Category Archives: Google Apps

Google Apps vs. Office 365

When it comes to getting work done, everyone has a preferred set of applications for things like email, word processing and spreadsheets. In terms of popularity, the two most preferred suites are Google Apps and Microsoft Office 365. While both platforms are similar in the tools they offer, it’s the capabilities of each platform that makes them more ideal than the other for personal, business, or educational environments.

Because this has become the subject of so much debate over the past few years, we’ll compare the platforms here:

Best For Businessworkstation-405768__180

Even though Office 365 has been around much longer than Google Apps, a number of large companies have already switched to the latter. It really depends on the business.

Google Apps is simpler than Office 365 in almost every respect — from having a simpler pricing structure to offering fewer features. The cost of using both at an entry level is about the same, but things get a little more complicated when you want to upgrade. Microsoft offers six different plans that the user has to go through and decide between, while Google only has two. Plus, Microsoft only offers Office 365 as a yearly subscription, whereas Google Apps is has a month-to-month option.

Google Apps was born in the cloud. Microsoft is showing up to the game a bit later. Because of this, many of the web-based productivity tools offered by Google are more robust than the corresponding Office 365 tools. In addition, Google Apps has a better track record when it comes to uptime. At launch, Office 365 was plagued with outages that kept many businesses holding off adoption until it stabilized. It’s gotten better, but as of February 2013, Office 365 users experienced 113 minutes of downtime for every 1 minute of downtime for Google Apps users.

Depending on one’s perspective, the Office 365’s extra features can seem either like an asset or a drawback. For companies that don’t need much from their applications, having fewer features can make Google Apps easier to learn and use effectively.

Generally speaking, Google tools will integrate more effectively with Apple google-485611__180tools. Microsoft solutions do not always integrate well with Apple operating systems. Due to this, a company might make the email hosting decision based on the type of computers already in use at the business. Apple shops should strongly consider Google Apps for Work. Microsoft-based offices can go either way, but if wanting to have those productivity tools function seamlessly in the desktop environment, then Office 365 will be the better choice.

That said, many prefer Office 365 in the workplace because they are accustomed to using one of the applications within it more than the others, such as Microsoft Word over Google Documents. While Gmail is largely preferred to Microsoft Outlook, Outlook has been around far longer, and many companies have been working with it for years — why switch now?

Most organizations stick with the Microsoft productivity suite because of familiarity. Learning new systems takes time and costs money. That being said, studies have shows that organizations see significant productivity gains by moving over to the Google Apps for Work suite. While it might not be as dramatic a change as the move from fax to email, it’s pretty close.

One thing’s for sure, though: If you’re looking to integrate the both in your business, you’ll have a tough time. They aren’t compatible, and if you try to copy and paste information from one platform to the other you will likely run into a problem. An example would be while attempting to transfer Excel formulas to Google spreadsheets.

Best For Educationhome-office-569359__180

In working with applications for education, both teachers and students need a suite that enables easy collaboration, offers a lot of storage, and supports learning programs. Both Office 365 and Google Apps for Education offer the usual applications that are necessary for basic office functions and can be used anytime, anywhere, and from any device. The two also supply users with a great deal of storage, but the storage for Google Apps for Education is unlimited.

So then it all boils down to the learning programs, a contest that Google seems to have won with Google Classroom. Google Classroom serves as a virtual learning environment that allows teachers to assign work, grade students, add files and upload media, and keep track of progress. At the same time, students are working within it, they can upload documents from their computers or Google Drive, and collaborate with their classmates on assignments.

Best For Personalworking-690680__180

In terms of having an office suite for your own use, it’s all about personal preference, more than anything else. Some people have grown up using Office applications, while others began using Gmail long ago and gradually moved onto using Google’s other applications from there.

Because not much is generally needed from an office suite, when used on a personal level, individuals often juggle whichever platforms are more convenient to use, often using more than one — sometimes using alternatives to Microsoft and Google applications. For instance, a Mac user may prefer Gmail for communicating with friends, Pages for word processing, and Excel for accounting.

It’s worth it to keep an eye on both Office 365 and Google Apps for any or all of your needs. Both companies are constantly working to improve their platforms and make them more user-friendly. The rule of thumb, however, seems to be that Google Apps is simple, while Office 365 is more complex.

 

Crew Close-Up: Ross Baldwin

Screen Shot 2013-05-29 at 1.06.24 PMAs a loyal Coloradan, Ross Baldwin is devoted to everything Boulder and the surrounding areas have to offer. Whether he is making an off-site visit to one of our many Business IT clients or enjoying the weather in the mountains or using his tech-y skills to work on his car, Ross is constantly on the move. He is a people person, always ready to chat with a smile and knack for rapid problem solving.

iSU and Career Thus Far

Describe your responsibilities here at iSU? I am the network and server tech along with Stanley. We do business IT services and we handle everything from phones to desktops to servers to applications. Pretty much everything PCs and Macs, as well as complicated network setups.

