As a Google Cloud Premier Partner, we know Google Workspace is the best collaboration platform on the market, and it is easy for us to show its value of it in most, if not all, organisations. When we ask IT decision-makers about investing in Google Workspace, the response is often ‘how do we show ROI?’ or ‘our current system works just fine. Why change?’.
We caught up with Jacob O’Hara, Netpremacy’s Customer Success Manager, to reveal the ways of using and optimising Workspace to transform and elevate an organisation if used strategically. In this thought-leadership article, Jacob talks about themes such as buy-in from senior leaders, encouraging end-user adoption, and how mindset and culture are essential to succeed.
How do you help organisations transform with Google Workspace?
My role as a Customer Success Manager is to help organisations improve their adoption of Google Workspace. This takes many forms, from answering simple functionality questions to delivering technical workshops on new features. I work with customers to identify where they are today and where they want to be in a few years, to maximise their usage of Google Workspace and rely less on third-party tools.
Why do you see CSS as an essential part of aiding organisations to transform?
Most teams we work with don’t have the time or resources to deep-dive into every new feature that rolls out weekly. Many of our customers want to be able to fire a question over to a trusted partner and let us do the leg work to find the answer. Often our workshops hone in on resolving customer pain points rather than just giving technical guidance. I think it’s incredibly valuable to have a partner you can trust to bring specialist knowledge to the table, so all our customers need to do is make an informed business decision.
The other element of CSS that is essential to transformation is pushing our customers to network with each other. Quite often we see multiple customers tackling the same issue, so it’s important that they understand how other businesses in their industry are approaching – or have already resolved – the challenge they are facing.
What is the difference between businesses using Workspace for functionality and businesses using it to optimise?
Every business using Google Workspace uses Drive to store files and Gmail to send and receive emails. It’s a standard approach to using Workspace, and it works. However, when we think about optimising Workspace, we want to start with a process and iterate upon it.
When we think about analysing data, we need to move away from keeping it in a spreadsheet because that’s where it’s always been. Moving that data into Looker Studio for better data visualisation or creating App Sheet applications to improve data input options expand on what you can do with Google Workspace. We want to take a process and not just fit it around Workspace but use Workspace to improve that process and make it better for everyone.
What measurable outcomes are there to optimising with Google Workspace?
Cost: Google Workspace as a toolset has grown massively over just the last three years, amplified by the need for remote and hybrid work. Most organisations don’t go back and reassess the same SaaS product a year or two down the line because IT leaders are still adapting to the concept of tools evolving in much shorter spaces of time. Given the current economic uncertainties, many of our customers are looking to drop third-party subscriptions because Google Workspace can provide the same functionality at no extra cost. We’ve helped organisations remove email security gateways and firewalls because Google Workspace delivers what they need natively, saving customers anything from £30,000 to £40,000 a year. In other instances, we have gotten rid of third-party mobile device management tools, saving up to £50,000 a year because we can use Google Workspace to manage both company-owned and personal devices for free.
Improved security: Our security workshop report constantly evolves as Google releases new features to Workspace. More recently, we’ve been working with customers to roll out data classification so that they can both reduce their third-party tooling footprint but also get a better handle on what data they already have in Google Workspace. Having a regular check-in point every year with our customers to deep-dive into Workspace’s security features keeps their InfoSec teams in the know and on top of the ever-changing security landscape.
How do the organisation’s culture, mindset and structure play a part in ‘sweating the asset’?
Culture: Many of our customers are successful with Google adoption because they build their own ‘Champion network’. These are individuals in their organisation, outside of the traditional IT team, who care about Workspace and contribute to the uptake and adoption amongst end users. As Customer Success Managers, we make sure these Champions are aware of new features and product releases so they can relay them to their local teams. Having product experts internal to your organisation requires commitment because you have to work with their line managers to make the time for them to get involved. I think many organisations that “go Google” conduct lots of training sessions right at the start of their journey, but over time this fades out. Two years down the line, you have new starters who don’t know the toolset or even where to begin. Having champions in place allows your inquisitive users to ask questions in an informal environment, rather than having to raise a ticket with IT every time they have a “silly” question to ask.
