G Suite vs Office 365

G Suite (previously called Google Apps for Work) and Microsoft’s Office 365 offer similar set of productivity tools. Which one should you choose for your small business in 2019?

Plug: TeamWave – Simple CRM, Project Management & HR Software for G Suite

1. Cost and Commitment

G Suite has straightforward pricing with two plans: $5/user and $10/user (monthly)

First plan offers:

  • Company email addresses (name@company.com)
  • Video/voice calls
  • Integrated online calendars
  • 30GB online storage with option to sync and share files
  • Online documents, presentations and spreadsheets
  • Easy to create project sites
  • Security settings and admin control panel
  • Support via phone/email (24/7)

Second plan offers unlimited storage with vault:

  • Unlimited Storage (or 1TB per user if fewer than 5 members)
  • Advanced admin control panel for Google Drive
  • Audit and reporting insights for Drive content and sharing
  • Google Vault for eDiscovery across emails, docs and chats
  • Searching and exporting to different formats
  • Email archiving
  • Retention policies for messages
  • Option to place and enforce litigation holds on inboxes

Office 365 has complex pricing plans:

  • Office 365 Business Essentials  ($5.00/user/month)
  • Office 365 Business  ($8.25/user/month)
  • Office 365 Business Premium ($12.50/user/month)
  • Office 365 ProPlus  ($12.00/user/month)
  • Office 365 Enterprise E1 ($8.00/user/month)
  • Office 365 Enterprise E3 ($20.00/user/month)
  • Office 365 Enterprise E5 ($35.00/user/month)

Without going to the detailed offerings of each plan, we’ll check out the comparable plans from Office 365 and G Suite:

  • $5/user/month plan offered by Google and $5/user/month‘Business Essentials’ plan offered by Microsoft
  • $10/user/month ‘Unlimited’ plan offered by Google and $8/user/month ‘Enterprise E1’ offered by Microsoft

Office 365 Business Essentials will cost $5/user/month with annual subscription, where as the monthly subscription will cost $6/user/month. Essentially you’ll save $1 user/month with G suite. Office 365 ‘Enterprise E1’ will cost $2 less than G Suite Unlimited.

2. Email

Although both Gmail and Office 365 offer clean interface, the major differentiation lies in the way emails are organised – Gmail lets you apply multiple labels to an email and Office 365 has classical folder structure to categorise emails. In terms of storage space, Gmail offers 30 GB (across Gmail and Drive) and Microsoft offers dedicated 50GB inbox in addition to 1TB storage. Microsoft’s Enterprise E3 ($20/user/month) offers unlimited storage.

3. Applications

Microsoft offers desktop versions of their products along with cloud based apps. You’ll be able to install the full versions of Word, Powerpoint, Excel, Outlook etc. on your laptop/desktop and work offline.

Google apps were developed from scratch only for cloud-based collaboration. For example, Google Docs lets users make permanent changes in the file and provide feedback on the content in the “suggestion” mode (helps the author approve the final edits). Here are some of the advanced functionality offered by Google as part of the latest update:

  • Machine intelligence in Google Calendar to quickly find a time when invitees are free
  • Natural Language Processing in Google Sheets to
  • Machine intelligence in Google Docs to automatically recommend related topics to learn more and insert images
  • Dynamic layout suggestions in Google Slides
  • Better file management and granular content ownership with a focus on team in Google Drive

4. Video Call

Both Google Apps and Office 365 offer video conferencing solutions via Hangouts and Skype respectively. Here are the

  • Most important thing to note here is that Microsoft has not yet fully integrated Skype with other apps offered by Office 365 and Yammer.  But, Hangouts has tight integration with other Google apps like Docs, Calendar, Maps along with social networks like YouTube
  • Skype Translator can help you communicate in 8 languages for voice calls (near real-time), and in more than 50 languages while instant messaging
  • The maximum number of participants allowed in Hangout is 50, where as Skype has 250 as the upper limit

5. Third-party Integration

You’ll be hard pushed to find apps these days that don’t claim to integrate with G Suite. Google’s integration with CRM, productivity and customer service software means you have many options. For example, TeamWave (Project management, CRM & HR software for small business) is fully integrated with GDrive, Google Hangouts, etc.

There are some very popular productivity apps that do not have integration with Office 365 because Microsoft is not perceived as developer friendly (in comparison to Google)

6. Security

Office 365 comes with Exchange Online Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) – a new email filtering service that provides additional protection by targeting specific advanced threats like unknown malware and viruses, real-time, time-of-click protection against malicious URLs.

