Life After Outlook: How Change Management Impacts Google Apps Adoption

If you’re considering the transition from Outlook to Google Apps, ask your deployment partner if you need change management to make it a success. At Agosto, we know the answer is yes, and here’s why.

Humans are creatures of habit, therefore they are often resistant to change. Migrating to a new email and collaboration system is a major undertaking for any organization. Those organizations running Microsoft Outlook and looking to migrate to Google Apps will need to plan for resistance from some users.

Early in the project, these organizations will find they have die-hard Outlook fans among their users. While many of these fans have personal web-based email accounts, some even Gmail, the idea of leaving Outlook behind for their business life will cause push back. By assessing the reasons behind the push back, you will likely learn there are several factors. These might include lack of time, lack of Google Apps knowledge and fear that they will struggle in learning.

This is why change management is important. It provides a structured approach to the user-side of the Google Apps deployment. Ensuring that you communicate, educate and support effectively will make the transition easier for everyone involved. The time and effort given to change management before, during and even after the transition will be reflected in the ultimate ROI of the project.

Google has an excellent guide called “Going Google: A practical guide to change management for Google Apps adoption.” They report that with a solid change management plan in place, you’ll:

  • Increase user adoption, usage, and proficiency
  • Reduce risk related to acceptance of Google Apps by users
  • Lower costs related to unplanned disruptions to business operations

A few of the major points from the guide are list listed below:

  • Create a change management plan timeline: A timeline will ensure that everyone involved in the project will know what is happening and when.
  • Gain support and help: Engage senior management for support on the deployment. Human Resources can provide additional understanding of users. Marketing can assist with communication. Recruit power users as Google Guides. They will be excited about the change and have the ability to influence others. If you are using a Google Apps partner, look to their experts for guidance, they will help plan, manage and execute change management activities.
  • Communication: Communication and more communication. Spreading the word that we’re “going Google” can be accomplished in many ways. Popular ways include email, company newsletters and the company intranet.
  • Training: It is important to identify the needs of different user groups, some will need more training than others and some will need tailored training for their role. Provide training materials in different formats online, via printed handouts and in classroom sessions. Continue to support users with training resources after deployment.

Bringing in expert help on change management is a good idea. Google Enterprise Partners, like Agosto, have change management and training experts that have successfully guided many organizations in making the migration from Outlook to Google Apps. They have first hand knowledge of issues that can arise and ways to prevent or alleviate them. Contact us for more information.

Corel Strengthens Global Business with Migration to Google

About Corel:

Corel is one of the world’s top software companies providing some of the industry’s best-known graphics, productivity and digital media products. Boasting the most comprehensive portfolio of innovative software, the company has built a reputation for delivering solutions that are easy to learn and use, helping people achieve new levels of creativity and productivity. The industry has responded with hundreds of awards for innovation, design and value. Used by millions of people around the world, Corel’s product lines include CorelDRAW® Graphics Suite, CorelDRAW® Technical Suite, Corel® Painter®, Corel® PaintShop® Pro, Corel® VideoStudio® and Corel® WordPerfect® Office, Winzip, Roxio Creator, Roxio Toast and Pinnacle Studio. For more information on Corel, please visit their website.

Challenge:

Corel has reinvented itself over the years through an expansion of its offerings in the Graphics, Digital Media and Productivity space. The company’s management team recognized the need to adopt a simplified, yet scalable infrastructure on a variable cost model.

Agosto and Google Solution:

The company had already migrated from an on-premises CRM to Salesforce.com, and next identified Corel’s email and collaboration systems to move to the cloud. As a part of the evaluation process, the team looked at Google Apps and Microsoft 365. Corel’s Vice President Information Technology, Mark Fernandes, shared the company’s story about their migration to Google.

“We were already a Google customer, using Postini to manage spam and email security,” said Mark. “We were also a Microsoft customer, running on-premises Exchange. With extensive global operations, including in Taiwan, China, Japan, the Philippines, Europe, and North America, we have teams working 24/7. We reviewed both Google’s and Microsoft’s options for email, scheduling and calendar, and wanted to communicate better and reduce costs. We found Google particularly attractive, with Chat, Sites, Docs and the ability to collaborate.”

Results:

Mark described that the team was initially skeptical about whether Google was mature enough for an enterprise offering. Many of Corel’s employees were home users of Gmail, though, so there was a certain comfort level in making the migration to Google at work.

“Though we encouraged employees to go Google, one of our key strategies lives in giving people choices,” said Mark. “Some of our team members were glued to their Outlook clients, and GASMO (Google Apps Sync for Microsoft Outlook) helped to ease the challenge of synchronizing email clients and created a common, seamless platform that enables our global teams to work from anywhere, at any time, from any device. We have had a lot of success with users starting on Outlook and eventually transitioning to full-blown Google Apps, taking advantage of Gmail, Chat and even Sites.”

