Sandwich shop chain EAT has adopted the cloud-based suite Google Apps in an attempt to make it easier for its 1,700 employees to communicate and collaborate across its 100 stores.

EAT said using a Google cloud-based system instead of a previous on-premise system would accommodate the company’s desire to grow because "users can be easily added at any time".

The company’s staff use features within the Google Apps suite such as Google Talk to send instant messages to one another when they run out of stock of a popular sandwich, for instance. Replacements can then be transported from another nearby store, without having to ring the store manager, which would take valuable time, particularly during busy lunchtime shifts, the company said.

EAT also uses Google Forms, which provides a simple way for head office to survey shop managers to capture issues and ideas on improving the business.

The suite also works with the company’s new Android phones, allowing EAT staff to use tools like Gmail and Google Calendar and other apps while on the move.

Cesar Ramanauskas, systems engineer at EAT, said the company previously used an on-premise system to support collaboration among staff and managers, but that the upgrade process to this system was "very costly".

Ramanauskas said the move to Google Apps has also allowed the company to "retire" the BlackBerry Enterprise servers the firm previously used to support BlackBerry smartphones, as many of its staff are now on HTC Android smartphones.