Google Apps Gaah...
March 30, 2011 5:55 AM   Subscribe

Google Apps/Docs/Sites usage for small biz. Need help!

I have been tasked with setting up doc management system for a startup small business (currently home based). I researched Google Apps and purchased the GA for Business at $50 per user per year.

Am flummoxed as to how to set up the office document storage and enable collaborative access to edit and store documents (primarily Word, PowerPoint and Excel docs). More info for you:

*5 users total. Windows-based with XP or Vista on laptops.
*Users want to be able to collaborate on and store proposals, spreadsheets and general office documents.
*I have boxes of paper docs that eventually need to be scanned and stored.
*Currently we do not have a shared server. CEO wants cloud-based vs. MS Small Business Server (which I have experience with from previous job).

CEO has concerns that Google Docs only offers 1GB storage space per user. Google Sites offers 10GB, so I have set up the "departments" on individual Google Site pages:

**Office/Employee-Related Site (housing tax withholding blank forms, expense report template and eventually employee benefits forms). Employees can download and use.
**Proposals (both in progress, then saved as pdf after submission, by client name)
**Reference Materials (these will be scanned and put up for users to view as needed)

Accounting is QB Pro, housed on separate desktop for now, so it will not be part of the equation.
Email and company website is currently hosted on GoDaddy, and is separate for now (until contract runs out, then we will migrate to Gmail).

Does this make sense? My thoughts are to use Google Sites like a shared server, and Google Docs like the individual users' file cabinet.

Help section of Google Apps is rather confusing. Any ideas, folks?
posted by sundrop to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Am flummoxed as to how to set up the office document storage and enable collaborative access to edit and store documents (primarily Word, PowerPoint and Excel docs).

The idea with google docs is that you collaborate on the documents in the web app, not using word, etc. You only export to Office format when you need to send them to someone.
posted by empath at 6:00 AM on March 30, 2011

Best answer: My school uses Google Docs for all students and staff and works pretty well. However, if you're using GDocs as a primary source for sharing information, you need to realize the limitations of their document and spreadsheet program. While they do have a lot of utility- particularly the collaboration aspect- they do have their limitations. If you have an expert Excel user, I would strongly recommend them looking at Google's spreadsheet program first to make sure it'll work for them.

Last I checked, the GDocs PowerPoint program is a far cry from PowerPoint. Doubly so if you plan on importing anything.

For your GSite idea, we've never really used GSites as a storage space. The way we usually work it:
Create a document in GDocs. Share it with the appropriate people. Then you go into GSites and link it from there. Remember, one of the main reasons to put documents on Google is that other people can collaborate & edit in real time so they don't need to download and re-upload/e-mail them. I think if you only upload a document to GSites, it won't be editable in real time.
posted by jmd82 at 6:50 AM on March 30, 2011

One piece of the equation you may be missing, if you're committed to sharing Office docs rather than just using Google Docs through the web, is Google Cloud Connect.

And I'm not 100% sure, but I think you should go ahead and use individual users' space. In a pinch, you may be able to reassign ownership of their documents to a service account later (at $50 a pop, since you've upgraded :\ ) or manually archive them in your Google Site file cabinet.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 7:26 AM on March 30, 2011

CEO has concerns that Google Docs only offers 1GB storage space per user.

Unless you're uploading and storing MS Office documents, documents created in Google Docs do not count toward your 1GB quota. Odds are, you won't even come close to hitting this limit under normal usage.

Don't use sites to store private documents. Just don't. It's not designed for that, and your users will hate you.

Also, make sure that your users can actually use Google Docs to do their jobs. I love the suite for its collaboration features, but it does have some very significant features that are absent when compared to MS Office. If this is not the case, you need to have a little chat with your CEO.
posted by schmod at 7:44 AM on March 30, 2011

Best answer: You can do group doc sharing using Google Sites. On your Google Site, create a new page, and when it asks you what kind of page you want to make (I forget what the options are, but I think they're something like News/To-Do/File Cabinet/blank), choose File Cabinet. File Cabinets let you do what you describe: upload .doc(x), .ppt(x), etc files, and download them. You can even write a brief description of each file so that people know what they're looking at. Interested users can subscribe to the page and choose when/how to be alerted when a new doc is added, a doc is updated, etc., which I found handy.

I'd advise people to use their own GDocs as storage for things they're not ready to put to the group and the Google Site File Cabinet when they are ready to share.

As for setting up the collaborative rules, you'll do that using More Actions button in the upper right corner > Share this Site.
posted by smirkette at 7:47 AM on March 30, 2011

With file cabinets, which I like, you don't get version control, collaboration, etc. that you get with Google Docs. Similarly file attachments are okay, but docs is generally better. You can share folders (collections) in Docs, and you can share with groups too, e.g. your all_users group.

The limit on Google Docs (you can look it up) is something like 5000 documents.

There's an Intranet site template that might give you some ideas.

You might want to set up dual delivery for your email so it's in both places, which will ease the migration.

Generally I would focus on setting up collections in Docs and linking to them from your sites.
posted by idb at 9:05 AM on April 1, 2011

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