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Planning a Migration

The IT Team has worked hard to minimize the technical complexity of the migration process. However, adapting to the new system and making the most of it can be more time consuming. This section of the site aims to clarify the technical process, while also discussing the broader issues around migration, giving you ideas about the problems faced and hints and tips on ways to overcome them.

A key change

Beyond the changes for staff using new tools, Google Apps allows you to create accounts for other stakeholders (actually anyone who has a person record in AFS Global!). But how do you decide who needs access and keep track of live accounts as new people come into the organization and others leave? This is really up to each partner individually to decide for themselves and it is important that thought it put into this before migrating. However, here are a few interesting ideas from the IT Team.

Create group accounts - Not every volunteers needs a new Google Apps account and many may not want one either, so how about creating an account for each chapter with shared access across all of the members. This way all volunteers have access to a central mail box, calendar and documents area, allowing them to get the benefits of Google Apps without wasting accounts and making the system harder to manage.

Creating individual accounts for key people - Having a shared account is a good idea but it won't work for everyone, so it is important that board members and key volunteers have access to their own area which is private and secure.

Use a user map to track where the active accounts are - Having all of these active accounts it can be hard to track where they are. Because of this it might be useful to implement a user map, tracking all of these accounts. This also makes it easier when you want to send out group emails because you can see all of the active accounts in an area, copying not only the chapter email address but also the individuals with accounts in that area.

Here is an examples of a user map and you can find out more information about life in a social and collaborative world by download a document entitled The Golden Rules For Google Apps which can be found at the bottom of this page and also in the Documentations and References section:

Something to remember

Another important thing to think about is what types of information you wants to share and who to share them with. Google collaborative capabilities can provide huge benefits to AFS, but it is important to remember that not all types of information can be shared as some are restricted or private.

Another potential concern is over sharing. Access to information can be powerful in many ways, but that does not mean that everyone needs access to all information. In AFS we have what I refer to as a ‘copy heavy culture’. By this I mean we often copy many people on the emails we send in order to keep colleagues informed of situations and the work we are doing. Google Apps expands this concept, allowing users to share not only emails but also calendars and documents and for all of the good this brings, it can also be a curse, as too much information shared across too broad a base makes it impossible for users to find what they are looking for.

There are a few simple steps that you can take to try and avoid living in a overwhelming jungle of information. None of these are strict rules which must be followed, instead they are useful hints and tips to help maximize your user experience.
  1. Don’t over share information. Google Apps is designed to help users collaborate and share work and this is one of the key features but try not to over share the work you create.

  2. Don’t create new sites, calendars and documents when existing ones can do the job. Why create three documents when all of the information could be in one!

  3. Keep your account tidy. Google Apps tools provide many ways to organize your information and these will help you to keep on top of your work. Examples here are tags for emails, the ability to hide calendars without removing them and creating a folder structure to file documents.

  4. Bring in volunteers. Activating Google Apps accounts for key volunteers will allow you to centralize more information online, while also sharing content with your volunteers more effectively.

  5. Maintain a Google Apps user map. This will help you administrate Google Apps across your volunteer force. See the last page for an example of a user map.

  6. Experiment! We all learn by playing around so you should feel free to experiment and test things out. If you get stuck or make a mistake its usually quite easy to walk it back or start again and you can always email the IT Team too if you run into problems. 
Time frames and pilot programs

So what are the time frames associated with implementing Google Apps?

This is a difficult question to answer as it all depends on the partners resources available. From a technical point of view the implementation of Google Apps in a partner office is relatively straight forward (for details of the implementation process please see the next page) and the IT Team advises that the process take place over about a week so as not to rush it and allow time for discussions. However, partners may wish to run a pilot group for a while first, or split the transition into phases with individual business units moving one at a time.

For partners that would like to run a short pilot program we suggest you contact Jade Thaveekj or Nick Cooper in the IT Team and discuss this in more detail. 

Subpages (1): The Migration Process
Nick Cooper,
Apr 20, 2010, 2:18 AM