Why did you choose to work at iSU? I was working a lot of hours in Denver and didn’t like the commute working a lot of overtime hours that I didn’t feel were appreciated.  I was looking for a different job and liked the vibe here at iSU. I like everybody who works here and the working environment. I also really enjoy working in Boulder and that I can get here in ten minutes.

How would you describe the culture of iSU? I feel like we are professional but laid back. It’s a self motivated kind of place because no one is going to hold your hand and make you work.

What has surprised you most about working with iSU? We have a store front. I’ve had jobs like this for a long time and I’ve never worked at a business that had a storefront and that also did this many different things. Usually these business are more isolated to just business IT services. They don’t have computer repair and they also don’t have web development. I think that we roll all of those fields together and do a pretty workable business model which I thought was unique.

Tell me about your career prior to coming to iSU? The first actual tech job I had was at Jefferson County School District. I got that right out of college I was doing what I do now, server network and desktop technician. I was more of a network job. I was responsible for about 25 schools so thousands of computers. I spent about half my time driving. Then I went back to school and almost finished a computer science degree but ended up getting another job working at Live Consulting down in Denver, doing the same thing. Then I left to come work at iSupportU.

Beyond the Office

What is the best thing about Boulder? I really like the city itself. Pretty neat and clean. That means a lot to me. I like the natural beauty of it that the philosophy that everybody here in Boulder seems to share.

ar11837493349857When you are not at work, where can we find you? Definitely either working on my house or skiing. I go up to Summit County almost every weekend. We have a condo up there so we go up there all the time in Keystone. During the summer I do the sailboat racing in Lake Dillon.

How would your fellow coworkers describe working with you?  Well, this job position is fairly independent so I’m not normally working with other people when I’m off-site. But probably motivated and good with clients and enjoyable to be around.

What three things do you always have in your refrigerator? Milk, coffee in the freezer, yogurt.

Describe your perfect meal. Well my favorite kind of food is definitely Mexican food and green chile so probably a big plate of homemade green chile with some tortillas and rice and beans.

What is the most recent concert you’ve been to? Phish with my friend John at Dicks Sporting Goods Arena and it was hilarious because it was all people in their 30s or older who used to party really hard but are professionals now. I was a lot tamer than I thought it was going to be because I had always heard stories about the crazy Phish concerts at Red Rocks. So it was surprisingly really calm.

Any embarrassing bad habits you’d like to share? I chew my nails. I really try not to do it but I still do it sometimes. I’ll be working on a computer and find myself doing it.

In A Nutshell

What is the most challenging aspect of your job? Producing something when somebody is watching you. And producing something on the spot in a small time frame when you have never done it before. Most of this job is walking into situations when you have no idea what’s going on and you probably have never seen it before. That is why this job is tough. You have to be able to solve problems yourself and be able to figure out what the problem is, research it, and solve it all by yourself.

What is the most fun aspect of your job? I really like going to new places and meeting new clients in new environments. So i don’t get bored with what I’m doing. If I sat in the same desk every day I would probably get bored.

Sum up working at iSU in 3 words. I love Boulder.

 

Case Study: North American Property Services Inc. and Google Apps

iSupportU provides business IT support, web site design and computer repair services to clients in Colorado. We began working with North American Property Services (NAPS) in 2010 to provide basic desktop support for their Windows-based environment.  NAPS provides a wide range of facility management services with a special focus on janitorial services to clients all across the United States.

NAPS was looking to increase the efficiency of their operations as they increased their staff and took on new contracts.  Their existing Windows environment experienced too much downtime for their operations.  They were also looking to move away from the high costs of license upgrades every few years.

We proposed the move to Google Apps in August of 2010 to their management team.  After much discussion, it was decided to test the platform with a test bed.  Their operations team was very interested in testing out the system, so we set up those 10 users on the test bed.

After 3 months of testing, it was decided to move the entire company over to the Google Apps platform.  iSupportU provided in-depth training to all users prior to switching over to this new system.  After the switch, the training continued to ensure everyone in the company felt comfortable with the new interface and features.

google-apps-cloudWhile all of the features of Google Apps were revolutionary to the company, Google Docs really stood out as a game-changer.  Being a national company, they need to collaborate with users in remote locations.  The real-time collaboration features of Google Docs had a significant impact on the productivity of the entire company.

Over a year and a half after migration to Google Apps, the team was ready to discover the power of Google Forms.  While this tool was covered in the initial trainings, it took a need to realize how great this tool is.  The team put together a simple feedback form to ensure high standards of quality with their clients.  The team was amazed with the simplicity of this system and were dumbstruck that it was part of their Google Apps suite the entire time. The gift that keeps on giving.

