If you have read my blog before you may know that I love Google Apps for Your Domain (GAFYD). GAFYD comes in two flavours Premier and Standard. Premier costs US$50 per person per year and Standard is FREE!. At this stage, for a very small business, I see no compelling reason to pay for GAFYD – just stick with the Standard version. The main things you get with Premium over and above the Standard is additional support, more storage space, the ability to turn off ads in Gmail, Outlook syncing, resource scheduling in Calendar and Google Video.
GAFYD is aimed squarely at businesses currently using Microsoft Outlook and Exchange – they even have a Migration Guide for Exchange administrators. Recently, Google made Gmail a fully fledged Exchange account to enable syncing of Gmail, Google Contacts and Google Calendar to your mobile device very straightforward. For small business, GAFYD is now a compelling choice as an Exchange replacement. There is a great article showing Outlook users how to work with Gmail, as getting used to the threaded conversations can be challenging for some people (but since Outlook 2010 now has threaded conversations, it definitely looks like it is the way to go.
But it does not stop there – the A in GAFYD is Apps. Currently the Google “Apps” are Gmail, Contacts, Chat, Calendar, Docs and Sites. But soon GAFYD users will get other Google Apps such as Reader, Blogger, Picasa and hopefully even more (No sign of Wave or Google Voice yet for GAFYD – or no sign of Google Voice in Aus yet either). The addition of Blogger and Picasa will be very helpful for small teams as it will enable them to share pictures and have multiple people blog from the one account.
The benefit of Google Docs for most small businesses or teams does not need a lot of explaining – documents backed up, central location, real time collaboration and editing of documents, instant sharing etc. Now you can upload any files, not just documents to Google Docs, and there are a heap of new features that make it really very useful.
For me, I struggle to use Google Docs for absolutely everything – especially spreadsheets and printed documents. As an Excel expert, there are some limitations with Google Spreadsheet that just make it too hard to use, and whilst I will happily create a draft document or collaborate on a draft in Google Docs, if I want to print it, I will use Word – just to get the fine grained control. There is a product called OffiSync that allows you to open documents on Google Docs with Office, but I have not tried it yet.
The benefit of using Google Sites for small business and teams is probably not that apparent yet, and frankly it has quite a long way to go to be really a fantastic product for day to day office productivity. Google Sites came out of the purchase of a great product called JotSpot, which was then weakened down to what we now have in Sites. It’s meant to be a bit of everything. It can be an externally facing website, an internally facing Intranet, a Wiki, a Blog and a collaboration platform. There is a good overview video of it’s functionality.
As I loved the old Google Pages, Google Sites is a really poor cousin and I would not recommend it for an externally facing website, but it could be good as an Intranet or small internal Wiki.
So overall GAFYD is a must for small businesses, and even just one person with a domain, like me – yes jodiem.com.au runs GAFYD! Hopefully soon, I will be able to ditch my Gmail account as my primary account and be able to use my GAFYD account to use for all Google services.