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Office 365 vs. Google Apps – Which Cloud Software Should my Business Use?

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Guest Writer

Emerging IT

News & Technology

Is your business looking to finally embrace a Cloud Structure?

15 July 2017

If so you’re likely evaluating which option is right for your business and wondering if one is superior to the other. The answer depends upon your exact business structure, size, type, number of users, budget and storage needs.

In truth neither is perfect, both have slight flaws and features which suit some businesses over others.

To help you decide upon which Cloud Structure is right for your business we’ve first added a side by side comparison of the storage, cost and email facilities of both. Followed by a discussion of the main features and best points of the programs of both.

But before that, let’s go over some basic trends of the users of each cloud software. All-in-all G Suite is more preferred among smaller, younger, more tech savvy businesses, whereas the larger, older and more entrenched businesses prefer Office 365. The main reason being that Office applications have been around far longer than G Suite Apps and many businesses and their customers have grown up using these. Most of these businesses choose Office 365 for access to the programs they have grown up using and wish to maintain the familiarity (and slight technical superiority) of these programs.

Whereas the younger generation of tech-savvy businesses who are not entangled in Office 365 have more of a choice and often opt for G Suite, due to slightly lower costs, simplicity and high connection/correlation Google has to the developer crowd.

A prime driver which many businesses have used to decide which software to use is based often on what their major clients are using. This more often than not is one of the main contributing factors and is especially true for businesses and industries who use one specific software more often than others. As an example, a tax agency would likely be extremely strong users of Microsoft Excel to display their data and tables and in calculating their client’s taxes. This would likely persuade the tax agency to opt for Office 365 over G Suite.

Neither Office 365 nor Google Apps can confidently claim to be fully superior to the other. Each has advantages and disadvantages depending on your perspective and what you hope to gain for your business. To find out exactly what you should use, ask these questions;

‘What apps/programs do we use the most?’

‘What apps/programs do you clients/customers use?’

‘How much storage do we need?’

‘How many users do we need to cater for?’

‘How collaborative is our work?’

‘What is our budget?’

Apples & Apples

G Suite    Office 365
Gmail Outlook
Calendar Calendar
Hangouts Skype 
Drive One-Drive
Docs Word
Sheets Excel
Forms Forms
Slides PowerPoint
Sites SharePoint
Keep One-Note
Jamboard Surface

The closest point of side by side comparison is to look over the storage and cost options of both cloud software’s. Google Apps has the smoother, simpler options, with three levels of Cloud at Basic Plan, Business Plan & Enterprise Plan. However, G Suite has a smaller starting storage option of 30 gigabytes for $5.00 per month.

While Office 365 has the more segmented options, as well as larger starting storage, with 1 terabyte for the same price. See below the different options Office 365;

Package Annual Contract Monthly Price

Web Storage

Email Storage Users(min)
Business Essentials No $7.04 1TB 50GB 5 - 300
Business No $13.20 1TB 50GB 5 - 300
Business Premium No $17.49 1TB 50GB 5 - 300
Enterprise E1 Required $19.14 1TB 50GB 5 +
Enterprise ProPlus Required $11.22 1TB 50GB 5 +
Enterprise E3 Required $29.59 1TB 50GB 5 +
Enterprise E5 Required $51.70 1TB 50GB 5 +
  • All Plans include 24/7 Phone & Web Support.
  • Each license covers 5 phones, 5 tablets, and 5 PCs or Macs per user.
  • Each Enterprise plan requires annual payment upfront whereas the business plans allow you to pay month by month. However if you pay upfront annually for the business plans you can pay slightly less.
  • Business Package is the only package not to include a business email.
  • All Enterprise plans have an unlimited number of users whereas business plans max at 300. 

For full list of Office 365 options click the link below:

The Google options are laid out far more simply, but have less storage capability (especially to begin with). To add to this issue is the fact that Web and Email share the same storage (it should be noted that programs created with Google sheets, docs, slide etc. do not count towards your file storage). The price is however lower than the Office options, making it a more attractive to many businesses with smaller operations and less storage needs.

Package Annual Contract Monthly Price Web Storage Email Storage Users(min)
Basic No $5.00 30GB 1 - 5
Business No $10.00 1TB 5 +
Enterprise No $25.00 1TB 5 +

Main points of the Basic Plan;

  • Online docs, forms & slides
  • Business email address
  • Shared online calendars
  • 30GB Storage (email included)
  • Voice & video calls
  • Protected sites
  • 24/7 phone & email support
  • Security & Admin Controls

Business Plan Additions;

  • 1TB Storage (or unlimited if more than 5 users)
  • Email Archives
  • eDiscovery covering emails, chats, docs and files

Enterprise Plan Additions;

  • Data loss security (email & files)
  • Advanced admin controls
  • Advanced security controls
  • Improved encryption for emails

To view the fill options for G Suite click the below link:

Apples & Oranges

The difficult area in assessing which platform is superior is the functionality of the apps. This on the whole comes down to personal performance, which apps you use most and what apps your employees, and clients are used to using.

