Google Cloud Results
Enhances collaboration for 28,000 employees
• Achieves smooth and fast migration, moving 28,000 users to Google Workspace in 6 months
• Drives fast adoption, with 94% of users collaborating on Google Drive and 57,000 hours of Google Meet sessions in one month alone
• Provides a productivity suite for ongoing employee collaboration to drive efficiency within the organization
• Improves user productivity without compromising security
The Colgate-Palmolive Company (Colgate) is a true American success story of how a small soap and candle business grew to become one of the largest companies in the world, offering many well-known brands in oral care, personal care, home care, and pet nutrition. Coming in at #182 on the 2017 Fortune 500 list, Colgate products are sold in more than 200 countries and territories, and the company has approximately 38,000 employees in more than 130 offices worldwide.
For more than 200 years, Colgate has worked to make the world a better place by introducing products that help people lead healthier, happier lives. From developing an oral rinse to prevent tartar buildup to improving the effectiveness of whitening toothpaste with its Optic White brand, Colgate builds upon a rich heritage of innovation.
The company also gives back to the communities it serves, providing children with free dental screenings and oral health education through its Colgate Bright Smiles, Bright Futures program. Colgate’s Clean Hands, Good Health program in the South Pacific and other regions works to encourage children to wash their hands by providing handwashing educational resources.
To grow profitably and responsibly in the 21st Century, Colgate must constantly innovate with new products and keep up with a fast-changing landscape for consumer packaged goods. For most of Colgate’s workforce, collaboration with coworkers and partners is very important, and every department—IT, procurement, R&D, marketing, supply-chain, finance, and HR—must come together for the company to deliver.
Seeking a productivity advantage
As a standards-based organization, Colgate looks to keep its strategic IT partners for the long haul and maintain consistent systems and processes across regions. In 2015, the company decided it was time to modernize its approach to collaboration.
Colgate leverages many cross-functional, geographically dispersed teams to get work done. The company needed the flexibility that only cloud-based collaboration could provide. It also wanted a productivity suite that current and future employees would embrace, and that would regularly offer new features without requiring IT involvement to upgrade.
“We set out to find an easy-to-use toolset that would support innovation across our teams and fundamentally change what people could accomplish,” says Mitch Cohen, Senior Manager Collaboration Services at Colgate-Palmolive, who looks after all collaboration and productivity tools used globally. “We wanted a solution that people would be excited about using—and something that we knew could support our company over the next 20+ years.”
“Google Workspace stood out because it’s truly an integrated toolset, with single sign-on and one directory. Google Workspace is built for cloud, with no on-premises legacy. We felt that Google would continue to be the biggest innovator in cloud collaboration and a partner we could grow with.” - Mitch Cohen, Senior Manager Collaboration Services, Colgate-Palmolive
To identify what was required of its collaboration tools, Colgate created a cross-functional team that included representatives from infrastructure and operations, site management, networking, and security. After interviewing employees and analyzing existing collaboration workflows, the team finalized a Top 10 list of end-user needs, including the ability to store files in a single location, conduct face-to-face video meetings, and minimize time spent logging into different tools.
Colgate debated whether to adopt a collaboration suite or use multiple standalone products, finally deciding on the former approach. “We wanted to avoid the big investment in the time and costs it takes to manage software full time,” says Mitch. “We wanted one system that would enable employees to work seamlessly across an integrated environment.”
Collaboration built for cloud
Colgate teamed up with SADA Systems, a Google Cloud Premier Partner, to leverage their expertise on how to conduct a successful migration to a cloud productivity suite. Working closely with Google, the three companies developed a plan to launch Google Workspace and meet Colgate’s collaboration and security requirements.
“In the end, we chose Google for three main reasons. Google Workspace stood out because it’s truly an integrated toolset, with single sign-on and one directory. Google Workspace is built for cloud, with no on-premises legacy,” says Mitch. “We also felt that Google would continue to be the biggest innovator in cloud collaboration and a partner we could grow with. Finally, after careful analysis, we were most comfortable with the security of Google Workspace.”
Migrating 28,000 users in 6 months
“We were encouraged by the positive responses from employees when we announced we were going Google. Working with Google and SADA Systems, in one weekend in November we took 23,000 users live, and a total of 28,000 users live globally within six months.” - Mike Crowe, CIO, Colgate-Palmolive
Given the importance of enabling efficient, effective collaboration across Colgate teams worldwide, the company worked with SADA Systems to outline a strategy to achieve the most seamless rollout possible. Colgate worked with change-management experts at SADA to lay out a four-phase approach for migrating to Google Workspace, making sure all internal teams were aligned. The company wanted to accomplish the migration quickly while minimizing disruption to the business, and set a six-month window to roll out Google Workspace worldwide.
