Every business small or big needs an office software suite and maintaining these applications and related IT infrastructure may not be core of your business. If provided with an alternative which is cost effective than maintaining the IT yourself – you sure would like to consider it for adoption. In this article we look at some office software suite provided as a service. You sign up for service and you are ready to use within a few minutes. We look at three prominent office suites hosted in cloud: Zoho, Google Docs and Microsoft Office 360 which will replace your desktop suite of office applications.
Why Should My Office be in the Cloud?
We are glad you asked! There are several benefits of using an online office application.
Small businesses need to focus on their core business and don’t have lot of resources to invest and maintain the infrastructure and operations of IT. If that is true for your business, why wouldn’t you take advantage of a way to cut costs? Instead of purchasing, downloading, and maintaining the necessary software on each and every computer your business owns, why not use an online office application? Most apps will charge a small monthly fee. However, the rate will be significantly less than the desktop alternative. Plus, the online version comes with way more perks than the traditional method of document production.
When you use an online office application, you will always have access to your data any time you have access to the internet – including internet access on mobile devises.
Collaboration and increased productivity
Imagine how much more efficient your employees would be if you could do away with the download-edit-save-attach-email process. Not only would that time-consuming process is eliminated, your employees will not waste time searching through folders for the most recent version of a file. There would never be a situation where someone is working off old, outdated information.
With an online office application, colleagues would collaborate on a project in real time since edits are saved almost instantly. Additionally, the chat and comment features make working together a breeze. Whether you are outsourcing tasks overseas, connecting with a virtual assistant on the other side of the country, communicating with a cross-town location, or interacting with someone in the next cubicle, online office applications make the process infinitely easier and more efficient.
As is the case with everything in this world, there is bad that comes with the good. However, the minimal downside of an online office app is definitely eclipsed by the benefits. For control freaks, you have probably already detected a flaw; you will have to surrender some control of your documents. While most online office apps have top-notch security, there is always the potential for issues when you relinquish control. To access your data, you’ll be dependent on internet connectivity and bandwidth. While most apps automatically save data, there is a chance that minute bits of information could be lost if there was a sudden browser crash.
Which One Should I Choose?
There are a myriad of online office applications to choose from. As a beginner, we shall point you to three of the most popular applications – Zoho, Google Docs and Microsoft Office 360. We won’t spend a lot of time elaborating on the individual pros and cons of each program. In the world of technology, updates are inevitable and things change and improve every moment.
We will take a moment to offer a brief breakdown of what each program has to offer.
|Zoho||Google Docs||Office 360|
(Additional tools for businesses)
|Price for Small Business||$3 a month per user for 10 employees||Free for 10 employees||$6 a month per user for 25 employees|
|Storage||2GB(5GB for an extra $3)||5 GB||2GB of storage in SharePoint Online (each additional GB is $2.50 per month)|
|Compatibility||Import:Google Docs, Office 97-2003, Office 2007-2010, OpenOffice, HTML, RTF, CSV and moreExport: all the files mentioned above plus PDF and LaTeX||Import:Office 97-2003, Office 2007-2010, OpenOffice, RTF, CSV and moreExport: Office 97-2003, OpenOffice, RTF, CSV and PDF||Word files can be opened from Office 97-2003, but must be changed to newer version for editing and exporting; Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote work with Office 2007-2010 only|
|Collaboration||Uses real-time editing with various collaborators||Uses real-time editing with various collaborators||Installation of Lync is needed for real-time collaboration|
|Sharing||Share with anyone||Share with any Google account (even those outside your own app installation)||Share with people outside the app for a fee|
|Mobile Access||View (but not edit) documents on mobile devises||View and edit documents on iPhone and Android devises (Android 2.2 and up). View (but not edit) documents on other devices||View (but not edit) documents on most mobile devises|
|Pros||-Basic application integrates with a wider Zoho collaboration and business applications.-Acts like a traditional office suite (those familiar with Word won’t have trouble)-Integrates with Microsoft Office better than Google Docs||-Uploads the fastest-Interacts nicely with other Google products- Users who are familiar with Google products won’t have a problem with the user interface||-Provides a wide variety of offline features-Includes advanced editing functions|
|Cons||-Slower to upload||-Has its own, unique user interface which can be tricky for those not accustom to the style-Imports from Microsoft can be messy-Tools and functions are considerably more meager than what we are used to||-Very limited functionality in browsers-Still need desktop version of Microsoft Office|
Are These My Only Options?
No, of course not! If Zoho, Google Docs, or Office 360 won’t meet your needs, check out one of these other cloud options:
There are other cloud apps that don’t include document creation, but will allow your business to store files online and/or collaborate with others. For those limited functions, your business might be interested in:
Which One To Choose?
While each one has some unique features to offer, the most basic features are available in all three. The decision is more on the strategic direction you want to choose than just features. Either Zoho or Google Docs would enhance your small business greatly. If you already have a new version of Microsoft Office installed, Office 360 will probably work nicely too. Let us know what you think. Are you a small business owner who recently joined the cloud? What are your impressions of cloud computing? Do you use an online office application other than the ones mentioned here? Let us know why yours is better!
After graduating from Iowa State University, Jessica used her writing skills to help various clients with their online content needs. She worked as a freelance writer for several years before joining Subtle Network in 2011, where she is a content writer, editor and manager.