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Fairfax NZ gets on the same page with Google Apps


Editor’s be aware: These days’s visitor blogger is Nigel Bailey, Basic Supervisor – Fairfax Manufacturing Products and services for Fairfax Media New Zealand. The company is headquartered in Auckland, New Zealand, and has two national, nine daily and more than 60 community newspapers in addition to more than 25 magazines and websites. See what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.

Fairfax Media NZ was established in 2003 and currently employs approximately 1,800 people. Since its founding, the company has grown its reach to nearly three million New Zealanders across its 90+ publications. We are headquartered in Auckland with additional teams in Wellington and Christchurch. When I joined eight years ago, our IT environment was incredibly fragmented. Every newspaper had its own IT department, systems and ways of doing things.

As the company grew, we began to view our business differently and started looking into how we could restructure the organization. We wanted to consolidate and standardize the different systems we used so we embarked on a systems centralization program.

Four years ago, one of our major challenges was email. Employees in different cities used different email systems—primarily Microsoft Exchange—but we wanted everyone on one central system. We needed a system that would allow teams to work and collaborate virtually. At that time, there wasn’t a comparable solution on the market. Since then, however, Google has made immense progress. In 2012, we began our migration onto Google Apps and by November, the entire company had made the move. Now, for the first time in the company’s history, we have a single view of IT across the organization.

We saw three immediate benefits after moving to Google Apps: real-time collaboration, increased productivity and the ability to work anytime, anywhere. For us, being able to collaborate in real-time is crucial. Google’s cloud-based solution means that we can do anything from anywhere. For a media organisation, this is absolute gold. Having news teams and sales teams be able to collaborate and share information wherever they are is a completely new way of thinking and it has spread to other parts of our business.

At a recent internal event, I was impressed by how efficiently everything ran. Before Google Apps, we shared agendas via email and everyone added their comments in separate documents and one person would cobble all the revisions together. This involved countless back-and-forth emails and a hope that by the end, everyone’s comments were properly captured. The agenda would have to be finalised well before the event because making any updates involved the same cumbersome process. Various versions of notes recapping the event would also be assembled from several different documents.

Now that we’re on Google Apps, we’re all on the same page—literally! Being able to share one document, where everyone can collaborate at the same time, has been a huge time saver and a boost to efficiency. The speed at which we can now turn things around is profoundly faster.The switch to Google Apps increased our productivity by allowing us to work anytime, anywhere.

One of the best parts of the migration was the team excitement about the move to Google Apps. When we announced we were rolling out Google Apps, some staff came up to us and said, “We’ve actually been using Google Apps on the side but hadn’t told the IT department because we didn’t want to get into trouble. Can we now move what we’ve already set up into the Fairfax Media Google environment?” People are using this sort of technology at home already. By moving to Google Apps we’re actually catching up to our employees.