Department for International Development moves to Google tools

Several government departments including HMRC have adopted Google's 'Apps for Work' cloud software suite in the last year.

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The Department for International Development (DFID) has adopted Google Sites cloud collaboration software for over 1,900 users delivering global relief and aid programmes.

Google Sites is a web page creation tool that allows users to create ‘intranet’ style team sites so multiple people can work together and share files.

DFID is using the tool to help 400 of its staff work with 1,500 external local partners across 60 different sites globally. One site helps to manage the procurement and transfer of goods and equipment overseas, including emergency suppliers being distributed in Sierra Leone.

The department is piloting other Google Apps tools at its UK offices including Google Drive to share documents and Google Hangouts for messaging, video and voice conference calls.

Google has been doing well in Whitehall recently. Several government departments, including HM Revenue & Customs, the Cabinet Office and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, adopted Google Apps for Work in the last year.

The two-year G-Cloud contract with UK SME Ancoris to help migrate staff to the new Google software was set up within “just four weeks”, the company said. ComputerworldUK asked for the contract cost but was told it "isn't something DFID or Ancoris are willing to declare".

The department was forced to look for an alternative to its previous project collaboration system after a steep rise in costs due to a change in pricing models, it explained, although it did not say what the former system was or which company provided it. 

DFID migrated data from its previous system to 40 collaboration sites within just two months, so the new Google Sites would be live when the previous contract ended in January 2015. It has since added a further 20 sites.

“We can set up sites very quickly, ensuring we are responsive when we need to get the infrastructure in place to support a new programme or team," DFID’s intranet customer delivery manager Julie Gray explained

"Because it's an intuitive tool, people don't need much training to be able to use it and can quickly get the information to the right people at the right time,” she added.

DFID’s service delivery manager Richard Franklin said it had been a “really positive and constructive experience” buying from an SME through G-Cloud rather than a large system integrator.

“Ancoris' hands on approach ensured we met our migration deadline and delivered a working solution to the business,” he said.

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