CTS and AG Barr: Workspace collaboration, made from girders
AG Barr turned to CTS to help them adopt, and use the more advanced features of Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) in order to better bring their teams together.
A.G. Barr p.l.c. is a leading branded drinks business within the UK and internationally. Established over 140 years ago in Scotland, the company is best known for its differentiated portfolio of great tasting soft drinks including Scotland’s other national drink, Irn-Bru, Rubicon and the Scottish spring water Strathmore. Barr also complements its own range of soft drinks with partnership brands San Benedetto and Bundaberg Brewed Drinks. In 2015, Funkin Cocktails was brought into the group offering a broad range of premium cocktail solutions including fruit purees, cocktail mixers, syrups and ready-to-drink cocktails.
From the factory floor to colleagues in head office, having a workforce spread across multiple sites makes collaboration a challenge. AG Barr turned to CTS to help them adopt, and use the more advanced features of Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) in order to better bring their teams together.
Driving adoption was the primary focus, AG Barr needed additional help to empower and engage end-users across a distributed and often mobile workforce. This was further accelerated when the company switched to remote working due to Covid-19.
AG Barr‘s Google journey started way back in 2011 when they successfully rolled out Workspace to replace their legacy email and file sharing platform. However, in 2016 they decided to go even further and provide modern digital communication tools for all employees irrespective of their role; the company found themselves needing a partner to help with the equipment, security, and adoption challenges that this presented. That’s where CTS came in…
“It was during this time that the company invested further in improving collaboration for all employees; including 400 in operational roles (in factories, warehouses and our delivery network). Rolling out GSuite and Workspace to employees in order to truly modernise communication, this included equipping all meeting rooms with Meet devices, deploying Chrome devices on production lines, and implementing ‘grab n go’ cabinets in communal areas.” Explains Kenny Craig, Head of IT at AG Barr.
When asked about what prompted this move and why they decided to ‘go Google’, it’s clear that the usability and accessibility of the Workspace platform plays a key element in winning employees over.
Graeme Hendry, Service Delivery Manager at AG Barr, recalls “As soon as you type in somebody’s name, using the @ sign, they’re in the conversation with you, live, in that document, that’s when the ‘light bulb’ goes on. And you can start to build on it from there.”
Although the software is undoubtedly user-friendly, Graeme reflects on why CTS is the one to supply such products to them. “Nearly anyone could support Google for me. I could pick up the phone and find a company that could sell me licences. What we like about working with CTS is the ‘nothing’s too much trouble’ mentality. They never shied away from giving us a hand when we need them.”
To ensure widespread adoption and drive engagement, it was vital for all employees at AG Barr to have a full understanding of Workspace and the features and benefits that are available to them. Graeme recalls that “CTS were part of the push to get all users on, so we had 50% or all office staff already on, after moving to CTS we had the push to get all staff a Gsuite login.”
Graeme explains the importance of CTS’s approach to training, “Whenever CTS conducts a training session to our end users, some members of my support team attend as well to ensure they can provide a consistent response if people have questions later on. We’re all on the same page.”
A particular highlight within training was seen during a focused Google learning week —with the use of an interactive bus, filled with Google’s technology. “There was training on the bus, some remotely, some on the main site, it went down a storm because it’s very interactive. It used a fun approach that won hearts and minds, showed Google’s commitment to us and the fact that it wasn’t traditional classroom training got folk excited about using the tools. So whilst it wasn’t advanced learning, it wasn’t a frightening intro for newer users. It’s not quite learning if you’re enjoying it!” said Graeme.
From an IT service level, these training and end-user enablement programs have also had a positive impact. This has reduced the number of calls the IT team gets and allows them to focus that time on projects that add more value to the business.
And, with the start of lockdown, the level of adoption has only gone up due to a need for employees to work remotely. Talking about this experience, Graeme considers “had we still been the traditional on-premise company, it would have taken months for us to get everything sorted. Instead, we handed out Chromebooks for people to login into them and the job is done, they can go home and work.”
This level of digital transformation has had a positive impact not just from a collaboration perspective, but from a security one as well, with AG Barr rolling out Chrome devices across their locations.
Graeme explains “As our Chromebooks are on kiosk mode, anyone who has got an account could walk up, dive onto that machine and get their job done. When they walk away from it, none of that data is held on that machine.”
And security is not the only benefit. From a sales point of view, it’s convenient in terms of portability and accessibility. In reference to rolling out Chromebooks to their local business development managers and sales force, Graeme adds “They can walk up to a machine, and have access to all of their documents. Accessing their presentations standing on the counter in a shop, showing that to the shop owner, or a wholesaler. It’s this instant access to all of the data. A Windows device needs around three hours to get ready. With a Chrome device, you press a couple of buttons and it’s clean.”
Now, more than nine years since the initial rollout, CTS are still channeling their efforts in strengthening this relationship.
To ensure AG Barr continues the momentum of full immersive adoption, and as part of CTS’s Workspace Managed Services, a dedicated Customer Success Manager works with the company to help them maximise their Workspace investment. This includes a focus on regular updates, in addition to quarterly business reviews, and includes security reviews to help AG Barr get the most out of Google Cloud in a secure way.
When it comes to the benefits of these security reviews, Graeme explains “CTS tell us where we are and aren’t executing best practices, and how we can improve. It’s got to the point where we really are calling out exceptions. There’s not a constant throughput of security updates now, one or two things might get called out, and that’s a great place to be. We wouldn’t have been there a couple of years ago.”
Everyone in the organisation utilising Workspace really helps to foster a culture of collaboration and communication across the business. The relationship will continue to flourish, with the announcement of the three year renewal contract recently agreed between CTS and AG Barr.
“What we like about working with CTS is the ‘nothing’s too much trouble’ mentality. They never shied away from giving us a hand when we need them.”
Graeme Hendry, Service Delivery Manager