Friday, 14 August 2009

To Google Apps Or Not To Google Apps? That Is The Question

It's free or very cost effective, say the analysts. Google Apps, that is.

So what is it, and who will use it?

Well, its a suite of productivity applications containing a word processor, spreadsheet, email and website (internal or simple types) applications. If you are not concerned about service levels or having a Gmail email address, then use it for free.

Many businesses (ours included!) are paying the nominal annual per user fee of $50 to get a service level and use their own domain name in the email service.

Email to me is ubiquitous, so long as I can download onto an email client and have web access, the rest of its functionality is fairly academic.

The other applications, I would suggest from personal experience, are more user sensitive. Most productivity applications have hundreds of great features, which we all use differently. We have become familiar with them, we know the short-cuts and they are second nature to us.

Organisations need to be aware that while products appear very similar, they are not the same. Move too quickly to achieve the substantial savings over the Microsoft Office software license, and any savings will be dwarfed by a more intangible but real cost of lost productivity and reduced staff morale.

To deploy Google Apps to a first time IT or productivity tool user, is not a problem. They don't know any different. But for established and experienced users, if there is no transition training or support given, it can be painful. Familiar features, may not behave in the same way and such like. Bang goes your user productivity and morale. (Think what it is like to change to a different model of car, they have the same features lights, indicators etc,. It's a while before you drive and handle the car by second nature).

So, if you want to take advantage of the substantial cost savings of Google Apps, then invest a little time with a user group to understand the differences. You can then identify any training needs or create knowledge tips to help smooth the transition.

Due diligence is not just a process that is used in mergers and acquisitions, it has a place in any aspect of change. The cost in lost productivity and staff morale is far greater than any cost in planning correctly for change.
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