Bartle Bogle Hegarty takes good ideas global with Google Apps for Work

Editor's note: Today we hear from Andy Coppin, Operations Director at Bartle Bogle Hegarty, a global advertising agency based in London. Founded in 1982, BBH has twice won Agency of the Year at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival with groundbreaking campaigns for clients including Audi, British Airways, Tesco and Unilever. With offices in London, Los Angeles, New York, Shanghai, Singapore, Mumbai and Stockholm, read how the BBH team uses Google Apps for Work to enhance its global network.

A good idea can cross borders. That’s one reason why we have just one office in each global region, instead of one office in each country like most of our competitors. It keeps campaigns focused and recognises that our adventurous staff see travel as a perk, rather than a chore. So when we overhauled our IT system in 2010, we needed a system that enabled both close international collaboration and great mobility. Google Apps for Work opened up far-reaching creative possibilities that change the way we work.

Mobility we need with lower cost, more dependable tools

Google Apps is ideal for flexible and mobile working. Gmail and Calendar are web-based, so client-facing teams are never out of touch as they travel to meetings abroad. Previously, remotely connecting to our old servers could only be done with an unreliable VPN. It proved to be an expensive liability with a tendency to fail. Drive is not only cheaper, it’s also dependable. The instant messaging function on Hangouts is perfect for teams on the road. Chromebox for meetings has become so powerful and easy to use that it’s entirely superseded the separate video conferencing system we installed five years ago.

Managing IT and administrative controls internally, for faster troubleshooting

The simple administrative interface and modular design of Google Apps for Work means we can solve IT problems internally instead of spending on external support. My colleague Will Triantos, our Global Google Technical Lead, not only administers the entire platform for 1,000 staff in eight offices, he’s also constantly creating new ways of using Google Apps to improve work at BBH. Fast, friendly and comprehensive support from Cloud Technology Solutions (CTS) means all the advice we need is always on-hand. With their support, we migrated our entire Stockholm office to Google Apps in less than a week.

Fostering a culture of creative IT, sharing and efficiency

Using Sites, Drive and Google APIs, Will has created a much-improved new intranet. While our previous intranet was based on servers around the world that cost us £20,000 a year to license, the new intranet is entirely cloud-based, so we don’t pay to maintain our own hardware. Because it uses Sheets to present our global company directory, we can always be confident we have up-to-date contact details for all our offices. With its connections to Drive, we can upload documents like historical advertising pitches in a few seconds, instead of in ten to thirty minutes. And because any of our staff can upload, rather than just one administrator in London, each office can share news and holiday information specific to them. Teams anywhere can access their local Google+ communities or submit Forms to make catering requests from kitchen staff, and users access the intranet with their Google Account single sign on, too, so their Gmail, Calendar and Drive is embedded and only a click away.

Most IT FAQs are answered on our intranet, so Will is free to find other applications for Google Apps. To take a simple example, before new BBH staff arrive at the office, they fill in a Form on Sites that connects to a Sheet in HR, so we have all their details in advance. And at the building entrance they sign-in to a Form on a tablet that emails reception, so the right person can be there to meet them. Small things like that add up, make a great impression and prove that cutting admin in one area frees creative thinking elsewhere.