When we first started up we were all working on our personal computer.  We didn't yet have any hardware or software.  We needed to work. I don't know if it was Allan or Jason but someone fired up Google Docs so we could at least get to work.  That seemingly inconsequential act may well turn out to be one of the best things that have ever happened to us.

Let me point out that no matter how good a product is, change is difficult and usually people have trouble committing.  We had no choice.  We had nothing else.  I will be the first to say that Google documents lack much of the advance functionality of word.  Google Spreadsheets, while quite versatile, lack sophisticated graphs and presentations and Google presentations while good is certainly memory and CPU hog.  However, Gmail with its lightening quick  awesome search and  essentially infinite size and the Google Calendar certainly put outlook to shame.

In any case, we had nothing else so we used Google Docs.  Certainly not as sophisticated as Microsoft Office. Certainly lacking all the bells and whistles.  But as we sat around my living room each working on our own notebook building our business  together, something happened.  We discovered the true power of collaboration. You might think that eight people editing a  spreadsheet or a document at the same time sounds like a nightmare but that is likely because you are thinking about the "track changes" nightmare that makes you want to throw out a MS Word document and start over. Google Docs just doesn't work that way.

In the end it's nothing you can put your finger on at first but rather a number of things that make Google Doc's brilliant.  Things like:

  • Easy intuitive instantaneous collaboration.
  • No worries about multiple versions of spreadsheets, documents and presentations everywhere.
  • Global version control for documents, spreadsheets and presentations.
  • Easy presentation and sharing of documents, spreadsheets and presentations with people outside your domain (like VC's).
  • No worries about backing up.
  • No worries about space.
  • Great Calendar.
  • Awesome Email.
  • Integration.
  • Transparent and easy configuration.
  • Easy access from any PC from any location at any time.
  • No software to install, no licence keys, no costs.
  • Constant innovation and upgrades but  without the upgrades. 🙂

So when we purchased our first set of notebooks (yup notebooks for everyone) we purchased them with copies of Microsoft Office, but a funny thing happened.  Hardly any copies of Office got installed. It turns out that we are hooked on Google Docs and hooked on collaboration.  If you  own Microsoft stock I have a word of advice for you - sell now!

This new paradigm also seems to dovetail extremely well with our new working method - Scrum.  Notice I didn't say "development" method.  Scrum isn't just for developers.  It works for business development, requirement building, project planning and marketing too!

Here is how I sum up my feelings why Google Doc's will overtake Microsoft Office within the next 18 months: Easy, Real, Convenient, Collaboration ALWAYS trumps Configuration, Complexity and Non-Intuitiveness even (maybe even especially) if it is in the name of Security and Control.

Oh and today Google added "Google Sites" their reincarnation of the Jotspot Wiki.  I added it to our Google Docs this morning with a simple click.  Thank God we will never have suffer another installation of Sharepoint!

See how they scrum: