For some small businesses, Microsoft Office and its associated applications may be the first product you consider. After all, it has been the king for a long time.
However, your business may not need the extra features the Office applications provide… or the extra cost.
That’s where Google’s G Suite may be a better option. It has quite a few benefits for a small business that needs extensive collaborative features. And with multiple upgrades over the past several years, G Suite is a powerful tool to have in your productivity arsenal.
Is it right for you and your business? We’ll break down the features you need to understand in our G Suite review.
G Suite review: The straight answer
After working with all of the various features of G Suite, we’ve found it fits well with the needs of the majority of small businesses. It’s easy to use and it provides a large number of collaborative features, all for a great price.
Our G Suite review awards this software an A-minus rating, meaning it will fit the needs of the vast majority of businesses.
- Price: You’ll typically receive a bit of a bargain with G Suite versus Microsoft Office 365. You’ll pay a monthly subscription with either piece of software, but G Suite’s price is a little bit less per user than Office 365 for comparable services.
- Ease of use: The various components of G Suite are easy to use. And one login gives employees access to all aspects of G Suite, further simplifying its use.
- Ease of migration: Many people are familiar with some aspects of G Suite already, perhaps using Gmail or Google Docs on a personal level. So if you choose to migrate from Microsoft Office to G Suite for your business, the learning curve for employees should be small.
- Ease of collaboration: For those who need to work on documents collaboratively, G Suite has the clear edge over rival productivity suites. Multiple people can edit Google documents at the same time. And it’s easy to share information via Gmail, Google Calendar, and other compatible apps.
- Convenience: You can store all of the information on a hard drive or in the cloud with G Suite. With files in the cloud, employees can access the files and data from anywhere, as long as they have an Internet connection. You don’t have to store documents or data on a local hard drive with G Suite, but you can.
- Advanced options and features: Microsoft Office 365 document software has a better list of advanced options versus Google Docs. If you commonly create advanced slideshows or need to make complex documents for display with spreadsheets and word processing documents, Office is a better choice.
- Potential loss of service: Although being able to share documents anywhere in G Suite is a benefit, should your employees lose their Internet connection, they can’t work on documents together. You can work on your own Google Docs files offline, though. Once you resume your Internet connection, you can set up the documents for automatic synching of all of your edits.
- Privacy concerns: Google personalizes ads with the free version of Gmail by scanning your messages. Although G Suite business accounts don’t have ad personalization, some people worry about privacy when using G Suite. Sending encrypted email is not possible through Gmail either.
- Compatibility issues: Some G Suite features and documents don’t translate well when sending them to Microsoft Office users or to external servers, losing some features or creating glitches with calendar invitations.
G Suite pricing
G Suite has a slightly lower price point than Microsoft Office, but the prices are closer than ever today. G Suite underwent a price hike in early 2019 that brings the two services closer in cost.
With G Suite, you have three pricing tiers. You do have the option of trying G Suite for up to 14 days for free before deciding to buy.
G Suite Basic: $6 per month per user
- Business-level Gmail
- Shared calendars
- 30GB of Google Drive cloud storage per user
- Secure messaging in Hangouts Chat
- Video/voice conferencing for up to 100 users per call in Hangouts Meet
- Google Docs for word processing, spreadsheets, and slideshows
- Survey building in Forms
- Website building in Sites
- Shared notes in Keep
- 24/7 email, phone, and online support
- Advanced Protection Program
G Suite Business: $12 per month per user
This includes all the services in Basic, as well as:
- Unlimited Google Drive cloud storage (for businesses with at least five subscriptions)
- Video/voice conferencing for up to 150 users per call in Hangouts Meet
- Cloud Search service to search across all of G Suite for documents, emails, and other items
- Audit reports to track user activity
- Ability to set retention policies for email and chats
- Ability to archive and retain data with Vault
G Suite Enterprise: $25 per month per user
This has everything included with the Business version, as well as:
- Video/voice conferencing for up to 250 users per call in Hangouts Meet
- Data loss prevention for Drive and Gmail
- Gmail logs analysis
- Ability to integrate Gmail with third party archiving tools
- Ability to manage users, devices, and apps with Cloud Identity Premium
Check out this deeper dive on G Suite pricing.
