Editor's note: Continuing our “Going Google Everywhere” series, we’ve invited Luke Hagenbach, from HÔM Real Estate Group, who specializes in the representation of professional athletes and celebrities in California’s coastal Orange County, and was the project lead on their deployment. HÔM Real Estate Group is a high-end real estate brokerage that facilitates the acquisition and sale of some of the region’s most sought-after properties. Watch the video HOM created below. Learn more about other organizations that have gone Google on our community map.

HÔM has been growing quickly since opening our doors a few years ago, opening two new offices last year. Despite the economic downturn, HÔM has been focused on innovation and growth. When we decided to take a hard look at our email and calendar system, we focused on providing our users with better communication and collaboration tools that allowed them the flexibility they need to be successful in this industry.

A key to growth in the real estate industry is the ability to easily communicate within the company and with clients, and to always have up to the minute information. With many of our real estate agents in the field more than the office, it’s essential that they be able to access their email, calendar, contacts and documents from any computer or mobile device. Real estate agents also regularly deal with large email attachments containing property photographs, contract documents, and marketing collateral proofs, so it didn’t take long for users to fill up their 500MB inbox limit. With most of our agents prominently displaying their email addresses on several websites, spam was also a problem. The IT department used to spend a lot of time dealing with spam issues and asking users to reduce their mailbox size.

Prior to switching to Google Apps, we had been using Microsoft Exchange Server with Outlook Web Access, and also had a subset of users on Outlook and Entourage. After switching to Google Apps, spam and storage issues have become a thing of the past. Plus, since Google Apps is in the cloud, users have the power of choice. They no longer have to lug around a specific laptop. And, Google Apps has the interoperability to provide a smooth experience for users who choose to use other applications.

Switching to Google Apps was an easy adjustment for our employees. Gmail makes sense right “out of the box” and is great for users who just want to get in and get things done. We also chose to enable Labs and it’s been a huge hit. Some of the company favorites are “Got the wrong Bob”, “Undo Send”, and “Canned Responses”.

While cutting costs wasn’t our first priority, outsourcing our servers and maintenance of those servers to Google allowed us to save tens of thousands of dollars on future costs, and benefit from their 99.9% guaranteed up-time. An added plus that we didn’t realize going into this decision, was that our IT department would now have more time to focus on strategic activities that improve our competitive advantage, rather than on infrastructure commodities.

Migrating to Google Apps was straightforward. There was no software to install and no hardware to deal with. We started with a small pilot group of users until we felt comfortable in the new ecosystem. With the help of our Google Apps reseller, Dito, we migrated everyone over just a short time later. They provided webinar and in-person training to our users that really helped us get off to a good start. Also, Google’s own deployment site has a wealth of resources that we have used for ongoing training and support. We have only been deployed a few months and Google has already added dozens of improvements and new features, without us having to do anything to install them. If we were still on Exchange, we could be waiting a long time for an upgrade.

For a growing company with agents always on the go, there is no better option for us than Google Apps. We’re happy to say HÔM Real Estate Group has gone Google.