Your project team has successfully accomplished the task of migrating to Google Apps; congratulations! While moving your infrastructure into the cloud is a great achievement, getting your users to adopt the new tools can be a task of its own.
The Google Apps suite will allow users to collaborate, share, and simplify existing business processes; however, it’s up to your project team to get your users engaged. More importantly, this should not be an afterthought at project closure; these activities should be in play during the “Pilot” phase.
Start out Slowly
Understanding your users is key; it is best to put yourself in their shoes. Once they are comfortable with the nuances of a new email and calendar system, they should then proceed to explore Drive. It is in this beginning phase of using Drive that you want them to start using Google Docs, Spreadsheets and Slides. Uploading other types of files should be discussed only after users are aware of the existing capabilities of the Google Docs native files. It is important to ensure that users understand the powerful collaboration features of Google Docs, and the benefit towards their Google Apps quota. (Google Apps files do not count towards the overall quota).
One of the best ways to increase the adoption of Google Apps is to ensure that your executive sponsors and other high level employees are using Google Apps. If they share and collaborate within Google Drive, use Google Hangouts, and post to Google+, you can be sure that others will follow suit. Moving forward, meeting minutes, company spreadsheets, and similar material should be created in Google’s native format.
Here are additional ideas to increase adoption with your users:
- A contest in which users can participate, posting their “Top 10 Tricks in Google Apps”. Users can add their “top tricks in Apps” on a Google Site or a Google Group. The best would then be chosen and awarded a prize. This could range from a gift certificate to a Chromebook! The incentive of winning a prize will almost certainly have users searching in Google for the best tricks.
- Use Google Hangouts for meetings whenever possible. Leverage UberConference for those who are not at a computer – or are not using a Google account.
- Increase adoption by bringing templates into Google Docs early in the implementation. This can prevent the uploading of “non-Google native” docs, and encourage a standard for documentation moving forward. This is also an initiative in which executives can promote their use.
- Google promotes deployment training with what they term Google Apps “Ninja” training. If your organization has leveraged these materials, have your users complete the training. Once completed, have them post the image of the “Google Apps Ninja” to Google+, indicating they’ve successfully completed the training. Use a hashtag such as "#ninja" to track who has participated. You might randomly select participants to win a prize similar to the top 10 tricks contest in item number 1 above. Tip! Make sure to post announcements and contest results to your end-user facing Google Site to promote increased familiarity of Google Sites.
Trusting the New Environment
In the end, it all comes down to change management. Keep your users engaged and informed by helping them understand all of the exciting new tools they now have at their disposal. Success can be measured by improvements in productivity and user satisfaction. Make sure to use the reporting capability of Google Apps to track how many files are being uploaded and not converted, how many new Google Docs are being created, and so forth. After all, moving your organization to the cloud is a great opportunity to decrease operational expenses – and to increase productivity.