Blog 2: This blog is a special 2 part release.
Today’s post is from Simi Ryatt, Chief Executive, and Tania Lewis, Head of Business Development, at Citizen Advice Hammersmith and Fulham (CAHF). CAHF is an independent charity that provides information, education and advice services to help people resolve problems.
Part of a national network of over 300 individual charities, CAHF is one of the busiest local Citizens Advice services in London. Its 45 paid staff and 120 volunteers work in community settings across the Borough.
Smooth and seamless migration
We chose Ancoris to handle our migration and ongoing support based on the work they'd done with national and local branches. We don't think we've ever been through a process that has been so seamless.
From the outset, Ancoris listened very carefully to what we wanted to achieve and worked with us to make sure we got all of that in the specification, training and in the timescales to migrate everyone across. That included making sure we could still work with specialist applications like our Casebook case management system.
Throughout the project, we met with Ancoris every week, with a wide range of people from CAHF involved in those meetings. While some of those sessions could get pretty technical, having that diverse team meeting regularly made the whole implementation process more manageable and straightforward.
Phase 1: Migrating our "early adopters"
The migration itself was split into two phases. We began with a small group of early adopters, which included the leadership team and some staff who would become "Google champions" for their colleagues. One of the lessons we learned from the first phase was that the standard training wouldn't work for the rest of the organisation. When we fed that back to Ancoris, they quickly developed a new version of the training focused on the things our users really needed to know on day one when they made the switch. That was extra work for Ancoris to take on and we really appreciate how responsive they were to our feedback.
Another challenge was that Ancoris couldn't use its standard migration tools and methods because the outsourcing partner for our legacy system wasn't willing to provide access to its servers as they were shared with other clients. Ancoris therefore put together a process for us based on our outsourcing partner providing them with secure hard drives containing a snapshot of our data taken on a Thursday night. Ancoris then loaded that data into Google Workspace so that the system was ready to use on Monday morning.
The jewel in the Ancoris crown was their change management and training. They just made life so easy for us, taking a lot of the legwork out of the process and making us feel very confident. For example, they set up a "Going Google" site, that we could maintain ourselves, where we could share information about the project with our staff, and gave us template emails that we could adapt and send out at each stage of the project.
Phase 2: Completing the migration
The second phase of the migration saw the rest of our users move across around two weeks after the early adopters, as well as providing those users with training sessions using the customised training that had been developed. Ancoris also made sure someone was available on chat throughout the first few days to answer any questions or solve any problems. That said, within 48 hours — probably even within 24 hours — we were all up and running as normal.
Throughout the migration, we were really impressed by how giving and generous Ancoris were. They wanted it to work and they wanted to work with us. They were nice people to deal with and they always understood that we had other pressures beyond this project.
Fit for the future
Google Workspace has met all our objectives for a new IT system. Our people can now work from anywhere, on any device, and collaborate more easily both internally and externally.
When new staff join, we can quickly give them everything they need to start working. Google Workspace is so intuitive, most people find it easy to learn and can quickly become productive.
We've also been able to significantly lower our running costs, while creating infrastructure that scales affordably. Users enjoy consistent performance no matter where they work or how many people are logged in, while our costs rise and fall in line with the current number of users.
Going forwards, we're interested in exploring how we can use video in Google Workspace to improve our communications. That may include equipping our meeting rooms with hardware so it's easier to join a Meet meeting, or live streaming conferences and events for advice sessions as that option becomes more accessible for our clients.
Our final word of advice for other those who are considering "Going Google" is: don't hesitate.
Google Workspace is an excellent solution that works well for what we do, is easy to migrate to, and means IT is no longer something you have to worry about but something that just works, without you having to think about it.
Find out what led CAHF to migrate from Microsoft services to Google Workspace