Last week I told you about the tools we use to run our business, and this week, I’m going to go in-depth to tell you all about G Suite and why we use it as the communication backbone for our business.
G Suite has gone through a bit of an identity crisis over the years. The name has changed several times. However, the product remains rock solid even if the marketing team at Google struggles to make up their mind.
I’m not going to show you how to setup and use G Suite in this blog post. I’m going to explain why we use G Suite instead of the many alternatives out there. Check out our guide for configuring the proper Gmail SMTP settings if you’re looking for more of a technical guide.
Not a Bandwagon Decision
First, I feel it’s important you know that we don’t use G Suite because “that’s what everyone uses”. We looked into all sorts of email systems before deciding on G Suite five years ago, and ultimately landed on it for a number of reasons that we’ll get into below.
We’re a company that’s slow to drink the Kool-aid for things that are hip and new. We know that software impacts people so we really try and be deliberate and thoughtful we consider new products or services.
This hasn’t always been the case, and we’ve (read: Ryan has) definitely made snap decisions in the past about our software and tools. But luckily we understood the importance of email early on and didn’t skip steps in the decision-making process.
G Suite Alternatives
The number of G Suite alternatives is virtually endless. Here are some of the most popular services for small businesses:
- Microsoft Office 365
- Amazon Web Services
- Email from your web hosting provider (Protip: Never host email and your website in the same place)
- Managing your own email servers (Microsoft Exchange, equivalent)
The pricing for each of these services ranges from freemium (Zoho) to tens of thousands of dollars per year and requiring full time staff (self-managing). There are pros and cons for every single one of the services, but for small business, there really isn’t a more sensible option than G Suite at $5 per month per user.
Note: G Suite does have a $10 per month tier that includes more storage, more granular retention policies, and user activity tracking for auditing employee use. We’ve been great on the $5 per month plan since its inception.
Sure, there are outliers and specific industries where self-hosting email is necessary (hello government!) but for businesses like yours and mine, G Suite is the way to go.
G Suite Is Much More Than Email
G Suite goes way beyond email. It’s a fully-loaded tool belt for your company’s business needs. Here are all of the services that come as part of that $5 monthly fee.
- Gmail – This email app is incredibly well-known and well-liked, and is the main reason we use G Suite. It’s more or less the standard for personal email, which also makes it great for business email.
- Google Drive – Google Drive is fantastic for online document storage and realtime team collaboration with Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Forms
- Google Sites – This is something our team has never even been tempted to use. In fact, we may even have this app disabled completely. But hey! It is included in the monthly fee.
- Google Calendar – A fantastic collaborative calendar system that lets us share entire calendars with each other. If you use a Mac and are looking for a Desktop & Mobile app to manage all of your calendars (Google or not), I strongly recommend looking at Fantastical 2. It’s a stellar app that lets you manage everything from a simple desktop or mobile interface.
- Google Hangouts – If you need to have a meeting in a pinch, Hangouts works reasonably well. We recommend Zoom for videoconferencing as it’s much more reliable than Hangouts, but if you’re really trying to avoid extra spending, Hangouts is included in G Suite.
- Google+, Google Keep, and Google Vault – These are all products our team hasn’t really touched, although I’ve heard great things about Google Keep for taking notes and capturing ideas.
Even though we don’t use some of these tools, $5 per month for the stuff we do use feels like highway robbery. That’s even cheaper than Evernote!
You Can’t Run a Business Without Email
If you do know how to run a business without email, please share your secret. That’s a webinar I’d definitely show up for.
Many apps have claimed to be email killers. The truth is that email is like that old pair of jeans that you’ll never throw away. They’re comfortable. You like them. And beyond everything else, they’re reliable. In fact, 94% of Executives still use email as their main source of daily news. Despite the chatter, email is here to stay.
Even here at WP Site Care we’ve briefly experimented with other ways to communicate with our customers. We’ve tried live chat and SMS messaging, but we’ve learned that people love email.
