Remploy finds alternative to microsoft

Remploy is the UK’s leading provider of specialist employment services for disabled and disadvantaged people. With a network of more than 60 branches in England, Wales and Scotland, Remploy provides candidates with tailored services, including one-to-one support with job searching. It also partners with more than 2,500 employers, helping them to be ‘disability confident’ and increasing diversity and equality in the workplace.

Remploy were looking to find an alternative to their Microsoft Exchange infrastructure, as Lenka Sherry-Sole, Business Manager for IS, and Project Manager for the Google Apps for Work deployment, explains. “We were spending a lot of money on the licensing and hosting, along with the complexity of managing everything that goes with on-premise service. We needed a more cost effective alternative and with a new IS strategy of ‘cloud by default’, we wanted a more up-to-date solution that would offer scalability and flexibility.”

Remploy looked at cloud-based solutions for their infrastructure that would cut its IT spend. Two options were considered; Google Apps for Work and Microsoft Office 365. When Remploy compared these options in 2013, Google Apps for Work was about half the cost of Office 365, but as Sherry-Sole explains, the project was never just about cost, as Remploy wanted to take the opportunity to create a culture change in its business.

"It wasn’t just about email, it was the collaboration features that sold it to us."

“The main reason we opted for Google was that if we kept Microsoft everyone would do things in exactly the same way and there would be no change of behaviour. We talk a lot at Remploy about our culture and how we work together and how we want to be open and honest and transparent across the organisation, and we felt the collaboration features within the Google Apps environment, and the culture that we had and wanted to aspire to fitted this – it wasn’t just about email, it was the collaboration features that sold it to us.”

Lenka Sherry-Sole, along with Remploy’s IT Director John Devlin, presented a strategy for moving to Google to the company’s board. “It was the culture aspect, rather than the cost or technical aspect that sold it,” says Lenka. “Remploy knew Google could provide the tools that its workforce needed to get their job done, but it was the collective shift of culture and a new way of working that secured buy-in from the Board.”

Google Apps for Work was rolled out across the entire organisation of just under 900 employees. Ronnie Main, Remploy’s Service Operations Manager for IS, describes how the transition has transformed the organisation. “We were not up to date on OS, but we’ve changed the culture and we’re running Google Apps across the board. We’re ahead of the market now, and Google is one of the things that has helped us become more focussed.”

After a year of running on Google Apps for Work, Remploy upgraded to Google Drive for Work, which gave them access to additional security features, admin controls and unlimited storage for each user. Ronnie says, “Users historically only had 100MB each, then when we moved to Google Apps this increased to 30GB, and users still managed to exceed this, so we decided to go unlimited. Along with the additional functionality for searching within the admin console, and increased security, it seemed like a natural progression.”

Remploy also implemented Datto’s Backupify product as part of its Google Apps deployment to securely backup their data. Ronnie Main explains, “Moving to Backupify was always going to be part of the project plan, as Google wasn’t in a position to offer a backup solution, and we can’t afford to lose any data.”

After evaluating two Google Apps backup products, Backupify was the clear winner for Remploy, as it offered more flexibility within the admin console and because of its Google-like search capabilities.

“Because Google is so vast, it can be quite easy to lose data. For example, I don’t need a folder structure anymore because of the powerful Google search engine built into Google Drive. If there is an instance where someone loses a file, or transfers ownership to someone else, within Backupify we can find that file, find out what’s happened to it, and restore it. It’s never failed on us yet. The IT team loves the functionality and speed, and the customer support we get from Backupify is great,” Ronnie adds.

Implementing Google Apps and Backupify has had a very positive impact on Remploy. Lenka Sherry-Sole explains, “Thanks to Google, we’re in a great place, and Google helps us to be as good as we can be and to do the things we want to do in the future. For example, one of the things I’ve noticed in the last few months, is that even though we didn’t push Google+ on the business as part of the training, adoption of this has grown organically and now it’s having a viral effect, the amount of stuff coming through on Google+ is just amazing – with people sharing content in communities and with groups. You can’t force it, people see what other people are doing and take it on. It was a people project, it wasn’t about just changing our email platform, we were changing the culture.”

"It was a people project, it wasn’t about just changing our email platform, we were changing the culture."