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.”

Agosto Partners with BetterCloud, Improves Google Apps Management for Clients

Looking to streamline your day-to-day Google Apps management experience and take advantage of some previously API-only features? Check out FlashPanel, available now free for our clients from Agosto via our partnership with BetterCloud.

Accessible right from the More menu inside Google Apps, FlashPanel offers capabilities not readily available in Google Apps Control Panel. With FlashPanel, Google Apps administrators have access to a beautiful GUI where they can create mailbox delegates, set email signature policies, access customizable user deprovisioning workflows and even create a personal assistant for their users using Google Talk.

For existing Agosto clients, there is no cost for FlashPanel as this is now part of Agosto’s standard deployment offering. It’s just one more way for us to say thank you for being our client.

To schedule this simple, fast installation, contact Agosto sales at 612.605.3520. If you’re still considering going Google and need more information, we can help, too.

Agosto and Axcient Partner to Provide Managed Business Continuity

Agosto, a top Twin Cities managed services provider, has selected Axcient as our backup and disaster recovery partner.

With industry-leading IT solutions, together Agosto and Axcient provide best-in-class Managed Business Continuity support with the simplest to use, most reliable, instant cloud recovery solution available.

Make the switch with Agosto to the award-winning Axcient solution and receive 20% off when you move to Axcient from any of these competitors: Asigra, AppAssure, Barracuda, Continuum, Datto, Doyenz, e-folde, nScaled, SonicWall, Unitrends, Xilocore or Zenith.

To learn more, register for one of our informative webinars or call our sales line at 612.605.3520.

New case study: Madison-Kipp Corporation Goes Google

Madison-Kipp Corporation goes Google and is pleased with the results. Madison-Kipp Corporation (MKC) is a producer of precision machined components and system subassemblies for transportation and industrial end markets. After running Lotus Notes for about 10 years, and previously Microsoft Outlook, the company selected Google.

“We looked at cost, complexity and overhead for the whole project,” said Manager of Information Systems, Jackie Giller. “We were paying upwards of $8K per year maintaining Lotus Notes and WebSphere. Going Google was most definitely a less costly maintenance solution. Looking at patching, clients, setting up users if they forgot passwords, and even mailbox sizes, Google seemed like the right solution in every way.”

Learn more about the details and the results by reading the case study.

If you’re interested in how going Google could help your organization, call our sales team at 612.605.3520 or contact us here.

Why Do I Need Change Management?

Change management is among the many solutions Agosto offers. But what exactly is it and do you need it? Call it user management, product adoption, education, training – by any name, it’s essentially a structured approach to the people side of change. But if that sounds touchy-feely and squishy to you, it certainly isn’t.

McKinsey study (1) investigated the effect of organizational change management on ROI. The study revealed dramatically higher returns on investment for projects that had effective change management, 143 percent when an excellent change management plan was part of the initiative and 35 percent when there was poor or no change management.

What exactly does that mean? A 143 percent ROI means that for every dollar spent on the project the company is gaining 43 cents. On the other hand, 35 percent means that for every dollar spent they are losing 65 cents.

Another study (2) showed that three of the top six reasons IT projects fail are due to poor change management.

Our Google Apps Certified Deployment Specialists and trainers will work with you to implement an effective change management plan from a project’s start to finish, learning the unique aspects of your business, needs, and employees. Maximize product adoption and user engagement, and minimize wasted time and money by giving your employees the tools they need to hit the ground running.

We continually study change management models and methods to give you solutions that work, integrating the hard processes of moving from one platform to the next, as well as the psychological factors of motivating an organization’s people to embrace the change.

To learn more about how Agosto can help your business work more efficiently with IT services, Google Apps, custom application development and more, contact us or call us at 612.605.3520.

1(“Change Management That Pays,” McKinsey Quarterly, 2002.)

2 (“The Business Impact of Change Management”, Graziado Business Review, 2006, Volume 9, Issue 3)

Agosto Co-Hosting Going Google Roadshows in Calgary, Minneapolis

Agosto was recently chosen from Google’s short list of Google Apps Premier Enterprise Partners to host several upcoming Google ‘Atmosphere on Tour’ style events, now called ‘Going Google Roadshows’, in Calgary and Minneapolis.

The interactive sessions will be co-hosted by Agosto and, in Calgary, by Google’s Head of Enterprise for Canada, Jim Lambe, and in Minneapolis by Google’s Head of Enterprise in the North Central US, Joe Koziol.

Cloud computing, visualizing and searching data, and the mobile revolution have emerged as business trends critical to the growth and flexibility of organizations. Local Enterprise customers in each region will discuss how companies are partnering with Google and Agosto to add Enterprise value with Google’s collaboration, geospatial and search technologies.

Partners will also be on hand to share how their enabling technologies can enhance cloud capabilities and efficiencies, including CloudLock (Minneapolis only), Okta, Esna andStorSimple. Immediately following the events, we’ll host a reception with drinks, demos and networking.

If you’re interested in joining Google and Agosto at either event, please contact Marketing Director Caroline Life at caroline.life@agosto.com.

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