Manage staff transition in Google Apps: A 10 step checklist

Andy Wolber presents a checklist to make sure you transition data smoothly between outgoing and incoming users in Google Apps.

Staff turnover happens. Tech folks know the drill: add a user account, move data, then delete the departing user's account.

Here's a checklist you can use to make sure you transition data smoothly between outgoing and incoming users in Google Apps. Google provides plenty of documentation on features, so I've linked to Google's detailed instructions within each step below.

This checklist is intended for cases where this is a friendly transition of employment, not a termination situation. In the case of a termination, I recommend an administrator change the terminated user's account password immediately.

These ten steps should help you transition information between a "PersonLeaving" and their "Successor's" account.

1. Create the Successor's Google Apps account

Go to your organization's control panel (e.g., and login with a Super Administrator account.

Click on the "Organization & Users" tab, then click the "Create a new user" button to add the Successor's account.

If the outgoing person was the Google Apps administrator, make sure that at least one other user account is a "Super Administrator." Within the "Organization & Users" tab, click on the name of the user you want to make a "Super Administrator", then click the "Roles & Privileges" tab. Choose "Assign more roles" then select "Super Administrator" from the drop down menu then click "Confirm Assignment".

2. Forward all email or forward with filters

People often stay with an organization for a time after they've given notice. If responsibilities will be distributed among several other employees, you might work with the PersonLeaving to set up filters to forward email. If responsibilities are moving from PersonLeaving to a single Successor, then you might forward all email to the Successor. In both cases, the PersonLeaving will still have the ability to send email from their account.

3. Export PersonLeaving calendars; Import to Successor account

I recommend you export all calendars to which the PersonLeaving has access: follow the instructions under the "Exporting content from all calendars in your 'My calendars' list." The calendar data is exported to .zip file. Opening the .zip file provides access to each exported calendar, with data saved in iCalendar (.ics) format. You can import these .ics files into other Google Calendar accounts.

(To transfer ownership of a single calendar to another person, share the calendar with another user. Give the user "make changes and manage sharing" permissions when sharing.)

4. Export PersonLeaving contacts; Import to Successor account

To export contacts, login to the PersonLeaving account, go to Contacts. Click on the "More" dropdown menu at the top of the contacts listing. Choose "Export". Then choose to export "All contacts" in the "Google CSV" format. Save this file.

To import contacts, login to the Successor account, go to Contacts. Click on the "More" drop-down menu at the top of the contacts listing. Choose "Import" then "Choose File" and select the file saved above. Click "Import" to import the contacts.

I suggest the Successor use the "Find & merge duplicates" option from the "More" menu after the import to eliminate duplicate contacts.

5. Transfer Document Ownership

Login to your organization's control panel (e.g., with a Super Administrator account.

Go to the "Advanced tools" tab and scroll to the "Document ownership transfer" section near the bottom. Enter the PersonLeaving account name in the From: section and Successor account name in the To: section. Then click "Transfer documents" to complete the transfer of document ownership.

6. Review Group Memberships

To view the PersonLeaving's group membership, go to the "Organization & Users" tab while still in the organization's control panel. Click on the account name of the PersonLeaving. Scroll down to the "Groups" section. All of the groups of which the PersonLeaving is a member will be listed. Make a note of these groups.

Next, add the Successor to each of the above noted groups. While still in the organization's control panel, go to the "Groups" tab. Click on the groups noted above, and then enter the Successor's email information in the "Add new members" box.

7. Review Site memberships

Login to the PersonLeaving's Google Apps account, then choose "Sites" from the top navigation menu. This should display the various Google Sites to which the user has access.

Click on the name of each site to which the PersonLeaving has access, then click the "Share" button in the upper right. If the PersonLeaving account is the only account listed with "Is owner" status, then add the Successor's email in the "Add people" box and change the "Can edit" drop-down menu status to "Is owner". Repeat this process for each of the Sites to which the PersonLeaving has access.

You should also review any other content owned by the user, including information in "non-core" services, such as YouTube or Picasa accounts. Be sure to transfer this data before deleting the account.

8. Move email data

Google Apps Migration for Microsoft Exchange is Google's approved method for moving data from one Google account to another. In my experience, non-technical Google Apps administrators may find the procedure a bit daunting. I recommend non-technical administrators use a third-party service to simplify the migration process. Shuttlecloud, YippieMove and MigrationWiz are all listed in the Google Apps Marketplace and provide fee-based services that move data between Google Apps accounts. The cost is typically between $10 and $20 per account transfer.

9. Delete account

After PersonLeaving has left and their data has been transferred successfully, remove any mobile devices registered to PersonLeaving. From the organization's control panel, go to Settings, then Mobile in the left-navigation menu, and select "Devices" from the sub-menu. Choose the devices registered to PersonLeaving then Remote Wipe or Delete the device, depending on your organization's policies and practices.

Before deleting the account, download and archive all of the account's data. from Backupify provides a simple tool to do this at a cost of less than $8 per account.

To delete the user account, go to the Organizations & Users tab, and select the box to the left of PersonLeaving's user name. Click on the "More actions" drop down menu, then select "Delete users".

10. Set PersonLeaving as nickname for Successor

You might add the PersonLeaving's email address as a Nickname to their Successor's account. To do this, login as the Super Administrator to the organization's control panel and then, go to "Organizations & Users" and choose the Successor's account. Go to the User Information section, then the Nicknames section. Click "Add a nickname" then enter the PersonLeaving's email address. Any email sent to this user will then be received by their Successor.

What procedures do you use to transfer information between employee's Google Apps accounts? Have you found other tools that work well for you?

Also read:


Andy Wolber helps people understand and leverage technology for social impact. He resides in Ann Arbor, MI with his wife, Liz, and daughter, Katie.

Editor's Picks