Editors note: Today’s guest bloggers are Lena Furr, MIS Director for Mid-Atlantic Door Group and Tom Ronayne, General Manager of AIRO Tech, a technology services subsidiary of Mid-Atlantic Door Group, a 38-year-old specialty contracting company based in Washington, DC area. A PDF version of their case study is also available.

At Mid-Atlantic Door Group, we distribute and install everything from industrial overhead doors, door operation systems and loading dock equipment for commercial customers to garage doors and retractable awnings for residential customers. We have approximately 240 associates and operate together with our subsidiaries in Washington DC, Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania. In 1987 we created a technical services company, AIRO Tech, which designs and develops web-based business applications for outside specialty contracting companies as well as our own.

Recently, we were looking for ways to reduce IT license and maintenance costs and we wanted to get to our data easily from different devices, especially mobile ones. We had some experience building our own operational applications and our focus had been on clean, optimized interfaces developed for speed and mobility. So when it came time to upgrade our email and productivity applications we looked for solutions that embraced those elements.

Our previous environment included Microsoft® Exchange, Outlook and Office, but we found ourselves spending too much time and money on licenses and server maintenance. We had different versions on different machines and we were continually updating software on our desktops and laptops. Google Apps allowed us to to break free from those high-cost, high maintenance applications.

Our users are getting their email on a variety of devices and we’ve seen effective use of Google Docs especially for collaboration between our users. It’s just so easy to use, the collaboration comes naturally since it’s built right in. We also deployed Google Message Discovery, an email archive that provides an audit trail for our compliance needs.

By deploying Google Apps we were able to avoid $43,000 in upgrade costs we were facing in our old environment. The ability to access email in a browser also allowed us to transition many of our users to Linux-based desktops which also helped reduce our costs. Together with other license and application reductions, we saved nearly $60,000 in total.

Google Apps gives us the ability to work from anywhere on a wide variety of mobile devices. We are looking at deploying more mobile devices including smartphones, Chromebooks and tablets in the near future. Based on our encouraging experience so far, we anticipate that our Google Apps deployment will make it easy for us to do that.