Google uses its robust machine learning capabilities to detect suspicious logins and block most advanced types of spam. Note that Google also automatically scans every email attachment before a user downloads it in order to prevent spread of viruses.

7. Compatibility

Microsoft files can be uploaded to Google Drive, but a lot of features won’t be supported by Google and formatting will be lost as well. G Suite Sync for Outlook can sync your mail, contacts, calendar events, Outlook notes, and tasks between your Google profile in Outlook and your G Suite account in the cloud.

You can download Google Drive files (docs, spreadsheets, slides, etc.) to your desktop and easily edit them with Office apps.

8. Support

Both Google Apps and Office 365 offer 24/7 phone support in English and depending on the country, language can change. While email support is available for both products; Google provides additional support via live chat. You can also access forums to seek clarification, give feedback and request additional functionality.

9. Storage Options

All of the plans offered by Office 365 come with 1TB storage for each user, where as Google’s starter plan gives 30GB. Note that Google considers email storage as part of the 30 GB quota.

But, if you go for the G Suite Unlimited, storage-wise it’ll offer better solutions in comparison to all the plans offered by Microsoft. This will be really helpful if your company handles large audio/video files.

Bottom Line

If you are a small business (1-50 people) then go with G Suite.

Reasons to choose G Suite:

  • File storage: G Suite’s unlimited plan provides better value in terms of data storage
  • Scalability: You’ll be able to add unlimited users (the ‘Business’ plans by Office 365 have maximum limit of 300 users)
  • Collaboration: Google apps were built with a strong focus on collaboration
  • Usability: G Suite apps are easy-to-use and the loading time is also less in comparison to Office 365
  • Multi device: If your business uses various operating systems and devices, then Google is a better choice
  • Integration: Majority of third party apps offer native integration with G Suite, as Google has traditionally been developer-friendly

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Gmail Vs Outlook: Best small business email?

There are over a dozen email service providers in the market geared towards towards small business. Google’s Gmail and Microsoft’s Outlook are the primary options. Both provide similar features, but their suitability for companies depends on the specific needs of the business. Let us examine different features of these products which would help you in choosing the right product.

Pricing

Most businesses would prefer to buy customized domains (email@companyname.com) which are not offered with free services by Gmail or Outlook. To get customized domains, organizations need to sign up for premium accounts. Office 365 Business Essentials plan which is Microsoft’s paid service for outlook is priced at around $4 user/month, but it does not include office applications (Word, Excel, Powerpoint etc.). To access outlook along with office applications, the price is around $8 users/month. On the other hand, Google offers G Suite with other business apps like Calendar, Google Docs, and Google Sheets at $5 user/month. Clearly Gmail is cheaper option as compared to Outlook.

Business application

If your employees use Microsoft suite frequently because of the nature of the work, then outlook can be a better option as it provides seamless integration with MS office applications like Word, Powerpoint, Excel etc. Users can send the documents using ‘share’ option from within the application as they are integrated. This is better suited if users have designated laptops/desktops. Whereas Gmail is a better option if your employees don’t use MS suite often and also your business needs an online storage space to store the official documents. Gmail offers a storage space to store MS documents like Word, PowerPoint, Excel etc. In addition to secure storage, these documents can be edited online which makes it very convenient to share the edited documents instantly without sending them through email. Your business processes and the workplace integration need can help you decide either of the two.

Storage

Gmail offers 15GB free storage space across Gmail, Google Drive and Google Photo for free accounts, whereas premium paid platform ‘GSuite’ provides 30GB at basic level ($5user/month). Outlook on the other hand offers 50GB specifically for your inbox, with their cheapest plan (Office 365 Enterprise E1), and 1TB for the rest of your linked cloud office suite.

Plug: TeamWave – CRM, Project Management & HR Software for Small Business

Instant messaging

Gmail provides instant messaging and video conferencing service through Google Hangout, but the unpaid version allows only up to nine individuals in a video chat. The participants can be increased to 25 with paid service (Gsuite). Outlook provides video conferencing and instant messaging through Skype, again up to 25 users can join a conference at a time. In fact, in both the applications, external users can join if provided with a meeting link. In terms of service quality both of them are similar.

