Collaboration Articles

Google Apps vs Office 365 vs Zoho Docs: Comparing Productivity Apps for Small Businesses

by Karen McCandless
Published on 31 August 2015

Long gone are the days when all you could do within your office suite was format some words, do some simple calculations, and add a few bullet points to your (probably fairly dry) presentation. There are now some nifty collaboration and productivity apps out there - and as they all have a cloud-element and can be used across mobile devices, they're perfect for today's globally dispersed, always-on workforce.

Google Apps, Office 365 and Zoho Docs logos

We've taken a look at three of the leaders on the market to take the pain out of choosing the right cloud office application for your business. Here is our comparison of Microsoft Office 365 for Business, Google Apps for Work, and Zoho Docs.


Let's start off by looking at the bottom line for all businesses: cost. Just to clarify: each app has a free version and all offer free trials, but if you're looking for more business-ready features, you'll probably want to invest in a monthly or annual subscription.

Google Apps for Work

There are two price plans, which offer different features. Each plan can be paid on a monthly or yearly basis. The base plan costs $5 per user/month or $50 per user per year plus tax, the premium plan costs $10 per user per month or $120 per user per year plus tax. The company's flexible plans allows you to add and delete users when needed.

Office 365 for Business

There are three plans for Office 365 for Business that cover up to 300 users (enterprise plans for unlimited users are available separately). If you sign up for an annual contract (with the possibility to pay either monthly or for the whole year up front), plans start at $5 per user per month. If you sign up on a month-by-month basis, plans start at $6 per month. These plans don't include desktop versions of the Office suite. In terms of pricing plans, Microsoft offers the widest range of options for a business.

Zoho Docs

Zoho Docs offers two plans: a standard one that costs $5 per user per month and a premium one that costs $8 per user per months. These plans can be changed as and when you like, while there is a 20 percent discount for an annual subscription.

Who is it for?

Depending on the size of your business - whether you're a freelancer, a small business, or an enterprise - some office suites are more suitable for others. It's also worth checking out the feature comparisons for Google Apps for Work, Office 365 for Business, and Zoho Doc so you can understand exactly what features each pricing tier offers.

Google Apps

As Google Apps for Works sticks to two plans regardless of user size, it's good option for any size business, especially small businesses that don't want the headache of wading through a wide range of price plans and features. Google keeps it simple here.

Office 365 for Business

The three Office 365 for Business plans cover up to 300 users. If you are looking to add more users then the company also has a range of Enterprise plans, which offer support for unlimited users. The bottom line is that Microsoft's cloud software is suitable for businesses of any size. If you're a freelancer, you may even be interested in its free Home plans.

Zoho Docs

Zoho Docs is quite an attractive prospect for small businesses, given that its free for up to 25 users, with the added fact that all the company's products are designed with small businesses in mind. Saying that, the free version does feel a touch light on features, especially given there is no integrated email.


Google Apps

You'll be hard pushed to find apps these days that don't claim to integrate with Google Apps for Work, even Zoho Docs mentions it as one of its major selling points. While - unlike the other two software companies in this list - Google doesn't have a large suite of other business applications, its integration with CRM, productivity and customer service software mean you don't feel that anything is lacking.

Office 365

One of Microsoft's major selling points is how seamlessly its products work together and how wide a range of solutions it offers in the cloud. From customer service software, to CRM to web design, to IT management, it has a lot to offer. But if you're looking outside the Microsoft family, the Office 365 API makes integration easy.

Zoho Docs

Microsoft may have its own integrated app ecosystem, but so does Zoho. The company offers a plethora of other useful sister products, including Zoho CRM, Zoho Support, Zoho Reports, Zoho Projects, and many more. It also works with Dropbox and Google Apps for Work, and has a couple of APIs to aid future integration.

Mobile apps

Any cloud app worth its salt these days has a mobile app, as we're all increasingly working on the go. Being able to see that spreadsheet on your phone and edit your word document on your tablet is key for today's mobile workforce.

Google Apps for Work

Google - unsurprisingly - offers fully featured and well developed apps for its Android platform, with separate apps for Docs, Sheets, Drive, Gmail, Calendar, etc. These apps work well on iOS as well, although they follow Google's Material Design principles so they might take some getting used to for iPhone and iPad users.

Office 365 for Business

Like Google, Microsoft offers separate mobile apps for each of its Office 365 office suite products to Android, iPhone and Windows Phone users. As Microsoft is now focused on offering a consistent experience across devices, it puts emphasis on developing the apps for all platforms.

Zoho Docs

Zoho Docs offers both an Android and iPhone app, as well as an extension for Chrome. The apps have received mixed reviews across both the Google Play and App Store, but are regularly updated.

What other metrics would you use to compare cloud apps for collaboration? Let us know in the comments below. Or if you want to shop around some more, why not check out some more options on the GetApp Marketplace.

This article was first published in January 2013.


Apps mentioned in this article