Going Google across the 50 States: Investment advisory firm in Illinois turns to technology to get ahead

Friday, October 22, 2010
[Cross-posted from the Google Enterprise Blog]

Editor's note: Over 3 million businesses have adopted Google Apps. Today we’ll hear from Dustin Bonnema, Portfolio Analyst and IT guru for MainStreet Advisors based in Chicago, Illinois. To learn more about other organizations that have gone Google and share your story, visit our community map or test drive life in the cloud with the Go Google cloud calculator.

Founded in 2003 by two veteran investment professionals, MainStreet Advisors is a Chicago-based Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Registered Investment Advisor. We provide investment advisory services, portfolio management, and marketing support for our clients, and are expanding rapidly - we’ve already outgrown our current office space, two years ahead of plan.

Such fast growth prompted us to focus more on technology and find ways to remove communication barriers for all employees. So we switched to Google Apps earlier this year and are already using many of the products in the suite including Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs, and Google Sites. We couldn’t be happier with Google Apps, and the best part is that everything is online and all the products are easy to learn and use. We’re trying to put as much as we can into a Google spreadsheet or document.

Shared Google Calendars are used to track time-off, conferences, committee meetings, and individuals’ travel schedules. This is a critical component of our internal communication strategy since Managing Directors and other executives travel as much as 40 - 50% of the year. This same group is reliant on mobile phones, and use either iPhones or BlackBerry devices to access Gmail and other applications, while they’re on the go.

As the company grows, it has become harder to locate and share updated information and policies across all employees. Google Sites is solving this problem – we built an intranet that includes links to shared calendars, client websites, group email aliases, expense reports, gift matching instructions, and investment policies. A Google form is also embedded in the site so employees can submit vacation requests that are updated directly in our HR manager’s spreadsheet. In time, we plan to add even more to the site – we’re already showing gadgets with intra-day performance of market indexes across the world and we’d like to add a map of client locations and charts outlining our company assets over time.

Aside from helping us create more efficient business processes, Google Apps has become a key part of our business continuity plan. We have the security of knowing that if something goes wrong in the Chicago office, we’ll still be able to access our information from other places. This is critical to protecting our clients’ investments, and the future of our business.”