Customer Story

Viessmann: Promoting global collaboration to build tomorrow’s sustainable energy solutions

Man with manufacturing equipment

Viessmann adopts Google Workspace to enable 11,000 employees to securely work anywhere, anytime, from any device, and collaborate on sustainable energy solutions on a global scale.

Google Cloud results

Allows 11,000 family members to work remotely from any device

• Migrates more than 10000 users in just six months
• Boosts agility, speeding up rollout of new technologies with integrated authentication capabilities of Google Workspace
• Strengthens security with browser-based apps and centralized threat visibility on the Google Workspace Security Center
• Enables collaboration with low overhead, requiring just three employees to manage Google Workspace for 11,000+ people

The world is changing, and so are our homes. Sustainable living is now becoming a big part of our lives. Viessmann, one of the world's leading solution providers of energy systems, is at the forefront of building sustainable products for the home. Based in Allendorf, Germany, Viessmann is known around the world for its premium quality heating and refrigeration systems. These systems combine comfort, efficiency, and sustainability, to create living spaces for generations to come. Viessmann is a true global family, producing energy systems with 22 production companies in 12 countries.

“We have 13,000 family members working at sites around the world, from North America to China,” says Alexander Pöllmann, Director Workplace & Service Management, Viessmann. “But to control the production process and ensure quality, we manage those systems as much as possible from our headquarters in Allendorf.”

Connecting a global workforce with Google Workspace

“Our email solution was outdated, and the feedback from our users was that we needed to change. The trend in our industry is toward smart home devices. We’re building a smart business to match.” -- Alexander Pöllmann, Director Workplace & Service Management

Technology is a crucial enabler for this centralized management. When the company launched a digital transformation project back in 2015, finding a replacement for its legacy email and document management system was crucial.

“Our email solution was outdated, and the feedback from our users was that we needed to change,” says Pöllmann. “The trend in our industry is toward smart home devices. We’re building a smart business to match.”

Running IT systems at scale for a centralized international business is a major challenge. Viessmann’s IT infrastructure was routed through Allendorf, creating significant latency problems for users connecting from sites around the world. Poor connectivity for mobile working was another constraint on flexibility. Staff could only send or receive emails when directly connected to a company server, and could only connect with specific, compatible devices using clunky remote access solutions.

The challenge went far beyond email to file sharing and video conferencing, which is why Viessmann decided to connect its global workforce with Google Workspace.

Migrating more than 10,000 users in just six months

Before selecting a solution, the Viessmann team ran a benchmark to test leading cloud-based collaboration platforms. “One aspect of our benchmark was user testing,” says Pöllmann. “Evaluations showed that testers found Google Workspace easier to use than any of the other options.”

With support from German cloud consultancy Cloudwürdig, Viessmann began to migrate 1,500 people to Google Workspace per month, completing the crucial part of the migration in just six months. “Cloudwürdig have been an excellent partner for the project,” says Pöllmann. “From a technical point of view, they prepared everything so well that the migration was truly user friendly: from on-site training, to an automated migration of data that users could activate by clicking on a link.”

Working anywhere, anytime, from any device

“Of course, our employees are constantly saving time with Google Workspace. But for us, the real benefit is strategic. We wanted to empower our employees by enabling them to work anywhere, anytime, from any device, securely. And that’s exactly what we’ve achieved.” -- Alexander Pöllmann, Director Workplace & Service Management

Today, Google Workspace has simplified the daily work lives of most of Viessmann’s employees around the world. Apps such as Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Meet, make it much easier for Viessmann employees to stay in touch, and communicate across borders and time zones. By collaborating on Google Drive and Google Docs, Viessmann employees can now access the most up-to-date version of a file from anywhere, rather than multiple versions held on servers that were only accessible from the office.

For Pöllmann, all these efficiency gains are important, but the impact of the new ways of working go far beyond the sum of their parts. “Of course, our employees are constantly saving time with Google Workspace,“ he says. “But for us, the real benefit is strategic. We wanted to empower our employees by enabling them to work anywhere, anytime, from any device, securely. And that’s exactly what we’ve achieved.”

