This article was originally published in the Summer 2018 issue of The Record.
I’ve had a few conversations recently that have started in the same way: “We’re going to move to Office 365, but we need to organise some training for our users”. Of course, training is a key part of any change programme and is a key part of driving adoption of the tools available in Office 365. But if it’s not considered carefully, it can be of minimal use and even counter-productive.
To address this issue, we always advise customers to start by thinking about the business outcomes they are trying to achieve. Simply inviting teams to generic training (even once you’ve selected a tool that is likely to be used from the vast array available within Office 365) isn’t going to get much interest. However, tell colleagues how you are going to provide them some training that will help them to do part of their job in a better way (such as the capability to collaborate online with colleagues on the next monthly report they need to produce so they can get it done quicker and without version control issues, for example), and you’ve set an outcome that aligns to their goals, not yours.
There is even more to consider, such as which users are going to work with which tools, how you are going to set them up, the order that each tool will be rolled out, and how much ‘experimentation’ you plan to allow.
All these elements need careful thought to ensure any training is specific and relevant. You may also want to develop very detailed rules about what documents are stored where on SharePoint, who can access which folders and what rights different users have to change structure/create teams for example. If your training doesn’t consider your own set up and policies, its value can be significantly less.
There are likely to be tools that you’ll adopt company-wide, such as Exchange, OneDrive, SharePoint, and tools only used by some teams or roles across your organisation (Planner, Forms etc.). Even then you will have some key decisions to make, especially with the changes in the collaboration tooling and the rise of Microsoft Teams. Are you going to jump straight to Microsoft Teams now, or are you an existing Skype for Business user and you want to stay put with that, at least for the time being?
Getting all of these things right is normally beyond the skill set you’ll find in an IT team. It needs cross-business support, and often bringing in a specialist consultant to help.
Microsoft’s modern collaboration tools can make a big impact to the efficiency, productivity, and creativity of your organisation, but only if the implementation and adoption is well considered.
Neil Thomas is marketing and communications services director at Claranet
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