Give your deployment an edge
Making the switch to a new communications platform is an important change for your organization, and you want your deployment to be as smooth as possible, with minimal disruption to productivity and daily operations. You know that some of your users are apprehensive about the change, and many will need help getting started, no matter how much documentation and training you provide beforehand. To ensure the best possible deployment experience for both your users and support staff, you need a solid support plan in place on "Day One."
As you create your plan, consider incorporating our "Google Guides program," a peer-to-peer support methodology. To run this program, you'll deploy Google Apps to only small, representative group of users before your larger rollout, and then provide them with extensive training and support on using the new services. As "newly minted" experts in Google Apps, these users will then serve as your first line of support as you roll out Google Apps to the rest of your organization.
So how are you going to find these users and get them trained and ready to support your rollout? First, we provide an easy-to-customize email template you can use to recruit your Google Guides. As for the training, we provide several documentation and eLearning resources on this site that will help your guides quickly get up to speed with Gmail and Google Calendar.
A win-win for your users and IT staff
We believe that the Google Guides program is simply the best way to ensure a smooth rollout of your Google Apps services. Our experience tells us that users are typically more productive with their new services if they can get immediate, one-on-one help from their peers. Their peers understand their work flow and needs best and can therefore provide more targeted, efficient, and personal support. We've found that, with this program, user adoption is more rapid and seamless, and the support load on IT and Helpdesk staff is significantly reduced. That means your staff can focus on more pressing support issues, instead of repeatedly handling the same "How do I...?" questions.
And the Google Guides benefit, too! Because they'll get extensive training and support with the new services, they'll be able to gain a high level of proficiency very quickly. For those who like to be "power users," this program is ideal. Plus, they'll get the opportunity to help their coworkers and demonstrate leadership within their teams.
How to implement the program
You can start the following steps in the Google Guides program at any time during your deployment schedule, before your roll out the services to your entire organization. For example, if you are running a pilot before your production deployment, Google Guides can also serve as pilot users. We suggest you start planning your program as early as possible, to ensure you have enough time to recruit the guides and arrange their training.
Step 1: Designate your training coordinator
The first step is to designate your Google Apps training coordinator, who is responsible for ensuring your Google Guides are properly trained. Depending on your organization, your coordinator might develop and deliver the training in-house or use the services of a training partner. Check out our training partners in the Google Apps Marketplace, who can provide customized training solutions for your organization.
Step 2: Recruit your Google Guides
The next step is to identify users from across your organization to serve as Google Guides -- ideally one or two users from each group or team. We also highly recommend that you recruit a good representative sample of different "user types." For example, it's a good idea to include:
- Administrative assistants, who typically need to use some advanced calendar features
- Mobile users, if some users will access Google Apps on their mobile devices
- Helpdesk personnel, if you don't plan to give them accounts earlier in your deployment phases
- Employees at offices in other countries and who speak the local language
- Employees in different departments or business lines
You might also consider recruiting employees who are not "power users" of your current messaging platform (as many sales persons tend to be) or who not as "technical" as, say, engineers or IT personnel. That way, you can more accurately gauge the level of support required for the entire organization. Also, when these employees become expert users, you can demonstrate to other employees how easy it is to master Google Apps!
Whichever types of employees you choose to recruit, remember that the most effective Google Guides are those who are eager to participate, especially volunteers. Guides must take significant time away from their regular work schedules – to take the training, learn the services, and help their coworkers – so we recommend that you find guides who are committed to the program.
We've found that a great way to line up your Google Guides quickly is to ask team managers or supervisors to recruit them for you, by either calling for volunteers or nominating participants. To help make this step easy, we've prepared a Google Guides recruiting email template, which you can quickly customize and send to managers and supervisors. It explains the benefits of the program and provides tips for selecting appropriate personnel on their teams to serve as guides.
Step 3: Plan training for Google Guides
After you gather your list of Google Guides, it's time to start planning their training. As part of this step, we recommend customizing our Learning Center template (built with Google Sites) -- or use our public Learning Center, which requires no customization. Alternatively, your training coordinator can create an internal documentation and training site for your organization, using Google Sites. Google Sites is an ideal tool for this purpose, because you can easily incorporate the documentation templates and eLearning videos we provide on this site, shared documents and spreadsheets, as well as useful gadgets, such as embedded calendars and announcements.
Step 4: Deploy Google Apps to Google Guides
Now it's time to switch over the Google Guides to their new services! To help prepare them for the change, you can use our customizable email and "quick start" templates. We recommend that you deploy the services to Google Guides after your initial evaluation phase by your IT department.
Step 5: Train and support your Google Guides
After your Google Guides receive their new Google Apps accounts, deliver training to the guides. Along with the training, provide the guides with a high level of support, to ensure there are no "roadblocks" to their becoming expert users. For example, some companies use the "buddy system," in which they pair up each Google Guide with an IT staff member. Working together, the guides and IT staff learn the "ins and outs" of Google Apps and prepare for the deployment launch.
We recommend that you let your Google Guides use the services from 3 to 8 weeks to give them time to gain a high level of proficiency before you begin your larger deployment.
Step 6: Gather feedback from your Google Guides
Here's your opportunity to get early feedback about what your users find easy or difficult about their transition to Google Apps. You can leverage this information to improve your deployment process and fully prepare for the larger deployment.
A few considerations...
We hope you decide to participate in the Google Guides program, but here are a few things to consider you begin:
- This program requires some additional planning and coordination, to recruit and keep track of your Google Guides, schedule and coordinate their training, provide them with a high level of support during their transition, and gather feedback.
- Depending on your organization, you may need to recruit Google Guides in multiple time zones.
- Some of the Google Guides might need to drop out or find that they don't have much time to provide support because of other work commitments