Tuesday, July 29, 2014
Editor's note: A few weeks ago, we announced Google Drive for Work, a new premium offering for businesses that includes unlimited storage, advanced audit reporting and new security controls. To celebrate the announcement and show how Drive helps businesses around the world, we’re sharing a few stories from a handful of customers using Drive (and the rest of the Google Apps suite) in innovative ways. Today’s guest blogger is Chris Ridd, Managing Director for Xero in Australia. Xero is a cloud-based accounting software company with 300,000 customers worldwide and over 800 employees across offices in the U.S., UK, Australia and New Zealand.
At Xero, our core business is making beautiful, intuitive cloud based accounting software that helps small business owners spend more time doing what they do best, and less time worrying about keeping their books in order. Xero started life as a small four person operation in New Zealand. Eight years later, we’ve grown to 300,000 customers worldwide and 800 employees across 17 offices in the U.S., UK, Australia and New Zealand.
I have to admit, it was ironic that although our core product is cloud-based, we weren't actually using this same technology to its full extent within our own business. Instead, teams used a combination of cloud software and legacy desktop software that required continual expensive upgrades. With a highly mobile team based all over the globe, we needed a communications platform that would scale with us, make it easy to collaborate from anywhere, and help us maintain our fluid and mobile way of doing business.
To that end, in December last year we decided to change to Google Apps, and I’m pleased to say this has led to huge boosts in productivity and openness. Tasks that used to be time consuming – like emailing a document around for edits – now take just hours. Teams can also now jump into a document from Google Drive and collaborate on product release notes, spreadsheets, blog posts, and dozens of other documents with people around the world in real time.
Whether we conduct meetings in break-out areas or our in-house cafe, open laptops are ever-present, with Xero employees writing minutes in real-time so that everyone has their action items as soon as they walk out the door. Having 99% of our documents saved in Drive gives us a central place where people can find and store everything — and that means no more lost files, confusion over multiple versions, or duplication of work.
Moving to the cloud has made international coordination so much easier. Hangouts bring far flung teammates face to face, and during these video meetings people will often work together on the same document right from within he Hangouts window. Being able to work from anywhere — the office, home, the airport or the back of a taxi — has made everyone feel much freer because they can work wherever they want, on any device without worrying about losing documents.
Although it’s difficult to quantify how much money we’ll save with Google Apps, I’ve seen a lot less hardware around the office. In fact, we no longer need to spend money and time updating and maintaining servers. Productivity gains have been impressive, too.
By embracing the cloud-technology our customers use every day, we’ve been able to vastly improve the way Xero employees across our offices communicate, collaborate and share ideas. ‘Anywhere, anytime on any device’ is a key benefit we promote to customers, and it’s great to see we can now embrace that every day within Xero.