• Stien Gijsbrechts

5 steps to getting real value from Office365



Has your IT department migrated your e-mail to Office365? Are you aware of the additional tools that Office365 comes with that can have a significantly positive impact on your organisation's (internal) communication and collaboration? Are you overwhelmed with the possibilities and unsure of how to get started?

If you have answered 'yes' to some of these questions, then read on to find out how to take the first 5 steps towards value from Office365.

Step 1 - Get clear on the 'WHY!'

If you want to get real value from Office365 (or any other communication & collaboration platform for that matter), you will need to get the whole organisation interested in taking part. Only then will everyone benefit. You can compare it to a beehive. The whole hive needs to work towards the same goal for the hive to be successful.

From our experience the 'WHY' often gets lost in translation. Someone somewhere in the organisation had a good reason, one that s/he was bought into enough to get the project approved and funding assigned. Usually that reason is not included in the communication towards end-users.

Sometimes it is the IT team of the organisation that decides to implement Office365 for a purely technical or budget-driven reason. They want to go to the cloud or the licensing model makes mail with O365 more interesting than the previous solution. Those are relevant 'Why's' for and IT team but not at all for end-users.

We are often asked to help organisations define their WHY. We have designed a fun interactive workshop where the end result is a vision statement and often a project name and an idea of the branding.


Step 2 - Define the 'WHO!'

And there are in fact 2 'WHO' groups:

  • The (business) project team

  • The user groups

Firstly it is important to create an O365 (business) project team that can define and carry out user adoption activities (such as creating posters, setting up an information session, having a conversation with a senior leader, responding to questions about the project, etc.). The team should consist of people from various departments AND with various talents. You need someone who likes to work in a very structured way, someone else who has a talent for communication or who likes to train people. You also need a clear business sponsor. Someone who can carry out the 'WHY' of the project and someone who people respond to well.

Secondly, you need to, as a team, define who the user groups are. This shouldn't (just) be the people in organisational structures (finance, sales, operations, etc.) but also grouped by the way they like to, or need to work (mobile workers, individual contributors, team members, etc.).

For both the groups we have designed interactive workshops. In the team workshop we bring together the team members and get to know each other’s talents and working preferences. We also make agreements on how we will work together.

During User Group workshop(s) we make a profiles of a typical employee in the various functions and departments and group those together that work in a similar way. This we then use later in the project to decide what and how those groups will use O365. We also use it as a basis for our communication and training plans.

Step 3 - Decide on 'WHAT'

There are a lot of available tools on the O365 platform. Some have overlapping functionalities. This can be confusing for end-users, especially those that are not used to working in a multi-channel environment. It is therefore helpful to create some clarity for users on this.

We like to work with business scenarios for this as this is often the language that the end-users understand. At the moment we are rolling out a scenario called 'less mail, more effect'. With this scenario a decision was made in the project team that users would be encouraged to use OneDrive to share documents instead of attachments to mails for those groups of users that often work together on documents.

Step 4 - Show users 'HOW'

We tend to believe in a 'lead by example' principle and also in the 'just do it' approach. What we mean is that rather than analyse every single possible outcome or wait until everyone is convinced about the benefits of O365, we prefer to get going with a pilot group or with one of the defined user groups.

We often work intensively with that group and help them decide exactly how they will apply the chosen scenarios in their specific context. For example, for the example above of 'less mail, more effect' our client has chosen an office in Mexico to be the pilot group. This team was chosen as it is reasonable in size, could benefit a lot from the chosen scenario and there is a local representative for the project who can actively help implement the scenario.

Step 5 - Don't forget the WHEN

Though we are huge fans of Agile working, we also know that people need a little bit of clarity on when they will finally be able to benefit from O365 (because, you know, you have done really well at communicating the WHY). It can be quite frustrating for users to always hear 'not yet, we'll tell you when'.

Once you have run a pilot, you should be able to work out when you can take that scenario to a different group of users. Create a high-level roadmap that visually show the when the scenarios will be rolled-out where.

The people who are often asking for clarity on dates are the (potential) sponsors of your roll-out. So it is good to keep them happy and informed. We all know that sponsors are key to the success of any project!

Does following these 5 steps guarantee successful user adoption of your O365 platform? I am afraid not. First of all, perfect adoption for these kinds of applications doesn't exist. Secondly, there are many other steps and actions that are needed that are not listed here (setting up an ambassador network, creating a culture of open communication, communication, more communication, etc.).

What we can guarantee though is that if you take these 5 steps, you will significantly improve the chances of success of your Office365 journey.

Good luck!! And if you need support, advice, workshops, don't hesitate to contact us. You can find us @ www.changelab.be!

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