EllisDon Builds on Success Using Google Collaboration Tools
What EllisDon Wanted
- Efficient internal communication and collaboration
- Increased employee productivity
- An intuitive intranet to host company data
Why EllisDon Went Google
- Google Apps for Business
- Cost-effective cloud computing
- Painless implementation
What EllisDon Accomplished Through Agosto
- Reliable, scalable, simple communications
- Mobile apps to increase productivity
- Ability to manage projectsin real time
- Reduced organizational pain
A highly diversified construction company that started in London, Ontario, Canada in 1951, EllisDon has grown into a multinational, accolade-earning, employee-owned development powerhouse with annual revenues exceeding $3B. They operate based on a collection of values which keeps them innovative, accountable, transparent and profitable. Embracing a philosophy of thinking before building, that notion permeates every facet of their enterprise. Voted Canada’s “Best Place to Work” in 2008 and 2009, the company strives to empower and encourage employees through shared investment and profit.
EllisDon is an organization that believes team collaboration helps achieve innovation. To further encourage this, the company’s leaders evaluated various ways to empower employees. Challenged by the habits of teams and individuals emailing multiple versions of contact lists, safety documents and best practices, they began looking for the means to build an intranet. It needed to act as true internal portal with a single login, where all departments could communicate and host everything that was piling up in emails. The company’s president also wanted a social aspect, a way to have a two-way conversation with employees.
Agosto and Google Solution:
EllisDon’s tech leadership team evaluated a number of possible intranet solutions, from building their own to adopting Sharepoint. The team then asked Google, Microsoft and IBM to submit proposals, and compared the submissions. Ultimately, they selected Google, first for their intranet and later for collaboration and email. Agosto provided change management to help EllisDon anticipate the effects of the transition, and trained its teams. Agosto then built and brand-enhanced the company’s intranet site using Google Sites, and later assisted with EllisDon’s email and document sharing migration to Google.
From the beginning, the EllisDon team has been pleased with the results of making a move to using Google tools. “Starting with the intranet, it was clear that the collaborative Google environment was right for us,” said EllisDon CTO Ray Allen. “The Agosto team provided assistance and change management that helped us prepare and educate our people, and they got our new intranet up and running beautifully. The entire project was managed very well.”
Because things went so well with the intranet, the company decided to expand the implementation of Google collaboration tools across the enterprise, first with Drive, where the company’s teams could create and storage business documents, spreadsheets, presentations and other important files. Then they decided to move the company’s documents and email system to Google as well.
“We took a phased approach,” said Ray. “After rolling out the new intranet with help from Agosto and our marketing team, we invited different regions to contribute content that was important to them.”
“We then brought in content from legal, project estimating, safety, HR, you name it. And using Google tools to pull it all together was really straightforward and intuitive. Our employees love it because it’s easier than ever to find and share information. In fact, things went so well that we decided to move from our Lotus system to the truly collaborative document and email system included with Google Apps.”
Since the company moved to Google, Ray has enjoyed watching collaboration take off. “Going Google has taken away a lot of our organizational pain, allowing us to more easily access and share what we’re doing in real time,” said Ray. “Google+ has enabled everyone to quickly share news, events and best practices; Drive helps us create, share and edit our work more quickly; and Hangouts, with live video conferencing and Chat have become large part of way we operate. Our teams are more connected, even if they’re in different offices or working from construction sites.”
JT Armstrong, Director of IT Architecture and Solutions for EllisDon described the surprising ease of the company’s adoption of Google Drive. “Usually we have to push end users, but Google Drive has taken off organically,” said JT. “We now have departments asking to move even non-native Google files to Drive, because it’s so easy to use. It’s nice to be on the other end for a change. Everyone just loves Google Drive.”
He also shared his observations of the changes. “We have a number of regional offices with area managers and executives who are all reporting that their departments are working more efficiently,” said JT. “With Agosto’s help, we’re now using Google to share our work anytime, anywhere. Google has really helped us streamline how we share data. Now instead of having to email large docs using a VPN, we just use Google Drive. And with offline capabilities, you can keep working anywhere, using any device and stay productive.”
Looking back, JT described how good planning helped they achieve positive results. “The migration itself was easy,” said JT. “Of course we had our ups and downs, but we had a good plan and a good strategy. It was a great team effort with Agosto. They were always available via phone or text and that made things go really smoothly.” Ray commented on the project work overall. “Agosto brought the full package from planning, to integration to delivering the final Google solution,” said Ray. “They were always very prepared, they communicated well and delivered the training we needed. We’re big fans of both Google and Agosto.”
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