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.

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)

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