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Egan Construction connects Minnesota with Chromebooks

Posted by Jim Nonn, CIO at Egan Company

Editor's note: Our guest blogger is Jim Nonn, CIO at Egan Company, a Brooklyn Park, MN-based commercial contractor. See what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.

Egan Construction is an approximately 800-person construction company in Minnesota currently working on the Central Corridor Light Rail, the biggest construction project in the history of the North Star State. The Light Rail will stretch 11 miles through five major areas of interest, and is expected to be done in 2014. As CIO of Egan, I want to provide my organization with technology that helps connect the job site with the main office, the tools and parts warehouses and our executives.

A year ago, we were looking for a solution that would avoid having a fleet of expensive, quickly outdated and slow Microsoft Windows laptops that constantly break or need replacing. I’ve heard stories from other construction firms that Monday mornings were like the movie Groundhog Day, with the IT team tackling the same four-foot high stack of malware-infected laptops over and over while work ground to a halt. I didn’t want to experience that.

After surveying the market, we decided to move to Chromebooks for our 140-person foreman staff. They’re lightweight, turn on and off in an instant, and provide easy access to business apps that we use every day.

Chromebooks also integrate nicely with Google Apps, which we use to run our business in the field. The workers love the Chromebooks because they aren’t afraid to use them on the job. If one does get damaged, we can swap it out for another one in a matter of minutes, with zero time wasted or data lost. Also, we’ve saved so much in moving forward with Chromebooks instead of Windows laptops - about $200 per machine.

Rolling out Chromebooks to our staff was extremely easy. We have two people and an intern in our IT support department, and I wanted the intern to manage the deployment process. I figured he’d only get so far, then my IT guys would have to jump in, but he did it all on his own. If I would have rolled out the same number of Windows laptops, I would have had to hire additional staff just to manage that. And with Chromebooks, we haven’t been plagued with ongoing support requests.

The scale of the light rail project really brings to light how valuable the Chromebooks have become to our organization. At Egan, we take pride in the fact that we’re building something that so many Minnesotans will use. The light rail will bring people together that didn’t have an easy way to connect previously. I like to think Chromebooks have done the same for Egan.