You may think it is easy to move between systems when you’ve made the decision to switch. In 2007 you may have been correct, but in 2020 it’s challenging to change your mind once you’re fully working with a particular system. Blue Ninja moved from GSuite to Office365 in April 2020.
These two products are giants in the world of business right now. For collaboration, strategy and delivery they are very hard to beat. But what makes them tick and which should you choose? We deep dive into GSuite and Office365 to bring you the Blue Ninja perspective.
Connectivity is the driving force behind Google’s key product. The host of tools and systems that support GSuite is impressive, from Gmail, Meet, GSheets, Drive, Forms and many more tools. It is fully online so there is no need for downloaded products, and its flexibility across other Google products allows it to seamlessly transition across devices and services.
Google is a giant among online business integration and GSuite does what it says with a driving force behind new products and services. Google Digital Garage was launched in 2015 to provide a learning platform (we visited the Edinburgh location and found the free courses and advice really useful) to rival LinkedIn’s Lynda for business training.
Security is a major factor in Office365’s success. Microsoft had to deliver a business package that could match Google’s ease of use and ability to collaborate and it has pulled out an amazing suite of products. Microsoft did have difficulties with the relaunch of Skype for Business and the confusion over free versus paid products, but they have been working hard to address weaknesses in their systems.
Office365 fans have stuck by them with their Office Docs hard to beat and with online integration of their products with software it is hard to go wrong with Microsoft.
A key element of any business decision is cost, and we could do an in-depth analysis of what we were looking at in a cost requirement, but both GSuite and Office365 have their strengths and weaknesses in cost effectiveness. For us it came down to user preference – the costs for us was time wasted versus effectiveness, although we did make sure the monthly costs were comparable.
Our Experience of Transitioning
GSuite was purchased prior to the Blue Ninja partnership being formed. It was sleek, easy to use and seamlessly integrated with our business needs at the time. There were some teething problems with getting used to the GSuite products, but the collaboration element was a very useful aspect once the partnership was formed.
There was an underlying problem we had with Gmail that prompted our need to review the system we were using. Our business relies on the ability to handle multiple client’s information and data, securely and efficiently. Some people rave about how simple and useful Gmail is, but for us we had trouble distinguishing between different accounts and users, without having to keep changing logins.
We also were concerned about the security of data from Google Drive. It felt a little too easy for us to be able to move a folder from one folder to another between clients, as we had all the necessary security functions for all, but those folders were sitting side by side.
We were also using other tools for project tracking and team management, which became a big deal for us when there were compatibility issues with GSuite and the products. Zapier was very new and we were uncomfortable with our ability to link the separate systems correctly.
Those two issues with GSuite and Google Drive were enough for us to revisit what we needed our business system to deliver.
We created a pros and cons list of what we needed versus what the product did. We had used GSuite for a year and gave it a good try before making our decision. The problems of Microsoft systems in the past were still lingering with us, so the decisions were not made lightly.
We wrote out a plan and consulted an IT expert (Neil Duffy from Resolute IT) on what we wanted to do. We spent a couple of hours talking through the possibilities and issues we could face, and each issue we made sure there was a solution. The IT expert also did some research on what we wanted to do. He had used both systems so was familiar with the capabilities of both, although he preferred Office365 to GSuite.
We put aside 3 months to complete the transition. Our filing system was not huge, but we had to make sure we gave ourselves enough time to move across as seamlessly as possible, with minimal disruption to our clients and work. Our plan was to keep GSuite running whilst we purchased and implemented Office 365. This way we could set it all up and then change over on a pre-agreed day from one to the other.
Email management was one factor – what is our primary email system? Usually it’s the CEO or lead project person whose company email is used, then the company is often stuck with this being used for all administrative systems. We discussed those elements and chose our shared email account to be the primary account – this meant we paid for an extra license, but we felt for a professional company this was essential.
We also did a computer audit and data cleanse with the IT expert. We wanted to make sure our laptops could handle the demands of using desktop applications versus online products.
Problems with migrating over
One of the biggest issues we had was file transfer. We wanted to move everything over in an organised way, but the features of exporting bulk files in GSuite were not very user-friendly, and it corrupted quite a number of our files. This is due to the difficulties with conversion. Any files that were, for example, .sheet did not transfer over at all, and there was no easy way of converting a .sheet to a .doc file. We had to manually check each folder to make sure all the documentation had moved over, and in a lot of cases we had files missing from the transfer which were manually moved.
The other main issue was that we had user accounts for our clients that were still using a Gsuite login, so upon the advice of our IT expert we were going to create free Google accounts then migrate our Google Drive over, as we had both paid for 130GB space. Upon further investigation by the IT Expert, Google has recently changed its policy and no longer allows Drives to be moved to other accounts, so if we moved to a free account, we would lose our paid Google Drive extra space. We didn’t realise this at the start of the transition.
Still now, we have not been able to solve the issue of fully shutting down our GSuite and we are still in transition but working almost completely on Office365 but paying a monthly fee for both. As a B2B service we have to be mindful that some of our clients will want to use Google exclusively for their business, so we have left this option open for the moment.
In the End…
Moving from GSuite to Office365 was the right decision for us. It reassures us of our ability to work with multiple clients safely and securely without any potential disruption, and we can take full advantage of the Office365 suite of products to maximise our usability, minimising our need for alternative products that we now find essential (Trello – replaced with Planner; Zoom/Slack – replaced with Teams).
Whatever decision you make, whether it is with GSuite or Office365, as long as it works for you and your business then it’s the right decision.