It’s been proven that moving to cloud-based business applications, like Google Apps, is beneficial to your business.

With Google Apps, you can create Documents, Presentations and Spreadsheets in the cloud, but if you’re used to using Microsoft Office, there are (unfortunately) a few ways that your migration to the cloud may give you a headache.

1. Google Spreadsheet is not exactly a replacement for Microsoft Excel

The basic functionality within Excel is mimicked nicely within Google Spreadsheet - formulas, basic charting, filtering and sorting of rows and columns, and even conditional formatting.  But its in the advanced features where Google Spreadsheet falls short:

  • Charting in Google Spreadsheet is a bit clumsy. Its ancestor, Microsoft Excel gives you tons of freedom to change everything from the axis scale, tick marks, spacing and performs basic statistical trend fitting (like linear) all within a chart. The options in Google Spreadsheet are a bit limited here.

  • Excel’s Visual Basic-based macros are replaced with a JavaScript based Google Scripts language.  I’m a huge fan of Google Scripts because it will provide you the ability to program in the cloud and pull in data off the Internet. But if you’re using VB scripts to perform complex data manipulation, learning JavaScript from scratch can come with quite a learning curve.

  • Within Excel, my favorite feature has always been the ability to build an analysis tool that uses a checkbox or a slider bars for a data range. Unfortunately, Google Spreadsheet does not have any Developer options…which is sad (and headache inducing).

In summary, Google Spreadsheet is a very capable spreadsheet/analysis tool but some features that you may be accustomed to in Excel didn’t transition to its cloud-based cousin….some rebuilding and re-factoring may be needed after your switch.

2. Google Presentations can be limited

PowerPoint is a beast of a tool. Love it or hate it, it makes presenting any type of information pretty easy - especially given how it integrates with the other Microsoft Office products like Word and Excel.  Here’s some things to think about:

  • There is no easy way to modify the Slide Master in Google Presentation. Often companies put “Proprietary Information” on a slide deck, maybe a legal statement on each page in PowerPoint, you drop that into the Slide Master and its statically appearing on each slide you make.  For Google Presentation, you’ll have go around this by creating a Google Docs Template, and base your presentation off that. It works but is not as fast and as easy PowerPoint.

  • Making a table in Presentation can be painful. You can’t reduce any of the spacing, and if you have a large table to show, you’re trapped into spreading it over many charts. I often create technical presentations which benefit from having a table to summarize results or data, and it’s always a chore to get it to display.  In fact, I typically use Excel or PowerPoint to make a nice looking table and then paste it in as an image.

  • My biggest complaint: there’s no slide sorter view! If you have a large amount of charts to rearrange, this is a valuable feature to PowerPoint, to view all the charts and easily manipulate them.

Google Presentations is a stripped down version of PowerPoint and in many ways is more like a PDF-viewer with a few extra features.

3. Not all word processing software is created equal

I originally wrote this blog post in Google Apps. It works great for typing up a basic document and modifying the basics - font, colors, formatting.

Once again, it’s the advance features where Documents struggles:

  • Advanced formatting options found in Microsoft Word, such as watermarking (so you can smatter a big “DRAFT” on each page of a document), reference tracking for bibliography/works cited, or advanced formatting of images didn’t make it to Google Documents. Documents is great for sharing information with your colleagues but you may not want to write your 1,000 page PhD thesis with complex images and works cited on Google Documents.

  • Google Documents excels as a collaboration tool, allowing multiple people to modify the same document in real-time. But Google Apps has dropped the ball on one of the biggest and most useful features within Microsoft Word - Track Changes. Ever had to review a document in Word? Its really easy - you can all the deletions or additions by user, and as the document owner you can approve or decline a change. Google Documents will show you Revision History… keeping track of all the revisions between numerous people can be overwhelming.

Here at Backupify, Google Apps is an irreplaceable tool for collaborating and sharing information. we love it, we use it all the time. But, many of us still use Microsoft Office to make a PowerPoint or Excel for doing data analysis/manipulation.

After you migrate to the cloud, you’ll still have to choose the best tool for the job - sometimes it’s Google Apps by a mile and other times Microsoft Office can’t be beat.

Keep in mind that when it comes to cloud-based tools… there often is no golden ticket.