Get answers to your questions about achieving success with a Microsoft 365 implementation project in this blog.
If your organization is going through massive change, it’s tough to complete a program like a Microsoft 365 implementation and adoption well.
Before you start, make sure it is the right time to introduce Microsoft 365 and that it supports your current key business goals. Then, ensure that your leadership understands the importance of helping this new level of engagement succeed and that they are willing to support your efforts.
To help you with those initial conversations, we answer some frequently asked questions regarding deployment, costs, measuring adoption success, maintaining momentum, and whether your organization can do this alone.
FAQ #1: How Do We Prepare to Deploy Microsoft 365?
Microsoft 365 will be a big change for many employees. It introduces possibilities for greater collaboration and innovation. However, collaboration and innovation require becoming more comfortable with shared work environments, documents being “in the cloud” and more.
As a result, don’t underestimate the impact of change on employees — especially if your Microsoft 365 deployment is happening among other major organizational changes. Change fatigue is real, and it’s growing. To prepare employees for even more change, communicate the reasons for the change and what it will entail early, often and in multiple mediums. For global user communities, build a communication and training plan that provides ample time for translation.
To further ensure team readiness, approach your migration in phases. Start by planning support organization changes immediately. Your changes should anticipate a hypercare model for early phases to provide extra assistance through your existing support channels, such as your IT Help Desk. Your org changes should also include support-team training for both central and local support teams before each new phase of deployment.
FAQ #2: How Do We Mitigate Risk When Deploying Microsoft 365?
Remote work, hybrid work and the proliferation of personal devices have created a world in which employees have the freedom to do business anywhere. However, this new way of working has placed significant stress on IT security and corporate compliance by extending our once private corporate networks to homes, coffee shops, libraries, parks and more. The result? Stress on your capacity to support safe access from outside your firewall.
To protect your data, you must secure your e-mails, files, messages and meetings on corporate-owned and personal devices. Highly regulated industries such as insurance, healthcare, and energy and utilities will have additional demands on their systems.
We advise creating a roadmap for deploying and adopting Microsoft 365 capabilities to protect identities, devices, data, and apps. Doing so requires understanding your:
- Security posture
- Business needs and requirements
- Current IT state and maturity level
- All security and compliance requirements.
Develop a joint action plan based on key results, recommendations and next steps.
At Centric, we have developed a Zero-Trust Framework to protect you, your systems and your data. It delivers:
- Identities to provide strong authentication across your digital estate
- Endpoints that provide visibility into the devices accessing the network
- Control of apps with real-time analytics and monitoring to decrease shadow IT
- Evaluation of your current state of information governance and information protection across cloud data.
FAQ #3: How Do We Control Costs?
Microsoft 365 is a comprehensive platform that touches virtually every part of your organization. As a result, your Microsoft 365 investment already includes most tools you will need to succeed in our new collaborative world.
As a result, managing costs starts with knowing what is included in your Microsoft 365 license. You can then evaluate your current software to identify those you can eliminate once Microsoft 356 is fully implemented. For example, you may find that some people use Microsoft Teams for meetings, while others still use Zoom or other platforms. Consolidating into Teams not only reduces security risk and avoids confusion but doing so allows you to avoid paying for duplicate services.
Obviously, you don’t want to turn all your existing applications off overnight. We advise building a roadmap that lays out when to migrate documents and when the switchover will happen. As it is throughout your migration process, communication at all stages of this process is essential.
Next, you need to assess your organization’s tolerance for change. This allows you to better target your investment in training and better target the change management initiatives you will need to undertake.
This is also a good time to start thinking of Teams as a platform, not just a calendar or meeting tool. Microsoft has changed its policies toward external apps, allowing you to integrate business essentials such as Salesforce into Teams. This allows team members to spend more time within Teams and extract more value from your Microsoft investment.
FAQ #4: How Do We Maintain Momentum?
Once you have successfully established a collaborative work environment that embraces Microsoft 365 — including its transformational collaboration platform, Microsoft Teams — continue to model the use of its tools to ensure you sustain the necessary shift in your organization’s cultural mindset. Culture doesn’t change overnight, so you need to think through your sustainability plan for 30, 60, 90 days and a year out.
Because Microsoft is always improving and adding functionalities, implementation and adoption are never-ending. Success requires continuous communication with adopters to ensure the change sticks and users evolve with the tools. Implement the following plans to support your teams’ readiness to maintain the momentum needed for continued collaboration and the effective use of Microsoft 365:
User Support Plan
- In addition to pre-deployment training, give your help desk and other teams the knowledge and resources they need to handle the volume and scope of ongoing questions.
- Define how users — especially new hires — will know where to go for support.
- For new users, understand their base level of experience and skill in Microsoft 365.
- Embed experienced collaborators within teams of new and less experienced users. Experienced collaborators can help users understand the new skills and tools they will need, as well as the importance of collaboration.
- Don’t assume new users will figure it out on their own.
Adoption Change Management Plan
- Determine how you will communicate new information to users even after deployment (pro tip: you can never overcommunicate!)
