A few years ago, I blogged about Google Apps. I wondered if my business, and businesses everywhere, were ready to make the switch to Google Apps.
Well, a few years later, we finally made the switch. A couple of months ago, Matrix Group switched over to Google Apps. We now use:
- Gmail for email
- Google calendar for our corporate calendar
- Google slides for presentations
- Google drive for file sharing
- Google hangout for some internal meetings
So why did we switch to Google Apps?
First, the Google Apps suite is just so good, it’s hard to ignore as an offering. The calendar and email are terrific. Second, many of us use Office 365 but the file sharing is simply not as easy, fast or intuitive with OneDrive, so we started using Google Drive. Next, we were already using Google slides for presentations because it is simply awesome having five people work on slides at the same time during collaboration meetings. Finally, a friend who runs a private security firm gave Google the thumbs up, so any lingering concerns about security melted away.
We timed the switch to coincide with our email renewal and discovered that switching to Google Apps is less expensive than the renewal for our email alone. And now we don’t need to worry about hardware, patches and upgrades.
So what’s different and what have we learned?
- Most of us already use Google personally, so it wasn’t a huge stretch to switch to Google. We did find, however, that we needed to create new protocols for scheduling meetings. For example, we have a main calendar and a PTO calendar. The PTO calendar makes it easy to filter on who’s out. Only the admin staff can edit the PTO calendar.
- Even though it’s Google, training is still important. We’ve held several all staff trainings to review the protocols for calendar, email and security. IT worked with each staff person to make sure they downloaded the Duo app, which we use for two-factor authentication. We also have a Slack channel devoted to Google Apps issues, questions and discoveries.
- We are only scratching the surface of what’s possible. We embedded the Google calendar into our intranet, which was super useful because we can see everyone’s schedule, with the ability to filter by person. During the last staff meeting, I figured out how to create a Google hangout from the calendar detail page. Score! And we think there’s a way to create a hangout from a Slack channel. We’re learning new stuff every day.
So far, the switch has been terrific. For less money, we’ve added new functionality, made systems more intuitive and made our systems more secure. I’ll keep blogging about our journey with Google because I suspect the journey has just begun. If you are using Google Apps, why did you switch and what’s been your experience so far?