The main contribution of G Suite and Google solutions to businesses efficiency is that it allows people to collaborate more easily by taking down silos that were locking up data in specific users accounts or computers.
For instance, Google Drive allows anyone to share instantly entire folders with whoever they want and defining how they can access these documents.
Google Contacts does not offer the same flexibility out of the box, but today we will see how, in fact, we can have the same experience of sharing groups of contacts and setting permissions the same way we share Google Drive documents or even calendars.
What does Google offer out of the box to share contacts?
G Suite comes with the contact delegation feature that allows any G Suite user (not regular Gmail or free G Suite user) to delegate access to their “My Contacts” folder.
With the Google Contact delegation feature, you can select who can access to your contact, so that they can see, add or remove contacts from your address books.
However, this feature is less a contact sharing feature than a delegation of access to your contacts.
What’s the difference?
Well, this feature is mostly used by a manager to delegate the management of her/his contacts to his/her admin assistant. But the admin assistant will have access to all the contacts but will not be able to “use” them (for instance to send them emails using Gmail autocomplete, find them in their mobile phones or even find them through Google Contacts or Gmail search)
Why is Shared Contacts for Gmail different from Contact Delegation feature?
Shared Contacts for Gmail offers a real contact sharing experience to their users. For instance, I can create a label named “Vendors” or “New York Office” and share it with one or several users or even a Google group containing users.
I can also define what access permissions my colleagues have (read only, can edit, can share).
Most important, they will be able to find these contacts in grouped in the label that is shared with them (like if I shared a G Drive folder with them), find them through the search, send them email and find them in their mobile phones or Microsoft Outlook if they are using this mail client.
|GOOGLE’S DELEGATION FEATURES||SHARED CONTACTS FOR GMAIL®|
|Only allows sharing of contacts in the “My Contacts” group.||Allows sharing of several labels/address books (contacts groups).|
|Does not synchronize with Phones & Outlook.||Contacts shared through our app can be synchronize with Mobiles/Tablets & Outlook.|
|Only allows “Editing Mode” for everyone. No granularity on permissions.||Allows the admin to set “Read Only”, “Can Edit”,”Can Delete” permissions for each user.|
|Impossible to find delegated contacts through Gmail contacts search engine.||Shared contacts can be found using the Gmail Contact Manager search mode.|
|Delegated contacts do not appear in gmail autocomplete mode.||Shared contacts appear in Gmail autocomplete mode for every user.|
|With Google Delegation you can only give access to users in your domain.||With Shared Contacts for Gmail you can share contacts with your domain users, sub-domains, external domains and gmail.com users.|
Shared Contacts for Gmail can be used as a mini CRM that will not come with the price of a CRM!
So we can say that Google Delegation feature is more if you want someone to manage and edit your contacts. But if you really want to share specific contacts and want to control who has access to these contacts, it is recommended to use Shared Contacts for Gmail.