G Suite applications are probably the most complete, safe and economical IT platform for a small business. And this is not surprising. Google cloud platform has been developing for a few years. Recently the company has reported of 3,000,000 companies using this solution. But according to different sources estimates, about half of G Suite active users are young and high-tech economy branches, such as information technology and digital marketing.
It means that small and medium-sized companies of traditional branches take their time in using Google cloud. What is it linked with?
I think, the following reasons could be noted: conservatism, preservation investments, workload of staff retraining, the complexity of independent migration, distrust to public clouds and so on. This is normal and has always been like this. High-tech industries form fashion for new solutions. Then this fashion spreads to traditional industries. This process has its own speed, which is difficult to be changed.
Google does a lot to speed up the process of business migration to its own cloud ecosystem. And it does it well. My company is an example. I got to know Google cloud solutions two years ago. Perhaps it was love at first sight. Currently the IT infrastructure of my business is completely allocated in the cloud. We no longer have servers in our office. Nothing but Ms Windows operating system is installed on office computers. There are no user files on the hard drives of office computers. All employees perform a significant part of their business functions using personal mobile devices. Some of them have started working in a remote way, which seemed problematic before.
Within two years we have done a good job to increase the efficiency and mobility of our business. Our evolution may encourage some of you to use modern communication and management technologies in your business. Below I’ll try to tell you about the main stages of our migration to Google cloud.
You can store photos there!
It all started with my new Android smartphone with a good camera. I found out that I could automatically save all photos and videos in the cloud for free. I just had to create a GMail account and enable synchronization. Instincts of IT specialist demanded more. And was it possible to download everything to a removable drive once a month for safekeeping? Yes, everything was easy, excellent backup system was built-in. But the number of photos was growing like a snowball and in a couple of months I had to convince myself that they would not disappear from the cloud.
There’s space for my files!
I found out that the place where Google stores my photos is called Google Drive. There were 15 gigabytes of space, which I could use as an account holder for free. Excellent. I synchronized all my personal and working document folders with the work- and home-computer via the cloud. Now I could come home from work and continue working on relevant documents.
All business documents are in the cloud!
It was time to involve employees. If all employees stored working files in my cloud storage, I would be able to get access to them from everywhere and at any time. I would do the backup of the whole storage myself and nothing would be lost. If an employee resigned, his working documents would remain in the company. It was settled. The folder structure was created and the rights were aligned.The managerial will was manifested. However, Drive space was insufficient for us. I had to buy a subscription for 100 gigabytes of space from Google.
Farewell, Excel and Word!
To work with documents and tables directly in the cloud, without downloading them to the computer, it was convenient to use the Google Docs. The capabilities while working with texts and tables were not as advanced as in Ms Office. But it was not a publishing house that I owned. Our demands in terms of working with texts and tables were over-met by Google Docs package. One of the most important points was that it was free. We didn’t have to retrain the staff, the basic functions were implemented for the user as well as in the Microsoft package. At this stage I realized that there was no need to synchronize files between computers from the cloud. All documents and all programs were in the cloud. The window to the world was Google Chrome. Having closed the browser, the computer turned into an empty piece of hardware.
If we really were not tied to computers and all our data were available in the Internet, then could not we work using smartphones and tablets? Clearly, we could, but to what extent? Completely? 20, 50, 70 percent? Today I perform 70% of my work on the tablet. All Google services have mobile apps. Data from mobile devices automatically syncs with the cloud. We manage to apply completely “No data on a device” principle with smartphones and tablets. As of today this principle is the best way to avoid data leakage, as well as their loss.
It’s time to buy G Suite!
Anyone who uses personal Google accounts for coworking in business sooner or later starts realizing weaknesses of this approach. All personal accounts are equal, and if a user creates a document in his account, he/she will always remain the owner of the document, regardless of the person given access to the document. These rights of ownership can be transferred, but doing this on a regular basis is rather difficult. Such things complicate the business content management and decrease the safety of its storage.
You may want to use Google Sites or Google Mail domain, add, remove or suspend users in it, fully manage access rights to the content and control access to business data from mobile devices. In our case the capabilities of G Suite basic package overweight the unwillingness to buy a subscription in the end.
Where are the applications for business management?
From the first day and up to now our team have been enjoying working in the ecosystem which provides basic services for communications, data storage, document operation and much more. But we quickly got a desire to get more. We needed business functions, such as docflow management, tasks, project management, CRM, financial planning and accounting. Ideally, all this should be in balance with the rest of the ecosystem’s services.
I had to turn my attention to external developers. The market presents a great variety of online services somehow integrated with Google services. Some of them mention integration with Google for appearances’ sake, others are actually closely integrated with such services as GMail, Google Calendar, Google Drive. As for business applications developed specifically for Google cloud ecosystem, you will manage to find such ones in a little quantity, maybe a dozen or a little more. External developers’ products related to Google cloud can be chosen to your taste in G Suite Marketplace store.
Not every small business needs separate expensive and complex products for managing finances, work processes, projects, sales and customer relationships. It was important for our company to get a single system where the basic business functions are integrated with each other and Google services, such as Contacts, Mail, Calendar, Drive, Documents, Maps. We have been using the Brown Boot Works service for eight months already.
As a result, currently the constant IT costs in our company do not exceed $150 per month, excluding the payment for Internet access. We do not need the services of an IT administration specialist. Modern small business owners should take efforts to organize management infrastructure in the cloud. The efforts made will certainly lead to increased efficiency, mobility and competitiveness of the business.