This article first appeared in the Summer 2017 issue of The Record.
With the portfolio of Microsoft Office 365 (O365) collaborative business services ever increasing, there is much to be gained from driving adoption through clarity of purpose. This means assigning services to specific business aims and primary goals. To achieve this, it makes perfect sense to categorise services by business goal and contextualise services by audience type.
To categorise services from a business perspective, most organisations seek to share information, collaborate and communicate. Consequently, information, collaboration and communication offer three very usable categories to map services against. Using this principle, we can choose to group or map appropriate O365 services against each of these three business drivers. Categorisation ensures that the most appropriate O365 services are being used to meet each of these primary goals.
To contextualise services, we need a business audience hierarchy. To contextualise effectively, we can define three simple audience levels typical of most organisations. These are: organisation; team; and individual. Contextualising services by audience will underpin faster progression both in terms of delivery and service adoption. By mapping services to contexts, we can more easily define both the best sequence of delivery for our organisation, as well as offer clarity as to which services should be used to achieve which categories of business tasks.
As we bring our categories and contexts together into a single model, we now have an easier way of defining the type of business audience and an easy way of contextualising available services to achieve business goals. This produces a simple service design as well as a policy structure for service use.
It is logical for any organisation to seek to share information across the entire company, collaborate through its business teams and groups, and communicate as individuals.
Where contexts do overlap, we must be careful to delineate clearly between them from a business goal/service-use perspective. An excellent example is that the SharePoint Search service provides business value within each context and for each category. We can expect SharePoint Search to be a service that permeates across all business contexts.
On the other hand, using collaborative services best used within a team context (such as SharePoint Team Site document libraries) within the context of an individual (OneDrive for Business document libraries) can easily lead to confusion as to their business purpose. In these scenarios, additional business policy is required to define what goes where and why.
A key outcome of using an infographic map is to ensure that competing services do not appear within the same context, as this will affect user adoption. Microsoft offers controls for some areas such as allowing you to choose between a SharePoint or a Yammer newsfeed. However, in many scenarios, it is down to you to decide which O365 services you prefer in order to achieve specific business goals. It would make no sense to ask your users to participate in Yammer Groups at the same time as also asking them to participate in SharePoint Community Sites unless there is a clear delineation of business purpose and category.
It is important to plan for the dynamic growth of the O365 portfolio. Each organisation has the flexibility to select appropriate services from their portfolio based on their preferred licensing levels (i.e. E3 or E5), as well as their preference for specific services to be made available to users (i.e. SharePoint, Delve, Skype, Yammer, Exchange).
However, if we start with a category/context infographic in our planning and budgeting stage we can first be clear about our business objectives. Therefore, we can also ensure that our license levels meet our immediate business priorities. As we enhance our licensing over time, we can map additional services into each of our categories and contexts and retain a cohesive plan for growth.
There is a final component to mapping O365 services effectively and it is called time-mapping. By categorising the usability of services to meet business speed so we can create urgency groups. These can be defined as: low priority; immediate; and urgent. If this aligns with your organisational aims, then sub group your services within each context and choose which ones map best to the frequency required (i.e. use Skype for Business for urgent communication rather than email).
By applying categories and context to your O365 services portfolio you will be far more able to offer your business audiences clarity of purpose when leveraging each service and in doing so you will be far more successful with O365. It is a process we use with our international clients extensively at Morgan & Wolfe and it underpins their success in their fields of business.
Ian McNeice is strategy director and Gabriella Ladogana is client director at Morgan & Wolfe.
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