I work with a company that rolls out Google Apps for Business as a product for VSME’s. We consult with business decision makers and their IT teams and then we help them migrate their email and documents onto the Google platform, and once the data is uploaded we send our team in to migrate the users over to the new way of working.

This is often where the problems begin.

You see, Google Apps is not an email server, yet some users insist to use it as such.

This presents a few problems. First off, Google Apps as a platform is more expensive than many POP only email services, but for the extra money you get a lot of functionality that you do not get anywhere else for a similar price. If you use it as an email service only, you cheat yourself out of money, multiply that over a company with a userbase of 20, or 50 or 100’s or users and suddenly you are looking at some serious money.

Secondly you commit yourself to license fees for your third party email software, Microsoft Outlook is still the email client of choice for users, and it is not cheap.

Lastly, you limit yourself to working on only one device. Setting up Google email to pop/imap and smtp through multiple devices is not all that hard, but some users insist on working with one machine and one interface, effectively wasting company cash.

Many business owners or managers are loathe to rattle their users and prefer to have them work the way they are used to.

Google Apps for Business affords users a unique flexibility to work that you won’t easily find in the market, and to throw all that flexibility away at the behest of users who are unwilling to change their workflow is counter productive. Throw in the waste of money and resources and suddenly you have a serious problem.

Inevitably we face one of two scenarios. Either the client decides to migrate his users over to the web interface entirely – with the possible exception of those users that rely on third party apps that are hard coded to use Outlook -, OR he has a user that keeps complaining about various things and then threatens us with cancellation.

Why would a user complain then?

Google Apps, while good, is not an ideal Pop/Imap mail platform, and oftentimes Outlook and Google Mail do not play nice together, and users will begin complaining about the interruption to their workflow. If enough users complain the relation ship between the service provider and the client gets to the point where the client would rather cancel and roll back to a simple pop solution rather than paying for Google Apps.

I have seen cases where one user who is unwilling to move away from Outlook has frustrated both our team and his/her management to the point where neither party is willing to continue with the relationship and the deal is lost.

Sometimes the deal is in a very advanced stage, often a few months after signoff and after the migration has been completed.

A few things have to happen right at the start of the relationship to avoid this scenario:

1 – The client must be made to understand that Google Apps as a complete package without the need for Outlook.
2 – It is not a POP server replacement! While it can function as such, it works better when used as intended.
3 – Be aware as a deployment team of those users who refuse to migrate over to Google Apps completely, keep in contact with them, and make sure that their managers are aware of any challenges they may face.

There is a lot of power in using Google Apps for business, should you want to migrate your business to it. I don’t believe it to be the perfect solution for every business out there, but it has been very successful, with many businesses large and small moving over to it.

Failure to create a realistic expectation with your client will lead you to have the deal go south very quickly as well, especially if you have users or managers unwilling to work with Google Apps like it was intended.

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