Google Hangouts Review

Screen sharing feature ties in with Google Docs and Google Sheets so that we can work on a single document as a whole group of us at once

What is our primary use case?

We're a very distributed environment. We are a group of trucking companies and we're spread out across Western Canada. We've got about 20 offices with about 250 people right across 20 offices and communicating with each other is very important and so we use Google Hangouts. It provides inter-company communication, primarily for meetings and things like that. It has reduced cell phone bills and all those sorts of things.

What is most valuable?

The screen sharing is the most valuable feature. It ties in with Google docs and Google sheets so that we can work on a single document as a whole group at once. That's the biggest feature we rely on. Other than that, it's quick communication. You can send a quick chat message if you need or you can have a long video call conference if you need as well. It is flexible. It's a very good all-around solution.

What needs improvement?

The way it works with anonymous users should be improved. That could be strengthened to let anonymous users do more.

If we could get the person that we call that doesn't have a Gmail account and to screen share would be helpful. There have been times when I actually wanted to do remote control through Google and that would be really helpful too. That would help support a lot too. 

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using it for around five years. 

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is stable. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability is very good. We have around 150 users who use it every day. 

It's at least half of our company that uses it pretty regularly. Our users range from data entry clerks who use the chat function to ask quick questions of their counterparts, dispatchers who communicate with other dispatchers inside that company. Managers use it for their weekly calls. It's really every level of our organization uses it.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

Before Hangouts we were using a regular teleconferencing solution where we would dial the number of a code and we would pay a bill every month for the number of minutes we used. We've never used a solution like Hangouts.

How was the initial setup?

The setup is complex. There are many settings buried in the Google Admin that are hard to find. It can be a pain. 

It took about a year to get people into it and to set it to the way we wanted it. It required constant tweaking.

What was our ROI?

We have seen a return on our investment and we're all very satisfied with it. I just prefer to pay what I used to.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

This time last year I would've said the pricing is fantastic but Google increased their pricing recently and so our costs doubled. I don't think it's as cost-effective as it used to be. I would say it's sort of in the middle as far as cost-effectiveness now. It's the other things that come with Hangout that make it valuable. Part of its value is that it's got a whole suite of tools. I do in fact recommend it to people because of that. 

What other advice do I have?

The one piece of advice I would is to be prepared regarding who else is going to use Hangouts outside of your organization. If you want people to be able to use a phone number, you have to pay for a whole different license with Google, your whole Google license has to be upgraded. Granted it has lots of other features. The dial-in feature to Hangouts is only accessible in the business class of G suite. 

If it's only your company that is going to use it, then you're great at the regular license level. But if you think you're going to have people who are required to dial in, then you need to be prepared to pay more.

I would rate it an eight out of ten.

**Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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