The company thought a move to Google Apps might be easy, with substantial cost savings – but the reality for its employees unveiled a far different story.
The article explains what happened during the evaluation:
Google Apps for Business testers voted ‘no’ to a switch. When all was said and done, about 90% of testers said they did not want to switch to Google Apps for Business. Users realized how much they really like Outlook, and know how to work well with it. Most employees have folder structures to organize their emails, and a move to Google Apps would have disrupted that organization and its productivity benefits.
Users felt Google Docs was limiting. New England Biolabs employees found Google Docs document formatting options were limited, compared to those in Microsoft Office. Users especially missed Microsoft Word’s ‘Track Changes’ feature, which makes it easy to collaborate on text documents (the equivalent is not available in Google Docs). Employees also wanted to work on their documents offline, while on a long plane flight or anywhere without Internet access – a capability not offered by Google.
Gmail presented obstacles. Employees at New England Biolabs have years of archived email in Outlook, neatly organized using Outlook’s folder structure. In contrast, Gmail uses labels to organize messages, and expects people to use Google search technology to find older emails. New England Biolabs users found that using search as an organizational tool sounded good in theory, but that the work needed to get acquainted with the differences between the two approaches was much higher than expected. That raised a question for employees – How much value would they get from learning how to use email all over again? Most used their Outlook inbox to manage their workload, and did not want to invest the time to learn the Google ‘tricks’ of organization.
Even those acquainted with Google Apps voted ‘no’ to a switch. Surprisingly, many of the users at New England Biolabs were already familiar with Google Apps, and even used Google Mail for their own personal use. But Grady notes that even those who use Google tools outside of work found Google Apps for Business didn’t work the way they wanted it to – and that helped the company make the decision to stay with Microsoft.
For other companies considering a switch, Ken Grady, CIO and director of IT for New England Biolabs, says it best in the article:
“Never underestimate change management. It’s at least as important as the financial considerations. Email, calendar and document collaboration are fundamental to how people work. While you could save some money making the switch, you could also lose a lot of productivity, which would negate the cost savings.”
New England Biolabs decided to stick with Microsoft Outlook and Exchange Server, and plans to transition to a hybrid solution with Microsoft Office 365, giving its remote and international employees cloud-based collaboration and productivity applications.
The company’s employees spoke loud and clear – thanks, but no thanks, to Google Apps for Business.
It just wasn’t worth it.