- Craft a strategy for engaging leaders and new team members, including periodic check points and refresher communication. Leaders must use Microsoft 365 as the only collection of tools for collaborative activities. Their endorsement is a critical component of continued success in driving collaboration and the use of Microsoft 365 tools. Refreshers prevent backsliding.
- Decide how you will deliver training. Online? In-person? Both?
- Outline specific activities to continue the momentum.
- Continue sharing Microsoft 365 successes, including small and big wins.
Security Awareness Plan
- Write policies that drive users to the Microsoft 365 platform as much as possible. Your team members may be anywhere, but your data shouldn’t be.
- Monitor new security risks and vulnerabilities continuously, and put teams in place to address them immediately.
FAQ #5: How Do We Measure Our Success?
Change management is often thought of as not measurable. Most organizations will measure the basics, such as the number of training courses and people trained, but that doesn’t really tell us if the change effort was successful. So how does an organization measure adoption success?
Measuring adoption is key to understanding what’s working and not working. Because Microsoft 365 is a strategic, potentially transformational investment in your organization rather than a one-time technology implementation project, you need to adjust as you go to ensure adoption occurs in a natural, timely manner. Begin by establishing solid metrics that point you in the right direction.
Generally, measurement falls into two areas: Engagement and activities we know hint at adoption and performance metrics that result from increased adoption.
The first set of measurements includes leadership’s use of the tool and employee engagement as well as training and post-training success. Measuring these activities tells us if users are engaged and the approach is working. These measurements provide early signs of success or failure.
The second measurement includes documenting and analyzing changes in operating costs, productivity, help desk volume, SharePoint usage, employee satisfaction, project costs and time spent on projects. Although most of these are lagging indicators, they can be useful in determining whether to make corrections in your approach to driving adoption – or they can point to success.
Microsoft provides usage reports that give insight into how adoption is going in your organization. For example, in terms of Teams, global administrators can view Teams analytics and reports that document the total number of active users and channels, the types of activities they engage in, the devices they use to access Teams and more. At the broader level, Microsoft 365 usage analytics, powered by Power BI, are delivered through a pre-built dashboard with cross-product views of the previous 12 months. Power BI also comes with pre-built reports that provide more specific data and insights.
Microsoft delivers other, even more granular analytics across the 365 suite through its Active User reports. They can tell you things like how users are interacting with OneDrive files, group members with mailbox activity in Microsoft 365 for Groups and more.
However, these tools are formal and reactive. You can also gather informal and proactive data by setting up a “Get to Know Teams” channel and collecting user feedback. Outside of Teams, employee surveys, open feedback, focus group sessions and help desk, and the most common questions users have will indicate how Microsoft 365 adoption is going — and how to improve it.
Prosci Methodology provides a way to extract even more value from your data. It starts by defining what success means for you. You can then determine ROI on metrics such as the number of team members using the platform or how long each session is and communicate the value that data represents within your organization.
FAQ #6: Can We Do This Alone?
You might expect our answer to be “no” and that you need us to do this. While we believe our experience adds significant value in the speed and sustainability of adoption, if you have a strong internal change management team, they could do this with the right approach.
However, when it comes to adopting Microsoft 365, do not underestimate what it takes to change people’s mindsets. And don’t automatically expect your project managers or business liaisons to have the knowledge and experience to tackle this work. You need dedicated change resources to do this well. Otherwise, you will not effectively implement Microsoft 365 and eventually go back to the drawing board after a lot of work and expense.
Many companies count on Microsoft’s FastTrack for Microsoft 365, which provides guidance on change management, for help in making the migration. However, FastTrack’s materials primarily address the tool itself and don’t stress enough the need to adopt specific collaborative behaviors that support your goals.
The best approach to accelerate adoption and ensure it is sustainable includes understanding user behaviors such as what motivates them and spearheading the right combination of actions necessary to ensure change takes place. Since human behavior is at the core of adoption, it is important to understand what drives resistance, and when needed, how to move beyond it. This requires the assistance of an experienced change management team.
You need a partner that can work with leadership, understands the organization, and embraces collaboration and employee engagement. Sometimes an external partner can be more successful than internal resources because they can point to industry best practices and examples of how other organizations have adopted Microsoft 365. Also, an experienced Microsoft 365 change management team can more quickly and successfully implement change because they have done this before – and know what works and what doesn’t.
Your partner should also be able to deliver ongoing support or managed services, not only help with implementation. Some firms helped companies launch tools such as Microsoft Teams in the pandemic emergency without putting governance or security in place first — and then left. They face not only confusion, security risks and higher costs, but also IT groups that are overwhelmed with providing support and keeping up with the changes. Organizations now need to restore order before they can move to the next level of using Teams as a platform.
Microsoft 365 can be a fantastic tool for your organization, but you must be willing to invest the time needed upfront to assess your current state, keep the momentum going once you have implemented the tool based on your capabilities and business needs, and provide continuous support for your teams. Doing so will allow you to make the most of your Microsoft 365 investment and prepare you to go where you want to grow.