Office 365: It’s intuitive… Isn’t it?

Office 365: Maximizing Personal Productivity and Collaboration
Office 365: Toolkit for personal productivity and collaboration

Imagine you work in construction. You open your toolbox one morning to find that your saw is sharper and your drill more powerful than the night before! Not only that but some tools have disappeared and yet you have more tools than yesterday! Some tools you rarely use and others never! Whilst paying for all of them you are not quite sure if you are getting value for money. You seem to use the same old favourites day after day! This is a bit like Office 365.

As of writing Microsoft has announced new sign-in options on the login page; the Sway mobile app is now discontinued however Sway is still available via the web; LinkedIn connection is available for Outlook on the web; the StaffHub app is replaced by the Shifts app in Teams; and Teams is well on its way to replacing Skype for Business. Quite apart from numerous changes to Office apps, SharePoint and Exchange etc. Oh yes, and what is this Microsoft 365 anyway? – I could go on.

Let the passengers drive the bus

First of all it is important to realize that Office 365 adoption is not an IT project with an end date. You have probably heard the story about the bus driver who wouldn’t stop for passengers because he didn’t want to be late! Effective Office 365 adoption is about the passengers. You need to win their hearts and minds and take them with you. In fact, if you can get some of them to drive the bus so much the better.

Don’t drive looking in the rear-view mirror

Embrace the brave new world. If you long for the stability of the three/six-year update cycle (who skipped Office 2007 or 2010?) then maybe this job is not for you. The iterative enhancement of Office 365 is the way of the future. The secret is to keep ahead of the game by reviewing the Microsoft 365 Roadmap. Focus your attention in front and not behind. (BTW here you will find that Microsoft 365 is a subscription that includes Office 365 and Windows 10 plus other services).

For a workman with a hammer, every problem is a nail

It is easy to feel overwhelmed with the variety of tools available in Office 365 some of which appear to do a similar job. One option is to use your favourite tools and ignore the rest. You have probably got a feeling I am not going to recommend that as an option. Whilst change for the sake of change is not a good strategy either, there are new ways of working that open up new possibilities. If you or your company don’t adapt, then your colleagues or your competitors will.

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Office 365 is like an onion, it has layers

To simplify the adoption of Office 365 consider these three layers.

  • Organizational: This needs careful planning and governance. Solutions take a lot of time and effort to execute and often consume the major focus of an organization.
  • Groups: I avoided using “teams” as Microsoft, in their infinite wisdom, has an app called Teams! Groups of people work together dynamically on projects or more permanently as departments. These groups can be non-geographical, fast moving and require minimal governance. There’s lots of potential here.
  • Personal: The impact of Office 365 on a personal level is often sadly overlooked. “It’s Office 365. It’s intuitive… Isn’t it?” The effect of email overwhelm and rapidly changing priorities is rarely addressed when planning for Office 365. “Just give them Outlook, they’ll be OK”. Do the users really understand the benefit of using OneDrive rather than the C: drive? What on earth is OneNote? And now as Teams replaces Skype for Business and also becomes a hub for personal communication and collaboration reducing reliance on email, and maybe replacing Yammer for some, how are you going to keep the passengers on the bus?

In summary:

Regularly review the Microsoft 365 roadmap and assess its impact on your organization. Provide timely updates and support, perhaps drop-in sessions and local champions, as a result users will feel confident in expanding their skills.

Review the adoption of Office 365, especially at personal and group levels as this is where a lot of the productivity gains are to be found. New tools and techniques offer major improvements especially for collaboration.

Enjoy the journey!

Martyn Baker

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