G Suite Enterprise Apps: Empower Your Team to Work Together

Contrary to what we once believed, remote work doesn’t have to result in the loss of productivity. G Suite apps such as Drive, Meet and Docs allow you to work together, even when you’re not in the same room. At Agosto, a Pythian Company we know simple collaboration can make or break our daily work. That’s why we use G Suite to empower our team to work together.

Improve Team Collaboration Using Drive & Docs

Our team does a ton of our daily work inside Google Drive. Why? It’s the easiest tool for streamlining team collaboration from anywhere. In our time using Drive, we’ve found a few tips and tricks that help us get things done even faster.

Assigning Comments

Inside Drive, it’s easy to assign comments and tasks to other team members inside documents, spreadsheets and more. We use this function to help alert team members when something requires their attention. When you assign a comment to someone else, they’ll instantly receive an email so they can review and take the action required.

Live Chat

When working inside a file in Drive, you can also chat with others using the file. This makes collaboration on one document extremely simple. You’ll find the chat function in the top right corner of your Google document. Via chat, you can ask questions, get clarification, share an encouraging emoji and more.

Follow-Up Search

Drive’s filtering features make it simple to find any document or file regardless of its location. Your team can also locate tasks assigned to them by selecting the “Follow-Up” filter in the search box inside Drive. This is helpful when working with a vast number of documents or files that require attention.

These tips are only scratching the surface of G Suite’s capabilities. G Suite includes many additional cloud-based tools such as Gmail, Slides, Forms, Jamboard and more, complete with the security you can trust.

Start Working Smarter, Faster & Together With G Suite Apps

Your team can work smarter, faster and together using G Suite. Agosto, a Pythian Company can help you get started. To learn more about G Suite or to learn how you can get G Suite Essentials for free, give us a call at 612-430-6316 or send us a message.

What Are the Differences Between IBM Notes and Gmail?

Are you or your business considering a switch from IBM Notes to Gmail? Wondering what the differences between IBM Notes and Gmail are?

These two workplace managers have similarities as well as some key differences, both in terms of layout and overall user experience. Understanding these features and their many applications will help your business make an informed decision.

See how a switch to Gmail will affect—and improve—your daily business tasks.

Immediate Impressions: Layout and Formatting

You’ll notice differences in formatting and overall user design from the moment you first open a Gmail. Intuitive navigation systems and information hierarchies make Gmail an incredibly popular email system. Here are some formatting differences you may notice between Gmail and IBM Notes:

  • Messages. In IBM Notes, each message is independent and appears individually in your inbox. On the other hand, Gmail offers grouped conversations, so you can follow messages as a single thread. If you prefer to keep your messages separated, you can change this option in the settings tab.
  • Organization. IBM Notes allows you to store messages in separate subfolders: personal, important, social, and so on. Gmail does the same, but you can add multiple labels to emails and search for them based on any of their tags. So in Gmail an email could be categorized in four tags for example, but in IBM Notes, an email conversation could only be stored in one folder.
  • Keep your inbox clean. IBM Notes offers an option to delete emails. If you’re the type of person who hates the finality of deleting, Gmail offers another option. Archive your emails when you want them out of your inbox but will need to refer to them again later — still able to search for them within the built-in search functionality.
  • Labeling emails. If you want to mark an email as important, there’s a flag for that. When you’re using Gmail, you have two options: either mark as important as a tab, or put a star next to it. You can easily filter all your starred items by clicking that icon under your inbox menu.
  • To-do lists and other tasks. IBM Notes features an option to create independent tasks that sync to your Calendar. Gmail has the same service, linking your to-do items to your Google Calendar, but with an extra option: you can add email messages to your to-do list to avoid retyping your assignments.

Because of its attractive layout and intuitive navigation, Gmail is an efficient way of doing business.

Comparing Email Composition and Accessibility

Compatibility is an important question you should consider when choosing an email service. Gmail and IBM Notes differ in this aspect.

