“It has been a great experience working with SADA, from initial testing and strategy, to project management, to migration and support.”-Jo Ana Alvarado, Director of Innovative Technology, SAHA The San Antonio Housing Authority (SAHA) provides quality affordable housing assistance to over 65,000 children, adults and senior citizens, providing a foundation to improve lives and advance resident independence.Business ChallengesSAHA, which was previously running on Microsoft Exchange and Windows Server 2003, was faced back in 2011 with Microsoft’s upcoming end of support and the cost of upgrading its hardware and servers, which were already over five years old.SAHA also struggled with providing executive and support teams with tools to create a collaborative, fluid work environment. The executive team meetings involved many different versions of documents and reports, leading to inconsistencies and an overall lack of transparency and clarity to facilitate effective decision-making.
“There’s an element of cohesiveness involved with going paperless and working in the cloud. When the senior team presents at one of our 60 properties around the city, they have immediate access to everything they need to address questions or requests from commissioners.”– Jo Ana Alvarado, Director of Innovative Technology, SAHASAHA also has mobile field teams to inspect housing units and document the status. Photos that were taken to document the status of certain homes had to be manually uploaded to the main server, which meant that field workers were constantly traveling back and forth from housing sites to the main office, wasting time and expenses. Support teams were challenged with organizing and filing documents to manage over 6,000 public housing units.With the server support expiration date nearing, SAHA’s executive team began to evaluate alternate alternatives to its current Exchange and Windows Server environments, with a focus on cloud-based solutions. “We wanted to change the way we share files and collaborate as a team,” said Jo Ana Alvarado, Director of Innovative Technology at SAHA.SolutionSAHA connected with SADA Systems, a Google Cloud Premier Partner with deep expertise in G Suite solutions. SADA provided a full presentation of what SAHA’s roadmap would look with Google Apps, including overall factors that would lower TCO, such as cost-effective licensing as well as avoiding server and software upgrades.“It has been a great experience working with SADA, from initial testing and strategy, to project management, to migration and support,” said Alvarado. SADA also set up a customized Single Sign-On (SSO) interface with grouping capabilities so SAHA could set specific login permissions for hourly employees. SADA migrated all mail over and made sure the accounts had transitioned correctly so that everything was functioning smoothly Monday morning.
“SADA completed our migration over the weekend, and when we came in Monday morning, we were on Google Cloud.” – Jo Ana Alvarado, Director of Innovative Technology, SAHAAlso looking for a way to change how executive, support and field workers shared information and worked as a team, SAHA chose to leverage Google Drive as its file repository and collaboration platform. After conducting extensive research and building a feature matrix comparison of other solutions such as Box, Dropbox, OneDrive, Windows Server 2008 and more, SAHA chose Google Drive because of its comprehensive collaboration features, ease of access, and cost.“With Google Drive, our users could log in one time and have access to email, chat, video conferencing, file sharing, calendar and more,” said Alvarado. The cost was already rolled into the existing Google Apps licenses. “Drive stood out as having all the collaboration capabilities we were looking for, and then some.”Results and BenefitsSAHA executive meetings used to include many different versions of agendas, presentations, documents and forms. The flexibility and simplicity of Google Apps has changed the way SAHA employees work by providing tools that allow them to share information and work collaboratively as a unit–whether they are in the office, onsite at a housing unit, or on the go. With thought management in Google Drive, the team now has one folder with all the relevant information, providing greater productivity, clarity and collaboration. They also use Google Groups to simplify communication amongst teams. “There’s an element of cohesiveness involved with going paperless and working in the cloud,” she explained. “When the senior team presents at one of our 60 properties around the city, they have immediate access to everything they need to address questions or requests from commissioners.”Alvarado added, “SADA continues to help us keep our environment running smoothly with ongoing support and maintenance.” Google Apps allowed SAHA to roll out laptops and smartphones to allow field inspectors to work on the go while traveling to different sites for inspections. “Landlords need to keep homes to certain standards to qualify for our program,” said Alvarado. “If there are any issues, like a missing window or some kind of violation, inspectors can take photos on their phone and instantly store them in Google Drive, saving time and making sure all documentation can be accessed from anywhere, on any device.”From a cost and management perspective, Google Apps has saved SAHA both time and money by eliminating servers and admin tasks. “In terms of administration and management, Google Apps is a lot more efficient,” said Deborah Canales, SAHA’s Google Certified Administrator. “It’s a different, completely streamlined way of working.”