You’ve decided to make the move to the renamed Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365). Its phenomenal collaborative suite will transform the way you work, but only if the Microsoft 365 adoption is holistic. This is particularly true post-pandemic and with the cohesive integrations of the new Microsoft 365. The adoption has to be all-inclusive and integral – spanning the entire organization, translating business workflows, and harnessing all the newly introduced features and applications. It is not merely a technical or data migration to Microsoft (Office) 365 but the launch of a new, all-encompassing technology that will change the way you work. During my 25+ years as a technologist, I have architected and managed more than a few migrations to Office 365 (with my share of burnt fingers along the way). Let me ease yours with practical, real-world pointers bundled into seven steps to optimize your Microsoft (Office) 365 adoption.
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7 Steps to Optimize Your Microsoft (Office) 365 Adoption
- #1 Analyze the Current State
- #2 Get Stakeholder Buy-In
- #3 Develop Plan and Process
- #4 Harness Tools
- #5 Train Champions
- #6 Secure Migration
- #7 Evaluate and Adjust
#1 Analyze the Current State
To right-size the migration strategy, you need to first do a recce of your current state. Analyze the data landscape, business workflows, and applications being currently used. All this data will enable you to make an informed decision about the type of migration, determine readiness, clean up data prior to the migration, and improve timeline planning.
- Map the challenges and gaps that employees are currently facing with solutions and features in Microsoft 365.
- Focus on communication and collaboration scenarios and pain points, where Microsoft 365 can shine through.
- Understand the type of usage (remote, hybrid, in-office), apps being used, and readiness of various departments to help plan the rollout and type of migration. Perhaps a hybrid Exchange rollout with OneDrive storage migration for only the Marketing department may work best.
- Audit your current infrastructure and network capabilities to check if they can support the Microsoft 365 load.
- Understand your data landscape and clean up your data before settling on expensive storage plans.
- Check with the legal department about sensitive data and regulatory holds.
#2 Get Stakeholder Buy-In for the Microsoft (Office) 365 Migration
This step can’t be underestimated. A SharePoint End-User study by Microsoft highlighted how essential C-level engagement was to the success of the transformation project. Strong executive buy-in with a clear vision of the ROI expected from the adoption helps in a big way to tide over the employees’ natural tendency to resist change.
- Don’t limit it to buy-in, but extend it to a detailed executive sponsorship. Over a workshop, understand the stakeholder’s business goals and expectations from the migration.
- Ask about the stakeholder’s strategic initiatives or current transformation projects that Microsoft 365 can better support?
- Set your KPIs, realistic timelines, communicate issues and red flags promptly and honestly.
- Involve them in regular employee communication through the migration process.
- Set up your team and build a support desk.
#3 Develop the Plan and Process for the Microsoft (Office) 365 Adoption
After you’ve done your groundwork recce and got buy-in, it’s time to get to the planning board. An hour of planning can save you from days of fighting fires when the implementation is underway – don’t skimp it.
- For your plan to be more “real-world”, develop user personas, use-case scenarios, and journey maps.
- “Translate” your use-cases to the Microsoft 365 suite. Map how they can be optimally brought to life.
- As with the “Minimum Viable Product” in the Lean/Agile world, focus on the “Minimum Viable Experience” – must-have capabilities. Prioritize the ones that will yield maximum impact with the least effort.
- Apart from your executive sponsors, define champions and early adopters.
#4 Harness Microsoft (Office) 365 Adoption/Migration Tools
Don’t reinvent the wheel. Leverage available resources.
- Microsoft has a wealth of resources – here are some useful ones for Microsoft 365 adoption :
- Exchange Migration best practices
- Adoption Planning Workbook
- Adoption Resource Hub with resources and templates to help with the adoption of Microsoft 365
- Office 365 QuickStart guides
- A thriving community of others who have adopted Microsoft 365.
- Consider working with a Microsoft partner or a migration consultant for a better deal on bundled services when migrating to Office 365.
- FastTrack is a service included in your Microsoft subscription with change management resources to help gain user adoption and end-to-end guidance from Microsoft engineers and partners.
#5 Train Champions
Microsoft 365’s tagline “Your productivity cloud across work and life” emphasizes its people-centricity. Making the most of its intuitive, digital-first way of working requires your employees to be aware of and well-trained about its rich ecosystem and integrations within.
- Streamline end-user training with multiple formats and channels.
- Make training accessible and interesting with a SharePoint site with categorized training videos and hands-on tutorials.
- Incentivize the training with points, quizzes, and rewards.
- Create department-wise Champions. Start off your training program with department-wise champions. Equip them with the know-how to translate and simplify their day-to-day workflows and processes.
- Learning from co-workers is one of the most effective ways to adopt new technology.
- Ask the champions to evangelize benefits. When employees see the time/effort-saving advantages, they will be more inclined to adopt Microsoft 365.
#6 Secure Your Microsoft (Office) 365 Migration
When you migrate to a SaaS platform like Microsoft 365, it does take care of some of your previous on-premise responsibilities such as that of the data center, network, and applications. However, as per the Shared Responsibility Model, the onus of data protection still rests with you.
- While Microsoft has world-class security, it can not protect you from data loss at your end due to malware, human error, malicious intent, etc. You also have to factor in data inaccessibility due to ransomware and occasional downtime.
- Backup and recovery are a must to recover from data loss and ensure business continuity. A recent IDC study reported that 81% of the companies surveyed lost Office 365 data and only 15% were able to recover it without third-party backup.
- Also, explore solutions for email encryption and protection that prevent the main vector of malware scams – phishing.
- With inputs from your legal and compliance teams identify Litigation Hold items, retention and archival periods, and sensitive data.
#7 Evaluate and Adjust
Continuously improve your Microsoft Office 365 adoptions with healthy feedback cycles.
- Feedback from your early adopters and champions is vital as it helps you to fail fast and mitigate risks.
- Set up checkpoints where feedback – both good and bad – is reviewed. Adjust your processes based on the feedback. For instance, if you’re meeting with reluctance with a particular department – demo how you can resolve some of their pain points with Microsoft 365, set up a physical demo workspace, organize lunch and learns, etc.
- The Microsoft 365 Admin portal has reports and trends about user engagement levels so you can check on the health of your KPIs.
- Just as you take pointers from your KPIs, also keep an ear out for qualitative feedback. They can be just as impactful. Evangelize success stories and mimic them in other departments.
- In a large-scale adoption, use satisfaction surveys to gather end-user sentiment analysis.
I hope these pointers help ease your Microsoft Office 365 adoption. Here is a free 15-day trial (no fine print, no payment details, no setup, full-feature trial) of CloudAlly Microsoft 365 Backup that also includes Google Workspace Backup, Salesforce Backup, Box Backup, and Dropbox Backup. So you can backup your data from whatever platform you are migrating from too. For a storage-only migration try our SharePoint/OneDrive Backup.