Filed under: Microsoft 365
The business-first methodology for Office 365 provides a strategic structure and approach for making a true success of Office 365. Starting with a vision and strategy, and working down to hands-on activities, it drives technology decisions from a real understanding of employee and business needs.
The strategic approach to Office 365, however, can be daunting to some organisations and teams. Acknowledging this, we have outlined two approaches to Office 365 (strategic and tactical):
Teams still have to make a decision at the beginning of their journey, do they want to take the ‘high road’ or the ‘low road’. This decision shapes project planning, the allocation of resources, and how the business is engaged.
In practice, we have seen six clues that suggest when teams should take a tactical approach:
- the business doesn’t understand the full possibilities of Office 365
- the focus has just been on Office 365 as a platform
- Office 365 has already been ‘rolled out’ to the business
- ‘ownership’ of the platform or apps isn’t clear
- there isn’t a true digital workplace team in place
- there isn’t budget available for big projects
Each of these is outlined below.
1. The business doesn’t understand the full possibilities of Office 365
It’s no exaggeration to say that Office 365 has the potential to change how everyone works, and how businesses themselves operate. Underpinned by a vision of people-driven collaboration and innovation, Office 365 offers a growing suite of powerful tools.
The potential for big changes is also one of the greatest challenges that initially need to be overcome. If the future involves working differently, how does the business know what to ask for?
A series of carefully chosen tactical projects can be the best way to break up the logjam. More than just conducting ‘pilots’, targeted waves can roll out capabilities in a way that brings staff along the journey. It shows in concrete terms how digital tools can provide benefits, as well as creating success stories that build interest throughout the rest of the business.
As outlined in the two approaches to Office 365 article, once a few successful waves have been conducted, it becomes possible to revisit a more strategic approach.
2. The focus has just been on Office 365 as a platform
Quite apart from the new web apps provided by Office 365, there are important benefits gained by simply moving to the cloud. Cloud-based Active Directory simplifies integration with other cloud systems, and Exchange in the cloud eliminates local bottlenecks.
There is also a heap of work to be done behind-the-scenes to make the transition, including rolling out new hardware and upgrading to Windows 10. It’s not surprising, therefore, that some IT teams run out of steam after the basic migration to Office 365 has been done.
The problem is that web-based versions of Outlook and Word aren’t enough to make Office 365 a sustainable success, and adoption must be much wider than this. In practice, however, IT funding may have run out (for the time being) after the migration is finished.
In these situations, tactical approaches to Office 365 adoption and use keep things moving, quietly building adoption and support, ready for the next big push.
3. Office 365 has already been ‘rolled out’ to the business
One of the dangers outlined in the business-first Office 365 article is that Office 365 may be ‘rolled out’ simply by launching it, and letting organic growth take care of the rest. Typically driven by IT, this approach invariably leads to highly patchy adoption, with not enough overall usage to ensure longer-term sustainability.
Coming into a new organisation, or moving into a new team, this can be a challenge: the ‘official line’ is that Office 365 has already been rolled out, so nothing else needs to be done!
While a more strategic approach will ultimately be needed, there is typically not the appetite for this, particularly if the ‘roll out’ happened quite recently. Instead, tactical approaches built around people and technology waves can build on existing adoption, as well as demonstrating the benefits gained by a more disciplined approach.
4. ‘Ownership’ of the platform or apps isn’t clear
It goes without saying that IT owns the underlying platform and infrastructure of Office 365, including active directory and application security. Office 365 is much bigger than this, of course, consisting of 20+ individual applications that provide a wide range of staff- and business-oriented services.
In this context, IT may see itself as being responsible for making Office 365 available to the business, but not necessarily as the ‘business owner’ empowered (and expected) to make decisions about how these tools should be used.
There may also be different owners across Office 365, depending on the specific functionality (eg one owner for collaboration tools, another for business process automation, and so on).
In many organisations there isn’t clear digital workplace governance, and ownership may not be fully decided. In the absence of clear business ownership, big projects or decisions may be put on hold, making tactical approaches the shorter-term way forward.
5. There isn’t a true digital workplace team in place
The common theme that runs through all these discussions is that Office 365 success won’t happen by itself. Instead, both strategic and tactical activities will be needed to drive — and foster — sustainable success.
To state the obvious, this work will need to be done by someone! Ideally, this would be lead by a multi-disciplinary digital workplace team who combine technology, change and UX skills.
If this team, or something similar, isn’t in place then a tactical approach may be required. This enables smaller activities to be picked based on the time, money and resources that actually are available. As the usage of Office 365 grows, this will steadily build the case for a true digital workplace team.
6. There isn’t budget available for big projects
Rounding out this list, it doesn’t hurt to state the obvious: if you don’t have much (or any!) money, take a tactical approach. There’s more to this than meets the eye, however, as funding is rarely black-or-white.
In many instances, there’s a process for requesting additional funding. This may be via a formal business case submitted once per year for review by a steering committee. Equally, it could be an informal request to a stakeholder to allocate some of their own pool of money to a project.
So a judgement call needs to be made: can you get more funding, how likely will it be, and how long could it take? In practice, waiting a bit may unlock the ability to do a bigger, more strategic project.
By default, however, it’s wise to assume that no additional funding is coming. That focuses attention on actually delivering a smaller, more tactical piece, rather than ending up stuck in a holding pattern for months or even years.
Go small, and keep going!
This article has outlined a number of scenarios when a small-scale tactical approach will deliver the most Office 365 progress. With so many possible benefits provided by Office 365, there is no shortage of practical, pragmatic approaches to be taken.
Of course, a more strategic approach will ultimately be required to enable the full benefits of Office 365 to be realised. You may also be lucky enough to be in a position to take a strategic approach from the outset, and if so, go for it!
The key thing is to keep moving, always focused on delivering business benefits, and meeting the day-to-day needs of staff. Whether by large or small activities, this will build adoption and demonstrate why Office 365 was the right decision for all involved.