Categories
Microsoft 365 Modern Workplace

The road to productivity

Since you read my blog, my guess is that you are in the Microsoft ecosystem. That could be running a Windows computer, using Microsoft 365, or administrating 35 000 devices in Microsoft Endpoint Manager.

But let’s talk about Microsoft 365, or Office 365 as we can also call it. Because this post will focus more on productivity tools rather than devices.

Transitioning to modern tools

My hope is that you are already today using the Office 365 suite, which could be Outlook, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. I hope all of you are already made the transition over to Teams or have at least planned what your journey will look like moving away from Skype for Business. But Office 365 contains so much more than just these six usual suspects. Office 365 is a suite packed with a lot of different productivity and collaboration tools.

What you can access depends of course on what licenses you have bought, but you will have a tool for basically every situation.

File sharing – OneDrive for Business. Collaboration – SharePoint. Project management – Projects. Kanban boards – Planner. Corporate videos – Stream. Big all company meetings – Teams Live Event. Note taking – OneNote. Digital whiteboards – Whiteboard. Personal to-do lists – To Do.

You get the point. There are a lot of often unknown and unused potential in your Office 365 suite. Microsoft provides a bunch of modern tools which becomes disposable for you and your users when you adopt Office 365, providing you with modern tools from the same eco system.

Spread awareness

I way to often stumble across customers, friends and even co-workers who are not aware of the power of Office 365. Instead they turn to well-known consumer products, e.g. Trello or DropBox which lives completely outside the corporate sphere. Not only does corporate data live in a place you don’t control, the free-to-use service does usually only apply for consumer usage, which means that you could be asked to pay for a corporate license for your rouge users.

Historically, these have been quite common as a solution on the problem that the employer does not provide sufficient tools. But that is no longer the case if you have the Microsoft 365 services. The problem might be that your users does not know this yet. Or simply doesn’t care, that is absolutely a possibility as well.

Since you are already paying for the Office 365 suite and Microsoft 365 services, you should really encourage your users to do and use the right things. Spread awareness about all the great tools that they have at their disposal!

Conclusion

If you have spent the time and money to move to Office 365, make sure that you make the most out of it. You invested a lot in the transition, but that doesn’t mean that the work stops there. The Microsoft services are constantly evolving, and you need make sure you keep up in some way or another and keep deploying new tools and services to your users.

Another aspect of this is securing your corporate data. If you use tools within the product suite you have decided to work with, this applies not only to the Microsoft world, the data will live in a place which you control and govern. If you start using other services, especially consumer services, that data might not be yours anymore and you can’t apply retention policies and data leak prevention policies to that service nor data. This is a big problem when your corporate data lives on places it shouldn’t. However, that’s a completely different topic which I could dedicate a complete post to.

But I hope you get where I’m coming from and there are a few takeaways from this.

  1. Make the most of the productivity suite you have bought
  2. Don’t use consumer versions for corporate use
  3. Protect the data by keeping it within the corporate sphere

Given the development Microsoft have done with the Office 365 suite the last couple of years, most of the tools you need for productivity can be found there. Make sure you tell your users and make the most of the investment you have already made!

And to be clear, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t go buy other productivty tools. But before you do, make sure you don’t already have what your users are asking for within your exisiting tools.

Categories
Digital Transformation

Expectation management and communications

Before we get started, I’m in no way pretending to be a communications professional. These are just my experiences and learnings down the road.

Let’s face it, and we all know this. In general, we in IT are not great in end-user communication and expectation management. We live and breathe technology, and somewhere we sometimes forget that someone is supposed to use our fancy-best-of-breed-solution.

Okay, a bit over generalizing but if you have worked in IT, I think you might recognize this. We often forget about the end-user and we fail to tell them about all the wonderful things we do, but also what they can expect from us.

I will try to provide you with a high-level view, to help YOU take the decisions what to do and why, not really the HOW in this post.

Now that we have managed the expectations, let’s get into this.

Expectations management

Since you are reading this, I assume that you are in some way involved in the end-user service area and are either providing or helping to provide services to end users. You are operating in the layer where most users interact.

But what have you promised your end users? What are they buying from you? Do they know or are they just “paying the bill”? This is something that varies between organizations, depending on size, location, culture, and previous structures of the IT department.

But what are you selling to your end users? Are they just buy “a computer” or are there more services attached like deskside support and a helpdesk?

There are a lot of questions related to this, and hence one of the themes for this post.

What do your users THINK that they are buying and what are you delivering?

This is the most important part which is also the trickiest one. To set an expectation with your users (which are your customers) on what they will receive buying the service from you. It might be that you are the only one that are allowed to provide this service within you organization, or that you are the preferred one but they could operate it them self or turn to a third party to provide this.

None the less, making it clear for the end users on what to expect from your service is increasingly important. Especially since enabling new services is three clicks and a credit card away…

What value are you adding to the equation?

End-user communications

Enter end-user communications. This is a hard area and there is a reason that organizations hire communications professionals. They might not know all about fancy IT stuff (that’s not why they were hired), but you can make sure that they know all about getting your message out there!

From my experience by working in the end-user area, this is something that is super important but also, very often forgotten about. We tend to update something we consider as small, but it might have huge end-user impact. If we don’t successfully inform our users about this, we might cause unnecessary frustrations. Even though we need to adopt an Evergreen mindset, we need to make sure that our users know what’s going on. Keep them in the loop.

I’m no communications expert, but I’ve seen and delivered the outcome from projects where there were a lot of end-user communications and less communication. What do you think where the most successful, in the aspect of user adoption?

Yes, the projects where extensive end-user communications were performed.

However, you always need to adopt amount/channels/information to whomever is the target for the change. Some information might only be needed by your support people, other information might be of more value to your end-users.

The go-do / take away

So, what is the takeaway from this?

Try to define your services for your end-users possible and communicate these. A PDF hidden away on a SharePoint site will never be found, putting it on some sort of intranet site might be a better idea to clearly state to your end-users what they can expect by buying the service from you and what value you add to them.

This is of course something that varies between businesses, but defining services is a crucial step to set the expectations right with your users.

I would also really encourage you to reach out to your communications professionals within your business for advice and work together with them. They can really help you get you message out there, making sure that your end-users (customers) understand why things are happening and changing in the way they are. But don’t expect them to do your work for you. You will still need to put in the effort but getting their advice and/or input might change the success rate of your project.