While IBM Notes requires that you use its service on a device on which it’s installed, Gmail allows you to access mail over any device. Even if you want to access your IBM Notes online, you must do it from a device where software is installed.

This is a vital point.

With Gmail, there’s no installation required—access your mail from anywhere with an internet connection (and there’s offline capabilities).

When you log into your Gmail account for the first time, you’ll find that composing and sending email is a piece of cake. Gmail has all the options you love about IBM Notes, with added features. Draft your correspondence with the fonts, headings, and alignment features you want, and sign in your own personal style.

With Gmail, you can add attachments, links, and images for seamless collaboration. For larger files and more effective ways to communicate, take advantage of Google Drive. Drive links allow you to share work tasks with coworkers, managers, and employees. Just insert the link, and everyone can work from the same document.

Thanks to Gmail, effective communication has never been easier.

Do More Business With Gmail

We live in a mobile world that requires constant communication to keep up with the competitive marketplace. Gmail lets you keep with that pace. For mobile networking on the go, download and install the Gmail app.

You’ll never miss another email.

Sometimes, our lives take us off the grid. When you’re offline, you can still keep working. Compose emails, and Gmail will automatically send them when you’re back at an internet connection.

If you’re in the business of sending large files, Gmail has a solution for that too. With Google Drive, you can send files as large as 30 GB—or 30 TB if you have a storage plan.

Today’s business watchword is efficiency. Maximize yours by taking advantage of Gmail’s convenient features:

  • Canned responses. Do you tire of sending the same emails over and over again? Use Gmail’s “canned response” option: simply type a response once, and save the text as a canned response in settings. The next time you need to send the same email, it’s there waiting for you.
  • Auto filters. If you love nothing more than an organized inbox, auto filters are for you. Set recipients as important, or file them by position: employee, vendor, boss, etc.
  • Undo send. We’ve all sent emails we wish we wouldn’t have. The next time you make a typo, forget a recipient, or accidentally reply all, you can undo it using the “undo send” option. Just make sure it’s enabled in your settings.

Tips and Tricks for New Gmail Users

For the novice Gmail user, there are plug-ins and extra add-ons that make your email service experience even better. Try using one of these options to make the most of Gmail:

Boomerang for Gmail is a plug-in that allows you to write emails when you have the time and schedule them to be sent later. For example, you may write an email late at night, but schedule it to send when you know a co-worker is going to be sitting down at a desk for the morning. Your email is the first thing he or she will see.

Gmail Snooze is another handy plug-in that allows you to hit the snooze button on your email, much like your morning alarm clock. If you open an email and don’t tend to it right away, Gmail Snooze will remind you whenever you choose—within minutes, hours, or days. You’ll never miss a follow up again.

Conclusion

Gmail has all the features of IBM Notes with added convenience and efficiency. Nothing beats its user experience and intuitive design.

Skype vs Google Meet: The Ultimate Comparison For Business

Plenty of people have experienced the consumer version of Skype in their personal lives. Video chatting is fun, effective, and more intimate than emails or phone calls.

Many businesses use these factors to their advantage as well, but they may not have access to the full potential of these applications. A switch to Google Meet unlocks new features while retaining a comfortable familiarity.

Here are a few differences between Skype and Google Meet for business.

Skype vs Google Meet: A Modern and Sophisticated Layout

  • Conversations. Across both applications, it’s fairly easy to navigate between conversations. A list of chats is located on the left side of the screen, and active discussions show on the right side. While Skype only allows for one active window, Google Meet gives you the option to pull up several conversations at once. Skype also operates with fixed window widths, and Google Meet provides the ability to rearrange and scale the windows as needed.
  • Minimized menus. The tabs inside Google Meet are sleek and non-intrusive. By moving them to the sidebar versus the general menu in Skype, you have more room to access contacts, phone calls, and conversations.
  • Smooth navigation. The user-friendly toolbar in Google Meet is collapsible. You can easily examine or change profile settings in seconds. The menu options are repeated as well, so every selection is always close by.

