Editors note: Our guest blogger this week is Jim Nielsen, Manager of Enterprise Technology Architecture and Planning for Shaw Industries, a 25,000 employee company headquartered in northwest Georgia. See what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.
Shaw Industries was founded in 1946 as a small area rug company, and over the last 66 years we've grown to become the world's largest carpet manufacturer, with 25,000 employees across 200 locations worldwide. During my 15 years at Shaw, I've watched the organization grow, but our collaboration capabilities began to lag behind the needs of our global manufacturing company. We found challenges in scalability and stability in our previous email solution. Support resources were also an issue, as we required a team of three full-time employees just to keep our email up-and-running.
In 2012, we made the move to Google Apps for Business, after proving in pilot programs that it would provide the integrated tools to help our dispersed global teams work together more effectively, would meet the requirements of uptime and ease of provisioning our IT team wanted, and accommodate the security requirements we were looking for.
Prior to moving the entire company to Google Apps, we used Microsoft® Office, which did not meet the collaboration needs of a global manufacturer. We’d end up with 15 different versions of a document attached to who knows how many different emails. As an example, the marketing team wanted a way to easily share files and work together on copy for our website and ads with our agencies. With Google Drive and Google Docs, multiple team members could work on content, and you could actually see it evolve in a very short period of time from a concept to a script for a TV commercial, all in the same shared document.
True collaboration and access from anywhere was something our employees were demanding with more frequency. We knew we needed to extract ourselves from our current email environment. When I did a cost and benefit analysis, it was clear we needed to move to the cloud. We discovered that Microsoft Office 365 would cost about 13 times more for us than Google Apps. In March, with the help of our Google Apps Reseller, Cloud Sherpas, we implemented Google Apps for more than 10,000 of our associates who use email.
It turns out that collaboration doesn’t just benefit the marketing department. We have an elaborate budget process inside IT that we were able to move to Google Sheets. Now our master spreadsheet can be instantly updated in real time, shaving about two months, or 50 percent of time spent, off the budgeting process. We’ve also started to use Hangouts for a lot of our meetings. In fact, we’ve started holding our staff meetings via hangout, even though the team is only 20 minutes apart. Hangouts have allowed us to be more focused, trimming the hour long meeting to 30 minutes.
One responsibility in my job is to find ways to help our teams be more productive. That can be challenging in a manufacturing company where the majority of users aren’t necessarily tech savvy, but with Google Apps that doesn’t matter because the products are intuitive. They are now able to do things themselves, and we have wanted to allow them to be self-sufficient for a long time. After just a few months of using Google Apps, I’m inspired by the way our teams are working together and finding faster, easier ways to work.