How to use Google Groups for Businesses that are using Google Apps

Business owners know that Google apps are pretty amazing. Valeo, is one of the one million businesses that have taken the plunge – they just bought 30,000 seats of Google Apps. But not all of the “personal” google applications (like Groups, News, Reader, Photos, Shopping, Maps, Books) have been ported over into the Google Apps.

So what do you do if you’re a business running on Google Apps who wants to have internal distribution lists? Well, you could bolt something on. Or you can use Google Groups. But if you use Google groups and your people are already using Google personal for their non-work life, things can get pretty crazy.

First, we have to make sure that you’re clear on the basics:

  • Google’s personal apps and Google’s business apps are not the same, so Gmail or Google Apps Gmail are different applications with different log ins.
  • Google Groups does not exist in the Business apps, it is personal.
  • Businesses need to have discussion groups.
  • The work around is to have your people create a NEW, PERSONAL account using their WORK email address. (Yes, brain hurting).
  • So they’ll have to have THREE accounts (2 personal and 1 corporate):
    • (which you give them from the Google Apps admin control panel);
    • (a PERSONAL Google account that they have to set up separately on their own!) What they’ll need to do is log out of everything and sign back in as a new personal Gmail user using their corporate email address (
    • (their original personal account that they set up on their own).
  • Why is this an issue? You can have tabs open in Firefox or Internet Explorer for both the Google personal apps as well as for the Google business apps. So your people can have their personal and their work data open in front of them at the same time. But if they try to have their personal, their work, AND the groups data (which is also personal), things break.
  • Here are the answers:
    • Option 1: only ever log into work or personal or groups by itself (not very productive);
    • Option 2: 2 browser approach
      • Run the personal and work applications in multiple tabs in browser #1 (or a site specific browser)
      • Run the Groups application with the new userid ID in browser #2 (or a dedicated site specific browser)
    • Option 3: 3 Site specific browsers
      • Create a site specific browser for each of these and keep them completely siloed:
        • Personal Google apps
        • Personal/Corporate Groups
        • Corporate Apps only

Will any of this ever be resolved and will Groups ever be a full Google Apps for Business application? I don’t know. But until that time comes, this will let you and your company be productive. Enjoy!