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Office 365 vs G Suite

Posted By Lisa Wise, CE21, Friday, November 30, 2018
Untitled Document

To switch or not to switch. That is the question.
Whether ‘tis nobler in the minds to suffer
The slings and arrows of tech troubles
Or to take up the learning curve of implementation
And by changing them, end them.

Let me start with a caveat, I love G Suite. But I wasn’t always such a G Suite evangelist. Once upon a time, I worked for a small company that ran everything on Microsoft Office and Outlook. Some folks had to even settle for the free version of office tools, like Libre Office or Open Office. Then we were bought out by the largest printing company in the world, and they switched us over to G Suite. Panic ensued. How could they do this to us?! This was followed by several months of warning that all of our emails would disappear as they switched from a server-based service over to a cloud-based solution. We were also told that going forward, no one would get their Office licenses updated. WHAT WOULD HAPPEN TO MY BEAUTIFUL REPORTS?! The idea of the switch felt dire at the time, because humans in general just hate change. However, in the end, it was rather uneventful. If I really needed that email from 6 years ago (hint: I didn’t) then the IT group had stashed it away just in case.

How could this giant of the printing world want to use such an inferior product? This was many years ago, and G Suite was relatively new in the enterprise sector. What were they thinking? Well, frankly, once we got settled into the system, it made perfect sense. They have an international company with over 50,000 employees. They need to quickly and efficiently collaborate across business units. Over the next year, I was continuously being floored by what G Suite could accomplish that I struggled to do in Outlook/Office. Now I’m a full convert.

Before I dive into why I love G Suite, I want to state up front that I asked several IT professionals while I was writing this blog what they love and hate about Outlook or G Suite. I was first informed that it is no longer “Outlook” but rather, Office 365, and that the update there has been for the better. They have all said that Office 365, in the last few years, has come a long way. They now have their version of the cloud-based solution, which allows for more collaboration, for example. When I then ask them what these IT professionals use personally, however, it was always G Suite. So take that with a grain of salt. But because of this, I have made a list at the bottom of some of the reasons why a person may choose to stay on Office 365. I took their suggestions of why they have NOT switched some of their offices over to G Suite. There are some valid reasons, I will admit. But I’m still going to tell you that the switch — to me — is worth it.

Why choose G Suite?:

  1. Price: While it's not free, like the personal version of gmail, the cost is much better when compared to the costs of running Office 365. Especially when you factor in the features that you get with the simplest G Suite which is comparable to Office 365 Business Premium. If you don’t need unlimited storage data (and most of us don’t), the basic is ample. So $5 vs $12.50 per month/per user is quite the savings. Even if you want to upgrade to unlimited storage (at $10/month - and something that Office 365 doesn’t even offer), a small office of 20 people would stand to save $600 per year. Now you get why RR Donnelley with its 50,000+ employees worldwide opted for G Suite. And I’m pretty sure we all had the Basic version at $5 per user/month (for fun, that’s a price savings of 4.5 million dollars a year… not peanuts).
    • The doc types that you’re able to create/download in even the basic G Suite are pdf, ppt, doc, xls, even html or epub. But have you played with Forms, though? They are seriously cool.
    • You can compare features here:
      1. G Suite
      2. Office 365
  2. Collaboration, collaboration, collaboration: I honestly cannot express this enough. For example, I’ve collaborated with about 5 different people on an RFP and the turnaround time for that was a fraction of the amount of time it would have taken if we had to wait until so-and-so was finished with his portion before tackling our own. I also use Google sheets (spreadsheets) to collaborate with partners outside of my organization to track the status of product development. While all of the articles I read did mention Office 365 is better at collaboration than its predecessor, everyone still praised G Suite specifically on the ease of collaboration.
  3. Instant Saving: Ever had a power outage? With Word docs, if you forget to save and something happens, all is lost. Sometimes it’ll remember something close to the end of what you were working on. However, with G Suite, the document is being saved constantly, assuming an internet connection.
    • Similarly, have you ever had a person in your office make edits to something they shouldn't have? Or maybe they delete a whole, important, paragraph? G Suite has revision history so you can go back in time on the document to before they messed up your work.
  4. Email images and links render better: My company sends links out via email (reminders for online CLE programs for example). We’ve found that if ever anyone is having problems with the URL links, Outlook is the culprit. Picture scaling and other HTML features don’t get rendered as smartly either.
  5. App integration: I’m integrated with Copper (a Salesforce-style app), Hiver (a collaborative email-sharing app), and my calendar can either instantly add a video conference from Zoom or GoToMeeting. It seems that everyone wants to integrate with Google. G Suite is the belle of the ball and everyone wants to dance with her.
  6. Sites: Google has an incredible collaborative feature called Sites. You can use this to create internal-facing or even external (albeit simple) websites. We currently use one as a company wiki that helps our tech support understand processes and rules of every different client and industry.
  7. Searching: You know that Google is now a common verb for internet searching, right? They do a pretty decent job at it. Well, they apply that tech to their emails and Drive (where you store all your documents). Gone are the days of needing to meticulously store all your emails in the right folder so that you can find them in a year on that CYA activity. So deal with and then just archive your email. No need to figure out which bucket it goes into. Search will find anything quickly.
  8. Calendar: I just love my google calendar. It shows up on my phone. I can integrate it with my own personal gmail calendar too, so I can compare my personal life with my work life. The calendar sharing between my coworkers is also incredibly easy.
  9. Chrome: G Suite works so seamlessly with the Chrome browser. If I have to sell you on why Chrome is a superior browser to Internet Explorer… well… Just trust me and stop using IE, ok?

In my opinion, this is just scratching the surface of the great G Suite features. This is just a blog post, though, and not a dissertation, so I’ll stop here. Plus, I’m a bit worried with the changes that I may be claiming that Office 365 can’t do something that it now CAN do. So I’ll just give you these other great comparisons, more succinctly written, and maybe a little more platform-agnostic than I’ve been:

(Want more? I’ve Googled it for you… See what I did there?)

As promised though, I do have a few reasons to stick with Microsoft tools instead.

  1. Like I said, and have read, Office 365 has changed a lot in the last few years and I’ve been told that Microsoft has been making great strides with all of its tools. That coupled with the fact that they now have a cloud-based solution (unlike Outlook which is hosted locally) that offers collaboration, it really is a more viable solution. I think Microsoft has seen the Google Doodle on the wall and have made pretty good strides to changing their own platform.
  2. You need to be able to create documents offline.
    • Is anyone ever really offline anymore?? No, really?
    • However, Google docs will keep the changes you’ve made offline and when you’ve come back online will go back to the document and save the updates.
  3. Spreadsheets. Look, I’m an Excel nerd. I can write most of the formulas I need from memory. But most folks can’t. Even I have a version of Excel on my computer. I didn’t buy any of the other Office tools. I think, however, you can’t do that anymore. You have to buy their whole suite, or maybe even get a license to 365 now.
  4. Some folks really shut down when you show them any new technology. Those folks are typically not going to like any new interface, no matter the benefits offered.
  5. Some industries/companies require you use a specific document type not supported by G Suite. One IT guy I talked to said that the lawyers he works with must have everything written up in Wordperfect. This is actually a whole debate apparently...
  6. Changing technology can be a very large undertaking. You may not have the time and energy in your organization to make such a switch.
    • So, ok. But are you at least on Office 365 rather than Outlook?

Honestly, I care most about the whole collaboration thing… it’s the wave of the future. So long as you’ve got the ability to do that, I’m not going to be mad at you. Just please don’t sit on broken workflows rather than learning a new (awesome) thing.

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