Chapter 1 - Communications - Google Apps for Work VS Microsoft Office 365 for Enterprise

Sam and the team at AMA firmly believe that the future of the manufacturing industry is all about efficiency, collaboration and cloud technology - and they are already part of this significant change.  Sam invests heavily in the “Internet of Things” (IOT) and his belief that this is only going to become more and more a part of successful business, ensures that AMA can move smoothly with the technological times and are continuously growing, as well as improving efficiency, communication and service as they go. 
Sam explains about the days before the digital revolution, “Before I decided to go to our digital model, I needed a core base suite of products that handled most of our basic functionality, such as email, calendars, contacts, file storage, etc.. In 2011 I had 2 logical choices, Microsoft Office 365 or Google for Work”.

Sam started AMA off with Office 365 for enterprises.  He made this choice with some thought.  Sam felt that at that stage people would find the migration from an outlook style of email client to gmail would meet a lot of resistance and complications... but even by his own admission he was wrong.
The problems with Office 365 seemed to start from the sign-up process – although Sam signed up the very day this service became available, so it was very much in its infancy.  The only way to sign up and manage the system was through Telstra T-Suite, which then led you to a Microsoft portal after that forcing you to go through a 2 step login process.  

“After signing up I had to configure our DNS settings so that the mail was routed to Microsoft's servers - which in itself is fairly typical, however they required some settings that aren't typical of this type of setup and I definitely wouldn't classify it as an easy setup process. This may have changed now, but it took me over a week to get the right settings in place” Sam explains.  Sam’s persistence and belief in cloud based technology ensured the Microsoft system did eventually get up and running at AMA back in 2011, however we are not so sure other organisations would have had quite the same determination.

After the Microsoft cloud system was setup, Sam left all 10 computers on over the weekend to upload all the existing emails in outlook to the server.  This failed on multiple occasions to the point in which he gave up and just had to forego most of the data.  Despite the issue with the transfer of data Sam was still convinced that cloud technology was the way to go.

The system was up and running for a few months when Sam said he found a flaw in his plan, “Nothing really changed for my staff (by design) as they were still using plain old outlook.  They were not forced, nor did they realise the ability to use their email via a web client or the cloud".
After another 6 months of service with Office 365, the final straw for Sam was after requesting to change to a lower (more affordable) plan, they didn’t support any form of data migration.  Meaning that he then had to re-sign up for a new plan and go through that painstaking setup process and data migration process again!!  Gritting his teeth Sam said, “It became apparent that we needed another change - one that forced to break the habits of outlook so that staff could use their email truly anywhere”.

Enter Google Apps.
“Google Apps had everything we were looking for in a browser based cloud solution. Setup was fairly straight forward”.
The biggest problem Sam faced was getting everyone to the right apps in a simple manner. He setup a google site with large logo images to each app to make it easy for staff to find where to go, then linked it to the AMA website.   The theory being that if staff can find the website, they can get onto their apps wherever they are.

After solving that problem, the next things Sam faced was training in a new email system!  “Luckily, Gmail has a 'labs' section that you can customise the layout of the emails so it works very similar to Outlook, and the transition process was extremely simple”, Sam explained.  “A quick lesson on the Calendar and Contacts sections, and we had all of our basic communications up and running in less than a day”.  It was that simple!

After that, Sam quickly got Google Drive up and running and worked to sync all of the company files so the team could get access to any files wherever they were.  AMA also started converting all of their templates and files into the native google formats. Sam said they also found a lot of hidden surprises along the way.  “Finally - spreadsheets that can link to each other without having to worry about file location!!!”

Google gave the team at AMA the ability to access, Emails, Calendars, Contacts, Files, Documents, Sheets, Slides - from anywhere with an internet connection.  This was huge breakthrough in efficiency for the company and an exciting develop for the staff and how they managed their jobs and workload.

Sam says it also did much more than that, “It got all of my staff's mindset into the cloud app way of thinking, which helped pave the way for me to start bolting on extra business applications”.
“Now that we had our communications sorted, it was time to take our financials online……..”

CHAPTER 2 - Financials - Xero VS Saasu... coming soon