In our previous post, we discussed how subscribing to a cloud-based, all-in-one software productivity suite can provide the software and IT tools and services that your small business needs with minimal technical hassle at an affordable price. If you’re a young entrepreneur it may be hard to imagine, but in the not-too-distant past, small businesses that relied on email, data storage and software licensing regularly dealt with headaches and hassles related to server administration and maintenance. Software was licensed in opaque and technically-limiting ways and data loss was a huge problem  due to technical mishaps and failing physical drives. While cloud-based software solutions aren’t perfect by any means, they have alleviated many of these IT-related headaches for small businesses. With the cloud, your access to tools and services, your data and intellectual property move with you, with barely any limits to your physical location or hardware. Best of all, cloud-based services take the hassle of physically administering and maintaining hardware out of the hands of small businesses – outside of a few small, specialized industries, most business owners no longer have to contend with such IT headaches.

It’s Time to Make a Choice

Now that you know that your small business needs a cloud-based, all-in-one productivity solution, it’s time to choose which provider or providers your business will utilize. While the two primary all-in-one solution providers, Google and Microsoft, provide somewhat similar suites of services, there are a few fundamental differences. In addition, it’s important to determine if an all-in-one solution is right for your business, or if you should consider a combination of individual providers that specialize in one or two specific services.

G Suite or Office 365: Which Solution Works For You?

Google’s G Suite, which was previously known as Google Apps for Business, and Microsoft’s Office 365 are similar in many ways. Both offer all-in-one cloud-based software productivity suites for businesses of all sizes, ranging from the smallest businesses to large corporations. Each service provides email and calendar services, cloud data storage, access to basic office productivity software and messaging and collaboration tools. The most fundamental way that the two services differ is the inclusion of software licensing for Microsoft’s traditional Office software in many of the Office 365 subscriptions. Including Office software licensing in your Office 365 subscription can streamline the process of ensuring licensing compliance across a spectrum of devices that your employees may use, including traditional computers and mobile devices. Many Office 365 subscriptions also include other proprietary collaboration and communication tools.

Google’s G Suite offers many of similar tools and services, including Google’s own online office software, and they provide more flexible and affordable plans than Office 365. G Suite is designed more for small businesses that rely less on traditional Office software and platforms. This includes businesses that do less work on traditional computing platforms, rely less on advanced or legacy functionality and features of office software and are rarely offline. However, if G Suite is a great fit for a majority of your employees, but traditional Microsoft Office software is required for a handful of users, you can purchase Office 365 subscriptions that only include the Office software licensing.

Mixing And Matching Productivity Solutions

While G Suite and Office 365 are the dominant all-in-one cloud-based software productivity suites, not every business wants or needs an all-in-one solution. This especially if you or your employees feel more comfortable with a specific provider that specializes in one product or service, such as a specialty cloud storage service like Evernote. It is perfectly fine to maintain a number of subscriptions to various services, allowing you to mix and match and create a customized suite that perfectly fits your business. However, unless you have a personal preference or an industry-specific requirement for a specialty service, it can be more expensive and burdensome to manage and administer multiple services and providers. Carefully consider the pros and cons of taking such an approach, and if you decide to do it, make sure that each service “plays nice” and easily connects and interacts with the others. Finally, always make sure that each provider provides a way to easily download your data and migrate to another service or provider.