Mark commented on the transition. “We were actually very impressed with the transition to Google Apps,” said Mark. “Our experience with Agosto was great. I like that Agosto focused on change management, bringing us the tools to support this major change for our business. Agosto was instrumental in holding our hands throughout the implementation, which we rolled out in a phased approach to our IT team and finally to the larger organization. We also involved our senior management team early, which I believe led to our success.”

One of the first Corel divisions to officially go Google was WinZip, one of Corel’s main divisions. During Corel’s transition to Google Apps, Hurricane Sandy threatened the northeast coast of Canada and the United States, where WinZip is located. Acting quickly and efficiently, Agosto migrated WinZip’s entire domain to the Google platform in under five hours.

Feedback from Corel team members is also positive.

“Our marketing and product development folks appreciate the increased ability to collaborate,” said Mark. “Using Google Docs and Sites enables them to manage content. All of our teams are appreciate the secure, easy, device agnostic access to their mail and content. We’re an organization that doesn’t prescribe a particular device so granting access anytime, anywhere, with no need for a VPN for our Android or iOS users. And Google’s archiving and ediscovery keeps us secure so we haven’t had to add anything.”

Mark also shared how the migration to Google has helped him meet his objectives to save on costs.

“We have successfully decommissioned three Exchange servers, which has saved on IT costs” he said. “Google Docs and Chat also save on communication costs, plus we are enabling employees to collaborate in real-time from anywhere, on any device. I’m really pleased with the results financially.”

Google Apps Vault New Feature: Preserve Specific Messages

The news today from Google about the expansion of Google Apps Vault capabilities is sure to excite Vault administrators!

To date, admins can place a litigation / legal hold an entire Google Apps Vault user account to preserve all that user’s messages. Over the next few days Google will release a new feature that will enable Vault admins to place a legal hold on specific messages, too.

Google Apps Vault, which is sold as an add-on for Google Apps, allows companies to retain, archive, search, and export email for compliance and electronic discovery (eDiscovery). Today, administrators are already able to search their domain’s email data based on specific criteria like sent dates, terms (words) or users. As mentioned, they can place specific user accounts on litigation hold to preserve a specific user’s email data. They can also manage related searches and their litigation holds within a single “container,” called a “matter,” so that matters can be shared with and among authorized users. Search results can be exported in standard file formats, and search queries can be saved. Admins can also set email retention policies for their domain.

With this news, starting within the next few days, admins will get to place legal holds on specific messages, either by date or by filtering certain terms (words), for indefinite preservation in Vault. Editions included are Google Apps for Business, Education and Government.

Interested in learning more? Contact Agosto to better understand how Google Apps and Google Apps Vault can help your organization. Also visit Google’s support site for more.

New Google Apps Sign In Page Roll Out Begins Today

There’s a new Google Apps sign in page for customers using Google Apps for Business, Education, and Government. Google announced the change in November, and Agosto has been sending notices to our Google Apps clients.

Google is rolling out changes over the next four weeks, starting today. Changes include that the sign-in page for Google Apps has been updated for consistency across all Google Apps services. Essentially, the sign-in page for Gmail is going to be the same as the sign-in page for Google Drive, Google Calendar, and all Google Apps services. This will make it easier for users to switch between accounts and improve security.

It also means, unfortunately, that it is no longer possible to personalize the Google Apps sign-in page with custom logos and colors. We understand that this is going to be painful to a few of our client teams, and we are here to support you through the transition. End users will also now need to log in with full email addresses, like bob@domain.com, which is also going to be a change for some teams.

For our clients with SSO domains with a network mask, your users will be presented with the new Google sign-in page when they log in from outside the SSO network mask. This change does not affect SSO domains without a network mask.

Agosto clients are invited to contact us for assistance. For more information, please visit Google’s support page for the official notice.

Google Tools for the Transportation Industry – A Webinar

In a few days, Agosto will co-host with Google an intimate conversation with the leadership team from Arrow Transportation Systems Inc., a 96-year old trucking and transportation company.

This will not be your run-of-the-mill webinar. Instead, Arrow’s COO, CIO and Manager Development and Enterprise Architect will come together to share each of their unique perspectives on discovering Google Apps and how they and the entire company are working better today using Google tools.

Arrow has been an Agosto client for over a year now, and we’re honored to welcome them to this unique, online event. The 30-minute conversation will be geared toward the transportation industry, but we guarantee it will be interesting enough for any business leader considering the future of technology in their enterprise. We hope you’ll register today to join us for this special conversation.