One of the toughest things for a small business occurs when users must be able to share and edit the same document, especially if employees are working in remote locations. G Suite makes this process so easy that you’ll wonder how your business ever functioned the old way.
Google built G Suite with collaboration at the heart of the design, while Microsoft built Office initially for use on an individual computer. Microsoft had to add the collaboration functions to Office later in the process, and the interface kind of feels like that. G Suite’s collaboration features are more natural and easier to use than what’s found in Office.
Beyond document sharing, some of the other ways users can collaborate with G Suite include:
The Google Drive app makes it easy to sync your locally stored data and files with your cloud storage area. This allows you to create backup copies of your files easily, but it also ensures the latest versions of each file are available to everyone who is working on the document.
For G Suite users who need the ability to work on their smartphones or tablets across a cellular connection when they don’t have Internet access, the G Suite mobile apps make this extremely easy. This feature is especially good for helping you manage your email messages on the go.
Because G Suite is made to run in a browser environment, it’s a great choice for organizations whose users will be using a variety of devices and operating systems. G Suite will run easily on any device, as long as it can use a web browser or an app.
Video and voice conferencing
Through the G Suite Hangouts Meet app, you can set up video or voice conferencing relatively easily. You can send invitations through Google Calendar, and invitees can let you know whether they will attend directly through the Calendar entry.
With Hangouts Meet, you may not have as many features as you’ll find with Microsoft Teams’ video conferencing, but it has enough features to meet the needs of the majority of users.
Ease of use
It may feel like the G Suite components are easy to use because so many people are familiar with them from using them in their personal lives.
But the beauty is, they actually are easy to use.
Even if your employees and co-workers haven’t used any part of G Suite in the past or would like to take a training course, they’ll be able to pick it up in no time.
The Gmail interface is clean and simple. You have the ability to see when your fellow G Suite users are online along the left side of the Gmail window, allowing you to start video conferences, voice calls, or chats by just clicking on a name.
The ability to organize and sort your email messages is incredibly easy to understand. When you finish dealing with a particular email message, you can archive it in whatever way makes the most sense to you, leaving your primary Inbox free of clutter.
Gmail also has an excellent spam filtering feature. It’s incredibly rare to lose an important email because Gmail’s spam filter was too aggressive, yet it prevents the vast majority of spam from ever reaching your Inbox.
Additionally, with a G Suite subscription, you won’t see advertisements in your Inbox as you do with the free version of Gmail.
With Google Drive, you can set up as many folders and subfolders as you need to organize your data and files. And if you choose one of the advanced plans, you’ll have unlimited cloud storage. With Drive, you can work anywhere you have an Internet connection.
Google Docs are great for collaboration, as I mentioned earlier. These documents don’t quite have the advanced formatting features of Microsoft Office, but the ability to share documents with anyone and edit them at the same time more than makes up for any drawbacks in the overall feature set.
Is G Suite right for you?
As our G Suite review shows, this service has undergone plenty of upgrades over the past decade that make it a legitimate competitor to the Microsoft Office 365 juggernaut. It will work very well for the majority of small businesses and even some large businesses.
The collaboration features in G Suite are very impressive. If you haven’t tried G Suite previously, the ease of collaborating with others will blow you away.
The biggest disadvantage of G Suite versus Microsoft Office 365 is with the document software. The Google Docs software just doesn’t quite match up to the advanced features in the Office software. If you need to create detailed slideshows or word processing and spreadsheet documents with plenty of artwork, Office is probably the better choice for you.
But when you consider the price point of G Suite versus Office and the collaborative features found in G Suite, it’s going to be the winner for the majority of people.