- Google Apps Migration
- North America
Founded in Decatur, AR in 1949, Simmons Foods supplies high-quality poultry and connects growers and farmers with consumer-facing entities such as restaurants. Simmons Foods was formerly a retail store, but made the strategic decision in the late ’90s to become a supplier with a focus on business-to-business (B2B) customers. By developing new products and keeping up with emerging trends, Simmons has made its name in the B2B industry.
Simmons Foods had been using Lotus Notes, which was slow, not searchable and had an unwieldy user interface. The clunky system was beginning to slow down business operations and cause frustration for the company.
Though Simmons had wanted to leave Lotus Notes behind for years, the company was ultimately forced to stay on the system due to their extensive use of Lotus Domino applications. One of their most deeply-integrated applications was the Document Template Library, a Lotus Notes database on which thousands of Simmons’ files from invoices to employee information was filed.
Therefore, transferring the data stored in the Document Template Library to a new platform was essential for Simmons to move away from Lotus Notes. It was not until Simmons Foods teamed up with Cloud Sherpas that a solution was developed specifically to help Simmons overcome their migration obstacle.
Before a solution was developed by Cloud Sherpas, a tool to migrate Lotus Domino applications to Google’s cloud did not exist. Cloud Sherpas developed a migration process which brought each of Simmons’ six Document Template Library databases to Google Sites. Cloud Sherpas also developed a series of custom App Engine gadgets integrated with the new Google Sites that provided additional functionality for end-users of the database.
A few key areas of improvement were:
Search— By moving the files stored on Lotus Domino applications to the cloud, Simmons was able to leverage Google’s world-class search capabilities to sort through their own data. Using Google Sites integrated Search was a huge improvement over Lotus Notes for a number of reasons; as you can see in the images below, Simmons’ new intranet shows much greater detail in its search results, including the specific page where the search term resides as well as the document’s hierarchy within its library.
Simmons’ new intranet on Google Sites also allows the user to query multiple databases for quick results, while the same queries would take several minutes to find in a Lotus Domino application. Additionally, Simmons users can now search all fields at once, rather than searching a specific field across multiple documents. As you can see in the Google Sites search results page, each search result contains the location within the document where the search term resides (i.e. “on page New Hire Packet” in the third result).
Lotus Notes Search Results Page
Google Sites Search Results Page
Navigation— When a user uploads a document into the new Google Sites solution, that document becomes its own page. Because Simmons needed to be able to quickly retrieve files from a central database, Cloud Sherpas created a custom App Engine gadget to provide intuitive navigation that allows Simmons users to sort all documents by fields including author, date and title.
Workflow— Cloud Sherpas created a workflow through which users may submit documents to their new intranet. In this new system, users can opt to be reminded to check on the document after certain intervals of time so that the document is ensured to remain fresh.
Access— Google Apps makes it possible for Simmons employees to access all Email, Calendars, Docs, and even their databases, now on Google Sites, from anywhere with an internet connection. Employees no longer need to be on specific computers with Lotus Notes and Domino software that are specifically configured to connect to the company network. Now Simmons enjoys anywhere-access with no software installation, faster connection times and speedy search results.
User Interface— Using Google Sites as an intranet platform creates a number of new possibilities for non-technical employee contributions to the site. The friendly user interface and easy management of outputs from forms like the Job Postings example below give users the ability to participate and create on the intranet.
The back end of this particular application lives in a Google Spreadsheet which, with a small amount of education, can be managed by a non-technical user. In Lotus Notes, management of this application and its output would require a technical resource.
Simmons Foods Former Job Posting Portal
Simmons Foods Job Posting Portal on Google Sites
Thanks to Cloud Sherpas custom application development, Simmons Foods was finally able to leave Lotus Notes behind. Moving data to the cloud not only freed Simmons from a clunky legacy system, but it has also allowed the company to work more effectively and efficiently. Google Apps for Business has given the IT department more time to take on other projects while allowing end-users to productively collaborate from anywhere— whether it’s in the office or on the road.
Read more about how Cloud Sherpas can help your company through a seamless Lotus Notes/Domino to Google Apps migration.