A Startup's Best Friend: Google Apps - SkEye Studios

THE OVERVIEW

At SkEye Studios, we’re passionate about using technological resources available to us.  While there are surely hundreds of helpful office management/small business tools out there, we use some more than others on a daily basis. As SkEye’s adamant organizer, let me introduce you to Google Apps for Work and why they’re great for a small business like us.

THE APPLICATION: Google Apps for Work

THE PURPOSE: Email with Company Domain, Document Editing/Sharing, Calendar, Video Conferencing

PRICE: $5 per user

FIND IT: www.drive.google.com

Oh Google.  In this day and age, it’s nearly impossible to function without it.  Personally and professionally!  Before migrating to using Google Drive, entirely, we were trying to keep track of shared items using Dropbox or by emailing them to one another, eventually realizing we were struggling to keep track of whether or not everyone had access to everything they needed at all times.

WHAT WE USE IT FOR

  • Email with a consistent domain for the whole team.
  • Shared business calendar for everyone to access and view one another’s availability.
  • Editing shared documents…In fact, Margaret and I are editing this blog in a Google doc as I type!
  • Google Hangouts is becoming more widely used for video and voice call conferencing.

Before I actually began work at the SkEye office in Hillsboro back in September, I was invited to collaborate on editing a script in Google Docs with the rest of the team.  It was my first time collaborating on a document at the same time as others…and it was LIKE MAGIC.  Let’s just all remember back in the day when group projects required the whole group to crowd around one computer (or typewriter???) while one person types and the rest pretend/try to give suggestions.  Working on a shared file in Google Drive with several other people is synergy in action.  Ideas can be fleshed out in shorthand, and changes can be made instantaneously.  

Our calendar is a work of art.  Our shoot for the Hillsboro Chamber of Commerce was pretty in-depth.  There were a lot of locations, and not everyone was needed at each shoot.  I give the rest of the team a bad time about not studying the calendar religiously, but, I suppose, given the crazy number of things that could be going on at any point in time, it’s not their fault.  

THE PROS

  • Easy – doesn’t require any additional training for the active computer user.
  • Adaptable – Can go on your phone or your computer.
  • Deep – The starter business plan comes with 30GB of storage per person in the Drive.
  • Committed to improvement – Google is always making adjustments and refining its tools.

What I like best about Google Apps is how user-friendly they are.  It’s particularly nice to know that as long as I “share” my documents with the rest of the team, they can access them.  I also love integration and consistency.  In my opinion, the more needs an app, or in this case, a suite of apps, is able to fill, the better it is.  Google already seems to be on a mission to fill most of our technological needs, and so far, the Google Apps for Work seem to be doing just that!

THE CONS

  • I love the idea of a shared drive of common folders that all staff as access to, simply by being a SkEye Studios employee.  It’s totally possible through sharing, but a little less convenient because it requires the extra step of sharing each document with the group.
  • Google or Apple?  It’s becoming an age-old question.  At SkEye, we all use Apple computers, but our personal cell phones are a combination of Apple, Android, and Windows, so accessing and integrating the Google suite of applications, especially the calendar into our personal lives requires a bit of finesse.
  • Can’t see reports with filters on mobile

To me, the biggest drawback to Google Apps is that if you are not a regular user of the suite, there are some difficulties in feeling comfortable with some of the intricacies.  For example, we’re still working out the bugs in our understanding of inviting non-company individuals to Hangouts.  Sometimes people say they aren’t able to connect to the meeting link.  So whether that’s just a user-error or an oversight, we have yet to learn.

THE TAKEAWAY

If you do one thing for your business today, it should be to re-think how entering into the “society of sharing” could impact your life.  Would having an integrated calendar system help with scheduling issues?  Would being able to write and edit documents in real-time from different locations within a team help with productivity?  Is the reason for not entering a shared-cloud workspace because you truly don’t have much to share or is it for selfish reasons, like being too tied to “your” documents.  Or maybe you just have a massive, crazy busy business and adding the Google Apps for Work would over-complicate things.
However, for those of you small businesses with a small team, I recommend the use of the Google apps.  We’re constantly finding new ways to build them into our daily functions as they fit our needs.  In the mobile world we live in, to me, it’s been beneficial to be able to access files that are regularly updated by any one of the SkEye team without having to re-download something or request a most up-to-date version to be sent to me.