- Google Apps Migration
- North America
Bone Daddy’s is a chain of BBQ restaurants with four locations in Arlington, Austin, Dallas and Grapevine, TX. Founded in 2000, Bone Daddy’s employs around 500 people and serves approximately 703 pounds of pork and 736 pounds of beef daily. Though Bone Daddy’s focus is serving delicious smokehouse BBQ, the restaurant also regularly participates in fund-raising drives for organizations such as Susan G. Komen for the Cure®.
Bone Daddy’s had been using a Microsoft Exchange system with webmail and POP3 servers for their traveling employees. The hosted Exchange server provided only 250 megabytes of data per inbox, which was not adequate for some employees.
Furthermore, the system was inherently disorganized due to the existence of several employee accounts in one, overall account. This caused for duplicate emails to be sent— one to the employee’s POP3 and one to the restaurant’s main account— and created confusion when it came to ensuring that emails were read by the intended recipient.
Bone Daddy’s IT Director Doug Wittrup said that the system was limited in its offerings, and he began to seek out alternatives when he noticed a decrease in general functionality. Issues such as the corruption of the global address book and BlackBerrys that wouldn’t update were also contributing to IT problems and downtime.
“I wasn’t happy with the functionality that hosted Exchange gave us, so I started looking into potentially getting our own Exchange server,” he said. “But then a colleague of mine suggested Google Apps and explained all the different ways users can work with the system. I got real excited about not just using Gmail, but having a total communication and collaboration platform that wasn’t available to us previously.”
Bone Daddy’s wanted to find a solution through which all four restaurants, employees on-the-go and the corporate office in Addison could all communicate and coordinate effectively. Ideally, this new system would reduce IT maintenance and workload, offer a better mobile experience and provide Bone Daddy’s with a platform on which to share company-wide information.
Wittrup described the key goals: “#1 was to increase collaboration and sharing of information. #2 was to be at least cost-neutral. #3 was to find new opportunities for us to communicate and present ourselves internally.”
Though Bone Daddy’s initially investigated purchasing their own Exchange server, the benefits and features of Google Apps and the Android phone quickly made Google the leading option.
“We believe in the more open, the better,” he said. “We share a lot, so we wanted a system that could support that.”
A pilot team of five people was put together to test Google Apps and determine whether the platform should be implemented. Each member on the pilot team had the authority to completely veto the program, and Wittrup said he is glad that none of them did.
In fact, the users of the pilot program gave Google Apps such a positive review that Bone Daddy’s began their Google Apps migration in March, only two months after the pilot program was initially started.
Cloud Sherpas helped to migrate 35 users from Outlook and POP3 servers to Google Apps. After the migration was complete, Bone Daddy’s decided to add another two users onto their Google Apps for Business platform. Now Bone Daddy’s has the ability to communicate with each manager in every restaurant instead of sending to the master restaurant account in addition to every individual. Wittrup said this change has allowed for more streamlined communications.
“We’re a very open company,” Wittrup said. “Now it’s like we’ve been able to bring everyone into the fold.”
Furthermore, though some of Bone Daddy’s Outlook users had “a lot of trepidation” regarding the move, Wittrup ultimately found that “there were zero issues at all” and that adaptation of Google Apps in the Gmail web interface soared.
“The fact that Google Apps has really been embraced has been incredible. People have even put access to email on their own personal phones as if we were providing them an Android phone,” he said. “It just works.”
But, Wittrup noted, the smooth move to Google Apps didn’t happen in a vacuum.
“We had a plan put together on how we were going to train users. We had Cloud Sherpas eLearning, and we had advice and monthly webinars from Cloud Sherpas.”
With guidance from Cloud Sherpas, Bone Daddy’s employees learned a new way to “relate to their inbox,” as the Google Apps platform is much different and more intuitive from that of Outlook.
Though about 60 percent of Bone Daddy’s employees used Gmail at home, Wittrup said that the Google Apps training helped every user to become more versed and proficient during day-to-day use.
“You can’t really utilize some of the cool features until you learn a little bit more about them,” he said.
For example, Google Calendar is one area of Google Apps of which Bone Daddy’s makes heavy use. “In Outlook you could do multiple calendars, but it was bulky and problematic. With Google Apps, calendars are a breeze,” Wittrup said.
Though the total cost of ownership (TCO) of Bone Daddy’s legacy hosted email solution and Google Apps is virtually identical, Wittup says the benefits of new functionality and improved productivity are tremendous.
The company currently uses Gmail, Calendar, Chat, Sites, Docs, Video and Google Message Security, and is looking to make a more complete transition to the cloud as they begin to test out Google Voice and migrate ShiftNote, a restaurant industry task manager, to Google Apps.
The move to Google Apps and Android phones has dramatically reduced IT workload. Before the implementation of Google Apps, Wittrup typically spent four hours to add a new manager. Now it takes him 15 minutes. Before the move, Wittrup would spend anywhere from 90 minutes to a couple of hours to set up and activate a Blackberry phone for an employee. Now it takes him under five minutes.
Furthermore, Wittrup says he is no longer the bottleneck when it comes to restaurant’s IT requests for document changes. Google Apps allowed him to decentralize distribution lists so that individual restaurants no longer have to wait on him to set up or change the documents, and they can even update docs and check their email when they are not physically in the restaurant.
“People checking email more now that they can get it anywhere,” he said.
Wittrup said that Google Message Security is another feature that employees enjoy.
“Everybody seems to love it,” he said. “I really like the quarantine note you get every day so that you can see what was filtered out, and can have it delivered if you need it. It’s the little things like that that amaze me how big an impact it makes.”
Though Bone Daddy’s has not formally surveyed its employees, Wittrup says that he doesn’t need to hear feedback to know that Google Apps is a success.
“In my world, if I hear nothing it’s a huge compliment. I haven’t heard boo about difficulties in Gmail. Our owner thinks it’s the best thing since sliced bread. People are busy, so I don’t get calls when things work. I get calls when things don’t work, and I haven’t gotten any phone calls. Google Apps is seamless, and that’s the best compliment I can give any system.”
Read more about how Cloud Sherpas can help your company through a seamless Microsoft Exchange to Google Apps migration.