Moreover, if you’ve used Gmail, Drive’s layout will be immediately familiar. You’ll intuitively know your way around its interface because you check your email every day. Customizing your tools, layout, and user experience are also easy. If you need to make any tweaks to complement your business or highlight personal preferences, it can be done in a flash.

The interface is familiar enough to use immediately and features a unique and modernized quality.

g suite google hangout

Skype vs Google Meet: Accessibility and Composition

The original Skype application can be opened two ways: via desktop and mobile device. These options work well but are limited.

Conversely, Google Meet adds several new means to open the software, allowing for more freedom and productivity. Along with the regular functionality of your desktop and mobile, you can also enter the application from:

  • Gmail
  • Google Calendar
  • Chrome browser extensions

Most calls to the United States and Canada are free with Google Meet, whereas Skype charges for this function.

Many businesses benefit greatly from the savings and effectively use Google Meet for meetings without worry of additional costs.

If you are looking for additional pros and cons of both Google Meet & Skype check out this article.

Google Meet Brings Flexibility & Increased Connection

Google Meet also allows you to schedule and control such conferences with flexibility and ease. Both Microsoft Outlook and Google Calendars integrate with the software, so you can add appointments easily. You can also choose between guest permissions, such as common use across your domain.

Switching to Google Meet also enables you to engage more people. Skype allows simultaneous connection for up to 10 different devices. Google Meet more than doubles that number, with enough power to link 25 participants at once. This greatly increases the number of people you can reach with each meeting, which is often a requirement for large companies.

Put Simply Google Meet Lets You Do More Than Skype

p>Since the software integrates flawlessly with other Google Apps for Work, you experience maximum benefits with a few taps or clicks. Sharing Google Docs with your team (without even leaving the video call) allows all participants to collaborate on notes.

It’s especially useful for following along with a meeting agenda.

You can also provide your remote audience with presentations at the push of a button. Simply load the Google Slides project and turn on screen sharing so everyone can follow along. Participants can easily ask questions and more thoroughly absorb information.

The Google Meet History keeps tabs on previous conversations and allows you to search for keywords and important information. This feature also proves useful for exchanging statistics and other data during virtual meetings, since the information can be retrieved at any time.

Tips and Tricks for Google Meet

google meet example

There’s an abundance of useful features in Google Meet, but it also has several options to personalize and improve your experience.

  • Easily mute notifications during important meetings. Under the Settings menu, you can choose a specific time period to disable notifications, such as 1 or 8 hours. You can also pick the notifications you want to receive. Google Meet gives you the option to turn off call ringing and message sounds independently.
  • Adjust call bandwidth. This feature is excellent if you have issues with the quality of your audio or video. Move the slider to the right or left to control the level for that call. It can be readjusted for each conference for total customization.
  • Choose how others see you. Along with statuses that provide a custom message, you can let others know when you were last online, what device you’re using to access Google Meet, and if you’re currently engaged in a video or phone call from the application. Checking these boxes automatically provides feedback and information for those looking to contact you.
  • Take control of your invitations. You can turn notifications on and off by simply checking a box. Plus, you can add personal details so users with your phone number or email can send you a direct invitation. No more searching for usernames and wondering if you contacted the right person.
  • Quickly access the Help menu. Click or tap on the Help and Feedback button at the bottom of the More menu, and type in your questions to easily find solutions or clarification.

For more good info on google meet, check out this Google Meet cheat sheet!

Conclusion on the comparison between Skype vs Google Meet for business

Video conferencing has come a long way, but Google Meet makes it even better.

An elegant design and easy-to-use interface offers a revamped experience that’s still comfortable. This sophistication and power is impressive in itself, but the built-in ability to work through other apps makes it truly incredible.

