At iGenius, we spend a lot of time migrating companies from Google Drive to Microsoft SharePoint online, whilst providing training and insights to ensure they get the most out of the SharePoint experience.
Being a Microsoft partner, we wanted to put the two solutions head to head in 2018 and decide once and for all, which is the better solution, G-Suite or Microsoft SharePoint?
As part of the challenge, we have spent the last 12 months working almost exclusively in Google Drive to be able to give an honest account as to why we still believe SharePoint is hands-down the best product in the market for business document management.
Whilst Google Drive does offer a simplistic view of files and folders, it does fall down when controlling deeper folder structures and displaying relevant information in an efficient way.
We decided to play out a scenario that better demonstrates this point. A client has requested a timesheet detailing the hours worked by iGenius staff member Miroslav in a particular week.
To find this document using the Google Drive folder structure, we need to click 7 times until we reach the location of the document, in this order:
After ~30 seconds of clicking and navigating, we get to the folder we are looking for and the documents we need as well as a bunch of documents we don't need Google Drive Folder - Showing clutter of documents
Looking at the above image, it's difficult to know where you are located within the folder structure. Things become even more time consuming when attempting to filter out the "Adam" timesheets to only see the "Miroslav" timesheets. The lack of more advanced filtering, grouping and searching abilities led to a significant amount of wasted time and productivity throughout our year using Google Drive.
One of the key strengths of SharePoint is its ability to quickly display relevant documents to users.
Using the previous example to demonstrate, accessing the required document within SharePoint took three clicks to achieve:
After ~10 seconds of clicking and navigating, we see the same view of all timesheets SharePoint Finance Site - Showing simple filters for "Year" and "Client"
There are a few key visual differences we should highlight here based on the above example:
When set up correctly, there are significant benefits to enhanced document management processes and filtering found within SharePoint but lacking in Google Drive.
Based on the examples from the above points, you might be wondering how we can save additional data against a document, other than just a filename and a folder.
Let's look at another example to illustrate how this works in SharePoint and in Google Drive.
Example: Let's say the Finance team needs to view a list of the five most recently updated KPI reports and invoice spreadsheet reports each time they visit the Finance folder in Google Drive so that they can produce their end of month reports.
Currently in Google Drive the "Quick Access" function only shows the top 4 or 5 last updated documents across the entire company - without the ability to filter down to Finance or even further.
To get this to work in Google Drive we would need to navigate to the right folder and then click on "Last Modified" to filter the date to show the last documents modified and then count the last 10 (see below). Google Drive - Reports Example
The problem with the above is that you can only do this for spreadsheets in the reports folder. You would need to then navigate to the invoice reports folder and do the same and combine the two.
To get the outcome, Finance need to jump through a few hoops and put in some effort to find all the files they require for end of month reporting.
So how do we combine 2 different sets of reports from different folders into the same "folder" in Microsoft SharePoint online?
By creating a document library in Microsoft SharePoint called "Reports" we can create a custom column called "Report Type" which can be set to either "KPI" or "Invoice". Once created, this allows for better filtering, thus saving time.
To show how this is setup, we will create a custom view in SharePoint in ~20 seconds. SharePoint ~20 seconds configuration of sorting & limits
Now that this has been setup, the Finance team can go to the Reports library and see the latest 5 items modified, grouped by Type.
As an additional enhancement, this view can be added to a webpage so that the Finance staff can easily access the reports they need quickly - without a lot of pre-filtering and sorting beforehand (see below result). SharePoint - Filtered Reports
What this means is once we have setup a filter and created a web page for it - the finance team can visit this page every month and they will see the top 5 latest documents for invoice and kpi reports so that they can process their end of month.
These may seem like minor tweaks and fixes but, when combined can have a significant impact on productivity just by working with SharePoint.
How do you describe the benefits of SharePoint to colleagues and "pod mates" within your business?
We think this quote sums it up.
Sharepoint is like a website (or a group of websites) showing a spreadsheet of your documents with all of this extra information attached about each file in the columns you specify. Think of SharePoint as a Spreadsheet or table that displays all of your documents with customisable columns, allowing for sorting, filtering etc.
As a file management system, Google Drive does OK, however once we start comparing it to SharePoint as a business document management system, it becomes obvious that there are several features and functions that it lacks when compared to SharePoint.
Moving further up the value chain, SharePoint also enables better engagement through portals, collaboration and communication features as well as the ability to fully customise the SharePoint install to your liking to best suit your business or company you work for.
For example, a SharePoint Homepage could display to a group of Finance users a list of current reports, timesheets, an employee profile and some other relevant finance news to keep staff engaged in the portal as well as aware of what's happening around the business.
Google drive does not include this kind of "portal" functionality out of the box so we are forced to look into another product called Google sites.
Unlike SharePoint which achieves all of the above, achieving the same requirements in Google Sites requires a lot of custom coding and some advanced configuration before it can compete.
In a lot of ways - SharePoint has the ability to achieve the same result easily and in a best practice way.
Implementing some slight tweaks to Microsoft SharePoint online, we are also able to create an engaging Finance portal fairly quickly and mostly out of the box.
Even SharePoint online is a much stronger tool for workplace collaboration and engagement (see below for Finance screen). Finance Site - with Spotlight on Employee and Latest Finance News
Whilst we still enjoyed working within Google Drive for 2018, there where numerous times we were frustrated and just felt like we were spending lots of time on menial tasks.
It's been a relief to start migrating back to SharePoint and to start taking advantage of all that the Microsoft platform provides.
With increased pressure from our clients for greater efficiency, more automation and increased productivity, tools like SharePoint are no longer reserved for large enterprises.
Any size business can start to realise these benefits with a tool like SharePoint, which scales well and grows alongside your business in the mid to long term.
So how can your business benefit from SharePoint?
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Adam Johnstone is the CEO & Founder of iGenius. As a passionate entrepreneur and tech enthusiast he enjoys reviewing the latest tech products / innovations and sharing his thoughts with others.