LEVERAGING GOOGLE APPS: IMPROVING BUSINESS PERFORMANCE, PROFITABILITY AND OVERALL SUCCESS
Google Apps is the future of email and data access, usage and management for any size business. Our experience with servicing the IT needs to Acquire Learning demonstrates how cheap, affordable and versatile the Google Apps platform is for a business in its infancy and proves to be extremely adaptable as the business expands and changes. Features of Google Apps through email, Google Drive and its other applications allows for a business to be versatile in how it stations its staff, how it expands its workforce, how collaborations are done and how it introduces other technologies such as Smart TV into the mix. Google Apps proves to be superior to competing products and is far less costly for any business.
Acquire Learning is a provider of career pathways and options to clients. They offer government subsidised course through third party providers to individuals. The company has only been trading for the past 2 years, however, within that time they have experienced exceptional growth and exceptional success. Starting with only a handful of staff in one office in Melbourne, they have now over 500 staff across cities in Australia and the UK.
The major challenge facing the company was that they needed an IT system which could keep up with the pace of their growth. They needed an IT system which was scalable, efficient and cost effective. In the early days of their operations, the company had very limited funds and did not have the capacity to heavily invest in their IT infrastructure which meant that they needed a solution that was relatively cheap. Further, with an ever expanding workforce, they needed a solution which was versatile to accommodate this expansion and one that would allow staff to work from anyplace at any time which could mean working from smartphones outside the office. Previous email systems did not allow for synchronization between computers and mobile devices. It was common that emails sent from smart phones would not appear in the sent items on the desktops. They did not have a system for email backups which was a concern, particularly if hard drives became corrupted. Further, due to the nature of their work, Acquire Learning required an email platform which could be set up with a central email which could be accessed by multiple staff at any one time working on the same project. The platform needed to be secure allowing or restricting access to email accounts as needed. They also needed the platform to have the ability to store, manage and collaborate project documents whether it be word, excel, powerpoint or others. It should also have the functionality to allow multiple users to work on a single project document in real time removing the nightmare of duplication and inconsistent data.
We implemented Google Apps as the ideal IT solution for the company. The product had all the features they desired as all storage was in the cloud allowing for synchronisation of data on multiple devices, the ability to access data from anywhere at anytime and made collaboration easy. The product was also highly affordable and scalable such that as the company increased staff we were able to get them operational in a very short period of time. The interface of Google Apps is also very user friendly and easy to use which meant that minimal training was required. Most of the company staff were familiar with Gmail so we only had to show them some additional features of Google Apps such as Google Drive. Mac users preferred to stay with Apple Mail as their email platform. We maintained this for the Mac users and also set them up with IMAP accounts to allow the synching of their emails with other devices. There were a number of changes the company went through. The first of which was that the business name changed and they needed their email addresses to reflect this. The use of Google Apps made the change seamless where all the user inbox and Google data was maintained. The only change was that new correspondence was sent to and from a new email address. As the company grew, the business formalised their departments and expanded their marketing campaigns. This required staff to access different email addresses. Using Google Apps addon domains and aliases we could easily create additional email accounts for staff to manage from one central inbox. The company wanted to keep track of the call centre and asked for the new office to be fitted out with large TV screens displaying the statistics from the call centre. We used Google Sheets to display this data which was continually being updated in real time. The TV used was a smart TV which was configured to point its inbuilt browser to Google Drive. No computer setup. This solution proved to be cheap and effective for the Company’s requirement.
Capabilities of Google Apps
As staff numbers grew, Google Apps allowed the Company to easily add on and setup up staff onto the network as they came along. The setup up time was half that required on the previous email system. Further, Google Drive’s setup meant that staff were saving on average 1 hour per day of work time for users who could easily access documents in the Cloud through the search function. They also did not have to download the documents but could open, edit and save it in the Cloud allowing for an updated version to those who had access to it in real time. This is superior to using Microsoft Office products which did not have a central storage of files. Down time for staff was also eliminated once Google Apps was combined with backup internet connections and spare computers for staff to use. As a large number of staff were doing sales, downtime was very costly to the business. If a user had a problem with their computer, they would simply jump on a spare computer straight away and Google Apps allowed them to continue working. Down time was therefore measured in minutes not hours or days. A backup internet connection allowed automatic failover in case the internet went down. Again, users were not affected as they continue to operate out of the cloud not knowing that one of the internet links were offline. Staff were often moved between offices and sometimes overseas which meant that their work had to go with them. Google Apps allowed them to be able to work wherever they were stationed as it is not necessary to transfer data from the old computer to a new one as everything was in the Cloud. Google Docs and Sheets were used for around 90% of the staff. Microsoft Office products were installed for the other 10% of users mainly for the advanced features required. Being able to use Google Docs & Sheets saves the company $249 per additional employee they put on. So far, we have saved the Company, through recommendation of use of Google Apps, at least $44,820 in not having to purchase Microsoft Office software.
“By having our CRM, Emails, Calendars and Documents all in the browser, it has simplified the operation of the business, reduced training times and improved efficiency in all departments.” – Adam Ward, Head of Information Technology, Acquire Learning.