ease that comes with Google apps for Work makes it an affordable alternative to Microsoft Office 365.
Hope you got what you got in this Google Apps for Business Review 2016. So what do you think? Let us know in the comments below.
econz has been active in cloud services since 2006 and is one of the front runners. econz is an authorised Google Apps for Work Partner If you need more information or research in building use case for your Business or Company do not hesitate to contact us or just request for a free consult session.