News and notes from Google Down Under
Guest post: Australia's Mortgage Choice goes Google
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Editor's Note: We're pleased to welcome guest blogger Peter Herrmann, solution architect, Information Technology Department, at Mortgage Choice Limited. Peter led the development of the business case to switch Mortgage Choice to Google, and is project manager and tech lead for the organization-wide deployment of Google Apps. Peter has been working with Mortgage Choice for eight years and has been involved with IT strategy, consulting to internal business units, implementation, migrations, integration and lifecycle for many systems at Mortgage Choice.
Peter has a background in messaging and collaboration technologies and still remembers his delight in getting messages to flow (in 1992) between islands of Lotus Notes, cc:Mail, MS Mail (Windows & Mac), Memo (a mainframe based email system) and MHS (from Novell) during a proof of concept integration he did for a large multinational.
, Australia's largest independently-owned mortgage broker, was established in 1992 and operates a franchise-based business model. We have over 1,000 users operating from around 350 locations across Australia.
The Australian mortgage broking industry has undergone a period of significant change and consolidation. In this challenging environment, the ability to scale both up and out while improving our business systems and resources, along with keeping a steady cost base, is critical to growing and strengthening our business.
In IT, we are constantly challenged by the ongoing overhead of installing, upgrading, storing, supporting and maintaining installed software across a geographically dispersed environment.
Prior to our transition to
, we diligently kept our users' software up-to-date and met system and service SLAs, but simply meeting our service obligations does not necessarily add value! At the end of the day, after buying, running and maintaining our infrastructure and software, our capacity to really add value through innovation was constrained by resource limitations.
By late 2008, with a newly reinvigorated IT strategy taking shape, the Google Apps platform was right in focus. We developed a business case for Google Apps, focusing on the benefits of simplicity (no installed software), choice (access anywhere anytime from any Internet connected device), scalability (growth with a variable cost base) and user happiness (great user experience from modern apps evolved from massive consumer driven input).
During mid-2009, Mortgage Choice ran an initial deployment of Google Apps (Mail, Calendar and Chat) for some 70 users across the country. We used Google Sites for FAQs, feedback forums and spreadsheet forms for polls to get regular user feedback. This was used to continuously improve our change management, communication, migration and support processes and collateral.
At completion of the initial deployment, 91% of users recommended we roll-out Google Apps to the entire organisation. The results also reinforced our IT strategy imperatives to "provide the business with a technology environment that is scalable, flexible, simple to use, leverages modern and emerging technologies and provides users with choice".
Even now, as we roll out to the rest of the organization, we're seeing immediate benefits outside the original project focus of Mail, Calendar and Chat. Users are adopting other Google Apps, such as Google Docs, for collaboration in real time with co-workers and business partners. They're building forms based workflows for their business processes, and have used Google Sites and Google Video to deliver specific on-demand training websites and online manuals. This innovation is taking place organically at the initiative of users and without the requirement for traditional IT involvement or assistance. Furthermore, it has come at no additional cost and at a pace chosen by the initiators.
, we are seeing tangible benefits from adopting Google Apps across the organisation and we expect this to increase as our people - an increasingly mobile workforce - leverage the platform further in future.
Posted by Peter Herrmann, solution architect, Information Technology Department, Mortgage Choice Limited
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