Now that we’ve established email is still king, let’s dig into the nitty gritty of why we choose to use G Suite specifically to run our business.
G Suite is Easy to Manage
The last time I logged into the G Suite admin area was some time in March. I only had to login then because we had a few employees leaving the company. Before that, I hadn’t logged into the G Suite admin area for over six months according to the login audit log.
G Suite has almost zero administrative overhead after initial setup. And even the initial setup is easier and faster than any other email system I’ve managed. And I’ve managed many over the years of my IT career.
It should be pointed out that the G Suite admin interface isn’t the prettiest thing (it’s honestly pretty bad). That said, if very little time is spent there anyway, I can see why it hasn’t been a priority for the Google team. The fact that the end user experience is top notch is a lot more important in most organizations.
All in, I spend less than 10 hours per year managing email for our team of 10, and most of that time is spent managing users. Making settings configuration changes almost never happens anymore, which is exactly the way it should be for a small business. Focus on what you do best, and let G Suite do the rest 😎.
G Suite is Affordable, Even for Small Businesses
There are comparable email services that are less expensive than G Suite. Some are even free, like Zoho.
I don’t need to get into it too much here, but I’m terrified of free, especially for something as important to your business as email. Not only are there concerns about the long term sustainability of a company offering cloud services for free, but there are huge privacy concerns as well.
If you are not paying for it, you’re not the customer; you’re the product being sold.
In order to avoid being the product being sold, make your communication channel a priority and spend money on what matters. For a company of 25, G Suite is going to cost an extra $1500 per year which is extremely affordable. Skip that ping pong table and invest in reliable email infrastructure. For micro businesses that are just starting out, do what you can to save money, but email isn’t a place to skimp.
There’s No Learning Curve
Gmail is the gold standard for consumer email these days. I couldn’t find any concrete numbers for which web-based email provider has the biggest market share, but trends definitely indicate that Gmail is leading the way. It seems clear to me that Gmail is the most widely adopted email service.
Why does that matter?
It matters because its popularity means your employees aren’t going to need extra time and training learn your company email system. Most employees are going to feel very comfortable stepping in and using gmail right away.
You save money on training dollars, and your employees feel less overwhelmed as they get started in a new role. It’s a win win!
G Suite is Always Online
When google services go offline, the entire internet has a panic attack.
When we have to explain to a customer why we may not have been immediately available, it’s nice to point to something “catastrophic” like a gmail outage.
Quick tip: You can check the G Suite status at any time on their status dashboard.
Beyond being able to easily explain our troubles and having people understand, all paid G Suite services come with a Service Level Agreement that promises service credits for any extended outages on your account. The last thing Google wants to be doing is giving away free money, so rest assured they’re going to take keeping their services online very seriously.
Does G Suite Make Sense for your Business?
I highly recommend G Suite for small business, even valuing it over web design and marketing materials. It’s truly the glue that holds your entire business together, and that’s not where you want to take shortcuts.
That said, like any service or Saas, it has to be the right fit for your business.
Here are some questions I’d recommend asking before diving in head first with G Suite:
- How critical is email to your business operating day to day?
- Do you have to comply with special industry standards or regulations? (Even if you do, G Suite still might work for you).
- How many users do you need to onboard to a new email system?
- Does Google have migration tools available to move from your current platform?
- How much use will you get out of all the other G Suite services? Is your team already using Google Docs or Hangouts? What will the impact be to your staff?
- What kind of access do you need to tech support? (Google is available 24/7 by phone & email)
Google addresses all of the questions above very well with their G Suite product, and it really hits the mark for a support business like ours that’s heavily reliant on email day to day.
Do you have any questions about using G Suite in your business? Can we point in the in the right direction to get started? Any snags you’ve run into with G Suite that made you switch providers? Hit us up in the comments. We’re here to chat 🙂