The secret to successfully rolling out Office 365

James Mitchell, senior product manager for Unified Communications at Claranet UK, argues that driving user adoption is absolutely crucial to the success of your Office 365 implementation

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By Guest on 09 February 2018
The secret to successfully rolling out Office 365

This article first appeared in the Winter 2017 issue of The Record.

The world of work is changing. Employees are more mobile, more dispersed, and expect to be able to work anytime and in any place. The same goes for customers as well, who demand much higher levels of access, engagement, and service from their suppliers. This can put a strain on your technology. A recent Computer Weekly study found 90% of decision-makers saying their legacy IT has become a major barrier to growth. The good news is that a new generation of applications are now available, with Microsoft Office 365 offering some of the most powerful tools.

But this isn’t the end of the story. In our experience, there is no such thing as a fool-proof rollout, whatever the marketing hype. For small businesses based on a single site, it’s true that a new system deployment can probably be completed in one weekend. But, for businesses that have grown to a couple of hundred seats, the resources, preparation, and attention to detail required increases exponentially. In fact, according to a recent study, 37% of new IT projects on this scale fail completely.

Factor in multiple sites and global expansion, and the complexity increases even more. Then there’s the question of managing and syncing those remote activities back to head office over multiple time zones.

Even when the new system has been deployed, the project remains at risk. What happens if end users don’t know how to use the new applications correctly? A learning curve is to be expected, but you cannot afford for productivity to drop too far. Your employees – wherever they are – will need to be trained in advance to minimise the effect on productivity.

This is all essential for driving user adoption. After all, if employees refuse to use the tools provided, your business will not realise the expected benefits. Which means you will still be held back by technology, even if it is the latest version.

Time and effort in the planning stages is, therefore, fundamental to any Office 365 roll-out project. Get it right, and your business – like many of our customers – will soon see the benefits of improved collaboration and more streamlined access to shared documents, all in real-time to aid faster decision-making. Office 365 in the cloud also means your business will be able to scale up and scale down more easily to respond to variations in demand and operate more efficiently.

Get it wrong, your roll-out project will be time and budget spent, with minimal return… and with your business back at square one.

James Mitchell is senior product manager for Unified Communications at Claranet UK

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