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Home / Our blog / How to seamlessly transition to Google Chat

In 2017, Google announced that Hangouts Classic would be replaced by an updated, new generation that focuses more on team communication. These are Hangouts Chat and Hangouts Meet.

As an IT administrator, you will need to take action to ensure your users are aware that a change is coming and that they also need to take action to recreate their chat groups to continue utilising the functionality. This will minimise the number of users contacting your support desk when the change happens.

This transition is set to take place over 4 stages:

Phase 1: Set rules in Google Vault (2019) - COMPLETE

  • Hangouts retention rules to be set to retain all Hangouts messages indefinitely.

Phase 2: Vault consolidation and early transition (Late 2019 - 1st half of 2020) - COMPLETE

  • Mail holds and mail retention rules cease to protect Hangouts messages.
  • Organisations can apply to join the Accelerated Transition Program

Phase 3: Anyone can transition (1st half of 2020) - IN PROGRESS

  • Organisations will be allowed to turn off classic Hangouts in favour of Chat.

Phase 4: Everyone Transitions (Late 2020)

  • All remaining classic Hangouts G Suite users will be moved over to Chat.
  • Classic Hangouts will no longer be available for use for G Suite users.

You can find more information here.

Why is it happening?

Google believes in consistently updating their services to meet the needs of the users who benefit from them. With this in mind, Hangouts has been given a new look and feel, one that is more modern and takes advantage of G Suite’s reputation for seamless and easy collaboration.

Chat will bring a more progressive communications app, making use of segregated Chat Rooms with “Threads” enabling a more topical interface. These “Threads” help separate conversation topics within a Chat Room allowing ease of access and simple organisational techniques.

When is this happening?

Now! Currently, in stage 3, all organisations have the option to transition over to Google Chat. Google Chat is receiving consistent updates to bring it on parallel with the classic Hangouts features and ultimately surpass them.

What action is required?

From this point, it is becoming increasingly important to consider the impact of the transition. Classic Hangouts will be removed and replaced with Chat, this is set to happen soon and as such should be preempted and prepared for.

By the organisation

Hangouts Chat should be enabled organisation-wide and users be shown how to use the product. Google, as a result of this, have consolidated the settings for both classic Hangouts and Hangouts Chat in one place within the Admin Console. Here, you can turn on/off chat history; allow chat externally to people outside the domain (this is an upcoming feature for Chat); Allow rooms with people outside the organisation.

By the users

Users should be made aware of the upcoming changes.

  • Training resources should be made available to all users - Google is constantly sharing product updates in their blog. They also have a Google Chat section in their G Suite Learning Center.
    • At CTS, we offer a training package covering Hangouts Chat and Meet. Looking at the interface, how to use each application and some tips and tricks! Contact your account manager for more information.
  • Chat ‘Rooms’ should be created to replace Hangouts ‘group’ chats with users taking into account what rooms they can create between departments and external contacts.

What considerations need to be made?

When preparing for this transition, things to consider may include the following:

  • Training all staff.
  • Room naming convention (For example, INTERNAL-Marketing, or, EXTERNAL-”Third-Party Company”-”Project Name”).
    • This will ensure all staff know where their conversations should take place, enabling them to keep related topics in one place, and, through the use of “Threads” can enable them to have multiple conversations on the same topic within the same environment.
  • How to communicate this to the organisation - all staff (E.g. Email, Google+ announcement, All Hands call).
  • Any recommended Bots (Such as Meet bot).
    • Useful bots, such as; Meet Bot; Salesforce Bot; Trello Bot, can be utilised in Chat Rooms to integrate third-party applications into daily working. With a simple @BOT command, users can create appointments, update records, take notes and receive updates on incidents and projects all within Chat. No need to open the application in the browser!
  • Any linkages that might break (Any plugins to Classic Hangouts - are they available for Chat?)
  • Any recommended integrations
  • What support are CTS offering?
    • As a CTS customer, you have access to our in-house G Suite Support Team. You can contact them for any help or advice on the core G Suite apps (Gmail, Drive - Docs/Sheet/ Slides, Hangouts Chat/Meet). We can support you with best practice setup, queries on the products, issues with the products etc.
    • If you are a CTS Customer Success Services customer, you can reach out to our Customer Success Team, who will endeavour to assist you in any way possible, in addition to our G Suite Support Team.

What happens if I take no action?

All G Suite domains will be transitioned over to Chat. If no action is taken, there is a certain risk of data loss, increased demand on your IT service desk, utilisation of instant messaging may decrease and end-user experience will be negatively impacted. It is recommended that preparation be made as soon as possible to ensure all G Suite users are aware of and prepared for the upcoming changes.

How can we prepare?

At CTS, we broke this down into three stages. Preparation, Information, Deployment. This allowed us to ensure a clear, precise transition with minimal data loss.

Preparation:

  • Keep up to date with all feature updates on Chat and Meet.
  • Ensure the applications match the requirements of the business:
    • Make sure the current features of Chat match those of Hangouts Classic - currently, a few features are yet to be added. They are expected to be available in the coming weeks.
    • Bot availability - Look at the list of available Bots, if there’s any you’d like to take advantage of or any functionality that isn’t covered by those available.
    • Training resources available (Google, CTS).
  • Sufficient testing within a separate, testing environment.
  • Enable “Chat” on the primary domain environment for all users subject to the above.

Information:

  • Inform the organisation of the upcoming transition.
  • Supply links to available training resources.
  • Encourage users to use “Chat” instead of “Classic Hangouts”
    • Chat.google.com OR;
    • Accessed from the App Launcher (“Square of Squares”)
  • Give instructions on end-user preparation:
    • Creating “Chat Rooms” to replace “Group Chats”.
    • Install Chat standalone application.
  • Give a “Go Live” date for users to work towards.

Deployment:

  • Inform all staff prior to the “Go Live” date as a final reminder.
  • Inform staff on “Go Live” day on the transition:
    • Use “Chat” instead of “Hangouts Classic”.
  • Disable “Hangouts Classic” for use by all users.
  • Inform users the transition has been made, supply availability for support.

If you have any questions on making the switch or need help training your staff, reach out to your CTS Account Manager or get in touch by filling out the form below.

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