Tough Mudder Teamwork: An Analogy for Agosto Overall

(Our guest blogger is Agosto CEO, Aric Bandy)

Henry Ford once said, “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.”

This last Saturday, Team Agosto (our change management expert Marissa and I) completed Tough Mudder, WI, a 11.8 mile obstacle course. We represented Agosto well! The event is intentionally designed as a team event with obstacles that are difficult, if not impossible, to complete alone. The role of teamwork is best captured in the Tough Mudder pledge: “This is not a race but a challenge. I put teamwork and camaraderie before my course time. I help my fellow participants complete the course.”

Teamwork is the only way to get over the 12′ walls, through the mud tunnels, and encouraging one another to overcome the 10,000 volt obstacles, hyperthermia-inducing ice pools, and mile upon mile of running through mud.

Personally, this is a great analogy for what makes Agosto successful. Over the last few years we’ve faced lots of challenges. Throughout all, our desire and actions to help each other overcome the challenges and obstacles, even when it’s not part of our job description, have made us stronger together.

It’s a managed services engineer taking a call from a client over the weekend even when they’re not on-call. It’s change management doing account management. It’s a Google Apps deployment expert becoming a Google Enterprise Search expert. It’s finance creating sales orders. We’re adding more people, improving systems and processes, but I hope we never lose the core belief that we’re better because we move forward together!

Check out our complete Tough Mudder, WI photo album.

Agosto Invests in Best Practices for Cloud Information Protection

Agosto has good news to share! CloudLock, the leading provider of information security applications for enterprises using the cloud, has recently certified a number of Agosto employees through the CloudLock Champions ProgramTM. We at Agosto already know our team members are talented in their respective areas, but having a partner invest in training and certification in companion technology that will benefit our customers is a huge bonus. Agosto’s CloudLock Champions to date include Lindsay Dubin (Friefield) and Andrew Boushie, both in Sales, and Thomas Blade in Technology.

As early evangelists of cloud computing, Agosto is recognized for its vision of how IT can provide a competitive advantage for its clients. This trend continues by offering CloudLock, the best practice for enterprise information security. Through a program of training and communication, CloudLock ensures that its partner Champion candidates, like those from Agosto, get what they need to educate customers on information security best practices (Sales) and administer information security thought leadership to customers (Technology). Champions are required to put their information security skills to the test in order to receive the Champions badge of honor.

The CloudLock Champions ProgramTM differentiates Agosto with advanced knowledge of CloudLock’s offerings and provides many benefits to our customers. Agosto employees work hard to become our clients’ trusted advisors, and this is evident by efforts to become experts in CloudLock’s leading information protection solution. The core of the CloudLock Champions Program empowers Agosto’s participating team members to articulate the need for information security, allowing customers to take full advantage of their Google Apps ROI, to accelerate cloud adoption in general and to protect sensitive data.

With CloudLock’s investment in their Champions program, Agosto is better equipped to recognize information security needs, for instance, if a client must be in compliance with PCI, PII, or SOX regulations.

CloudLock is the leading provider of information security applications for enterprises using the cloud. Companies are moving sensitive IP, customer and employee data into the cloud. That data is vulnerable if no safeguards exists around how employees are handling it. The largest organizations in the world trust CloudLock to protect their data. If you’re interested in learning more about CloudLock, visit cloudlock.com or contact info@cloudlock.com. You may also contact Agosto.

Manufacturer Superior Industries Has Gone Google with Help from Agosto

Agosto has a new video customer success story about their transition to Google Apps. The story is live today on our site, showcasing the positive experience of one of our clients in the manufacturing industry that has made the transition to Google Apps. Superior Industries is a manufacturer based in Morris, MN, with company divisions located in eight states.

In the video, IT Systems Manager Russ Koehl shares that they were approaching the end-of-life of their Exchange server, and the fact that they were having problems of viewing shared calendars across their enterprise. In looking at Google Apps, they discovered easily shared calendars, reduced demands on IT and cost savings overall.

The company uses Google Docs (and Drive) and Google Hangouts (video conferencing), from shared, kiosk-style computers on the shop floor as well as from desktops, laptops and phones, since with Google Apps, you can access your work from any device.

Superior recommends Agosto, having gone through the transition to Google Apps and seeing no spike in tech support requests.

For more information, contact us. 

Cloud Computing to help Manufacturing

There’s a great article out today by Louis Columbus on Forbes called, “10 Ways Cloud Computing Is Revolutionizing Manufacturing.” The author touches on how cloud computing, often at the enterprise level, is helping manufacturers to streamline processes and work more effectively.

