Google Cloud Results
Saving 30% compared to competing cloud solutions
• Delivers cost savings by easing IT administration for a small team
• Contributes to reducing phishing risk and enhancing productivity by filtering 60% of inbound emails to the county as spam
• Boosts mobility and scalability to enhance staff productivity while improving citizen services
Sheboygan County’s employees take pride in providing courteous, responsive, and effective service. Its existing email and productivity tools, however, were outdated and created challenges for an IT team that wanted to enhance collaboration across the organization.
To replace its aging, on-premises mail server, Chris Lewinski, IT Director for Sheboygan County, sought a cloud solution that would offer improvements for county employees, in addition to being easier to maintain for the IT staff.
“Google Workspace offered 30% cost savings over other cloud solutions, augmented by ease of management. We can spend less time updating mail servers and dealing with issues in reactive mode and more time on strategic initiatives, like rolling out other Google Workspace solutions that enable employees to work better and smarter.” - Chris Lewinski, IT Director, Sheboygan County
For many long-term county employees already familiar with existing collaboration tools, hitting storage limits on email was an ongoing frustration. In addition, due to poor adoption and dissatisfaction with the existing web mail client, many employees avoided using it only to struggle with VPN issues, making it difficult to access work email from home or remote locations.
The county evaluated competing cloud solutions and selected Google Workspace for its advantages in both cost and simplicity. “Google Workspace offered 30% cost savings over other cloud solutions, augmented by ease of management,” Chris says. “We can spend less time updating mail servers and dealing with issues in reactive mode and more time on strategic initiatives, like rolling out other Google Workspace solutions that enable employees to work better and smarter.”
Connecting anywhere, without limits
“Mobility and scalability were two important benefits that Google Workspace delivered immediately,” says Chris, “while providing the foundation to modernize our productivity and collaboration tools so we better serve the public.”
The first phase of the Google Workspace rollout focused on publicizing Gmail and Calendar, along with education on how to migrate and manage contacts for use with the new tools. With Gmail, even employees who were initially reluctant to change welcomed the unlimited storage that the new solution offers. “It was a big selling point for us to be able to tell employees that they would no longer get ‘mailbox full’ warnings,” says Chris.
Employees can now easily and more securely access email or check their schedules on any device, wherever they are, without needing to use VPN. Sophisticated spam filters further boost productivity and security. “Only about 40% of all email sent to the county reaches a person’s inbox. Gmail filtering contributed to diverting the other 60%, which is either malicious or spam content,” Chris says. “The phishing risk reduction is a great benefit on top of the 100% email encryption and other Google Workspace security features. Plus, employees save the time of wading through junk mail, freeing up their time for more impactful work on administering county programs.”
The county is using Mobile Management, requiring its installation on any personal or county-owned device for users signing in to their county accounts to access their Gmail or Calendar for work. This provides good visibility into who is accessing the organization’s Google environment remotely and allows enforcement of security best practices, such as encryption and passcode protection, along with device wiping in the event of loss or theft.
“Only about 40% of all email sent to the county reaches a person’s inbox. Gmail filtering contributed to diverting the other 60%, which is either malicious or spam content. The phishing risk reduction is a great benefit on top of the 100% email encryption and other Google Workspace security features.” - Chris Lewinski, IT Director, Sheboygan County
The county is also beginning to test Drive to augment or replace on-premises network file storage. Chris has already moved 15 gigabytes of his own files from a network folder to the cloud and is using Drive File Stream for easy access to information. “It looks like just another network drive on my PC, and it's wonderful to know that the files I need are accessible to me anywhere on any device. The unlimited cloud storage and data loss prevention features are a huge plus,” says Chris.
To help the county comply with archiving policies, eDiscovery for legal holds, and Wisconsin open records request laws, the IT team can leverage Vault to retain and produce relevant files associated with Gmail or Drive. With Vault, the IT team can automate archiving policies and easily find important information in the event of an audit or open records request, even from accounts that are inactive due to employee turnover.
Chris explains, “We were previously using a third-party application, but the fact that Vault is so closely integrated with the rest of Google Workspace makes it an ideal tool for us to use.” With the third-party application rendered unnecessary, on top of the man hours saved searching for requested information, the county further reduces the costs of protecting and retrieving the organization’s data.
Collaborating to serve the public
Although some of the Google Workspace apps will be promoted more widely to employees in future phases, early adopters at the county already enjoy using Google Chat, Docs, and Sheets. “It’s a hybrid approach to phase the training, while letting enthusiastic self-starters explore and use more of the tools on their own. The tools are so intuitive, it makes it easy for the early adopters,” explains Chris.
One example is the Sheriff’s Department, which is excited to be able to concurrently edit important shared documents and worksheets. The online collaboration eliminates previous challenges from multiple versions floating around or staffers finding files locked for editing. This makes routine tasks, such as updating the sheriff’s daily roll call spreadsheet, easier and frees up more time to focus on the sheriff’s primary mission to protect and serve the community.
“Agility is highly prized in the private sector. It’s also important for a government organization to adapt to changing circumstances. With the shift to the cloud, Sheboygan County is embracing new tools to be more responsive to citizens.” Chris Lewinski, IT Director, Sheboygan County
With younger workers who have grown up using Google Cloud tools in their schools, Chris anticipates even more enthusiastic adopters of more tools. “Google is ubiquitous with millennials,” says Chris, “so it was another important factor in the decision to go with Google Workspace, as we look at the individuals who will be joining our organizations in the next five years as others retire. The younger generation is already very comfortable with it and finds it really intuitive.”
Future projects under consideration include use of YouTube for training videos, Google Meet for video conferences in lieu of traveling for some meetings, and Sites to make it easier for employees to update web pages about different county programs, further promoting collaboration within departments and across teams.
“Agility is highly prized in the private sector. It’s also important for a government organization to continually adapt to changing circumstances. With the shift to the cloud, Sheboygan County is embracing new tools to be more responsive to citizens,” Chris says.
*Google Workspace was formerly known as G Suite prior to Oct. 6, 2020.