Switching from Skype for Business means access to all these features and benefits as well as the reliability that you expect from Google. When capability and efficiency matter, trust your business to Google Meet. Do you have other thoughts in mind? We’d love to hear the other different ways you use Skype vs Google Meet in the comments section.

If Google Meet is starting to pique your interest, we have a unique opportunity for you! Now through September 30th, Google is offing premium features for businesses. Check it out here.

Giving Back: The Sanneh Foundation Learns Google Apps

Agosto had the opportunity recently to give back to the community through The Sanneh Foundation, a nonprofit that helps youth development and gender equity locally in St. Paul, and in Haiti.

The Foundation sends mentors to schools to meet with the students who are least likely to graduate. They tutor and mentor these kids to improve their grades and help them graduate. The program is growing, but they’re adding more schools in their program every year and seeing a huge improvement in their grades.

“There’s no way we could be that productive without a solution like Google Apps.”

And in Haiti, they have an after school program. The Sanneh Foundation helps develop the kids into leaders by teaching the importance of respect and equality. The kids have to meet minimum grade requirements in order to go to the program, which offers incentive for the kids to stay in school and study hard. About 300 kids come every day for soccer coaching. Soccer is used as a “carrot” to get them there, and then the coaches teach them skills that they will then take off the field and have for life.

The Sanneh Foundation was founded by Tony Sanneh from St. Paul. Coming from a single parent home, life was tough growing up. After years of dedicating himself to school and to his passion, soccer, the Minnesota Thunder signed him. Tony moved to Europe and played for club leagues. Going on to a very successful professional soccer career, he retired in 2011. Throughout his career, he had a desire to help kids from the inner city. That’s how the The Sanneh Foundation was born.

We were so excited to be able to help support the incredible mission of The Sanneh Foundation  locally and internationally. They had been on Google Apps for a couple of years, but had never gone through training. Many of their employees are millennials, and Gmail is what they use for their personal accounts. Most of the employees (locally, and in Haiti) knew how to use Google Apps in some capacity, but there had never been any written documentation to get everyone in the organization on the same page. As a result, many of the more complicated features were not used to their full potential.

We sent in our training expert, Mary, and our technical expert, Shane, to train The Sanneh Foundation to help them learn the full breadth of Google Apps so they can collaborate easier and faster.

The Foundation uses Gmail and Drive the most. They use it to collaborate with remote workers, even in Haiti. Google Apps enables them to help the community and continue to develop inner city kids.

“Mary and Shane were great. Mary was very in-depth. She kept it relevant for what we needed, and walked us through practical examples of the basic features with things we’ve never used before like Sites. We used the admin console very minimally, just to add users and make user groups. But Shane dove deeper into features like provisioning apps, which helped us grasp the product more holistically.”

How to Add Additional Domains to Google Apps

Hi there, I’m Shane. I’m a sales engineer, but today I’m blogging about how to add additional domains to Google Apps.

Let’s say you’re running your company Widgets.com on Google Apps. Thanks to unprecedented growth, it’s doing great. So great, in fact, that you’ve decided to launch a new brand, Bobbles.com.

Bobbles.com is going to be huge, and you need to look professional, unifying your new brand with your existing brand. Some existing employees are going to need @Bobbles.com email addresses, and your new Bobbles.com employees will need to be able to easily collaborate with everyone from both brands.

Don’t worry, you won’t need to set up a whole new Google Apps tennant just for these users. You can easily add Bobbles.com to the existing Widgets.com Google Apps tennant.

By adding an additional domain under your Widgets.com Google Apps tennant, you can assign Bobbles.com aliases to your existing Widgets.com users. Then your users can have just one mailbox for both brands, and you only need to use one additional license. In the future, users can be added as @Bobbles.com users from the start. All in all, every user is now part of the same Google Apps tennant, and has the same global address list and collaboration features as the existing users of Widgets.com


How to add additional domains in 5 steps

1.

