When – and How – to Cut the Cord on Legacy Licensing

SADA Says | Cloud Computing Blog

By SADA Says | Cloud Computing Blog

This post is a continuation on last week’s post, “How Full Adoption of G Suite Can Boost Your Bottom Line.”

It may seem hard to fathom, but a future without your legacy licensing is possible, particularly if you follow change management best practices to make sure that “full adoption” isn’t just wishful thinking. Over the past year, our G Suite Change Management and Consulting team has perfected our strategy as to how IT Teams can help guide their end users through the transition from one toolset from another.

Here are our top suggestions for a seamless transition plan.

Start your transition long before your old licensing is up for renewal

At SADA, we generally hear about client’s intention to remove legacy software right on the eve of their impending renewal. Sometimes, the idea is presented to our team as more of an afterthought – “Oh, by the way, we’re also going to rid of all our old licenses in a month because our agreement is expiring. We’re so excited to be completely Googlified!”

Although it is exciting to embrace G Suite to the fullest extent, this is what I like to call the “ripping off the bandaid” approach to change management, and it’s not the approach to take if your goal is to have an empowered, G Suite-loving user base. Instead, you will likely create an angry mob of end users, who may or may not storm the IT department with pitchforks.

As an alternative approach, we recommend removing your legacy tooling over time, far before your organization is forced to cut all ties. For example, as employees leave and machines are wiped, don’t add the legacy licensing back on the machines to be used for the next round of new hires. Give employees who have happily transitioned to G Suite an opportunity to volunteer to have their older licenses uninstalled. These slower, incremental adjustments will be much better received, especially when paired with ongoing G Suite training.

Study your end user’s tool usage – the more in-depth the better

When we first started assisting with legacy license removal, we relied heavily on surveys made with Google Forms to help us determine whether or not each particular employee had any legitimate dependency on legacy tooling. Surveys were great because they were free to deploy, required minimal maintenance, and could be fully analyzed afterward in Google Sheets.

However, we found that when you tell employees that you’re surveying them because you’re interested in removing their old licensing, some of them panic and may begin to overstate their reliance on their tooling. When we surveyed one client, we found that a majority of users working with legacy spreadsheet tools suddenly claimed to be power users. This caused a big eye roll within the client’s IT department, who told us that a majority of users weren’t doing much more than sums and charts.

In response, we learned to make our survey language more refined, but that there is always a risk of having employees overstate their needs for old tooling. While skewed data can be reconciled with follow up conversations, work studies, and focus groups in order to discover true usage behaviors, it’s very labor intensive.

Luckily, we’ve found a friend in a software called Softwatch, which deploys agents across an organization’s machines and actually studies users’ tool usage over a series of weeks or months. The information it gathers is then visible in a central dashboard, where the IT Department is presented with an overview of their userbase segregated into light users and heavy users. It even helps companies calculate which users should have their licenses removed first, and how much money they would save as a result.
While Softwatch is by far our favorite way of studying end-user reliance on legacy tooling, it is a 3rd party tool and so comes at a price.

Understand that it may not be possible to have a 100% G Suite environment

Even though we on the Change Management team are G Suite power users and have been able to rebuild quite a few hefty workflows using Google tools, we admit that there are some areas where G Suite can’t meet all end users’ out-of-the-box tooling needs.

However, there are many ways to customize the G Suite tools to more closely suit users’ needs using Google Chrome Extensions, G Suite App Add-Ons, custom coding in Apps Script, and the like. At some point, though, each organization will have to determine how far they are willing to go when trying to replace legacy functionality vs. simply maintaining old licenses for that particular user.

It will save IT departments a big headache to first identify the battles they’re willing to fight, while simultaneously creating an exception process for all the G Suite feature requests that may be a bit too laborious to handle.

Focus on Transformation rather than “removal”

This is a big one – as your “removal of legacy licensing” initiative is going on, make sure to focus on generating excitement for further adoption of G Suite. During this time, we recommend hosting Lunch and Learns, Knowledge Shares, and promoting new Googley workflows that departments have adopted (such as those from Google’s G Suite Transformation Gallery). It’s also a great time to begin offering training courses on more niche Google Drive tooling, such as Google Sites and Google Forms.

We hope you feel more prepared to take your first steps towards full G Suite Adoption!

Interested in learning more about handling change in this ever-changing digital age? Download our brief, “How to Manage Change When Adopting New Technology in Your Business,” today.

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Nina Tompkin
Senior Google Trainer and Adoption Consultant | Enterprise Consulting


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