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Google Apps for Business helps Pratt Industries save time and money, while it saves the environment

Editors note: Today’s guest blogger is Juan Merelo, technical services manager at Pratt Industries, America’s 6th largest recycled paper and packaging company headquartered in Conyers, Georgia. See what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.

At Pratt Industries, we’re all about recycling, and we take pride in playing such a big role in maintaining a healthy environment. Every day, we collect thousands of pounds of paper from cities, schools and supermarkets across the country to create recycled packaging. More than 3,500 employees in 70 locations nationwide work together to make this happen, and we rely on technology to keep our operation organized and running smoothly.

In 2009, we ran into some problems when our Microsoft® Exchange server started failing. Since email is a critical communication channel for our business, we had to find a quick solution. We wanted a stable cloud-based network that would help us run our business more efficiently. The 99.9% uptime and cost savings associated with Google Apps made it a clear choice. And it’s a good thing we decided to switch because shortly after we signed up for Google Apps, our Microsoft® server unexpectedly crashed and we were forced to migrate all our employees immediately. In less than three days, we were able to set up nearly 2,000 Google Apps accounts, a task we thought would take weeks.

Google Docs has also saved us time and money – and helps us get things done more quickly. When parts of Alabama were hit by tornadoes, one of our mills went offline. To get the facility back up, we needed an IT person on the ground. I had to drive several hours and spend valuable time to fix the network. After the tornado, we used Google Docs to sketch out plans for restoring our systems. Now, if a facility goes down, we can easily share step-by-step instructions and photos with on-site employees to rebuild the network. And because we use Google Docs to share these instructions, they can access the plans on any device with an Internet connection.

More recently, we had to change network circuits at 60 of our plant facilities. Previously, we would fly an engineer to each location to gather critical data for the changeover. Now we’re able to coordinate the project remotely with shared spreadsheets in Google Docs. We provided on-site contractors with secure access to our spreadsheets, so they could collect and organize data at our facilities. Google Docs saved us two months of work and close to $60,000 in engineering costs, and we collected more accurate data because it was input directly at the project site.

Google Apps has given us new ways to make our business significantly more efficient. I’m constantly amazed at the ways our employees are using the products, and I’m looking forward to seeing even more innovative uses.