This is then helping them to get back to the business of innovation.

Which is then leading them to bring more new products to market, with higher sales.

Agosto has heard similar stories from our manufacturing clients like Superior Industries. The company is using Google Apps to help its employees across the U.S. to collaborate on the same documents at the same time. Others, like Egan Company are using both Google Apps and Google Chromebooks to enable both factory line and field construction workers to efficiently view, share, edit and communicate.

In all cases, Agosto manufacturing clients are also saving on their IT costs. Madison-Kipp Corporation also touts the savings and ease-of-use of Google Apps over its former, more complex systems.

As a Google Apps Premier Enterprise partner, Agosto can help manufacturers who are looking at how to improve their productivity, reduce costs and better collaborate across their business, no matter how many locations or employees they might have. To learn more, contact sales@agosto.com

You can also view the original Forbes article here, while it’s live on their site.

Google Apps Manufacturing Case Study: Superior Industries

About Superior Industries

Superior Industries is a manufacturing company located in Morris, MN, with eight divisions located throughout the United States and with international distribution of its products. Superior’s divisions design, manufacture, market, and sell bulk material handling conveyors, conveyor components, fuel tanks, fuel trucks, fuel trailers, petroleum equipment and precast concrete products.

Challenge:

Since 2008, Superior has experienced spectacular growth. Acquisitions in particular have helped Superior gain a reputation as one of the fastest growing private companies in the United States with a growth rate of over 15%. The company has expanded its product and service divisions from two to eight, and its number of employees from 350 to more than 1,100.

Originally working off of one Exchange server at the company’s headquarters in Morris, recent rapid growth meant that the IT team found itself quickly without adequate infrastructure expansion capabilities. As a result, the company had to leave in place several legacy systems that it had acquired.

In addition to needing a common platform across the company, Superior, like other manufacturers, needed to provide access to shift and line workers who didn’t necessarily have a workstation or computer access 100% of the time. With the single Exchange server, licensing, accessibility and scalability were difficult and expensive.

Agosto Solution:

One of the companies that Superior acquired was using Google Apps. The IT team evaluated transitioning the entire company to Google Apps as a way to stabilize its infrastructure, hoping to save on costs and increase collaboration across its divisions and work sites. They turned to Agosto, a Google Apps reseller, to help implement Google Apps throughout the entire organization. Agosto also assisted in developing the training curriculum that Superior has implemented across the company.

Details and Results:

Agosto helped Superior to migrate and implement Google Apps entirely remotely, saving on both travel and training costs. IT Infrastructure Supervisor Russ Koehl shared how Agosto first helped Superior train a group of early adopter “Google Guides” that got up and running quickly positioning them to assist other users.

This was key to communicating that the change was positive and there were benefits for all users. Superior trained 15-20 people per session, both in-house and remotely via the web. Over the course of a couple of weeks, everyone at Superior was using Google Apps.

Working with a reseller has been invaluable, said Russ. “The transition to Google Apps has been so successful that we have returned to Agosto for extra assistance in migrating our newest acquisition into the Superior family of companies,” said Russ. “And working with our Agosto rep, Cat Bear, has been phenomenal. It’s amazing how much she has helped us to accomplish and how quickly she responds to our requests.”

Russ described how line workers are able to share kiosk-style terminals on the shop floor, eliminating the need for a computer for every employee who only needs to log-in occasionally. Using their own unique credentials, employees gain access to vital company communications, email, training and user documentation using the kiosks or even their personal mobile devices. “These are people with varying skill levels,” said Russ. “And no one has any trouble getting around in Google Apps.”

Russ shared how his IT team can now add hundreds of new users easily to the system, getting them set up and ready to log into Google Apps in minutes rather than the days it previously took. With no server upgrades to schedule, no desktop software patches to install or versions to manage, Russ and the team are able to work faster, eliminating the conflicts and downtime they previously experienced. They are also saving significantly on both software and hardware costs.

They continue to discover new benefits; Russ said, “Our marketing department can now easily access and contribute to the company intranet using Google Sites without needing to know code. We also use Google Hangouts just about everyday for fast, reliable video and voice conferencing, and our dispatchers rely heavily on Google Chat to save time.”

“If you would have told me before that I’d have our entire company, across multiple locations, transitioned to a new and better way of working so quickly, I would have said ‘no way’,” said Russ. “But the benefits of Google Apps are clear and our staff is really happy.”

Shared documents have really taken off, too, according to Russ. “We purchased Google Apps for its email and calendar, but if I was to tell the company that I was going to take away Drive, it just wouldn’t be possible. Everyone is now so used to editing together, in real time, from any location; Google is here to stay for Superior.”

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