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3 Qualities Shared by the Most Effective Google Apps Admins

Eli Winderbaum is the Director of Customer Success at BetterCloud where he interacts with dozens of Google Apps administrators daily. Follow Eli on Google+.

google-apps-admin-blog-imageGoogle Apps administrators play an integral role in any organization operating on Google Apps. They have the power to drive a company’s IT strategy, implement that strategy and access a huge amount of company and employee data. So, great admins are not only tech savvy and experienced, but also incredibly trustworthy.

Over the past two years, we’ve interacted with thousands of Apps administrators from the largest Fortune 100 enterprises down to the smallest non-profits, and have come to recognize three qualities every great Google Apps admin possesses.

Innovative

Google is a forward thinking and innovative company, and these philosophies extend to the Google Apps suite. Great Google Apps admins possess these same qualities, and look for opportunities to strategically deploy Google Apps’ existing capabilities and newly released features to advance the business goals of his or her organization.

Apps admins who stay on top of new features released by Google have a leg up on their colleagues since new features, like the Sheets overhaul and Chromebox for Meetings for example, can often enhance end-user productivity and the overall Apps experience. Some resources we’ve found instrumental to many of the admins we work with include the Google Enterprise Blog, the Google Apps Update Blog, Google Gooru and a host of other admin-focused communities.

Perhaps even more important than staying on top of new features is the ability of an admin to evaluate whether the feature is truly suited to users and organizational goals. For instance, moving to Hangouts immediately from Google Talk wasn’t the right decision for companies whose users had been on Talk for a long time or who had built custom integrations over the XMPP protocol.

The most effective admins are also willing to implement third-party solutions that improve his or her experience in Google Apps as well as that of the end-user. An administrator with good working knowledge of the various solutions offered in the Google Apps Marketplace and the Chrome Web Store helps to ensure that your organization is able to truly take advantage of all the Google Apps platform has to offer.

Sympathetic

While innovation is important, an excellent Apps admin is also sympathetic to the needs and skill level of an organization’s employees. Some users may be excited to adopt new Google Apps features regularly, while others are still getting used to working in the suite. Great admins have the foresight to devise a feature roll out schedule based on a user’s preferences and experience.

Grouping users into organizational units by familiarity with Google Apps is an easy way to stagger feature roll outs. For instance, your IT team would be in the ‘test’ OU, end-users who have more experience with the suite would be placed in the ‘early adopter’ OU and the remaining users would be placed in the ‘scheduled rollout’ OU.

And, since Google Apps is constantly evolving, admins who are skilled in user training and change management are invaluable. Providing proper training can reduce internal support caseload and create more buy-in for the platform, meaning your organization will get more out of its Apps investment.

Experienced

A great Google Apps admin also has plenty of experience managing both Google Apps and on-premises environments. For many organizations, a move completely to the cloud is still underway, so an understanding of both cloud and on-premises systems is crucial. Through proper training and change management, a good admin can effectively transition users away from Outlook and other client software that doesn’t interface well with Google Apps. And a great admin understands Google Drive well enough to migrate a company’s fileshare to the cloud, if the circumstances call for it.

Exceptional Google Apps administrators also go out of their way to improve their skill set. Admins who are Google Apps Deployment and Administrator certified specialists have taken a special interest in perfecting their professional craft. Granted by Google, these certifications acknowledge an IT professional’s ability to deploy, configure and migrate data to Google Apps and demonstrate that he or she possesses the skills required to manage a Google Apps domain.

If you’d like to learn more about the Deployment and Administrator exams, join BetterCloud at the upcoming April Google Apps Meetup.

What defines a great Google Apps admin in your eyes?