Mindset: You have to challenge what you do and why you do it! Just because you’ve done something the same way for years doesn’t mean that’s the best way to use it.
Recently an end user who was brand new to Google Workspace asked me how to print comments out of a Google Doc. We talked through their process, in which they used to print a document out, highlight and annotate on paper with a colleague a few desks away, and then they would go back to their desk and write up what was agreed between them. Rather than focusing on the initial question of printing comments, we talked about how we could instead do this in Google Docs with the commenting feature, which would save time, and money and help their organisation reduce their carbon footprint. Your organisation needs to have an open and honest culture so that people can challenge wasteful processes and use technology to better complete their day-to-day tasks.
Structure: Historically, internal IT teams have been seen as cost overheads or just the team that fixes things when they break. Our most successful customers see their IT teams as enablers for the rest of the organisation and link the IT function with end users to build a forward-thinking workforce working towards the same goal. Buy-in from your business leaders is imperative, as it sets an example for the entire organisation. Allow your IT team to act as an enabler for your business and not just act as a break-fix team.
What value does the CSS community add to other organisations in the programme?
Many of our customers uncover solutions together, and we facilitate and create informal opportunities for organisations to speak together on their own and problem-solve. Our CSS community is something we have worked hard to build, and a lot of our customers see success because of it. We host in-person events, whether at Google HQ or the Netpremacy office, and we’ve been running monthly tech talks via Google Meet, where our community comes together and gets the opportunity to talk about current challenges. The community adds incredible value to organisations because they can see first-hand how other businesses overcome challenges, and this helps them build and iterate on their own vision.
Why is CSS an essential part of aiding organisations to succeed?
✔️ Optimising Google Workspace: Our Customer Success Service allows businesses to transform by using Google Workspace strategically. Our customers share their fundamental business challenges with us, and we devise a solution.
✔️ Maximising financial investments: Workspace updates are relentless; I work with customers to ensure that essential feature updates are implemented, paving the way for cost-reduction initiatives for 3rd-party applications.
✔️ Improved security: We constantly challenge our customers to enhance their security posture in Google Workspace and deliver workshops or product demos to help reduce barriers to implementation.
✔️ Networking with like-minded peers: We go one step further than just showing you the best practices: we create opportunities for businesses in the same industry with the same challenges to see what these challenges and solutions look like in reality.
What would be the first question you would ask an organisation looking to join CSS?
The first question I always have to ask is: “Why did you move to Workspace?”.
From there, we get a good understanding of both where the organisation has come from, but also where they want to go – and we can build a strategic roadmap to help them on their journey.
We also have to understand what’s stopping an organisation from using Google Workspace in the way they desire. Sometimes organisations don’t have the resources to take the actions that they know they must do – which comes back to my earlier point about doing the legwork (or investigative work) for customers, so they only have to make a simple – but well-informed – decision.
Often a customer doesn’t know what good looks like, what the best solution for their specific challenge is, or – to be honest – sometimes they don’t know where to start. Understanding where that organisation wants to go, what’s holding them back, and where we can assist is the real gem of CSS. We build roadmaps with customers and deliver against set timelines so that at the end of the first 12 months, we have a measurable impact on your organisation.
Our CSS programme provides a first-class engagement partner who will be there every step of your cloud journey. Our Customer Success Managers act as an extension to your IT team and are the link to solving problems. Whether we go directly to Google or host networking opportunities, peers in the community can help too. These exclusive events have been for our CSS community to show how their businesses can continuously improve and stay updated on emerging technology, the latest trends, and how to use them to thrive.
Want to be part of this exclusive community? Get in touch to learn more at firstname.lastname@example.org.