The first thing you need to do is register your new domain. Providers like enom.com, 1and1.com, and networksolutions.com can all help you with finding an available domain, and registering it for a small fee annually.

2.

Open your Google Apps Admin panel, admin.google.com. In the admin panel, click on “Domains”. Then click on “Add a Domain or Domain Alias” at the top left of the page.

3.

There will be a pop-up window prompting you to insert your domain, and whether you’d like to add it as an “alias domain” or an “additional domain”. Changing options down the road isn’t easy, so it’s important to choose the one that applies best.

Alias Domain vs. Additional Domain 

An alias domain is only used for aliases, and upon creation, automatically adds an alias to all users matching their primary email address. If I created Bobbles.com as an alias domain, bob@Widgets.com would automatically get bob@bobbles.com as well. 

If you select an additional domain, it would allow you to add Bob@bobbles.com to bob’s widgets account, but it would have to be done manually. Additionally though, you would be able to make Bob@bobbles.com his primary login, and not just an alias.

When in doubt, we encourage people to choose additional domain, as it offers more options for control that aliasing doesn’t.

4.

Once you’ve added the domain, you’ll automatically be taken to verify the newly added domain. You need to prove to google that you own the domain before you can act on it’s behalf. You’ll see a dropdown menu with a list of domain registrars. Find yours on the list. Select it, and Google will give you a step-by-step on just how to complete this process, or in some cases, even an automated process.

If your registrar isn’t on the list…

Select “Other” towards the bottom. This will provide you with the contents of a TXT record that you’ll need to to your DNS records. If you’re unfamiliar with this process, check the help documentation available from your registrar or DNS provider. You can also call their support line.

5.

Switch back to the google verification panel, and click “verify”. If you were successful, it will tell you, and return you to your admin panel. If it’s unsuccessful, be patient. DNS updates can sometimes take as long as 24 hours to propagate to where google can see them.


Congratulations! After you add additional domains, you’re ready to start creating aliases, users, and groups all using your new domain name. If you have any questions about this process, ask us in the comments below, or contact Google support.

Work Change Management with Google Apps

Work Change management (CM) can ultimately allow teams to collaborate and work more effectively through organizational transitions. It provides context and training to be more effective in everyday work using a new tool. Too often companies skip change management, leaving employees in fear of the very resource provided to help them.

Understanding the tools you’re using

I once saw someone driving an Audi R8 a full 15 mph under the speed limit. I was almost angry as I passed it on the freeway. That car tops out around 195 mph and can reach 60 in under 4 seconds.

You don’t have to be a car lover to appreciate the concept that they were not using the car the way it was designed. If they wanted to drive carefully, remaining under the speed limit, they wasted their money. They bought a car that was designed for pushing the limits.

CM makes sure that once you upgrade to a supercar, you don’t continue driving like you did with your old Buick LeSabre (no offense to any Buick aficionados – I know a heckuva guy who swears by his LeSabre.)

Of course CM is much more than this. Agosto has a specialized CM team based out of our Minneapolis headquarters that offers planning and implementation to companies across Canada and the U.S. We help organizations reduce transitional risks across the enterprise.

“70% of organizational changes fail due to inadequate change support.”

— John Kotter, as featured in the Harvard Business Review

Our CM specialists specifically help companies to understand the benefits of using Google Apps (or Google Drive) for Work. These specialists enable teams and/or designated end users to gain the knowledge and skills to quickly use Google Apps the way it was designed. This also ensures users truly adopt Google Apps as a tool that helps them to do their jobs better.

Ensure organizational readiness

There are two typical paths that employees take after an organizational change that can indicate the future success or failure of the change.

(1) With change management, employees are empowered to go down a path of:

  • Adoption
  • Internalization
  • Ownership
  • Increased skills
  • Expertise

(2) Without change management, employees are more likely to go down a path toward:

  • Confusion
  • Discomfort
  • Fear
  • Reversion to previous habits/tools
  • Self/group sabotage

Further, if employees are not willing or able to use the tool after the implementation, then there is no return on investment. It’s likely too expensive to overlook change management during a transition that affects a large number of (or all) employees.

