Achieving a near zero-touch conversion process with Google Apps

Editor's note: Today’s guest blogger is Elliot Tally, Director of IT Collaboration and Automation, a leading Electronics Manufacturing Services (EMS) provider focused on delivering end-to-end manufacturing solutions for communications, medical, defense and aerospace, industrial, renewable energy, and other sectors. Elliot has more than ten years of experience in high-tech manufacturing and information systems spanning a breadth of industries. He is responsible for enterprise collaboration and messaging systems, process automation and integration, and for Sanmina-SCI's suite of IT applications.

Last year, Sanmina-SCI's IT team asked themselves, "Could Google Apps replace Microsoft Exchange for a global, multilingual workforce?" After careful due diligence, the team recently completed a phased migration for 15,000 email users, charting a new course for IT. Elliot and his team will be available on a live webcast next Thursday to talk about the migration and answer questions from participants.

Sanmina-SCI is a leader in outsourced Electronics Manufacturing Services (EMS). We have 37,000 diverse employees and our business is very competitive. We needed something that was less expensive to maintain and provided better collaboration tools than what our incumbent vendor, Microsoft, offered.

After putting Google through the test in more ways than you can imagine we decided that Google Apps was the way to go – especially after we saw collaboration tools like Google Sites. Then our job was to migrate 15,000 users in 18 small feat.
We started with several pilots to pinpoint any issues up front, and we conducted user surveys along the way to be sure we knew what users were facing. Many users got very excited. They knew they could get email from anywhere, and have access to collaborative tools like spreadsheets and instant messaging. We also gained valuable feedback on workflows and other issues we'd need to have a plan for during the migration.
From the start, we provided more than just a "here’s what we’re going to do, take it or leave it” approach. We were serious about ensuring that a certain set of activities happened in terms of communication and training, and showing people the features of Google Apps so they knew they were not missing anything. Then we would migrate a whole plant in less than a week. But the upfront training and familiarization process was paramount to our success. In all, the conversion went faster and easier than we anticipated.
One of the key factors was support from senior executives, who helped us drive and obtain support across the organization. We did get pushback from some employees but we spent time with them and showed them that, from a user experience standpoint, it might work differently, but they weren’t losing functionality.
In the end, we came close to our goal of a zero-touch conversion process as an IT team. It was a pretty highly automated, self-service conversion in moving everyone over. There were some gaps, but overall we are pleased with how quickly and efficiently the conversion went.
I’d be happy to share what we learned at Sanmina-SCI as a large enterprise that has made the move to Google Apps. We hope that you'll join us for this live event.

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