googleappsKimind has accompanied a large and global French company, Valeo, during a year, in the selection and the adoption of Google Apps for the whole company, which represents about 30,000 users. It was a world premier, because this large group chose all of the Google Apps, both the mail size (gmail, calendar, gtalk) and the collaborative dimension (docs + sites) to replace in term Microsoft Office and Lotus Notes in 90% of their daily usages. So far the major-accounts which have adopted Google Apps at this scale had done for one or two dimensions, not both.

Our work was mainly divided into 3 stages:

  • the first step was the realization of an opportunity study, around 3 major areas: the 10 years vision of the office automation and collaborative business evolution; the impacts in terms of employees’ changes of usages ; losses or expected potential gains in terms of overall productivity for the company. The study, conducted at the same time with other actions concerning the choice of the final solution (between Microsoft, IBM and Google), has led to the final choice of the Google Apps by the group.
  • the second step consisted in coordinating on real process a first functional Google Apps driver on 3 months to assess the changes of usages on a smaller sample and evaluate leading actions to a massive deployment. The driver, initially provided for less than 100 persons, has engaged fast several hundred users and has been acclaimed. Many metrics have been developed to measure user’s satisfaction through different fields and the adoption facilities. Results were extremely successful and led to the overall deployment.
  • the third step is the final deployment to all employees, which is gradual according to different products, to existing developments and necessary technical or organizational evolutions. Google Docs and Sites are immediately deployed to all employees whereas Google Mail and Calendar requires a more gradual recovery of existing data on previous systems and will be deployed in early 2010 as officially announced by Valeo.

The feedback is extremely rich. The first interesting point is the ease with which users adopt the solution as soon as their profits are presented and demonstrated. Of course, 100% of the needs previously covered by Microsoft Office for example can not be covered by Google Apps (complex Excel spreadsheets, PowerPoint Slideshow filled with animations), but it makes you realize very quickly that:

  1. users ask for simplicity, an easy production system and the possibility to exchange information with their employees. Once they realized that Google Docs for example offers those two dimensions simultaneously, they are willing to sacrifice some advanced aspects of existing products in order to get new Google solution’s benefits.
  2. at least 90% of normal daily usages of an employee are covered by the Google tools. We can even affirm that 100% of the usages of a large majority of users is covered by the Google solution. Only what we might call  “power users” will need in some cases advanced features of Excel or PowerPoint (we consider Word as a part of another category because up to 99% of it is very quickly replaced by the direct online production by using the wiki mode or shared documents ). In this case and for that users we retain the version of MS Office, what drastically reduces the need in licenses (one license Google Apps costs 10 times less).

Contrary to many misconceptions in this field, Google Apps is not only suited to small companies but also to large ones. This real implementation confirms on one hand our own studies (solutions like Google are the future of office automation and collaboration) and on the other hand confirms that Google Apps is perfectly usable for large organizations, on a very large scale to replace Microsoft Office and any other collaborative solutions.

The only initial condition is to determine previously the needed usages transformation by the firm to switch from an old paradigm to a new on , and to implement a policy for adoption and dissemination that enables the softest deployment among employees, while enjoying the features of viral adoption of such a product.

Profits are then to go, not in terms of “better knowledge management ” or “better ability to innovate,” or any other qualitative argument difficult to quantify in the short term, but in terms of individual and collective productivity gains. Because at the end, the challenge of using those new tools is exactly located on the level of the daily work productivity (and this is the creed defended by Kimind since its creation through its consultants expertise).

By simplifying the usage of those tools and by fostering massive and instantaneous collaboration between employees (and beyond that, thanks to the immediate sharing with partners, customers or suppliers), individuals themselves and the group improve the flow of their work process, break down barriers accumulated over the past years and decompartmentalize bottlenecks of saturated mailboxes and overflowing shared file servers.

It is extremely easy thanks to field interviews conducted by Kimind’s consultants, to make protagonists themselves aware of huge time savings they will make in their whole process by excluding informal daily work displayed. Not only time savings but also the ability to perform tasks that were previously impossible because of the lack of true collaborative tools.

It is therefore a real transformation of usages that can be observed, which induces a transformation of the organization, and must therefore be underlined by the top management to be adopted quickly.
Google Apps is currently the only solution to such an approach and such productivity gains on a large scale and for large organizations. No other solution offers a broad functional spectrum, even if often it covers better some subsets.

But a large organization needs a global solution, and Google Apps is today the only operational alternative, what has been demonstrated through this massive deployment and feedback. Other actors like Microsoft and IBM will of course evoluate, but the transformation of their own architecture and attitude is extremely slow throughout the evolution of these solutions, and delays are important.

Google Apps is therefore perfectly suited to the usages of large organizations. The problem is not in that fact, but in the ability of large organizations to evolve and realize that it can and must do  it to reach new levels of productivity previously unsuspected.

Feel free to contact us directly if you hope for similar results, faster the projects are launched, faster the results are out.

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