Google Apps as an inexpensive start-up solution for the Dark Side agency

Business Description

Advertising, media and consulting company founded in early 2012 by a group of highly senior individuals mainly from the management of large corporations. Dark Side is a new type of agency providing consulting and production services, especially in the field of new media. Services include creation of web presentations, online campaigns, online strategies, consulting, development of custom-made applications, projects in social networks, buying advertising space in the media and development of mobile applications and production of digital content (audio & video). Dark Side also focuses on the interconnection of standard marketing channels with on-line environment.

The Challenge

The company of approximately 20 employees and freelancers was built from scratch as a start-up with support from investors. Therefore, it was crucial to find a simple, easy to use and low-cost solution that does not in any way burden company’s staff who are fully focused on establishing the start-up on the market. A majority of the staff are proficient users of PC and mobile devices, but do not have deeper IT knowledge. Introduction of more complex systems would therefore be an obstacle to efficiency.

Dark Side

“As a start-up we needed to optimize costs in the first place. We have no IT department, no servers or a full-time administrator. All is handled by a colleague who is more interested in Google Apps, keeps up-to-date and establishes new accounts for colleagues. Nothing more is needed. It is also important that people do not have to learn anything new, the environment is familiar and intuitive - in sharp contrast with the tools for managing projects where it is necessary to know not only the controls, but also a specific logic.” Tomáš Jindříšek, Managing Partner

Inside the company there are dynamically reconfigurable teams and the role of employees must be universal and all-encompassing, because their individual positions are intertwined. With regard to the initial stage of the company’s existence, which was very dynamic, the solution was barely tested - it had to be immediately deployed and launched without causing complications to the company’s operation. Nor was it possible during the first days to allocate time for long staff training.

All these factors put very high demands on openness and flexibility, which Google Apps managed to fully comply with. During the first days and weeks the company defined and modified the rules on access to documents, sharing and labeling of folders - all to meet exact requirements. A concept was created for the classification and labeling and other regulations.

In the company as a whole there is a high level of trust for sophisticated security solutions of Google. It is perceived as a credible company offering a greater degree of certainty and security than it is possible to obtain through self-help.oci.

“Actually, I have more trust in experience of Google than in proprietary solutions that somebody put together within the company and then entrusted to the hands of regular employees.” Tomáš Jindříšek, Managing Partner

The solution

The scope of use of Google Apps at Dark Side is very wide. In addition to e-mail, a key element is Documents, which serve as a data repository, a place for corporate know-how and information about clients, for work on shared documents and various specific tasks - charts have been created to calculate cash flow, manage invoices or a simple ordering system. Through online comments on each document, process management is performed along with discussions on the content. In addition, the company uses the chat, which has proved particularly convenient for cross-border communication with partners and colleagues (no need to install or set anything), and in particular shared calendars covering all planning needs (including project planning) and internal organization. Google Apps toolkit is currently being used also as a substitute for a CRM system thanks to wide possibilities of individualization and suitability for specific use at Dark Side. In this regard, the company also evaluates very positively the Google Apps marketplace, where the company looks for useful, easily accessible and well-integrated applications that are able to meet almost any individual needs. From the beginning, the company’s management promoted elimination of e-mail clients and use of Google Apps in the native environment of the Internet browser only. The use of external clients leads to unnecessary problems with synchronization and in settings of applications, which is an obstacle to effective cooperation. Chrome was adopted as the easiest and fastest way. Problems are very easily identified and reported. The initial training helped present the benefits of this approach to the users. The complete implementation was provided by the company Netmail, which has long been a Google Apps specialist and is one of 12 Premium SMB resellers in Europe. It has performed hundreds of implementations and provides support for tens of thousands of users.

“For us it is extremely important and beneficial that there is local support available. We are no IT company and we need a local partner - after all, sometimes there are things we don’t fully understand. Also the initial training by Netmail was very helpful, especially with regard to a set of recommendations for the effective use of Google Apps. It was attended by all end users.” Tomáš Jindříšek, Managing Partner

Key requirements were met by Google Apps

From a management perspective: Low costs and no need for proprietary infrastructure, which is now seen as redundant. Another advantage is the possibility of active process management in a natural environment without having to devote time to their definition and the study of complex tools. New employees can join full-fledged operation very fast - thanks to the intuitive and familiar interface.

From the perspective of end users: Decentralization of information that is accessible anytime and anywhere to the same extent and in the same quality from any device. Although the company has its headquarters in Prague, it has clients across the country and the employees are very often in the field. Key is the ease of use and the ability to easily share documents on laptops and mobile devices. Individual devices at home, at work and on the move function as equivalent access terminals.

“We also looked at Office 365, but Google Apps are generally more “human”. Many people already have their Google accounts and know the environment. Solutions like Office 365 seem distant.” Ota Luňák, process management and administration

From the administration point of view: Less work with implementation of the system and also with educating and training the users (compared to less clear systems). Most people have already used some Google services in the past. They are accustomed to their environment and work using a browser.


Summary

What issues did the company deal with?

  • A start-up company without its own IT capabilities and requiring a maintenance-free solution
  • Solutions tailored to their own needs and performing a wide range of tasks
  • Employees with high mobility and a wide range of access points

Which solution was chosen?

  • Full deployment of Google Apps
  • Use of Google Spreadsheets as a simple CRM system
  • Mobile user access

What were the results?

  • Low cost of implementation
  • Intuitive environment making it possible to start quickly without long and demanding user training
  • Easy administration without the need for an external IT worker