A minimal investment in Google apps can turn into big savings for small companies
I SOMETIMES LIKE to give you a heads- up on how to save money and add value to your companies. I’ve been investigating Google for small businesses, and was impressed with what I discovered.
About a year ago I signed up for a Google account and really didn’t pay that much attention to it. Then late in 2009 I took part in a Webcast called From Microsoft Exchange 2007 to Google Apps: The Delta Hotels and Resorts Story. The webcast analyzed Delta Hotels’ move to Google, and it was so fascinating, that I started looking into how I could start using Google in my own business.
I had just moved my website over to a new content management system at Konductor, which gave me the option of using Google as my email server. (An aside: have a look at www.konductor.net as a CMS and host for your website.) So I took the big step and asked it to hook me up to Google for my domain server.
From the start my experience was just great. “Going Google” required no hardware or special software and needed minimal administration. I got hooked up in minutes and the administration was really simple. I had been a Microsoft Outlook user and continue using this interface for my e-mail, contacts, and calendar. And the one thing I noticed right away is that the G-mail spam filter is amazing: I don’t get any in my inbox. That feature alone is worth paying for. But so far everything was still free.
I also use the Google Apps and took the plunge as a Premiere user for $50. I get access to G-mail for business with 25 Gb of storage and a 99.9% uptime SLA. I get anytime, anywhere access to my e-mail because Gmail is powered by the web. So I can be productive from my desk, on the road, and on my mobile phone, even when I’m offline. The system syncs wirelessly between Outlook and Blackberry as well as searching e-mails instantly.
With Google Calendar it’s easy to schedule appointments, overlay multiple calendars, send invitations, and manage RSVPs. The calendar integrated into Gmail and I was able to share project calendars, view and edit event details, add new events, and invite guests on my Blackberry. I was even able to receive calendar notifications via SMS.
Google Docs delivers online documents with real-time collaboration. These web-based documents, spreadsheets, and presentations let users edit the same file at the same time. Very handy with working groups. Google Docs gives me anytime, anywhere access to my work, even when I’m offline. With this free software I can open and create documents very similar to what you would see in Word, PowerPoint, and Excel for free. No update charges and no up-front investment. The other neat thing is that I can cancel my Survey Monkey subscription and create surveys in Google Docs. Another $240 a year savings. Google Docs works in the browser on PC, Mac, and Linux platforms, and supports popular formats such as .doc, .xls, .ppt, and .pdf. I can manage file sharing permissions as well as share and revoke file access at any time.
With Google Sites I create web pages as easily as writing a document. This is an easy way to create web pages for intranets and team projects with no coding or HTML needed. It’s been a handy way to centralize documents, spreadsheets, presentations, videos, and slideshows to keep teams organized.
So now that I’ve switched to Google it’s just like working for a big company again and having the convenience of a Microsoft Exchange server at a fraction of the cost. For $50 per user per year, my little consulting company is able to get anti-virus and spam protection, a 25 Gb e-mail inbox, calendar, IM, video chat and much more. The migration and sync tools are easy to work with so there’s no real headaches at all, and there was actually a live service person available to help me through the one glitch that I created. The other neat thing about doing business “in the clouds” is that you’re always current—no more maintenance, upgrades, or hassles. If you start thinking about the cost of buying software and keeping current, this should be something that you’d want to investigate for that advantage alone.
While researching I found other companies that had switched to Google. In fact, more than 1.75 million businesses use Google Apps and the dollar savings are astounding. I don’t have any stats from print shops but here are some numbers from three larger companies. Avago Technologies in California saved $1.6 million switching over 4,000 employees to Google Apps, 2nd Wind Exercise realized an 837% ROI with a one-month payback, and Serena Software, also in California, saved $750,000 and got built-in disaster recovery switching to Google. Even with my little company, I saved the $240 for Survey Monkey and a copy of MS Office ultimate at $838, so that’s over $1,000.
Want to ball-park you savings with Goggle? There’s an app for that: