The Go Live transition went extremely well without many problems. For a transition with over 1,000 employees, it was a success.
When 1,200 city employees in Columbia, Missouri, took the leap to G Suite from Novell GroupWise, they underwent a smooth transition to better workplace productivity and communication.
They made this migration under the guidance of Google’s partner, Onix, which helped them devise a plan to save old emails on the GroupWise platform by either importing them to GMail or saving them to a hard drive.
According to Deputy City Manager Tony St. Romaine, one reason the staff needed to save old emails on the previous platform was to have them available in case the city faced any Missouri Sunshine Law requests.
As for the overall migration, Bob Simms, the city’s information technology director said the transition was smooth.
"We had done a lot of training and production work," he said. "There was some trouble logging in the first time with the temporary passwords, but there weren’t any showstoppers.”
St. Romaine agreed, adding that for a transition involving more than 1,000 employees, it “went extremely well, without any problems.”
The city implemented a month-long mock migration phase, during which 125 employees received the necessary training in Gmail and Google Docs, as well as other Google Workspace features. The training lasted about a month and was intended to "make sure things were working the way they were expected," St. Romaine said.
After this phase, about a dozen employees were designated as trainers or department experts and assisted other city employees in the transition. Onix partnered with the city to help train these employees from different departments and disciplines who would be helping complete the switch.
"Onix helped set up a website with help videos and how to use the new Google technology," Simms said. "They created an internal training for people with gocolumbiamo.com accounts."
St. Romaine said feedback during the mock phase revealed no major concerns, but it did prompt the city to create a frequently-asked-questions page for employees to reference throughout the transition period.
St. Romaine said city officials would have been happy to break even on the cost of the transition, but they've actually learned that Google Workspace will save money. The Google technology will cost $51,000 per year. That's more than the $35,000 it paid GroupWise, but the city will save $35,000 to $40,000 because it no longer needs to pay for email storage or a staff member to maintain the system.
"GroupWise has not really developed the technology we would have liked to see today," St. Romaine said. "We were looking for lowering infrastructure cost. Implementing Google has been a way to do so."
Simms said the migration has boosted internal efficiency.
"The switch to Google was positive," he said. "With Google, it's all in the cloud. It's secure with usernames and passwords, but it’s available to the city employees anywhere they have Internet access."
By Amy Willsey