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Google Apps: An overview

8 Oct 2014 by Insight Blog

If you’re looking for a productivity suite for your business there are two main solutions to consider: Microsoft Office or Google Apps.

In this feature we will look at the services provided by Google Apps for Business, and how they can be benefit your organisation.

What is Google Apps?
Google Apps is a suite of services and software that lives completely online – in the cloud. Find out all about cloud computing and its benefits in our blog Five reasons the cloud can benefit your business. The Google Apps suite comprises of the following applications:

  • Gmail
  • Google Docs
  • Calendar
  • Google Drive 

Google Docs 
Here you’ll find apps for word processing (Google Docs), spreadsheets (Google Sheets) and presentation creation (Google Slides).

These applications live in the cloud, so when working in them you load up from a web browser. Because the applications are stored online, colleagues can easily access documents when invited to do so.

Google Drive 
Google Drive is the cloud storage service to which work is saved. You can access your files and documents from anywhere on pretty much any device. Begin a report in the office then finish it at home – work on documents while out of the office on another project. The changes made at home will be there when you pick it up again at work.

Jim McCall, managing director of digital agency The Unit, said: “Developers need to be in constant communication and Google Docs allows us to continue working together at times when employees are not physically present in the office. For example when an employee has gone abroad to complete a project, Google Docs provides us with a virtual office in which we can continue to communicate and collaborate within.”

Because files live in the cloud you can also work collaboratively. Colleagues can work on the same document at the same time from different locations while detailed revision history keeps track of all the changes and comments. Specific permissions can be set for who can and cannot access documents.

Jim McCall explained how this gives firms increased flexibility.

He said: “As software developers we are reliant on working collaboratively and Google Docs gives us the option to do this in a way that other similar programmes can’t.”

Google Calendar 
Google Calendar offers a bird’s-eye-view of the schedules for yourself and your team.

Share your calendar with project colleagues so they can prioritise workloads.  Ensure appointments don’t clash with the tool for coordinating meetings.

Appointment prompts can be sent to your phone, too – putting worries about forgetting appointments at bay.

Jim McCall said: “On a daily basis we have several on-going projects at various stages of development and Google Docs provides a fantastic project management tool, in which project managers are able to keep an eye on what their employees are doing and track progress as further work is scheduled.”

Gmail 
Gmail is Google’s email service. Its main benefit is that it lives solely in the cloud – so no matter whether your employees are logging on at their desk or on a tablet at home they’ll see the same thing.

Another key feature is the way it groups emails. Emails with the same or a similar subject line are threaded together. This means you no longer have to create individual folders for every single thing. If you need to find every email sent about a particular client project then they’ll be grouped together automatically. There’s also an instant messaging feature for informal conversations with colleagues.