Grass Roots Group extends Google roll-out with Play apps

Grass Roots Group (GRG) is among a number of organisations expanding its Google deployment with apps from the Play marketplace

Grass Roots Group (GRG), a global performance improvement company, is among a growing number of organisations expanding its Google deployment with apps from the Google Play marketplace.

Following a successful global deployment of Google Enterprise in 2012, GRG is starting to buy software from the Google Play apps marketplace.

Danny Attias, CIO, GRG, said: "There are at least three tools we now use that are integrated into our environment." 

GRG uses the Smartsheet app for real-time project planning, the Lucid Chart diagram generation tool and Insightly, a simple CRM.

He said apps simplify software asset management. 

"There is a central pool of licences, which means it is impossible to be under-licensed. There is no need to deploy any software, since apps just appear in the 'More' menu option in the Google environment. You get real-time visibility on usage and security is linked to one user ID."

As for buying from relatively unknown companies in the Google Play marketplace, he said: "In terms of due diligence, we look at how many users have downloaded the app. I ask for a customer reference and determine how long the apps developer takes to respond." 

For the apps GRG bought, Attias spoke with the developers on the phone.

Migrating to Google Enterprise

The company’s journey to Google Enterprise began towards the end of 2011, when Attias heard how it was being used at Ocado. He said: "I had struggled with on-premise email that had not been designed for the scale it needed. As a by-product, Ocado was also using document collaboration."

Google suggested migration and implementation partners, but GRG ran its own evaluation and selected AppsCare for the implementation. Following a successful pilot in one of its business, GRG took five weeks to deploy Google.

He said: "The effort was not technical. AppsCare assisted us in change management to get users to change their email client." 

Attias admitted that this was extraordinarily hard. While it is not necessary to change email clients, using a browser instead of an existing Outlook client avoids configuration issues. 

"Once you're out of Outlook mode, the simple exterior of Google is incredibly powerful and shaves minutes out of your day," he said.

Speaking about his experience of using Google, he said: "We rolled out Docs and Google Drive and used a few teams to pilot best practices." 

Attias found that some teams only work in Google Docs. "I haven't had a copy of MS Office since the roll-out. I can access a document from anywhere very quickly. Generally, content sharing is done in Google Docs, then the user would export to Office on the desktop to email out."

GRG is starting to introduce Android phones, which offer email integration with Google Enterprise. Attias said the company decided to go with the Nexus 4, due to its low cost, and has put together a telco contract to avoid the hidden costs of BYOD call charges. 

“We negotiated our mobile contract to the point where the cost is managed. A global contract costs is six to seven times cheaper than consumer mobile tariffs," he added.

Read more on Cloud computing software