Google Cloud Results
Anticipated license cost savings of £500K+
• Reduces the need for travel between council locations and meeting room usage
thanks to Google Meet
• Encourages more flexible and collaborative working for council employees, reducing version control issues and increasing efficiency
• Enables a rapid migration of accounts, going from zero to 5,500 Google users in five days
World famous for its music, sports, culture, and unique industrial heritage, Manchester is one of the fastest growing cities in the United Kingdom, with a predicted 2.4 percent yearly economic growth up until 2020. Manchester City Council is one of 10 councils making up the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), responsible for Greater Manchester's 2.8 million citizens. "Our vision at Manchester City Council (MCC) is to create a dynamic and sustainable economy, supported by the training of highly-skilled people," says Bob Brown, CIO at Manchester City Council. "Our population is growing at a significant rate: by 2025 we expect to have almost 650,000 residents in Manchester city and metropolitan borough."
"We want to use digital technology to transform how people who live and work here engage with us, how we deliver services, and how we interact with numerous partners, particularly within health and voluntary sectors." - Bob Brown, CIO, Manchester City Council
With such significant growth, the council is facing numerous financial pressures. "We are responsible for a variety of council services including health and well-being, education, and environmental issues. We need to be able to deliver more for less, which means finding more efficient ways of working," says Bob. "Manchester is one of the leading digital tech hubs outside of London. We're attracting more and more residents and businesses to the area, and people's expectations have also changed. Just as other services are available around the clock, people expect to be able to interact with the council when it suits them."
In order to make its systems more efficient and modernize the way its technology infrastructure facilitates communication, MCC looked to transform its legacy IT environment. It wanted to reduce the operational burden, and make new digital tools available both internally and externally. It chose Google Workspace as the foundation for its transformation.
"Our vision for Manchester is a smart, highly connected city. We want to use digital technology to transform how people who live and work here engage with us, how we deliver services, and how we interact with numerous partners, particularly within health and voluntary sectors," says Bob.
Increasing efficiency, flexibility, and oversight
Local government authorities around the United Kingdom are facing pressures to reduce costs and work more efficiently, leading to difficult decisions and new operational configurations. "In Manchester, we have reduced our council offices, so we have fewer meeting rooms and our staff needs to work more flexibly," says Bob. "Increasingly, we are also working with third-party contractors and the voluntary sector, and need to coordinate with their IT systems. With up to 300 different council locations around the city, our employees have to make many journeys for meetings, which previously was a significant expense."
To address those challenges, MCC chose to migrate its 7,500 employees to Google Workspace accounts, working with Google Premier Partner Cloud Technology Solutions (CTS) to develop a change management plan. "It was really important for us to have a local partner that understood the challenges associated with working in the public sector," says Bob. "We realized that this was not just an IT project, it was a business change program that needed to address the whole culture of the organization."
"The switch happened over a weekend. People arrived to work on a Monday to new tools, with three months' worth of email and a year's worth of calendar data," Bob explains. "To make sure everyone was prepared, we identified and trained early advocates, which in our case was 10 percent of our entire workforce — that meant representatives from every department, and every area of the council. We also had support from our communications and HR departments to embed the necessary HR processes and encourage people to engage and share their journey with others."
"Docs and Sheets mean employees can work more flexibly. Historically, finishing off a document required returning to an office hub to upload information. Now, an internet connection is all that's needed to connect with colleagues." - Bob Brown, CIO, Manchester City Council
"We kept things fun to generate energy behind the project," Bob continues. "The day of going live, you could look around and see where your nearest support person was, as they were dressed in Google t-shirts. And we also had a dedicated support line, although we received very few calls. We went from zero to 5,500 Google Workspace users in five days."
"Now, we have 8,000 Google Workspace licenses that cover all our users. Gmail, Calendar, and Google Chat are the tools that are used the most, and Google Meet, Docs, and Sheets have also transformed the way people work. Our employees use them to work on documents in real time, so they can leave the meeting with a completed draft. It has removed issues around version control, and speeded up the process."
"Docs and Sheets mean employees can work more flexibly," says Bob. "Historically, finishing off a document required returning to an office hub to upload information. Now, an internet connection is all that's needed to connect with colleagues."
With Google Workspace, the IT department also has more oversight. "Previously, we couldn't access statistics to interrogate how our architecture was used," says Bob. "Now with the Admin console we see how our users employ Google Workspace, and tailor our messaging and equipment strategy to support them."
Leading the way in the public sector
Within both its geographical region and its sector, MCC is an early adopter. "We have a slogan that everyone who knows the city will recognize: 'We are Manchester, we are different'," says Bob. "Our ethos means we are proud to be leading the way both within Greater Manchester and in the North of England more generally, in terms of local authority digital strategy."
"Not only are we changing how our organization functions, but we are also developing new ways of supporting our elected members," he explains. "For example, elected members hold office hours with residents. We plan to enable them to do this over Google Meet, meaning they would be able to meet with more people."
"We are now speaking to other local government authorities from around the country to share our knowledge and experience of Google Workspace," says Bob. "Hopefully, in collaboration with Google Cloud, we will be able to build a regional community of public sector users in the North West, as it would be good to share initiatives."
"Working with Cloud Technology Solutions has been great in that respect," he says. "We have a social value agenda at the council and prefer to work with local partners where possible. CTS is based in Manchester city center, just a few minutes' walk from the council headquarters. They have been able to help us bring innovative thinking into the sector, and choose the best solution."
Accelerating digital transformation
"Going forward, Google Workspace will help us save £500,000+ on licensing costs. It's an excellent foundation to help us accelerate the pace of transformation and keep up with the challenges we face." - Bob Brown, CIO, Manchester City Council
Since migrating to Google Workspace, MCC has reduced its travel costs, with staff considering whether they need to travel for meetings, or could work remotely. MCC also feels it has empowered its colleagues to work more flexibly and more collaboratively. "For us, Google Workspace is not just a technology solution that has enabled us to work differently: it's enabled us to adjust how many meeting rooms we have, the number of buildings that we work from, and the workforce strategy in terms of how we give them the ability to use technology to maximize their productivity."
MCC is also planning to optimize the opportunities opened up by Google Workspace and maximize the usage of tools internally and externally. "The next step in the strategy is to implement our end-user device strategy to make sure all employees have the tool that is best suited to their needs, whether that be a smartphone, tablet, or Chromebook," Bob explains. "We also are hoping to make more of the community aspect of Google Workspace, and start sharing information with other partners who use it to work together collaboratively."
Following a transition phase, MCC is now reducing the licenses it holds from its previous provider. "Going forward, Google Workspace will help us save £500,000+ on licensing costs," says Bob. "It's an excellent foundation to help us accelerate the pace of transformation and keep up with the challenges we face."
*Google Workspace was formerly known as G Suite prior to Oct. 6, 2020.