“We seem to keep uncovering the most fantastic tools in this ‘email’ system you set us up with last year.”– NAPS Head of Operations

NAPS has been able to scale their staff while not incurring additional costs to rebuild their IT infrastructure.  They can scale their company with predictable costs.  Their clients have seen the benefits of these powerful tools in the level of service they have been receiving.  The employees love the increased freedom to work from anywhere using tools like Google Chat.

For North American Property Services, the right collaboration tools have allowed them to continue to provide the high quality of service that the company is known for.  This allows them to remain relevant in an ever changing business climate.

CRM & Project Management That Meets Your Business’ Unique Needs

Does your company manage its customer contacts in Outlook or a legacy CRM like ACT? Do you manage your projects with Excel and Word? It’s time to step into 2013 and use a centralized, cloud-based system for your needs.

There are numerous solutions available, most of which are affordable, easy to use, and accessible from any computer. The solution we use at iSupportU and implement for many of our clients is Solve360. Not only is it a Customer Relationship Manager (CRM) but it’s also a project management system. It’s highly customizable, affordable and integrates with a number of business tools including Google Apps. They also have unsurpassed customer service and support!

To find out how Solve360 meets this criteria, check out their Evaluation FAQ page. Spoiler Alert: they pass with flying colors! Check out their 243 5-star reviews in the Google Apps Marketplace.

When determining the best solution for your business, you’ll want to look for the following criteria:

  • Do you have a clearly-defined set of business processes in place? No technology can replace process, so make sure these are well-defined first.
  • What is your budget? Some CRM solutions are very expensive and involve license costs. Others offer a low monthly fee.
  • Can you export your data? This is crucial. You don’t want to put all of your business data in one system only to find out later that you can’t get your data back if you move to another system.
  • Is there a mobile app? These days, businesses are on-the-go. You’ll want to make sure you can access your CRM and project management system from anywhere.
  • Is your data secure? Especially, if you’re storing your systems in the cloud you’ll want to make sure that your sensitive information is protected.
  • What type of uptime does the solution guarantee? If your solution is unreliable you could find your employees twiddling their thumbs with nothing to do if it goes down.
  • How often are backups performed? If you go with a cloud-based solution, you’ll need to make sure that it includes backups of your data.
  • Does it have an open API? This is a plus if you want to integrate other business applications or customize the solution down the road.
  • Does the product have favorable reviews? This is one of the most overlooked and also one of the most important. Do many business use it? Do they like it? Do your research first.

 

Need some more help finding the best solution for your business? Contact us today!

 

 

Google is the king of productivity: Making the most of your apps.

Long gone are the days that Google was thought of as just a search engine. Nowadays, as an established member of the ‘big four’, Google is responsible a huge number of online tools and apps. The continuing integration of this suite of productivity related magic is also helping new users get to grips with the Cloud. We’ve taken a look through two of Google’s most well known tools, and highlighted some simple but little known tricks to get the most out of their magic.

Gmail: If your company isn’t using Gmail, there has to be a really good reason. No other free service allows such a level of control over your communication. It’s automatic access to apps such as Drive (explained below) and the Calendar means it becomes the one stop shop for organising your information.

Our Gmail tip of the day: manage your traffic with the ‘plus’ trick

This is not the plus you are thinking of though! Completely separate from questionable social networks, the plus feature of gmail addresses means you can customize the traffic entering your inbox and manage it how you want to. If your email is setup like mine, you will have something similar to “firstname.lastname”@gmail.com. Adding the ‘+’ symbol and a keyword to the left hand side of your email address can be useful when giving your email address out to large groups or when signing up for newsletters.

For example “firstname.lastname+membership”@gmail.com could be used for your affiliation to a particluar club. Using the amazing filter feature of Gmail, you can tag these emails as soon as they get into your inbox, making organisation that little bit simpler! Other examples are +newsletters for sorting out email lists from personal communications, or +banking for logging into your online accounts.

Give it a try for yourself and see how it can make your life easier!

Drive: Drive is the google answer to Microsoft Office, and a very good one too. Drive gives you the full range of office style tools to allow content creation and editing from the cloud. Access your documents wherever you are. The autosave features are also excellent. Alongside the ease of Cloud access, the ability to share documents with colleagues brings about a whole new era of collaboration. Comments and edits can be made by anyone with access, and ownership is attributed to the correct author, making traceability simple.

Our Drive tip of the day: Set up offline access for your google drive

If you like to work on the go, it’s not realistic to assume you will always have a steady internet connection. Although the synchronization between mobile devices and laptops is excellent, we still cant see many people writing their budget reports on their iphones. We hear from a lot of people who are scared of switching to the cloud in case they cannot use the tools on the road, but this trick solves that problem. Here is where the Google Chrome offline mode comes in handy. Setting up offline mode will allow you to view and edit files, create and rearrange folders, and generally stay productive on the move. When you find a connection again, all these changes will automatically take place!

We’ll be checking in more often over the next few weeks with hints and tips for other useful google tools!