‘What apps/programs do we use the most?’

Office 365 is the older of the two, has a dozen programs which are highly admired and traditionally used by businesses world-wide. These include Outlook, Word, PowerPoint, Vista & Notepad.

However there is one app that stands above all, excel. Not to say that the other apps aren’t equally useful but that Google has not quite matched the wonderful practicality of Excel with their own program; Google Sheets.

For some, having access to excel is alone enough to warrant Office 365, with the Google version of excel (Google sheets) having slightly lower capabilities with complex equations. Many businesses who depend upon excel as a major component of their day to day work would opt for Office 365 over Google Apps. This is mainly for businesses using excel on a regular basis and who are computing a large amount of data on the daily, requiring advanced functionality. 

‘What apps/programs do you clients/customers use?’

An advantage office 365 has is the length of time its programs have been around as compared to G Suite, which is still somewhat new compared to Office. Many established businesses are well suited to using Microsoft apps and programs, making it easier for the businesses they work with to also use the same apps and programs. As discussed earlier, our example with the tax agency, a business whose customers are particularly attached to a specific program would have a strong incentive to use whatever cloud that particular program was attached to.

‘How many users do we need to cater for?’

This question will more or less determine which plans from which providers you should select, rather than the providers themselves. Obviously the more users the larger plan. If you’re a one person business, you won’t need any more than the G Suite Basic Plan or the Office 365 Business or Business Essentials. 

If you have 2-5 users we recommend going to Office 365 (especially if storage is an issue). Office have created a slightly more premium offering for businesses in this size. G Suite Business plan offers only a terabyte of data for its business plan if you have 5 users or less. If you have 6 users the storage kicks up to unlimited and the plan becomes far more valuable. You do have the option of purchasing more storage from Google but at a slightly premium price (around 4GB for $4 per user per month).

‘How collaborative is our work?’

In our opinion, Google has mastered the art of sharing and collaborative work engagement slightly better than Office 365. This is done through slightly lighter programs with a more collaborative approach. Whereas Office 365 has seemingly more features and switches which allow you to add slightly more surgical detail to documents but also make it a little longer to edit documents collaboratively.

As discussed previously this is the primary reason smaller, younger businesses who have grown up with an emphasis on sharing and editing work, may prefer G Suite. This is not to say Office 365 fails in this area or is in any way inefficient. Office 365 is wonderfully efficient at sharing and allowing team members to engage in collaborative work. However, with Google Suites lighter programs and sharing focus, it may be slightly more suited for smaller collaborative businesses than Office 365.

‘What is our budget?’

This will be one of the most tangible aspects of choosing a Cloud Provider. The measure of value is across the storage vs functionality vs cost. There is little difference between the cost structures of the basic plans, and even the larger plans are fairly neck and neck (G Suite being less expensive than Office 365’s top end). Businesses should never select a Cloud Provider based primarily on cost but instead compare the value for money of what the cost allows them to do. If you are hoping to keep to a budget on an enterprise plan than G Suite offers the lower cost option.

Conclusion

The program that is right for your business ultimately depends upon 3 factors;

  • What Programs do our customers use?

For older businesses this will likely point to Office 365. Businesses with established customers will likely have been using Office for some time. Although this is a generalization, you’ll want to talk to your major clients to know what programs they are used to using so you can adjust your program usage to be the same. This is not due to one cloud having superior systems to the other but to personal preference among users.

  • How collaborative is our work?

This is an area where G Suite seems to come out slightly in front of Office 365. However once again much of this is due to personal preference. G Suite in our opinion is slightly easier to use collaboratively among a team with lighter programs and less fences in sharing docs. This however comes at the cost of some features which can be very important to some businesses. 

  • What programs are our staff familiar with?

This will ultimately be a large deciding factor. While we are taking the position that G Suite may have slightly lighter programs, Office 365 will trump G Suite and will be much easier to use if your staff are familiar with Office.

Final Note:

The best approach to deciding what Cloud to use is to firstly look inward at your organisation, ask what your staff are used to using & how they work. Then look outward at your clients and ask the same question. Depending on your business type there will likely be one or two apps/programs that are used commonly and are crucial to your business success. Knowing what these programs are will help you select a Cloud provider based on which has the better developed program.

This is particularly beneficial for your staff, especially when you consider the potential learning curve and cost of using unfamiliar software & programs.  

If neither suit perfectly and you have the resources you can always use components of both in a Hybrid Cloud setup. This however can have its own shortcomings and kinks and will require a separate dedicated article to properly discuss.

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