If a company has more than one employee, chances are they’re collaborating on something. Typically, they e-mail documents back and forth. The more employees involved, the more documents they exchange, and the harder it is to incorporate all the changes. Even worse, the potential exists for someone’s edits and comments to get lost in the shuffle.

The Microsoft shop big enough to deploy SharePoint doesn’t need help. Still, even small businesses have choices, such as Microsoft Office Groove and Office Live Small Business. Beyond what Microsoft offers, there’s also Google Docs, a Web-based office suite that allows you to create documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. Users share the documents with one another and decide who can view and edit. Google Docs’ features are impressive:

  • Users can view and edit a document simultaneously.
  • Users can see other viewers as they edit.
  • Users can make comments rather than edit content directly.
  • Google maintains a copy of each revision and users can revert to earlier versions.
  • It’s free!

Google Docs seems to supply a viable alternative for expensive collaborate software; however, there are some limitations:

  • Users must have a Google account, which really isn’t a deal-breaker.
  • Google can (and does) change the suite without informing users.
  • Applications are limited; power users will balk at the limited features.
  • You can’t control security.
  • Shared documents are on Google’s servers, not yours. It’s not the right place for company accounts and confidential documents.

Google Docs should be wildly popular, but an uncontrolled survey found no one recommending it for their smaller clients, and I’m wondering why. Is there just no market for it, or are users leery of putting documents on a foreign server? Have you recommended Google Docs to any of your smaller clients?

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