Google Apps: Cost Effective Tools For Your Organization

google_appsFor smaller arts organizations and individual artists, buying various types of management software packages and setting up services for data back-up and storage can really eat into what may already be a tight budget. But having these software and services are essential to efficient, day-to-day management. This is where Google Apps could be a great, free to low-cost solution.

Google Apps is a suite of online software and storage tailored to the needs of organizations of different sizes. All of the apps (you can see a list of the core apps here) operate within your internet browser. This means that there is no software to be installed on your organization’s machines. This also means that updates and IT maintenance for the software will be handled for free by Google, though the service varies depending on which package you select.

If there is a more specialized need such as CRM or photo editing, Google Apps for Business comes with its own app marketplace.  Similar to the app stores for iPhone and Android, the marketplace has a variety of free, more specialized applications to add to your Google account. All of the apps are desktop applications, but many of them work for both desktop and mobile devices.

So using apps that run in an internet browser are nice, but where is the information saved? While you can save your information to a personal computer or device, data storage and back-up can also take place in cloud storage. One of the main advantages to cloud storage is that your data can be accessed from any computer with an internet connection. It is important to note that storage only comes with a Google Apps for Business account.

I will admit that some of these Google apps do not have the same depth and power as other software packages, like the Microsoft Office Suite, but they definitely get the job done and fill the majority of the needs for most day-to-day operations. If the specific utility you need isn’t available in one of the core apps, you can usually find what you need in the marketplace.

There are three different types of accounts :

  • Google Apps (up to 50 accounts) - This option is free and allows your organization to add up to 50 user accounts. Comes with the basic core of google apps, but lacks some of the more specialized business features and support as the other options.
  • Google Apps for Business - The business version comes with all of the amenities including apps, storage and support. The pricing of this version is based on how many users you have in your organization, each user added costs $50 per year.
  • Google Apps for Nonprofits - While this option does not come with storage, it is more robust than the free version, plus customer support is offered. Google grants discounts (40%) to larger non-profits, of 3,000 or more, for the business version and offers smaller non-profits the education version for free.

So for many organizations that operate on smaller staffs and for individual artists, this is an extremely cost-effective way to get some quality management software and storage.