Customer Story

Exterro: Connecting global teams at scale with Google Chat and Google Workspace


With Google Workspace, Exterro empowers global team members and contractors to easily and securely communicate, collaborate and share, creating a more productive and connected company culture.

Google Workspace Results

Simple and affordable scaling for up to 800 Google Workspace users

• Unifies collaboration tools under one single platform, reducing the costs associated with maintaining multiple licenses
• Saves up to $12,000 per month today, compared to other communication tools used before Google Chat
• Supports seamless team collaboration and client communications, from anywhere in the world

The global legal governance landscape moves quickly. The constant introduction of new laws, regulations, and policies requires compliance and increased scrutiny on privacy alongside sophisticated cybersecurity solutions. Enter Exterro, a unified Legal Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC) platform helping global companies to stay on top of all these demands.

Exterro was founded in 2008 to automate the process of legal e-discovery, the electronic aspect of identifying, collecting, and producing electronically stored information in response to a request for production in a lawsuit or investigation. Today, it has grown into one of the industry leaders, providing services to Global 2000 partners and clients around the world.

Focusing on team and customer collaboration

“We were basically running a 24-hour business globally and needed a way to constantly communicate. Google Workspace was the tool we used for all that collaborative work. And it remains ‌our main tool.” -- Mark Prewitt, Director of IT Infrastructure, Exterro

Early on, Exterro’s founders recognized the importance of choosing cloud-based collaboration and communications solutions capable of scaling up alongside their company. By adopting Google Workspace, they could share ideas, files, and documents easily and securely in real time between global employees, all within a single cloud-based ecosystem.

Exterro’s Director of IT Infrastructure Mark Prewitt recalls that by the time he joined the company, Google Workspace was firmly established as Exterro’s go-to collaboration tool. “Teams were constantly sharing data across the world at this point, because while our sales, marketing, engineering, and deployment staff were in the U.S., most of our R&D was in India,” he says. “We were basically running a 24-hour business globally and needed a way to constantly communicate.”

Exterro’s focus on real-time collaboration was the primary reason Exterro initially selected the Google Workspace platform. At the time, its GRC software implementations could take weeks or longer as Exterro connected its software to customers’ systems where data resides. This involved constant communication between Exterro’s internal developers and customer IT departments. Having an easy means to communicate internally during these lengthy processes was crucial for the company’s success.

“We were holding a large number of collaborative meetings, sharing documentation for how to do the installs and sharing after-action reports,” recalls Prewitt. “Google Workspace was the tool we used for all that collaborative work. And it remains our main tool.”

Real-time scalable collaboration

“Google Chat is essential to how we communicate. It's just so much more efficient to send a quick chat, as opposed to an email. I just can't imagine any organization not using a tool like this.” -- Bill Piwonka, Chief Marketing Officer, Exterro

For Exterro, one of the most important Google Workspace tools continues to be Google Chat. Years before COVID drove many companies to adopt a remote or hybrid working model, Exterro embraced Google Chat’s key advantages: the ability to communicate quickly, build community, and collaborate on projects all within the Google Workspace environment. “It's just so much more efficient to send a quick chat, as opposed to an email. You can immediately respond, and then you’re off and running in another direction. I just can’t imagine any organization not using a tool like this. Google Chat is essential to how we communicate,” says Exterro’s Chief Marketing Officer Bill Powonka. “I haven’t seen a tool that beats Google Chat,” Prewitt agrees.

Given its close integration with Workspace, using Chat also makes IT admins’ jobs easier. “It’s simple, it’s easy to use, you don’t have to launch something else. All of our SSO is tied into it. It’s all ready as soon as they fire up their computer. From an IT perspective, we don’t see why we would use a separate tool,” says Prewitt.

Exterro is a heavy user of spaces in Google Chat to help collaborate on projects. “For M&A we have spaces set up for the people constantly communicating back and forth to keep information flow active because frankly we’re all super busy and people don’t pick the phone up anymore, they Chat.”

