Wednesday, August 26, 2015
Editor's note: Today we hear from Jamie Holyland, director of communications at London youth support organisation Epic CIC. Epic saved £67,000 last year by switching to Google Apps for Work, with projections to save £140,000 annually. Read how Google Apps re-energised the 155 workers at Epic with forward-looking solutions.
When government budget cuts threatened our organisation's financial health, we didn't expect a technology change to keep us afloat. But that's exactly what happened. We provide a wide range of youth services in inner London, including an assistance program for teenage parents and programs to help young people find employment. In the wake of increasingly severe public funding cuts, Epic joined the private sector after 25 years with the local authority of Kensington and Chelsea. Ending even one of our projects was a step we didn’t want to take, and by transitioning to Google Apps for Work, we didn’t have to. The £140,000 a year that we save with Google gives us room in our budget to maintain all of our services. Now Epic is not only financially sustainable, it’s more efficient, more secure, and primed for a future of cloud computing.
Google Apps pulled our fragmented organisation together. Before we switched over last year, few of our 80 part-time staff had a work email account or online calendar; we relied entirely on phone calls, texts and face-to-face meetings to communicate. Now, almost everyone uses Gmail and calendar to stay organized and in touch. Whether staff are working with young people at one of our six youth centres or at any of our other eight offices, they can use one of 50 Chromeboxes to check their accounts. And for management rushing between meetings and our 20 case workers who operate off-site, we have 40 Android devices for them to stay connected from anywhere.
The impact on our efficiency has been huge. Google Apps for Work has reduced the number of emails we send by 50 percent in two months. The Chromebooks our 25 senior and middle managers use take seven seconds to start up, compared to the 20 minutes we spent starting up some of our old machines, so their time is spent fixing problems for our other 130 staff rather than waiting for technology to warm up.
Cloud computing is the future for our kind of community work, where teams are spread thin and wide. For example, instead of relying on a scattered paper trail to register attendance at our events, we now use Forms to track participation as they happen. Under our old system, the quarter of a million files we had stored on the local authority hard drives were full of confusing duplications. In one case, we found the same document saved in 47 variations by over 50 people, with no clue as to which was the final version. Now, the whole team can work together on a single shared Doc. And because there’s only ever one version, we don’t just save time, we stay aligned and build off of each other’s feedback seamlessly. We found Drive to be more secure, too, because its privacy and file access controls let us control information in more nuanced ways than we could before.
Maintaining our services without public funding was a daunting challenge, but Google Apps helped make it possible. Even better, the tools bring our team together and save us time, so we can spend more of our resources on the people who need them most.