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3 Benefits of Using Collaboration Tools

In January, NOAA moved 25,000 users to Google’s cloud email. According to a Google blog post, NOAA successfully migrated to Google Apps for Government. NOAA is now the largest government agency to move to Google Apps for Government. NOAA CIO Joseph Klimavicz said in a Google blog post that the speed and ease of moving to Google Apps was an important factor in the agency’s decision to select Google. Impressively, the entire migration only took 6 months to achieve.

The Google blog post reports, “NOAA staff now have a set of modern tools like instant messaging, video chat, and real-time, multi-user document collaboration to help the people of NOAA work together more effectively. What’s more, NOAA estimates the cost to the taxpayer is approximately 50% less than developing a solution in-house.” The move to Google by NOAA holds many benefits for NOAA. As agencies across the federal government look for ways to increase collaboration between employees, manage documents, and cut costs, NOAA’s move to the cloud can be seen as a success story.

From events and reading on GovLoop, here are the most common benefits I hear about using a cloud based collaboration tool. I’d love to hear some of your ideas as well.

Cost savings

Often I hear that government agencies saved X amount of dollars from moving. Costs are interesting to look at, and too often we consider cost just to be a dollar value. Cost can also be viewed as time saved by employees that allowed them to work on new projects and increase productivity. I’d be interested if anyone has any data surrounding those metrics.

Increased Collaboration and Improved Communication

Use of tools like Google+, Google Chat, and Google Docs allows agencies to collaborate from anywhere in the world. These tools can also be used in a mobile environment as well, furthering the ability to collaborate and adapt for a mobile workforce. I was speaking with a colleague and had an interesting discussion how collaboration tools like GoogleDocs need to be used in government not just as a way to cut costs and improve collaboration, but also to recruit a younger workforce. Recent college grads now have the expectation that they will be able to collaborate anywhere and anytime through the cloud. Using collaboration tools is now expected by a younger workforce, and government will need to use these tools to become more competitive with the private and non-profit sector.

Improved & Better Informed Decision Making

To often data and information rests in silos. In a cloud environment, information and data can be shared, improving decision making by providing people with the right information they need to see. It’s remarkable to think how much data is created everyday by government and in our personal lives on a daily basis. Every word document, photo, email, we are creating data and sharing information – a Google Doc and the cloud helps agencies to manage all the information, and share content with the right people to help make an informed decision through a more streamlined process.

Google is a public and profitable company focused on search services. It’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. Check out their Google for Gov group on GovLoop as well as the Technology Sub-Community of which they are a council member.

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Profile Photo Jenny Groome

What about security? How to share and collaborate and still maintain security? I’m not talking classified information level of security. We must adhere to ALA’s Library Bill of Rights, esp. the section in Privacy. Also, our agency’s regulations.

I would love to use more of these tools – but our network just upgraded from Novell last summer – so you see where I might hit some road blocks. To hear real numbers, “metrics”, would be helpful – could be put into proposals demonstrating the benefits other gov’t entitites have seen.

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Profile Photo Patrick Fiorenza

Hey Jaime – sure thing…So yes, I’d agree it is the ultimate outcome – and I think through collaboration tools it is far easier to get the right information to decision makers more efficiently and quickly. I think a good example would be people working out in the field and reporting back to manager in the office, which can happen in real time. So it’s not always just an improved and more informed decision by sharing information, it is also happening quicker. Sometimes that is good, sometime it’s bad..

@Jenny, thanks for your comment. I hear about security as a challenge all the time. There are some good case studies here for you to take a look at. Hopefully there will be some metrics in there you can track down. Another benefit of these tools I didn’t mention is in terms of the workforce. A lot of younger employees expect agencies to be using collaboration tools like Google Docs, since they have been using them in the classroom – so adopting these tools is important to stay competitive with other sectors.

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