As Exterro has adapted to hybrid work, Google Chat has become an important part of building community and bringing people together. “We’re in there all day long chatting. What used to be cross-cubicle communication now goes into Chat. The jokes, the communication. All of those quick questions all go into Chat. This is the new office, it’s now literally our space.”

Product and process documentation done right

As Exterro evolved to become a Software as a service (SaaS) provider, the company also looked to another collaboration tool. Google Sites played an increasingly critical role, by facilitating the sharing of information on accessible KBase and internal knowledge databases, among other subjects. Today, the company even has a Google Sites page that Prewitt affectionately calls Docs Corner that contains all of its public-facing documents. On it, users can search for everything from the company’s SMTP server and security guidelines to product documentation and system specifications.

Document and knowledge sharing made simple

With offices across the U.S., and in London and Frankfurt, as well as developers based in India, Exterro is a truly global enterprise. A large part of what binds its dispersed team members together is their ability to collaborate using Google Workspace tools. Prewitt gives an everyday example: “I’ll be working on a document and pass it over to the tech writers who work in India, who will then pass it over to our QA teams located in the U.S., London, and Coimbatore for review. It will come back to me the next morning, polished and ready to go. These are the types of things that we’ve been able to achieve with Google Docs.”

Prewitt provides another example: “We often get security questions from customers we are onboarding. If we don’t have a ready-made document, we have to build one. So, we’ll put in the request to our technical writing team in India, who will complete it overnight and deliver it back to us in the morning. It’s hard to imagine how we would run a business like ours without the capabilities Google Workspace brings to the table.”

Meeting evolving compliance and security challenges

Legal GRC software providers must adhere to the highest standards of global cloud security. From the beginning, Exterro trusted Google to meet those standards, starting with email security. Today, the company entrusts Google for security compliance with everything from the U.S. government’s Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program, which continuously monitors cloud services used by federal agencies, to TISAX (Trusted Information Security Assessment Exchange), a security assessment and evaluation framework.

Exterro also employs Cloud Data Loss Prevention to help it protect sensitive information and ensure that sensitive data is not accidentally or intentionally leaked. This, coupled with safeguards like Gmail’s ability to protect inbound emails from phishing attacks, has helped Exterro meet its evolving compliance and security challenges.

Maintaining global momentum and morale

“In this new era of hybrid and remote work, Workspace has been able to deliver the cost-effective, scalable, and easy-to-use tools we need to support Exterro’s evolution as a legal software industry leader.” -- Bill Piwonka, Chief Marketing Officer, Exterro

As the COVID-19 pandemic forced companies to adopt new and often unfamiliar remote and hybrid working models, Exterro was well positioned to adapt to the “new normal,” thanks in large part to its early adoption of Google Workspace. Already comfortable using collaborative tools such as Chat, Meet, and, Exterro team members across the globe didn’t miss a beat.

“We’ve always prided ourselves on being a somewhat virtual company,” says Piwonka. “And we proved that with COVID. We all went home and kept working. And we stayed in touch using Meet and Chat. COVID didn’t slow us down at all. We were already set up for success, because we had picked the right tools to start with.”

Even for Exterro’s team members in India, where limited bandwidth can be an issue for remote working, COVID wasn’t a problem. Because Google Workplace is a single, integrated platform, they could easily stay connected with their overseas colleagues via Google Chat, and Meet, using less bandwidth compared to relying on multiple disparate tools to deliver these features.

Piwonka adds that each one of their colleagues, across the globe, are increasingly productive and able to collaborate better than ever thanks to Google Workspace. “In this new era of hybrid and remote work,” he says, “Workspace has been able to deliver the cost-effective, scalable, and easy-to-use tools we need to support Exterro’s evolution as a legal software industry leader.”

*Google Workspace was formerly known as G Suite prior to Oct. 6, 2020.