HEADQUARTERS Mauldin, SC INDUSTRY Retail (Supermarket) LEGACY SYSTEMS Lotus Notes and IBM’s WCM

BI-LO is a large supermarket chain in the southeastern U.S. that employs approximately 17,000 people in more than 200 locations. Frank L. Outlaw founded BI-LO in 1961 under the name “Wrenn & Outlaw.” Two years later in 1963, Outlaw conducted an employee store-naming contest to build the brand. Secretary Edna Plumblee won by submitting the name “BI-LO.”

NUMBER OF USERS 4,500 SERVICES RENDERED • Google Apps Deployment BI-LO had been using IBM Lotus Notes for more than 10 years, and the costs from maintenance, operations and storage were mounting. When the time came to upgrade, CIO Carol Dewitt felt that her team needed to evaluate the company’s evolving needs and consider moving to a more collaborative messaging system that could ensure future business growth. Though high storage and support costs for an unsupported version of Lotus Notes initially drove BI-LO to investigate alternatives to their messaging system, Dewitt and her team quickly realized that collaboration and improvement of internal communication were even more critical to the company. With their previous system, BI-LO struggled at the corporate level to maintain communication with their retail stores, frequently-travelling employees and even their own corporate teams. Dewitt’s team wanted to choose a solution that could extend beyond just email to provide the base for a more fluid internal communication system. Dewitt also recognized that full or at least partial automation of some of BI-LO’s time-consuming, manual business processes could propel the business forward through increased productivity. Another key determinant in selecting a new collaboration platform was security. BILO must maintain HIPAA and PCI compliance and also strives to achieve SOX compliance, even though it is not required by law. They discovered during the evaluation process that security would not be a deterrent but rather an incentive to move to Google Apps, since they found that Google was actually more secure than their existing system.

Google Apps partner Cloud Sherpas worked with BI-LO to design a migration plan and work through detailed questions about various features and functions that would change when BI-LO moved from Notes to Google Apps. First, Cloud Sherpas migrated the Early Adopters team and Google Guides from the legacy Lotus Notes system to Google Apps. During the following three months, 1,500 corporate users were moved to Google Apps. In the last phase of the project, around 3,500 store users were migrated. BI-LO was wary about the change management process in transitioning to any new email system due to the potential disturbance to personnel and operations. How-

“Google Apps has enabled our company to be more collaborative and more productive... We’ve seen so many improvements since moving to Apps, and we’re just getting started.”

ever, once the company made the transition to Google Apps, they quickly discovered that adoption rates soared and users were able to benefit from the new platform almost immediately. Although BI-LO only trained a few Google Guides on Google Apps, all employees were able to benefit from the widespread familiarity with the interface of webbased email services. According to an internal survey, 30 percent of BI-LO employees used Gmail at home and more than 50 percent of the company used some form of web-based email for personal use. The preexisting affinity for the Google suite translated into less training investment and a faster ramp-up time. Employees quickly built on their familiarity with the email interface and began using document sharing and change tracking features. Cloud Sherpas also helped guide BI-LO’s intranet to Google Sites. Employees log into their email through the intranet, where company news is posted on the home page. This set-up of knowledge distribution ensures that employees stay informed about company news, which reduces the need for costly meetings. Google Apps also streamlined many of BI-LO’s manual spreadsheet update processes. In the past, staying on top of store activities meant that someone had to call the different stores and ask for information about inventory, promotions and other updates. With Google Docs, employees at store locations can share documents with remote parties and simply input information into a shared spreadsheet that can be viewed in real time.

— Carol Dewit CIO, BI-LO


BI-LO Sees Productivity Gains and Increased Collaboration by Going Google

BI-LO Enterprise Architect Jason Breazeale reported that the switch to Google Apps saves BI-LO hundreds of thousands of dollars every year, which is an approximately 60 percent cost savings from Lotus Notes. BI-LO road warriors love the web-based email and document sharing. Access to all work documents is now available from any device at any location. Employees can work more efficiently, especially when interacting with other teams. The benefits of “anywhere access” and the collaboration capabilities of Google Docs exceed any trade-off in advanced Excel functionality. For example, Breazeale said that BI-LO experienced a snow day earlier this year and that people were able to work from home in greater numbers than ever before. “We had minimal loss of productivity due to people being able to access email, calendars and documents from mobile devices and home computers. We saw a significant number of people working in real time.” Just as end-users quickly realized the benefits of being able to access information anywhere, the IT department noticed important benefits as well. Previously, BI-LO had one IT team dedicated to the intranet and one dedicated to email. Since migrating to Google Apps, BI-LO has created a collaboration team that spends less time putting out fires for email maintenance and more time applying technology to BI-LO’s business. After all, that’s what IT should be all about.

BI-LO to Deploy Google Apps

Google Apps: A Love Story

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