“SADA suggested a phased in, launch and learn method, building on experience through waves of implementation across our global user base. Through this, we fine-tuned our training and change management to make each wave of go-live better each time,” says Patty Vollmar, Senior Director of Collaboration Services Worldwide at Colgate. “In addition to onsite training, we added online reference tools, webcasts, and training material in various languages. It was a positive experience that accelerated our Google Workspace migration.”
In just three months, Colgate transitioned its global IT organization to Google Workspace, beginning with 70 employees in IT service centers and followed by a second phase migrating the rest of IT—approximately 1,000 people globally. In the third phase, Colgate recruited volunteers who were excited to be early adopters and migrated 4,000 users over the next month. About 900 of the early adopters became Google Guides, acting as champions on the ground and training other employees during the rollout.
“In just under three months, we saw people working differently. Over 94% of users were actively using Google Drive, with over 57,000 hours of Google Meet sessions conducted in one month alone, allowing our employees to collaborate while in the office and on mobile, connecting our global teams.” - Mike Crowe, CIO, Colgate-Palmolive
Executives and their administrative assistants received focused training, helping them adopt Google Workspace early and drive top-down change. Strong leadership support helped make the migration successful. Colgate’s top leadership committed to embracing Google Workspace and led by example.
“With help from SADA Systems, our original go-live date never moved, and we migrated 23,000 users to Google Workspace over a single weekend,” says Mitch. “The transition was as flawless as it could get, with no disruption to the business. The Monday after migration was quiet.”
Adds Colgate CIO Mike Crowe: “We were encouraged by the positive responses from employees when we announced we were going Google. We knew it was going to be a major change management effort to go to a new collaboration platform. Working with Google and SADA Systems, in one weekend in November we took 23,000 users live, and a total of 28,000 users live globally within six months.”
Bright smiles across the globe
Colgate’s employees celebrated the migration worldwide, throwing launch parties, offering Google Workspace quizzes with prizes, and wearing “C-P is Going Google” T-shirts and hats. The anticipation and excitement worldwide was palpable, and Mike Crowe soon began receiving positive emails from employees. The input from employees ranged from emphatic “thank yous” to people talking about how excited they were to have new, familiar ways to work together with teams inside and outside the company.
“In just under three months, we saw people working differently,” he says. “Over 94% of users were actively using Google Drive, with over 57,000 hours of Google Meet sessions conducted in one month alone, allowing our employees to collaborate while in the office and on mobile, connecting our global teams. We also saw faster uptake of Google Slides, Sheets, and Docs than expected.”
Reimagining productivity and innovation
Not only can Google Workspace help improve quality and time to market for Colgate’s products, it can also save time and costs previously spent on routine collaboration, while increasing employee engagement with customers, colleagues, and partners.
Using Slides, employees in different parts of the world can co-edit and put presentations together. Google Forms make it easy for non-technical users to collect responses and populate Sheets with the data. “People appreciate the simplicity of Sheets,” says Mitch. “With Explore in Sheets, everyone can bring data into their decision-making. Users can just type in a question and get an answer immediately about their data.”
Notes Patty: “Colgate employees who use Google Workspace apps on their mobile devices are able to create, manage, and accept meetings easier than ever. Joining a Google Meet meeting takes one click on a smartphone, tablet, or PC, it really helps us remain connected. I’ve experienced having to leave work when a meeting ran over. Instead of signing off in the middle of an important discussion, I joined the Meet on my mobile device with a headset and jumped in my car. If I’m at the airport and someone needs information I have, with a few clicks, I can share it from my mobile device. If I’m on the train and someone needs me to review a presentation, I can comment or edit to help when time is tight.”
Breaking the mold
More than a year after migrating to Google Workspace, excitement is still in the air at Colgate. Employees are engaged, empowered, and in no hurry to take down their “Going Google” signs.
“Some have said that moving to Google Workspace was unusual for a large enterprise company, but it worked well for Colgate,” says Mitch. “As someone once said: Don’t skate to where the puck is, skate to where it’s going.”
*Google Workspace was formerly known as G Suite prior to Oct. 6, 2020.