For a long time, using Microsoft’s suite of products – Word, Outlook, PowerPoint, etc.– on a PC was how all organizations set up their knowledge workers. What we are seeing at Edgework Consulting is more organizations pivoting toward other options, including Google Apps for Work. Whether you’re new to Google’s line of products, only know them from the “personal” side, or are considering making a switch yourself, it’s good to know what to expect and why companies choose to move their work over to Google.
Don’t Panic, You’ve Been Here Before
As veterans of both Outlook and Google Apps for Work can tell you, the practical differences are few. The Google Apps products all have a Microsoft corollary, so you will not have to redesign your systems. In general, you’ll find Google’s products more streamlined. Google Apps for Work is newer, so not saddled with some of the cumbersome legacy features Microsoft has. The flip side is the products are less robust. If you’ve been using Excel for complicated formulas, you may find Sheets lacks some of that firepower. But for most of us, if we’re editing a text document or adjusting the images on a slide, we’ll find little functional difference.
Built For Teaming
Google’s products are social. They’re designed to help teams work more effectively together. With Google Docs, multiple people can edit the same document at the same time, and all changes are saved in the cloud. Google Hangouts – Google’s video conferencing software – enables groups to quickly jump on calls, and features a quick-switching camera, so that the person talking is the person displayed on the screen. Hangouts also allows for anyone to share their screen in call, and it is web-based, meaning it can be easily accessed on any browser or device.
It’s Still Outlook’s World
Many industries still use Microsoft as their default. If you’re in one of these industries, or work closely with one, it’s worth considering the cost of the switch. If you do switch,be sure you have good processes in place to bridge the gap between the two platforms. Google will accept and format most incoming Microsoft files – a Word document switches to Docs or a PowerPoint becomes Slides – but less so going the other way. Many people, especially those who are only accustomed to working in Windows, will be confused by something Google formatted. You want them to spend their time reading the file, not figuring out how to open it. When in doubt, send the file in the Microsoft-based format. If you’re not sure how to do that, grab the nearest Millennial – they can probably help.
Changing their suite of products is expensive – in time, money, and resources – so your company must have had a reason. Find out what that reason is. It will give youinsight into the company focus – more team oriented? An increased focus on collaboration? Or just thinking of a new way to save costs? – which can help you plan. And it’s a great piece for conversation with colleagues. In the end, the software you’re using is just a tool to communicate your work. The same principles for time management, effective email, and productivity still apply. If you get those fundamentals right, you will succeed regardless of the platform.