Ensure your ROI with a cost/benefit analysis

For many companies, it costs more to not use change management.

Using CM

Hard benefits include reduced expenses with licenses, infrastructure, and maintenance.

Soft benefits include year-over-year increased productivity, reduced rework, and less redundancy due to increased collaboration.

Not using CM

Hard costs include licenses, additional deployment teams, and increased internal team hours.

Soft costs include project rework, project delays, lost productivity, and morale dip.

If you need a hand getting started with the organizational change management toward adopting Google Apps for Work or Google Drive for Work, give us a shout.

What’s one time you found yourself using tools more like an aging Buick than a new Audi?

How to Backup and Upgrade GADS

Many IT infrastructures use Active Directory (AD) for centrally provisioning and deprovisioning users and groups. Google has a tool called Google Apps Directory Sync (GADS) to couple AD with Google Apps so that provisioning and deprovisioning tasks can still be performed from the familiar AD interface.

Google recently announced a significant update to GADS. Currently, it stores the login credentials. The new GADS, version 4.0.2, moves authentication from a stored credential to an OAuth token. With the upgrade, it will assign a single use authentication token unique to GADS, which greatly increases security.

Google previously released an updated API, which the new GADS leverages. The legacy API will be deprecated in March 2015.  GADS installations older than 4.0.2 will stop synchronizing to Google after that date.  If you’re currently using GADS, any management tasks performed in AD, such as creating or renaming users, changing email addresses or contact information, and adding aliases will no longer propagate to Google.

Agosto strongly encourages you to upgrade your GADS installation to the latest version now to ensure continued functionality.

1.) Log into your local GADS server as the user that initially installed GADS

If this user is unknown, it can be identified by locating the GADS sync scheduled task and identifying the owner of the task.

2.) Open the Configuration Manager

This is typically found under Start > All Programs > Google Apps Directory Sync > Configuration Manager.

3.) Locate your active configuration file

Open the Task Scheduler on the GADS server, and look for a task referencing GADS. Within this task’s actions will be command to launch “sync-cmd.exe”. Within the arguments of this command will be an XML file. This is your active configuration file.

4.) Backup the existing config file

The upgrade process will write irreversible changes to the current configuration, so you want to have a safe copy around should you need to roll-back for any reason. Locate the config file on the computer, and make a copy of it. Change the “.xml” file extension of the copy to “.backup” and move it to a safe place that you’ll remember. We highly recommend making additional copies of this file and backing them up to other locations such as Google Drive.

5.) Download the update installer

On the GADS Server, open a web browser, and go to https://goo.gl/KqI46G.

On this page, you’ll find download links for the GADS tool. Select the appropriate version for your server type, and begin the download.

While the app is downloading, we suggest logging into the Google Apps Admin panel to check your Admin Audit Logs (Reports > Audit > Admin) to confirm which user GADS has been using to perform its administrative updates. This is usually pretty clear by looking for the log entries for the user who is performing the majority of the “User Creation” actions. You’ll ideally want to continue using that same user account, so you’ll need to be logged in as that user.

If you don’t know the password for that user account, be careful. If you change the password on this user, you may cause other applications to fail. You may have other tools like Google Blackberry Enterprise Sync (GBES) and Google Apps Password Sync (GAPS) associated with the same account, and both may rely on that administrator account to accomplish their tasks. It’s very common that one Google account has been used in the setup of all of these applications, if they’ve been deployed.

6.) Log in to Google using the GADS Account

Once you’ve Identified the user GADS has been using to synchronize, you’ll need to log into your primary web browser on the GADS server using that user’s credentials. This is important, as it will be used in the authentication process.

7.) Run the update installer

Launch the installer application you’ve downloaded in step 5. During installation, make sure it installs over of the existing installation of GADS by pointing the installer at the same directory as your current GADS installation.

