Google.org brings the best of Google to help solve some of humanity's biggest challenges - combining funding, innovation and technical expertise to support underserved communities. The Google.org team are technologists, philanthropists and innovators. They came to Lab5 with a challenge - set up a multi-purpose space that amplifies the work of local nonprofits through free access to Google facilities and training.
The Google.org mandate: create and launch a free space that would be beloved and useful for Bay Area nonprofits and community organizations.
To launch this space, Google.org had a long checklist. They needed to leverage Google’s state-of-the-art resources to provide space and services that were useful to the community. They needed to build that community, ensuring that as it scaled, so did Google.org’s ability to serve them. They needed a process for onboarding new members. They needed a way to book out all events spaces. They needed to communicate with all members at once. They also needed to communicate with segments of the community at specific times or based on certain triggers. They needed to automate a lot of this work, without losing the personal touch that makes communities thrive.
This project was entirely new ground for the Google.org team, essentially a pilot of what community engagement might look like. In the best case, the project could be a blueprint for future Google spaces all around the world, amplifying important work and facilitating connection and education. In the worst case, so many moving parts could spiral into chaos.
“Thinking about the framework of this project isn’t my day job,” said Adrian Schurr, giving program manager for the Bay Area at Google. “I don’t know Salesforce at all. We needed a partner to bring us up to speed with foundation-setting.”
First, they looked at internal resources. A few teams within Google had already worked with Lab5 to create events spaces and public-facing programs. “We had other teams that had glowing reviews of working with Lab5, which is how this project initially came together,” said Schurr.
Google.org also knew that Salesforce is second-to-none in terms of its enterprise capabilities. Enter: Lab5.
“First, Lab5 really listened to us,” Schurr said. “They were crucial in coming in at the ground floor. Not only did they set up a strong foundation for us, they thought about what we were trying to do, how we should be doing it, what we should think about, and what lessons they could take from other Google projects and apply to our case.
“Lab5 put things in front of us that we didn’t even know we needed,” Schurr said.
Lab5 got to work, tackling the multi-faceted requirements of the space. They built out a security process, a check-in process, an event review process, and a policy flag process. They built out a way to automate emails, insurance requirements, and vendor management. Their consultants used the Salesforce platform as a base, but then added several levels of customized functionality that would suit Google.org’s unique needs.
“All of these tactical, strategic things would have taken so long and been so manual and piecemeal without Lab5,” Schurr said. “Whatever it is - they get in and make it happen. From creating reports to creating new systems to automating. They jump in and facilitate it, so we can get back to the business of scaling and serving the community.”
While many Google teams are tied to a business mandate, Google.org is a community outreach program. Without sales to track, acquisitions to pursue, or contracts to win, impact wasn’t going to be measured by ROI or other usual business indicators. Lab5 helped Google.org to define which metrics would indicate impact, and tie the back end of the operations to those metrics.
“We had a pretty big struggle with trying to quantify the impact of what it means to offer up a free 200-person room for seven hours. From a Salesforce perspective - is there a dollar amount associated with that offering? How do we track it in Salesforce? How do we quantify our impact to the community and our larger organization?” Schurr said. “Lab5 helped us think through these questions, and then tied the answers back to running the space with operational efficiency and being as useful as possible.
“There are a lot of Salesforce consultants or vendor teams that will help you build and maintain stuff. With Lab5, we were really impressed that from Day 1, they showed a commitment to truly understanding what it was we were trying to achieve.”
At the start of the project, Google.org had disparate tools and planning spreadsheets. “We didn’t have Salesforce-anything,” Schurr said. “Lab5 built one for us from scratch, and then customized it.”
As Google.org has grown and evolved their membership base, the complexity of their mandate has increased and shifted. The space has been busy, but efficient. With several different rooms, each with a different calendar and workflow, the personalized Salesforce platform can capture all of the important scheduling, metrics, and communications involved.
“It’s process madness to make this all happen,” Schurr said. “I would really tip my cap to Lab5 and their complex customization, helping us ensure the space is leveraged with such ease.”
Community members love the space; from five-star Google reviews to high praise on Yelp to delighted community members, the rave reviews have been widespread.
“Lab5 is so responsive, approachable, and friendly,” Schurr said. “To this day, we continue to have the same kinds of conversations we had in the beginning - what does a coworking seat mean in terms of impact? How can we be more useful?”
Thanks to Lab5’s holistic approach, the Google.org team feels supported as their challenges continue to evolve. Google.org will come to Lab5 and say, “We have a fixed budget - what can we do and how can we make it stretch furthest?” Then all stakeholders will work together to come up with the best course of action.
“I manage a lot of contracts on behalf of Google.org,” Schurr said. “Without a doubt, Lab5 is the most collaborative, responsive, and flexible. Our relationship with them truly feels like a partnership. They are super sincere and really honest. I don’t anticipate ever leaving them. They are true partners in the strictest sense of the word.”
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