by Divina Paredes

New Zealand Post expands Google Apps user base

Jun 30, 2010
Technology Industry

#8220;A lot of people thought New Zealand Post was mad,#8221; saysTracy Voice, general manager, business enabling at New Zealand Post. This, she says, was the reaction when they announced the implementation of Google Apps in the Postal Services Group and the corporate office.

That was a year ago and she says New Zealand Post is now reaping benefits from the move that include lower total cost of IT, a greater collaboration among employees, along with the ability for them to access their data anytime and anywhere with a single log on.

#8220;We are now focusing on external facing technology for competitive advantage rather than internal technology,#8221; Voice says at the Google Event in Auckland organised by Fronde.

The move, she explains, is in line with New Zealand Post#8217;s #8216;IS Lite#8217; programme. This is a term coined by analyst firm Gartner that refers to a #8220;lighter#8221; and more flexible internal ICT through outsourcing of non-core functions and moving some functions to business unit IT groups.

The business case for the move, explains Voice, was about lowering total cost of IT and focusing New Zealand Post#8217;s internal capabilities in technology to innovation and change rather than managing infrastructure.

New Zealand Post also wanted to ensure efficiencies within their processes. Before the move to Gmail, she says, email was #8220;creating havoc#8221; every few days for users receiving messages their mailbox was full and they needed to archive their messages.

#8220;The reality [was] we were taking risks#8221;, she says, when NZ Post decided to move some 2000 users to the new environment. The company managed it by understanding what the challenges were in moving their applications to the cloud and mitigating these risks.

She is frank about the challenges they faced, one of which was integration. Google Apps were implemented only in the corporate and Postal Services Group, which provides domestic and international postal services. An eight-week pilot was conducted to make sure the apps were able to integrate with Microsoft Exchange and smart phones in other parts of the organisation that included the network of postal shops and Kiwibank.

She says New Zealand Post worked with Google and Fronde to mitigate security risks. Extensive testing took place and an external person was brought in to test the environment.

Another challenge was asking people to move away from an environment they were familiar with. Voice says users were surveyed about what applications they used outside work and 40 percent said they were already using Gmail tools.

The executives in the Postal Services Group and their personal assistants were asked to be the pilot users. #8220;They all took that risk for us,quot; says Voice.

As well, more than 100 volunteers were sought to be #8220;Google gurus#8221;. They gradually rolled out the email and other features with the #8220;Google gurus#8221; on the side to help.

She says the rollout focused on Gmail and calendar and did not promote the other features available. This was intentional, she says, as employees were left to #8220;play#8221; with the suite of apps that included video.

Today, she says, #8220;People have grown and understood the tools and are working and experimenting with them.#8221;