User experience

Gmail provides a lot of customization options like labels, automatic sorting, primary, social and promotion segregation for mails, different kinds of flagging etc. which enable tweaking the inbox as per your needs. Considering Google is the best search engine in the present time, Gmail’s search function is also superior. Apart from that Google’s recent advancement in artificial intelligence provides automation features like reply suggestions. Coming to Outlook, it provides most relevant buttons on the top horizontal bar (basic three-panel design) where they are clearly visible and let the users add plugins as per their requirements. Gmail is a winner here in terms of the customization features it provides as compared to Outlook.

Offline email access

Outlook provides a clear advantage here by enabling users to access mails offline and they can even save their responses to emails offline. As soon as the internet connection is established, the saved emails from outbox are sent out automatically. Gmail provides access to only last month’s email offline by changing the settings to save mails offline, but you can access Gmail offline only on Google Chrome and Safari browsers. There is no such restriction for Outlook.

Security

Gmail has been in the limelight mostly because of its pioneering efforts for security. It came up with two-factor authentication before Microsoft did for any of its email clients. With Outlook 2016, Outlook also implemented two-factor authentication. Hence, in terms of signing in signing in both of them have similar approach at present.

Google uses its robust machine learning capabilities to detect suspicious logins and block most advanced types of spam. Note that Google also automatically scans every email attachment before a user downloads it in order to prevent spread of viruses.

Office 365 comes with Exchange Online Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) – a new email filtering service that provides additional protection by targeting specific advanced threats like unknown malware and viruses, real-time, time-of-click protection against malicious URLs.

Conclusion

Both Gmail and Outlook are powerful platforms. Gmail is cheaper, and if you’re choosing which office suite platform to use, that’s a huge consideration. Apart from that there are numerous integrations with third-party apps (example: TeamWave) and extension support via Chrome that put Gmail far ahead of Outlook. In our experience Gmail offers better returns for small businesses.


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G Suite Training and Certification

G Suite Certification and Training

If you’re new to Google Docs, Sheets, Drive, or other apps that comeswith “G Suite” (previously: Google apps for work), you can access detailed training material offered by Google. They have created video repository, documentations, tips and tricks to help you get the most out of these apps. Google also offers certification for G Suite Administrators.

Training

There are multiple options for G Suite training – Chrome extension, video library and online documentation. Let’s  now go through them.

Chrome Extension

This is an interactive way of learning G Suite with a pace that suits you. Install the Chrome extension by accessing the Chrome Web Store. Once installed, it will add a Training menu to G Suite apps, including the Calendar, Docs, Drive, Forms, Gmail, Google+, Groups, Hangouts, Sheets, Sites, and Slides. This training menu is shown as a question mark with the Google’s four-color circle around it. Just click on the menu to learn shortcuts and explore the apps by going through easy-to-follow lessons.

This extension is available in English with basic support for Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Portuguese, and Spanish.

Video Library

G Suite Training

There is an extensive collection of videos on the Synergyse portal, a startup (acquired by Google) that is completely focused on G Suite training. Just sign in with your Google account and access the videos simply by clicking on the app icon – from Gmail, Calendar,  Google+ to Sheets and more.

Learning Central

Google has created a G Suite Learning Center where you can simply click on the app that you’d like learn. Each section of the app has documentation in the form of cheat sheets,  tips and FAQs. There is also option to learn G Suite as per the following segmentation:

  • industry vertical (finance, healthcare, manufacturing, etc.)
  • job role (human resource, web development, project management, etc.)
  • task type (onboarding, analyzing, team building, etc.)

From the G Suite

Here you can access videos created by Googlers and learn about tips & tricks. These videos covers all of the apps under G Suite. Apart from learning the apps, you’d also get to know the insider view of Google and general tips on productivity. For example, here is a video that talks about building community with Google+.

Certification

Google offer certification program for G Suite administrators via online examination. They recommend at least six months experience in managing a G Suite domain with a minimum of 50 users. The work should involve some of the common tasks that an admin does—user support, fixing common issues, adding and removing users, setting up and managing groups, managing calendars and resources, managing email routes, and managing G Suite services by organizational unit. Also you should go through the administrator course before the exam. The certification costs $100 and controlled by an app called Examinator.

Given below are the 8 topics covered in the administrator exam:

  • User creation, deletion, and administration
  • Organizational units
  • G Suite services and organizational access
  • Mail delivery, routing, and filtering
  • Calendar settings and resources
  • Mobile policies and device management
  • Security
  • Groups

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