Customer Story

Feralpi: Forging a culture of communication, collaboration, and innovation with G Suite

Aerial view of Feralpi site

With G Suite, the Feralpi Group has helped its staff streamline the way they work and improve communication and collaboration across the company.

Google Cloud results

Server costs reduced by two-thirds with G Suite

• Allows staff to work on the move with G Suite available on any device at any time
• Maintains strict security standards with two-factor authentication
• Enables IT staff to move from server maintenance to building new platforms to help the core business

“We wanted to modernize not only our toolset, but the way we worked. I had used G Suite before in other contexts and was confident that it was the platform we needed.” —Francesco Besacchi, CIO, Feralpi

Established in 1968, Italy’s Feralpi Group is one of Europe’s leading manufacturers and suppliers of construction steel. With more than 1,500 employees spread out across several locations, the group makes 2.5 million tons of steel every year and generates annual revenues of around 1.3 billion Euros. Although it operates in a traditional manufacturing sector, Feralpi prides itself on innovation and continuous improvement. It has begun using only scrap or recycled metal for its processes, for example, in order to minimize its environmental impact.

Feralpi has been earmarking infrastructure to upgrade across all aspects of the group. Its existing email and productivity tools, for instance, were fast approaching their limits. With on-premises email servers that were expensive to maintain and increasingly difficult to synchronize across Europe and North Africa, staff and projects were often siloed. Feralpi needed a new platform to simplify communications and foster a sense of collaboration company-wide. For that, it turned to G Suite.

“We wanted to modernize not only our toolset, but the way we worked,” says Francesco Besacchi, CIO at Feralpi. “I had used G Suite before in other contexts and was confident that it was the platform we needed.”

G Suite for flexibility, ease of use, and security

Two-factor authentication is really key for us. It means we can use any tool in G Suite on mobile without configuring VPNS, for example, while maintaining our high standards for security.” —Francesco Besacchi, CIO, Feralpi

With an on-premises solution, Feralpi’s IT team employed significant resources just to maintain its servers. As most of the servers were in Italy, this meant that any time maintenance schedules were reduced, as during summer holidays for example, other regions couldn’t get the service they needed. The cost of buying and configuring new hardware as the company grew was also adding to an already considerable outlay.

Francesco also saw that the existing platform was restricting its employees to either their desktops or using VPNs. As a result, many working in the steel plants or on the move had limited communications with the central office. Wanting to create a platform where workers could be in constant communication wherever they were, Feralpi chose G Suite for its ease of use, its functionality with mobiles, and its cost-effectiveness, to deliver a new email and productivity platform.

The group teamed up with Google Cloud partner Huware to help with the migration. Not only did Huware have the technical expertise to pull off this wide-scale migration, it also had an innovative training program, called Google Guides, that made change management much easier for large companies like Feralpi. Moving to a new technology platform is always a shift, and some people adapt to it much more easily than others. Huware and Feralpi recognized this, and proactively identified the staff who were able to adapt to G Suite quickly, appointing them as Google Guides. With additional training, they were then able to act as a friendly resource for their colleagues, answering questions and showing them new tips and tricks outside the designated training sessions. “With the Google Guides program, Huware really paid attention to the human aspect of the transition to G Suite,” says Francesco. “It was a very positive experience for us.”

Huware and Feralpi took the time to prepare for the migration, identifying the technical and training challenges and how to overcome them. In three months, the migration was complete.

“Finally, all our documents live in one place. For video conferences, it’s just as simple. We set them up at the click of a button. Collaboration is so much easier with G Suite.” —Francesco Besacchi, CIO, Feralpi

Gmail replaces the group’s existing email platform, relieving IT staff of the need to maintain servers and manage storage. Hangouts Meet and Hangouts Chat provide new ways of communicating quickly and easily beyond email. Drive replaces the existing file server for Feralpi’s workers to share and save their files. At first, they continued to use their traditional productivity tools offline and upload files to Google Drive, but very soon they completely shifted over to using Docs, Sheets, and Slides, due to the convenience and intuitiveness of features such as real-time editing.

According to Francesco, a crucial advantage of G Suite is its combination of convenience and security. “Two-factor authentication is really key for us,” he says. “It means we can use any tool in G Suite on mobile without configuring VPNS, for example, while maintaining our high standards for security.”

Simple to pick up, hard to beat

After the migration to G Suite, Francesco was happy to see how quickly people adapted to the new platform. “You expect millennials and young people to pick things up quickly, but even our senior executives found everything intuitive and easy to work with,” he says. The simplicity of G Suite and the effectiveness of the Google Guides training program means that Feralpi’s IT department no longer spends its time dealing with technology issues. “Calls to our helpdesk are down by around 25%–30%,” shares Francesco.

Now that they can use G Suite on any device at any time, Feralpi’s workers are more mobile and connected than ever before. That spirit of connectivity has fostered closer collaboration between its different teams, as well as improving collaboration with third parties such as suppliers and consultants.

“We used to sift through endless email threads. Finally, all our documents live in one place. For video conferences, it’s just as simple. We set them up at the click of a button,” says Francesco. “Collaboration is so much easier with G Suite.”

Not only is the Feralpi Group benefiting from transformed workflows, it has also seen a reduction in infrastructure costs. With managed servers and a cloud-based platform, Feralpi’s infrastructure costs are now reduced by two thirds from their previous level, enabling this capital to be reinvested in product development and new ways of improving Feralpi’s technology.

The company is currently working with Google Cloud as a possible host for its frontend platform. And the range of data solutions available on Google Cloud has the team excited about the possibilities for harnessing smart analytics and AI. “We’re looking at several analytics and intelligence projects,” says Francesco. “This would have been too expensive before, when we were putting so much time and resource into our hardware. With Google Cloud, our ambitions are well within reach.”

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Deployment Partner (G Suite authorized reseller)

Huware

A Google Cloud Partner, Huware helps companies grow, adopt new technology, and introduce more collaborative, efficient workflows.