I’ve been a huge fan of Google Apps for about 8 years now. What is it? In a nutshell, it’s all the Google Applications one is accustomed to when they sign up for a GMail account (i.e. GMail, Calendar, Drive, Groups, etc) but the organization has the ability to utilize it’s own domain name with these services.
Why is this useful for small businesses or non-profits? Because most businesses and non-profits are not in the IT business. IT is a tool that they use but they don’t want either the overhead or expense of maintaining an IT backend to provide communication and collaboration capabilities for their staff. It’s a breed of Cloud Computing known as Software-as-a-Service (aka SaaS) where Google provides a stable and (relatively) secure backend while the only administration necessary is the creation of user accounts and other relatively non-complex administrator actions.
Many are accustomed to the GMail interface and Google Apps permits the organization to “skin” their Email to add their own logo in lieu of the standard GMail logo but the operation is pretty much the same. Google has great spam filtering and the organization gets the benefit of a worlclass IT staff protecting its communications and collaboration.
Shared Calendars are part of the overall package along with a number of other applications that can be enabled or disabled by the organization. Some useful applications include:
Groups: Permits a forum or email list capability for members internal and external to your organization.
Drive: I’m a big fan of Google Drive for businesses and non-profits. Email is such a poor medium for sharing and collaborating on documents. Not only does Google Drive have its own variants of Word Processing, Spreadsheets, and Presentation software that have become more powerful as the years pass, but it permits the sharing of Microsoft or Adobe PDF documents.
I am a board member on several non-profits that utilize Google Docs. We have used Google Docs for the maintaining of official minutes with the ability to share documents and even co-edit them on the fly. We have also used the Google Spreadsheets to plan major symposia involving hundreds of participants.
There is a bit of a “getting used” to Google Drive and the other Apps for persons accustomed to the Microsoft suite of applications. It may be that Office365 is a better choice for some organizations for that very reason as those applications from Microsoft are much more powerful and tend to be what most people are accustomed to. I’ll discuss Office365 in another upcoming post but Google Apps is a great choice for small business and non-profits who need very few bells and whistles and it is extremely easy to administer.
Google Apps for non-profits is free to any 501c(3) organization which is another great feature.
Setting up Google Apps for your business or non-profit requires some knowledge of DNS and navigating the internals of the system. If you need assistance setting up Google Apps for your business or non-profit please use the Contact Form and we can discuss the pros and cons for your organization and what would be involved in the adoption of the solution.