Google Cloud Results
Deployed 3,000 Chromebooks across the city
• Improves collaboration with shared calendars and a single, better secure location for important documents with Google Drive
• Enables staff to work remotely from any location and any device
• Reduces long-term infrastructure costs with affordable Chromebooks and cloud-based architecture
Nestled at the top of the world in Finland’s Lapland region, the city of Rovaniemi has plenty to boast about. It has a thriving population of 62,000, a renowned university, and its position in the Arctic Circle makes it perfect for viewing the Northern Lights every winter. But one thing in particular makes the city special to people all over the world: it is the official home of Santa Claus.
“We wanted to make collaboration in the administration easier and have a single location for all our information. With the Google toolset, you can do that very easily.” - Harri Ihalainen, CIO, Rovaniemi
Every December, more than 100,000 tourists visit the city, providing a unique challenge to the city’s administration. Hosting so many tourists, in addition to the normal challenges of running a modern civic infrastructure, means that Rovaniemi’s 3,500 employees must work together as efficiently and effectively as possible. In 2016, after seeing a demonstration of the cloud-based productivity tools Google offers, the city decided that if it was to continue providing the best possible service to its residents and guests, then its future lay with cloud technologies. The first step was to implement Google Workspace.
“We wanted to make collaboration in the administration easier and have a single location for all our information,” says Harri Ihalainen, CIO at the city of Rovaniemi. “With the Google toolset, you can do that very easily.”
Achieving greater cohesion with Google Workspace
The administration’s existing email and productivity solution was a hybrid of cloud-based applications and locally maintained email and domain servers. However, restrictions to devices and traditional offline methods of working and storing documents meant that the city’s workers were unable to take full advantage of the mobility and flexibility of the cloud.
Since 2013, Rovaniemi’s education department and teachers had been experimenting with Google Workspace, and the benefits began to be noticed elsewhere around the city. In 2016, the city organized a proof of concept to see whether Google Workspace could work in the wider administrative environment. After a successful test run, the administrative and political arms of Rovaniemi’s government decided to run a public tender to rigorously assess and examine all the possible options for a cloud-based productivity platform. By the end of 2017, Google Workspace was declared the winner due mainly to its functionality and cost benefits compared with other options.
Rovaniemi’s existing IT infrastructure was a complex mix of different systems, maintained by a dedicated, publicly owned service company. In these circumstances, teaming up with a cloud specialist made sense, so the city employed Google Cloud Partner Cloudpoint to project manage the transition to Google Workspace. Cloudpoint and the Rovaniemi team migrated over three stages to Google Workspace within two weeks, helping to ensure a speedy deployment while allowing for the unexpected. “Deploying in stages meant that the organization could develop a better understanding and expertise with Google Workspace, as we rolled it out,” says Lauri Kaski, CEO of Cloudpoint.
“Google Drive was a game changer for us. For the first time we had a common place to share important information, files, and documents. It was much easier than with our previous solution.” - Harri Ihalainen, CIO, Rovaniemi
In addition to its technical expertise, Cloudpoint made a point of providing training to the administrative staff to show them how to make the best use of their new tools. Gmail, Docs, Slides, and Sheets replaced the city’s existing productivity suite, giving workers a simpler interface and the ability to access documents wherever they were from whatever device with their single sign-on. Meanwhile, the ability to easily share schedules with Calendar helped teams work better together, and Drive provided a better secure location to store important documents and files to help ensure better cohesion across the workforce.
“Google Drive was a game changer for us. For the first time we had a common place to share important information, files, and documents,” says Harri. “It was much easier than with our previous solution.”
A happier, more productive workforce
With Google Workspace, the city of Rovaniemi had a productivity platform that helped its employees be more transparent, more collaborative, and more flexible than ever before. Single sign-on with Google means that administrative staff can easily access all the tools and documents they need without sacrificing security. The ability to use Google Workspace from any device, from any location, means that employees can work from home or in the field just as well as if they are in the office.
Features such as sharing calendars and important files on Drive have not only improved collaboration, but also helped to improve efficiency and reduce costs at a time during renovations of the city hall. “Half of the administration staff work there and have had to be dispersed in various offices around the city,” says Harri. “Google has made that transition much easier to deal with.”
Throughout the transition, Cloudpoint made sure to develop strong feedback loops with questionnaires and surveys at every stage of the deployment using Forms. “After six months of using the tools, we’ve found that staff are happier and more productive,” says Lauri. “They definitely prefer Google Workspace to the previous solution.”
Short term benefits, long term savings
“With Google we can get more tools for the same money. We have seen some immediate savings, and are forecasting more as we progress with rollout.” - Harri Ihalainen, CIO, Rovaniemi
The city chose to invest some of the money saved with Google Workspace in new Chromebooks to complement its new technology. Today, there are more than 3,000 Chromebooks deployed not just to administrative employees, but also to political staff, and for public use in customer service centers and libraries across the city. The combination of affordable hardware and cloud-based architecture, means that the city has been able to keep costs low and reduce the burden of IT maintenance.
“Before, when there was a council meeting, we always had an IT member present in case the devices crashed,” says Harri. “With Chromebooks, we don’t need one anymore.”
With less time and effort needed for maintenance, Rovaniemi can redeploy its precious IT resources to upgrading and improving the city’s aging infrastructure and various information systems. The city is currently working with Cloudpoint not only to maximize its benefits from Google Workspace, but also to explore the possibility of Google Cloud Platform as a new infrastructure solution for the future.
“With Google we can get more tools for the same money. We have seen some immediate savings, and are forecasting more as we progress with rollout,” concludes Harri.
*Google Workspace was formerly known as G Suite prior to Oct. 6, 2020.