Customer Story

Transworld Group Singapore: Improving communication between customers and employees to speed up container shipping

Reduces 80% of mail-related IT support. Transworld Group Singapore migrates to Google Workspace to enable easier communication among employees and improve collaboration anywhere, from any device.

Google Cloud Results

• No downtime for users during 1TB mailbox migration from traditional email server to Gmail
• Supports 80% of staff who need to work from home during COVID-19 pandemic with user-friendly remote access to Gmail and Google Workspace productivity solutions
• Helps the team save time with real-time collaboration on a single document

Shivaami is a Google Cloud premier partner in India that has helped more than 10,000 customers deploy Google Workspace over the past 10 years. Specializing in work transformation, Shivaami won the Google Cloud Partner Of The Year award for diversity and inclusion in 2019.

From food to heavy equipment, liner ships transport more than $4 trillion worth of goods by sea each year. But shipping a cargo safely to its destination is no simple task, as it requires a smooth exchange of information and documents between shippers, carriers, and ports. Transworld Group Singapore (TGS) manages this process every day, making sure that goods arrive at their delivery address on time, and in good condition.

Shankar Venkitachalam, General Manager, IT (Head) at Transworld Group Singapore (TGS) says, “In the shipping business, we need quick and seamless communication channels to quote and approve freight charges to customers and coordinate container pickup and delivery to avoid delays.”

TGS started as a liner feeder service between Singapore and Bangladesh. Today, it is a global shipping and logistics business group providing a full range of services from containers to logistics services.

Relying on Google Workspace for collaboration

“With Google Workspace, everything is in the cloud so employees can access emails and files easily and securely, from anywhere and any device, so we don’t miss important information that affects our customers’ shipment." -- Shankar Venkitachalam, General Manager, IT (Head), Transworld Group Singapore

As the group expands globally, its reliance on email for communication with employees and customers have also increased. Over the years, the group has been adding more hardware and licenses on its client-based email server as the company grows.

In June 2020, TGS migrated to Google Workspace to provide more than 800 employees with productivity tools such as Gmail, Docs, and Meet on a single platform that’s available anytime, anywhere. This was particularly helpful for business continuity in a time of COVID-19, when employees were required to work from home.

Shankar says, “With Google Workspace, everything is in the cloud so employees can access emails and files easily and securely, from anywhere and any device, so we don’t miss important information that affects our customers’ shipment.”

Supporting business needs for a new remote work environment

On the legacy email server, each TGS employee was limited to 10GB of storage in their mailbox to keep data usage in check. By 2020, emails alone took up 1TB of space on the email server. There was constant pressure on employees to free up mailbox space because every time users came close to the 10GB limit, they would not be able to receive or send any mail.

The mail server administrator on the tech team also became increasingly overwhelmed by requests from employees. Many of them needed help with archiving emails on their desktops and some even had to restore their emails after their office computers crashed due to an overloaded memory capacity.

Initially, TGS planned to replace its 15-year-old email server with a similar solution that required less maintenance. But when COVID-19 amplified TGS’ email problems (due to employees being required to work from home, and therefore relying on email much more) it knew that moving to cloud was a better solution.

With its existing setup, employees couldn’t access their corporate email without their office computers. This impacted their ability to work effectively, especially in the critical period where customers needed to have their food and medical equipment delivered. “We didn’t want a client-based solution that needed to be installed on the employee’s desktop since most employees were working from home,” says Rahul More, Senior Manager IT at Transworld Group Singapore. “We found Google Workspace to be a win since it’s accessible on any device, and Gmail is familiar to most employees who already have a personal Gmail account.”

TGS turned to Google Cloud premier partner Shivaami to conduct a 15-day proof-of-concept (POC) to test if Google Workspace met its business requirements. “Shivaami helped us move to Google Workspace with confidence by addressing our technical queries during the proof-of-concept and guiding us through the first few migrations,” says Shankar. “They also provided multiple training sessions to familiarize users with Google Workspace apps such as Gmail, Docs, Sheets, and Meet."

Change management for a positive user experience

After TGS decided on Google Workspace, the Chairman & CEO Mahesh Sivaswamy (pictured) announced the transition and the timeline to the employees. TGS then worked with Shivaami to provide training for all employees to ensure a smooth transition to Google Workspace.

TGS took a phased approach in its migration, starting with a domain with the least number of employees to address and rectify any issues before a full migration for the rest of its 15 domains. Google Workspace went live in June 2020 with a 99.9% uptime during the migration, so employees and customers stayed connected without losing any emails.

But as expected with any change in an organization, there was some initial hesitation around the move to Google Workspace. Some employees were concerned that a cloud-based email solution may be slow. However, these concerns were quickly put aside when they found Gmail to be faster than the Java-based desktop email they were used to.

