“Our intention has been to make the user experience easier.”
- Scott Davis, Director of Application Services, Virginia Commonwealth University
Virginia Commonwealth University Improves User Experience for Students and Educators with Google Apps
Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) is a higher education urban university with 32,000 students and 8,000 staff and faculty members.
Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) is a higher education urban university with 32,000 students and 8,000 staff and faculty members. VCU’s faculty and staff members were using IBM Lotus Notes, a system that the University outgrew from many different aspects. First, VCU’s IT team found the system difficult to maintain, as well as expensive – after spending a considerable amount of money on infrastructure upkeep, VCU decided that their teams simply could not keep up with both the time and cost that Lotus Notes required, and began to evaluate other email and communication platforms. VCU had already moved their student body to Google Apps for Education, which had an extremely positive reception amongst users and was considered a very successful project. After some deliberation, VCU decided it was time to do the same for faculty and staff.
Knowing that faculty and staff had complicated workflows within Lotus Notes, Scott Davis, Director of Application Services at VCU and the University’s project manager for the Google Apps implementation, decided to separate the migration into two different project aspects: the first being the technical migration itself, and the second being the support and communication strategies to supplement the transition. SADA Systems worked closely with VCU for both the Google Apps migration and change management aspects of the project, with a carefully crafted deployment plan and customized training services. The project kicked off in June 2012, first identifying the departments that were more eager to move to the platform in a phased roll-out. Every week another group of individuals were migrated to the platform, a process that continued for approximately 8 months.
SADA Systems focused on the technical migration by meeting with VCU’s IT team using Google Hangouts on a weekly basis. During these meetings, the two teams spent time reviewing any issues that may have occurred.Change management and training also played a critical role in the successful implementation of Google Apps. VCU engaged in customized end-user training curriculum, focusing on VCU’s administrative assistants, the group who had the most workflow concerns with the Google Apps transition. VCU also set up Google Sites, hubs of information and resources for future onboarding and assistance.
Results and Benefits
The reception to Google Apps has been very positive and VCU is continuing to discover different ways of utilizing the platform. While many faculty and staff members immediately picked up on the benefits of Google Drive, users are beginning to explore the capabilities of Google Docs more and more. “Our intention has been to make the user experience easier?,” said Davis. Faculty and staff are also leveraging Google Hangouts to make face-to-face meetings fast and simple, and look forward to the frequent roll outs of changes and improvements to the platform.