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  • Writer's pictureJoe Cangelosi

How to Choose (and Max Out Your Investment in) a Productivity Suite

One of the first decisions you make as your business is getting established is what productivity platform to be on. For most of us, it’s a binary choice: Google Workspace or Microsoft Office. If you’re using Gmail already, or you’re a hardcore Excel person, it might seem like a no-brainer, but I encourage you to give the choice the thought it deserves. Once you’re on a platform, it’s not easy to migrate.

It’s easy to get distracted by trends or the last app you used that you liked. But as a business leader, the apps you choose affect the bottom line, employee motivation and data security. The costs for things like Dropbox, Slack, Evernote, etc., on TOP of your investment in Google Workspace or Microsoft Office add up fast and may not be delivering the value you hoped.

Let’s look at the core components and how they stack up. Then I’ll tell you a bit about our journey with Office.

1. Cloud Storage & Web Pages

If you're a modern studio, you need cloud storage. Google Drive, part of Google Workspace, allows you to store, share, and collaborate on files with others, and Google Sites is a structured wiki and web page creation tool. Both are functional, collaborative and easy to use.

Microsoft Office offers OneDrive and SharePoint as alternatives, although comparing them to the Google apps is not apples to apples. OneDrive works great for individual storage but for collaboration is not as straightforward as Google Drive. SharePoint, which once required a server and a lot of specialized knowledge, is now available as SharePoint Online, and even though it’s based on a web page, it generally works better for collaborative cloud storage.

This is a great example of a common thread with Microsoft Office: the capability is massive but it’s so complex to use that sometimes it’s easier to just use something else. In any case, OneDrive and SharePoint are powerful tools (at Tee Lex we use both).

Make sure that you’ve really exhausted all the capabilities of the cloud storage included in your productivity suite before you start paying for Dropbox, Box, etc. In most cases, you’ll find you are already paying for plenty of functionality.

2. Productivity Tools

Google Workspace and Microsoft Office both offer a classic suite of productivity tools that make it easy to collaborate on documents and provide feedback.

Google Workspace has Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides, where Microsoft Office offers desktop and browser-based versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. The browser-based “Office Online” apps don’t have quite as much functionality as their desktop siblings, but they are more powerful and sophisticated than their Google equivalents. If you’re a Microsoft shop and your team tells you they just have to use Google Apps to collaborate, tell them to learn about Office Online.

Pro Tip: When collaborating in real time, use Office Online. It is more stable than the desktop apps and reduces lag time or version issues when syncing to the cloud.

If you integrate your tools with a lot of cloud apps, Google Workspace has a competitive advantage over Office, especially if your organization has a mix of Macs and PCs. Google Sheets especially seems to be more friendly and stable with API connections than Excel Online. Office desktop apps are more straightforward to use offline than any of the Google Apps.

For whiteboarding-type functionality, Google Workspace has Jamboard and Office has Whiteboard, both have tie-outs to different hardware options. Like with email (see below), both are good products, it’s a question of preferences. Unless you have some very specific need, I wouldn’t pay extra for Miro or Mural.

Office also features an entry-level version of Visio that I use all the time. No Lucid Chart subscriptions for us!

3. Chat, Video and Audio Conferencing, Email and Calendar

Google Workspace includes Gmail, which is a robust mail platform with excellent organization and search options. Gmail is closely connected to Google Calendar, which has all the functionality of modern time management.

Office offers Outlook for Email and Calendar and in my opinion Outlook and Google Mail & Calendar are equally matched, if different. I think the differences between them boil down to preferences, not capability. Office also includes Bookings, which helps with scheduling similar to Calendly.

Google Workspace features Meet and Chat, simple but powerful and well-integrated apps for text chat and video meetings. For an extra cost, Google also offers Google Voice, a VOIP (Voice Over IP) telephony service replacing old phone systems that includes SMS capability.

Microsoft offers Teams for text and video chat, and video meetings. It also has an optional (extra cost) telephony system which has a lot of powerful features, but it does not have SMS capability at the time of writing (much to my chagrin). Teams also offers a variety of other collaboration technology, including deep integrations with other Office and non-Office apps.

Both platforms offer great apps in this area, and both connect to a lot of functionality-extending plug-ins. I’d question the need to pay extra for Zoom, Go-To Meeting, etc.

4. Notes & Task Management

Google Workspace and Microsoft Office both offer simple personal tasks lists available throughout the Suite (called Tasks on both). Both platforms also offer more advanced task and note-taking platforms for collaboration.

Google Workspace has Keep which is a basic notetaking or list-making app. Its inputs are limited to text, scribbles and small image files. It works but it’s basic (I use the personal version for my grocery list). Microsoft’s OneNote is much more powerful, especially the desktop version, offering multiple levels of tag and virtually any kind of input. It’s a true competitor to Evernote, if not quite as stable.

Microsoft Office also features Planner, a lightweight project management system. It’s a big value-add to Office if your project management needs are basic.

5. Automation & everything else

Both platforms offer Forms for gathering surveys or other data and a variety of scripting and other automation tools, which are outside the scope of this post. Microsoft Office includes several other apps, but I don’t find any of them very useful.


How We Landed On Office And How We Use It

Tee Lex uses Microsoft Office, but it wasn’t an easy decision. I like the modern look and approach to organization of Gmail, and I like how Chat and Meet live in the same window.

But we write employee handbooks which are long and complex documents, and we build what are essentially custom desktop apps with VBA (Visual Basic for Applications) inside Excel and Access regularly. Google Docs doesn’t support a Table of Contents without a plug-in and Google Sheets would require us to learn Java to do the level of development we're able to do with macro-recording and basic VBA editing in Excel.

There’s no Google equivalent for Access (lots of blog posts about replacing Access with Forms- which is ludicrous- notwithstanding).

We use SharePoint for file storage and collaboration and while it’s not as simple or stable as Google Drive, it meets our needs. I'm a big fan of SharePoint Lists. We tried Citrix ShareFile for a while, but it just wasn’t worth the extra money.

We also get a lot of value from our reseller partner. We buy Microsoft 365 from Amaxra who provides our Tier 1 support and their assistance and advice have been invaluable. On either platform, I encourage you to make a relationship with a reseller.

We don’t use Bookings because we use Hubspot CRM; the calendar booking tool in Hubspot is simpler to edit and it’s one less place I have to go. We pay extra for Asana because we track everything in it and Planner was just not up to the task.

Otherwise we’re getting a lot of value from our investment in Microsoft Office and I encourage you to do the same!

If you need help selecting technology for your business, shoot me a message at
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