8.) Launch the new Configuration Manager

Once the installation is completed, head back to the Start menu, and launch the new “Configuration Manager” application in Start > All Programs > Google Apps Directory Sync.

9.) Load and update the config file

GADS will always launch with a default blank template file, so you’ll need to open your config file manually. Go to File > Open, and open the file we identified in step 3. Upon opening your config, the software will let you know that it’s from an old version, and needs to be updated. This is accomplished by simply saving the active file (File Menu > Save).

10.) Re-authenticate the config file

Next, you’ll need to re-authenticate. On the left column click “Google Apps Configuration”. From here, click “Authorize Now” and follow the process. As you work your way through the authentication, make sure you’re logged in with the GADS account identified in step 6.

Once you login, you’ll need to accept the authorization, and copy the verification code that you’re presented with. Paste the verification code back into the configuration manager, and click validate. If everything went as planned, the window should close, and you’ll now see “Authorized” in green under the “Authorize Now” button.

11.) Save the config file

With the authentication handled, you’ll need to save the file. Simply do another File > Save.

12.) Validate the config

Simply click the “Sync” tab on the left hand column. You’ll now see a “Validation results” section that will list each section of the GADS configuration. In the right column, you should be met with all blue check marks indicating that all sections validate properly. If there are any warnings, you’ll have to rectify them before you can move forward.

13.) Perform a sync simulation

Finally, make sure everything updated correctly, so run a sync simulation to verify the next time GADS runs it won’t suspend users inappropriately. To run the simulation, just click “Simulate Sync”.

The Application will gather information from Google Apps and AD, and provide you a list of changes that it intends to make. As long as the changes are in line with expectations, you’re all set!

Contact Agosto for more information.

Premier Utility Services Improves IT Data Delivery with Google Apps

About Premier Utility Services:

Premier Utility Services (Premier) is a division of Willbros Group, Inc., (NYSE: WG) a specialty energy infrastructure contractor serving the oil, gas, refinery, petrochemical and power industries who recently made the move to Google Apps.

Premier provides damage prevention services which include underground utility locating, gas leak surveys, electrical services, contact voltage surveys, pole surveys and inspections, emergency management, storm assessment, sign assessment, along with quality assurance audits and operator qualification training. Real-time updates on its secure, online database allow visibility for all client projects. The Company’s call center is available 24/7 to guarantee project success and client satisfaction.

Challenge:

When Premier was acquired by Willbros, the Company’s IT management team was working with Microsoft Exchange. However, the system was not scalable enough to meet the needs of the quickly growing entity. Significant stability and reliability issues started causing business disruptions, so the Company’s technical staff began to investigate alternative platforms that could provide more reliability. Marc Makely, President of Premier, suggested the Company move to Google Apps. Premier was already working with Google Geo (mapping) tools, and Makely believed in the cloud and in Google’s powerful solutions.

Agosto and Google Solution:

Premier’s IT team engaged Agosto to help them work through a well-defined project and technical plan. Agosto migrated Premier’s mobile field workforce and corporate users across 22 states from Exchange 2010 to Google Apps. Additionally, Premier now has an email archiving and eDiscovery solution in Google Apps Vault.

Results:

Premier is working well together and the team is finding new ways to improve business using Google Apps. Makely and Jason Cradit, Director of Information Solutions at Willbros, and Chris Bartlett, IT Manager at Premier, shared the story.

“Premier’s former Exchange environment had so many outages, we had to do something,” said Cradit. “We were at risk of losing our ability to provide top-level service to clients. I was actually skeptical but our move to Google Apps went really well with Agosto’s help.”

Bartlett joined Premier just as the Company was transitioning to Google. “My background was in the legal and financial industries, so I had concerns. The cultural shift of moving users away from Outlook is tough, until you get to know the new functionality, efficiency and speed that you can get from Google Apps. It has also freed IT up, so we’re able to focus on more strategic activities.”

