Everyone knows Google. In fact for most of us, it’s the first screen we see when we open up a web browser. Not everyone however, knows that Google offers a comprehensive suite of business productivity applications called Google Apps for Work that are popular with organisations of all sizes. Sure, they’ll have heard of Gmail and perhaps they even use it for their personal email (in fact Gmail has over a billion users), but Google Apps for Work offers so much more. So let’s take a closer look at Google’s offerings and give you some insights into how they could be of use to your business, if used correctly.
The main applications of Google for businesses are Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs, Sheets and Slides. If you are familiar with Microsoft’s Office suite (and who isn’t?), these are basically akin to Outlook, Word, Excel and Powerpoint – productivity apps that allow you to create different types of online documents and manage your communication and workload. Of course, as Google Apps for Work is cloud-based, this means that anything you create can be worked on in real time, as your staff collaborate as a team. These can then be stored in Google Drive, which
works as a huge online hard drive that allows you to access your work, documents, spreadsheets and presentations and other files, from anywhere in the world.
One of the reasons that businesses are turning to Google is that they are getting some very powerful applications that are intuitively easy to use. What’s more, these apps sync and integrate across platforms and can easily be accessed while on the move. The fact that Google’s pricing structure is so simple and makes monthly billing predictable is another advantage for organisations.
So let’s take a look at the main features of Google Apps and consider how they could help your employees be more productive while smoothing out their workflow.
Google Docs is an online word processor that enables you to make text documents and share them with others in real time. So you use it to do all the things you’d expect with a document: format your text, add margins, change fonts, make tables, add colours, etc., but at the same time, you can invite your team to collaborate in the document. They can be assigned editing, view or comment options depending on the level of interaction you want to give them. If you need to check what edits have been made, a revision history can be checked or even rolled back to previous versions if necessary. Within the document there are also chat options to discuss work with people you’re working with. Once you’re done, any documents can easily be emailed as attachments, simply by pasting the URL into your email.
If you’re working with people using other platforms, it’s worth noting that you can upload Word documents and convert them to Google docs and also download Google docs as Word, OpenOffice, RTF, PDF, HTML or zip files. One great aspect of Google Docs (and all the Google Apps in fact), is that all of your work is automatically saved and stored in the Google Drive. That old nightmare of losing work you’ve forgotten to save and backup is gone; you don’t need to carry flash drives around and you can say goodbye to frantic searches through files to find the latest version of your work.
Like Microsoft’s Excel this is a spreadsheet app and allows for collaboration and chat in the same way that Google Docs does. Users can import and convert other files including .csv, .txt and .ods formatted data, as well as PDF, HTML and of course, Excel files. As with Excel, Sheets can be used to create charts, format, make calculations and embed spreadsheets onto websites. Some Excel users may feel that Sheets appears to be a little more basic or less usable than what they are used to. However,there is a lot of power there thanks to Google Apps Script and the hundreds of add-ons available.
LIke Powerpoint, Google Slides lets you make presentations that incorporate videos, images and text that can be embedded on websites or shown at meetings, etc. Again, collaboration is easy, and .pptx and .pps files can be imported and added to Google presentations.
One of the most useful applications of Google’s Business offerings is the Calendar which is easy to set up and allows you to schedule meetings, share with people and invite others to events. It is also easy to navigate and can be customised so you can create different calendars for different uses – team, department, holiday tracking etc. These can then be shared by inviting people via email and setting permission levels. This puts everyone on the same page, literally, when you are organising events and scheduling. The calendar can also be synced with mobiles to send reminders via SMS texts, which is useful for reminding people when events are taking place or meeting times have changed.
Hangouts is an instant messaging and video chatting platform for two or more users that allows you to communicate with colleagues and friends from nearly any internet enabled device, including tablets and smartphones. It can be a vital tool for businesses as you can boost customer service by offering face-to-face interaction; you can host business meetings between team members without having to be in the same location. This makes updating people and brainstorming easier and more personal. You can also use it to carry out a range of other activities where a telephone call isn’t good enough: training, webinars, job interviews and classes.
Gmail is the heart of the Google Apps for Work suite as it allows you to use your own company domain and so creates a more professional image. Gmail for Business gives you an ad-free interface, unlimited group email addresses for your team, twice the storage space of the personal Gmail accounts and 24 hour support. Best of all, it can sync with the rest of the Google Apps suite as well as Microsoft Office Outlook. The large storage space means you can keep emails that might include important invoices, receipts contracts etc, which is useful for your records.
Want to know more about the benefits of Google Apps for your small business? Get in touch with us at Damson Cloud and we can answer your questions.