Case Hamina City: Setting the direction as a public administration on the opportunities of Google Workspace

Cooperation in brief

Starting point Keys to success Result
The city of Hamina wanted to make working smoother for the employees and administration and cost-effective, and therefore migrated to Google Workspace with the help of Gapps. 

Gapps helped in the migration project to Google Workspace, and later, the Google Story project was initiated to support staff in using Google's tools and adopting smoother work practices. 

Secure Google Workspace enables a flexible, efficient, and cost-effective way of working for the city's employees, facilitating communication with residents. Heavy maintenance is no longer necessary.

Gapps inspired the City of Hamina to change

The city of Hamina wanted to update its tools to better meet the needs of its employees while improving security and achieving cost savings. Microsoft's Office environment imposed requirements on devices, and locally operated software increased IT support requests. Therefore, the usual approach no longer served the city's needs. Additionally, costs weighed heavily on the public sector, when moving to a lot lighter cloud platforms. 

Gapps assisted Hamina when migrating to Google Workspace in 2020 and 2021. In 2021, there was a significant change in tools as the city moved from MS Office to Google Workspace. Furthermore, they moved away from SharePoint to the Happeo platform, with Gapps supporting the change process and communication.

Following the tool transition, there was considerable variability in the adoption of new tools, and the city also used many other miscellaneous tools. Additionally, significant differences in practices were identified among different departments and teams.

Hamina’s IT Manager, Niko Palmu, noticed the migration had stalled when he joined the organization in 2022. This led to new discussions with Gapps in 2022-23, accompanied by extensive mapping and development work in the city's IT management.

"Gapps prompted the entire organization to think about how to do things smarter. We had the keys to the solution, but no one was using them," said Niko Palmu,  IT Manager of the city of Hamina.

The goal of the 2022 collaboration project was to identify and address staff challenges with Google's tools and accelerate the transition to a new ideal. Additionally, the aim was to facilitate and speed up the adoption of Chrome devices. A change in general attitude and practices was desired for by engaging staff and providing targeted support during the transition, as over 1000 staff devices and systems changed.

However, transitioning purely to cloud was seen as a challenge for the city, as there were no ready examples in the municipal field of such a large migration to Google. Therefore, Gapps provided strong support in technical matters and participated in several workshops with the city, where old system and device linkages were dismantled on an industry-specific basis. Together, we delved into core processes and created enthusiasm for a modern way of doing things. The Google Story project was initiated to support staff in using Google's tools and adopting smoother work practices.

Tailored to user needs, Google Workspace brings substantial cost savings

The administrative benefits of Chromebook were immediately noticeable. Its increased usage brought a lot of peace to maintenance and work, especially at the interface. Schools had over 3000 Chromebooks in use before the transition, and it was recognized that the devices' maintenance by IT went smoothly. Some employees used Chromebook and Windows side by side and eventually switched to using Chromebook. Early childhood education also played a significant role, as they updated the entire service system to Google services. Work became easier in all sectors due to Google's user-friendliness.

"As an Azure professional, the change also required an open mind from me, but now I wouldn't switch back to the old. Collaboration projects run smoothly, and work has become seamless, with financial aspects becoming increasingly evident," Palmu explains.

Chromebook was found to do everything the municipality needed, and administrative work and ticket volume decreased significantly. The amount of technical support has also decreased. Gapps is still supporting Hamina, but the transition to Google has helped the city reduce administrative work and the need for external actors.

The collaboration model has been renewed as Google's easy-to-use tools have enabled modern and smooth processes. One example of basic tools is Google Forms, which is used a lot, even towards residents. The built-in remote connection in Chrome is also a huge advantage, which Gapps awakened us to use," Palmu says.

Reducing the external interface, preparing for crises, and overall security have also improved significantly as the focus has shifted from the endpoint to GWS. Excellent scores have been achieved in attack surface checks, and device management is now unified.

Overall, the collaboration model has improved, and costs have decreased significantly. So far, we have achieved a 43% total cost savings in IT costs in 2 years," Palmu says.

"I call for courage in the public sector and among colleagues. The obstacle to change isn't about technology" Palmu summarizes his experience of the migration project. 

Introducing the City of Hamina

A World-Class Small Town: According to the City of Hamina's strategic plan, Hamina is a world-class small town that serves as a harbor for a good life and entrepreneurship. The city's values are future-orientation, customer and business orientation, and courage. Hamina's service promise is: We promote the well-being and safety of our residents, as well as the operating conditions of communities and businesses; We listen to our citizens, communicate openly, and increase transparency in decision-makin, and we support the active engagement of our residents, develop local services, and promote sustainable development.