The Health and Safety team at Premier is excited about the use of Google Docs which allows for a step-change in live collaboration. Additionally, the field teams are working more productively because they can now securely communicate with other colleagues in real-time using any device, from anywhere. Premier also collects a tremendous amount of field data for their utility company clients. Cradit is excited the Company has started to use Google Sites (included with Google Apps) and inexpensive Android devices to almost immediately show clients their information.

“Our customers are highly regulated and required to take action on situations in the field promptly,” said Cradit. “We can provide them with map visualizations and actionable information so much more quickly than ever before, using equipment that’s not cost-prohibitive and tools that are easy to use. That means Premier is more efficient and our customers are more able to act quickly on their data. We find new uses for the platform all the time.”

Premier’s return on investment is already paying off.

“The investment in Google has been extremely positive,” said Makely. “Google is the platform that got us to start making positive changes across the board, and we are working now on migrating more and more of the business to the cloud. We have reduced our capital expenses and management costs and we’ve gained productivity. We’re still early in our deployment and are still discovering new ways to use Google Apps. We are even exploring using Google Glass for field collection. Really, we couldn’t be happier.”

Arrow Transportation Systems Inc. Drives Success with Google Apps

About Arrow Transportation Systems Inc.:

Arrow trucks began hauling goods in Vancouver, British Columbia in 1919. Today, Arrow is one of Canada’s largest bulk commodity haulers and reload operators, and has solidified its reputation as a carrier that truly represents quality, value and customer service. With 34 locations in both Canada and United States, and almost 1,000 employees, Arrow is leading the way in developing service-focused transportation solutions.

Challenge:

Arrow was reviewing options to move from its legacy Microsoft Exchange email platform, and had started discussing Google Apps with Agosto. The two companies had just begun executing the deployment plan as Arrow’s Exchange server failed.

Agosto and Google Solution:

Because of the catastrophic nature of the hardware failure, Arrow needed assistance to migrate extremely rapidly to Google Apps. Thankfully, Agosto was able to assist and complete this within just two weeks.

Results:

“Agosto helped Arrow move to Google Apps very quickly, turning an extremely volatile situation into a smooth transition,” said Mitchell Zulinick, Chief Operation Officer for Arrow. “Our move to Google Apps started the entire company on an exciting transformation to new levels of productivity. As a transportation company approaching our 100 year anniversary, it’s great to be able to say that team collaboration is up, IT costs are down and we’re working more efficiently and effectively.”

Sheets, Google Apps spreadsheets, have made particular impacts. “Sheets allow for real-time collaboration between several of our company’s branches across North America,” said Mitchell. “We securely share the latest safety information, production figures, and more. It’s an incredible time saving tool.”

Hangouts are now being used extensively at the company, too, without a big push. “We really didn’t know how widely some Google Apps features would be used,” said Mitchell. “We were initially focused on a replacement email and document system. But now, instead of emailing back and forth, or having to schedule a call, our team members just start a Hangout chat or video call, and it’s like being in the same room. It’s saving us a bundle on travel costs, too. We can work from any device, anywhere in the office or on the road, and we get things done faster, save on stress of having to travel for meetings and don’t have the usual wait for replies.”

Productivity overall has improved at Arrow. Collaboration and creativity at the company are on the rise. “We are able to measure that document collaboration has increased by 26%, due to the reporting by our teams”, said André Larouche, Chief Information Officer. “And overall new document creation has increased by 13%. We are very pleased by the changes.”

Even IT calls are down, way down. “Our support calls surrounding email issues are down 98%,” said André. “Our IT team has been able to focus on valued added technologies across the board, instead of having to hang on the line all day to fix the same email issues over and over.”

“With Google Apps, Agosto has helped us elevate the level of service we provide to both employees and clients. We’re saving time and money, and improving the way we work. It’s a winning situation as we grow into the future.”

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.

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