There were also employees who were reluctant to give up desktop office tools because they preferred having files on their desktop. But within two weeks, Google Workspace quickly won the support of TGS employees because they realized that they could now work on the same document in real time with Docs, fostering a new way of collaboration which wasn’t possible before.

Google Workspace has also proven to be a huge time-saver, particularly for the mail server administrator who personally thanked Shankar who led the transition. Since the migration, TGS experienced an 80% reduction in email issues, allowing the mail server administrator to focus on work that provided more value to the company such as monitoring security risks and performance. He also uses Google Workspace diagnostic tool Log Analyzer to interpret log files easily and quickly resolve any issues such as delivery delays.

Collaborating productively on files and projects

“The integration of different products on Google Workspace lets us share files with one click. We don’t even need to switch between productivity software and our email application to send working files as an email attachment.” -- Shankar Venkitachalam, General Manager, IT (Head), Transworld Group Singapore

Before Google Workspace, TGS lacked a common interface for employees to work on the same file, such as its Management Information Report (MIR) that requires input from multiple people within the organization. Compiling the MIR was a time-consuming process because only one person could work on the file at any time, before sending it to the next person for changes and edits. The document would be passed on to different people and it would take a couple of weeks before the document was ready.

With Google Workspace, employees save time as they are able to collaborate in real time. "We can track every change on the file, whether it’s on Docs, Sheets, or Slides, so we know who wrote what and when,” says Shankar. “The integration of different products on Google Workspace lets us share files with one click. We don’t even need to switch between productivity software and our email application to send working files as an email attachment.”

Google Workspace has also helped TGS employees adapt quickly to a new work environment as they work from home because of COVID-19. All of the company's data stored on file servers in each office location have been moved to Drive so employees can easily share their documents from anywhere.

Meet also makes it easy for employees to stay connected. Previously, employees relied purely on email and phone communication. TGS now conducts hundreds of meetings on Meet every day across the office, from IT-related training to department meetings. Employees find it easy to schedule or start a video meeting from Calendar on any device. In fact, 70% of TGS employees use Meet on mobile devices.

Secure email and data access from anywhere

One of the benefits of Google Workspace is its built-in security, so TGS doesn't need a third-party email spam filter. By using the security settings on the Admin console, the company can effectively control spam emails.

To protect data, TGS set up two-step verification for added security. In addition to a password, employees are required to type in a key code that’s sent to their phone to access their Gmail account.

A data breach can disrupt vital shipping operations, so maintaining data security after employees leave the organization is critical to TGS. The administrator can digitally erase data related to an ex-employee’s work account from their device through the admin console.

For the purpose of protecting the company from possible legal matters that may arise in the future, TGS retains data for current and ex-employees in domain-specific Vault for 10 years. For example, if a shipper has a damage claim in the future, TGS would need to access every email related to the case to get a good understanding of the situation for insurance coverage.

Improving sales workflow with Gmail integration

TGS' Container Freight Station (CFS) business, Transworld Terminal, uses a Salesforce Customer Relationship Management (CRM) integration with Google Workspace. CFS receives goods from shippers for packing into containers before shipment. This business integrates Gmail with its CRM to automate the quote approval process.

When a salesperson sends an email request to the sales manager for a quote approval, the manager’s reply, whether it’s “Approve” or “Reject”, is applied to the CRM record automatically. Because of the Gmail integration with the CRM software, the salesperson no longer has to download a separate form to be sent via email to the manager for approval and then record the response manually on CRM.

Riding the waves of digital transformation

“We earned our reputation as a prominent shipping house by putting our customer needs at the forefront and embracing technology such as analytics to work smarter. With an eye on the future, we look to ongoing innovation from Google Cloud to improve the way we serve our customers.” -- Shankar Venkitachalam, General Manager, IT (Head), Transworld Group Singapore

Serving a global market, TGS relies on high-quality video conferencing for face-to-face communication with customers to minimize travel. The group currently uses two video conferencing devices over a Multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) network to overcome latency and video performance issues. TGS plans to replace these devices with Google Meet hardware that easily integrates with its infrastructure and Google Workspace. This move can potentially save a few lakhs of rupees on MPLS connectivity.

To boost data insights, TGS is building a connector for its enterprise resource planning (ERP) system with Data Studio for data visualization. Using real-time dashboards, team leaders can easily interpret data and share insights about business performance and market trends to speed up decision making.

“We earned our reputation as a prominent shipping house by putting our customer needs at the forefront and embracing technology such as analytics to work smarter,” says Shankar. “With an eye on the future, we look to ongoing innovation from Google Cloud to improve the way we serve our customers.”

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