Google Workspace Review – One Year On
A year ago at Tug we had started the process of migrating our user management to what was then G-Suite, soon to become Google Workspace. As an agency we had introduced a system of flexible working and increased opportunities for remote working as well as continuing our expansion of global offices. For all these reasons we needed a more secure and effective way to collaborate and access our documents, data, and systems. So we thought we would provide a quick Google Workspace review.
Little did we know how soon the need for efficient and effective remote working across all our offices would become in light of the global outbreak of Covid-19.
We felt it would be useful to share some of our experiences in this roll-out and some of the lessons we learnt from using Google Workspace.
The key benefits and reasons we chose to deploy Google Workspace (G-Suite):
- Centralised file storage and access
- Improved collaboration
- Improved process deployment
Security in Google Workspace
A key reason we implemented G-Suite was to ensure the secure access to our agency and client documents, data and systems.
The user admin system within Google Workspace allows simple management of new and departing staff in all our offices as well as enforcing 2-step verification across all device access.
One of the unfortunate shortcomings of Google Workspace is the lack of out of the box integration with other user management systems within Google. So for example the Google Marketing Platform and Google Cloud Platform user lists will need to be maintained separately (although it is possible to separately update these through Admin SDK, more on that later).
Centralised file storage and access
Although we had been working using shared Google Drives for a long time, the deployment of Google Workspace allowed a more robust framework for file sharing and organization.
This was one of the most challenging areas of deploying Google Workspace. While we started out with a system of interconnected drives for each account, it became clear that we needed the shared drive solution that Google provides. These used to be called team drives, and essentially they provide a way for the team or business to store and organise files and share access, rather than each drive being owned by an individual.
The other issue is porting over ownership from other domains such as gmail.com Google accounts to accounts within your own domain. So if you have files and folders set up on Google accounts with other domains, you will need to consider how you can recreate or move these files within your own domain.
Improved Google Workspace collaboration
This is obviously the area that was at the forefront of focus when we had to accelerate remote working following the Covid-19 outbreak in early 2020.
Collaboration started with the ability to use Google Meet as a video conferencing solution for remote meetings. There were obviously many options on the market and each system rushed to provide more functionality and resolve security issues as their usage went through the roof.
At Tug we stuck with Google Meet as it provided the simplest integration to the rest of the Google Workspace functionality, was secure, and removed the need for another user management system and security concern.
Improved process deployment
Again a key driver for Tug moving to Google Workspace was consistency in documentation, processes, and ways of working across all our offices.
We’ve done much to document these ways of working, but there comes a point where policies and processes have to move from documents to enforceable procedures.
As mentioned above security processes become a lot more enforceable when you have a central user management system. This means that multi-factor verification can be enforced across the organization for example.
Another area we’ve found useful is in moving briefing and feedback to Google Forms. Again this creates a standardized way for information to be collected. By combining this with App Script we are able to automate a whole raft of other tasks in a standard way.
The scripts] developed with Google App Script can then be deployed across the agency and ensure that automation develops in a secure and consistent way.
Google Workspace Review Summary
Overall our experience of moving to Google Workspace has been a positive one, but with few things learned along the way. We will continue to explore the various aspects of the platform to enhance our work within the agency, including expanding out the use of App Script and automation.
- Quick to initially setup
- Security is a key focus
- Provides great collaboration tools
- Users are already familiar with many tools within Google Workspace
- Simple group management tools
- Billing is scalable based on your needs
- Lack of integration with other Google user management systems
- Some security policies require a bit of getting used to, particularly when setting an organisation group level.
- Migrating document ownership from Gmail accounts to your domain can be difficult. Ideally, Google would support this better.
- The support can feel a little robotic and scripted so you often have to rely on your own research to answer questions