In UK builder switches email to Google Apps, Phil Wainewright describes how UK contractor Taylor Woodrow has migrated from a conventional in-house hosted email system to Google Apps, a step, he says, that confounds critics who suggest that the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) based Google suite is not appropriate for enterprise adoption. I would also go one step further and say this is also a significant move in a notoriously risk-averse industry, but it wasn’t a leap into the unknown: apparently SaaS-based construction collaboration technologies helped smooth the way for the shift to Google.
Google Apps will be used primarily for email (“although some users have started to use the Google Sites and Google Docs applications as well”). The move will save Taywood an estimated “£1 million ($2 million) as a result of not having to host and support the software internally” (not only is construction risk-averse, it is also very cost-conscious).
According to Taywood’s IT director Rob Ramsay, there are currently no plans to adopt Google Docs in place of Microsoft Office, or to replace the specialised construction collaboration applications Taylor Woodrow uses for project management.
Interestingly though, the company’s prior familiarity with on-demand construction industry applications from indigenous UK providers such as 4Projects and Asite was a factor in easing acceptance of the Google service. “The data stored [on the provider’s systems] is quite critical for our business. With that backdrop of using products like 4Projects, there is that experience there,” said Ramsay.
The 4Projects solution has long been used by Taywood (not least because it was developed by former Taywood employees including MD Richard Vertigan and sales director Duncan Mactear), but, as the quote above suggests, the company also uses other solutions when required by customers who have ongoing relationships with other vendors (it could also have mentioned [my employer] BIW Technologies too – used by Taywood on a recently completed Crest Nicholson building in the Bristol Harbourside redevelopment, for example).
Updates (04 and 11 July 2008): Taywood’s decision also covered by CBR’s Janine Milne here and by Silicon.com.