This new way of working was put to the test by the COVID-19 pandemic. And while the pandemic took Viessmann’s employees by surprise, it had little to no impact on their ability to do their work.“We created instructions for everyone, explaining the ins and outs of working remotely with their devices,” says Pöllmann “And after two or three days, during which we saw more support tickets than usual, everything went back to normal. It really was quite simple for us.”

Achieving high workplace agility with low operational effort

One of the most important decisions in Viessmann’s drive to make its employees more mobile was giving them Chromebooks. The company distributed around 3,000 Chromebooks, helping to facilitate mobile work for employees around the world. “Once set up and made consistent with our best practices, the Chromebooks make it easy for our employees to work from anywhere, at a much lower price than other laptops.”

Pöllmann is impressed with the operational simplicity of managing Google Workspace. “From an operations point of view, I’m fully convinced that Google Workspace is the most affordable option out there,” says Pöllmann. “It takes just three employees to manage Google Workspace for more than 11,000 people. That’s truly incredible.”

Google Workspace has also simplified the rollout of new technologies. Thanks to its authentication and single sign-on capabilities, new tools can be implemented without much hassle. “Since our move to Google Workspace, it’s become much easier to integrate new tools,” says Pöllmann. “In the past, introducing a new service to all our employees would have created lots of support tickets or forgotten password queries. Now we simply tell our employees to login with Google Workspace, and everything just works.”

Strengthening Viessmann’s security posture

Moving towards a browser-based system also strengthens Viessmann’s overall security posture. Most standard users no longer need to use local applications, reducing potential targets for attacks. And when it comes to securing the browser itself, Pöllmann and his team have a range of powerful and effective tools at their disposal: “Enforcing strong security practices is really quite simple with Google Workspace and Chrome. We can deploy in a secure sandboxing environment to detect malware, and make sure we’ve got all the proper alerts in place.”

In addition, Viessmann also uses the Google Workspace Security Center to gain actionable threat and security insights. Pöllmann and his team now have a centralized view over alerts, with a separate ticketing system for their Google Workspace environment. “The Security Center gives us a lot more transparency and visibility into what our users are doing,” says Pöllmann. “We know when login attempts fail, and where they come from, and can identify brute force attacks. Overall, it’s a huge security benefit for us.”

Connecting production teams to create sustainable energy solutions

“Our biggest challenge, and opportunity, is the transition to more sustainable energy sources. It’s a global project that impacts our manufacturing processes around the world, which would be impossible without real-time collaboration and transparency across borders and time zones. Google Workspace helps us to do just that.” -- Alexander Pöllmann, Director Workplace & Service Management

Viessmann’s collaborative environment also extends to the company’s production facilities. This is where tomorrow’s sustainable energy solutions come to life. “We have different production lines for different products, but each uses the same Google Sites template with Docs and Sheets in the background,” says Pöllmann. “It’s both an information panel and a place for people to enter data through a touch screen.” By leveraging real-time information in dashboards, production teams can spot and deal with issues quickly, whether by rebalancing workloads or reallocating resources.

Pöllmann and his team now want to roll out even more Google Workspace solutions to the production teams, to make sure everyone’s included in the conversation, and aligned on shared goals and strategies. Creating sustainable living solutions for the future is a task that needs all hands on deck, and Pöllmann sees the collaboration and transparency Google Workspace offers, as a key enabler for that mission.

“Our biggest challenge, and opportunity, is the transition to more sustainable energy sources,” says Pöllmann. “It’s a global project that impacts our manufacturing processes around the world, which would be impossible without real-time collaboration across borders and time zones. Google Workspace helps us to do just that.”

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

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About Cloudwürdig

Cloudwürdig is a Google Cloud Premier Partner specializing in the implementation of Google Workspace, Google Cloud, and Chrome for Business.