Organizational Units
February 24, 2014
G Suite

Org. Units: The Secret to Effectively Managing Google Apps

This post is brought to you by Eliza Seim, Content Marketing Manager at BetterCloud, the maker of FlashPanel, a management and security tool for cloud-enabled organizations. Check out the FlashPanel blog for more Google Apps best practices or follow FlashPanel on Google+.

Organizational Units provide a way to organize and manage users within Google Apps. Org. Units can be used to enable and disable services within the Google Apps suite, such as YouTube, Google Drive, and Google+, and also to enforce different levels of security, access, and sharing for certain users.

While Org. Units exist in Active Directory and aid in creating organizational hierarchy, they do not confer access settings. Within Google Apps, however, by adding a new user to the correct Org. Unit, the user’s account is automatically equipped with the appropriate Google Apps services.

Organizational Units are created and managed within the Google Admin Console, along with nested Org. Units that offer additional granularity and control.

While there is no one size fits all structure, there are a few recommended conventions for configuring Org. Units based on the size and type of the organization.

Top 3 Org. Unit Structures

  1. Department / Job Function
    • Likely the most intuitive setup, grouping users by department is an easy way to turn on or off services for certain teams, such as enabling Google Sites for project-based roles, or disabling Google Drive for retail staff.
  2. Location
    • In the case of a franchised or global organization with stores or offices in multiple locations, administrative tasks are often more pertinent by geographical location than by job role. An admin per location could be tasked with resetting forgotten passwords, for example.
  3. Google Apps Access Level
    • A common practice before rolling out a new Google App service domain-wide is to enable the service to a smaller group of beta testers. Maybe comprised of the IT team or a few tech-savvy volunteers, these users can be placed into a separate Org. Unit and utilize an additional service without affecting the rest of the user base.

Note: Commonly confused, Org. Units differ from Google Groups in that a user can belong to only one Organizational Unit, but multiple groups.

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