So you have a good understanding of the Office 365 tools available. Now how do you decide which are best for your organisation?

To help guide you in your decision, we’ve pooled our experience of Office 365 roll out projects across a wide range of organisations to create a list of the key things to consider before deploying a new tool. This will help you to identify the right tools for your organisation, the right time to deploy them, and the right order to do it in to ensure successful adoption and return on investment:

1. How will it be implemented?

  • What are the training requirements to ensure successful adoption and increase productivity?
  • What support will your users need? Who will provide it? What pressure will it put on your existing resources?
  • Will you need to identify and train super users who can become advocates for the tool and offer training/support to users in their teams?
  • Will the tool’s use be mandated, or left for users to decide?
  • How will tool guidelines for use/best practice be communicated to your users?

2. Does it leverage existing structures/tools?

  • Does it complement or support your existing ways of working?

The more easily the tools align/fit in with the way your users are working now, the more readily they will be adopted, and the more valuable they will become to your business.

  • Does it streamline or automate a process? 

People tend to follow the path of least resistance and use whichever tools make their lives easier. How will this tool benefit your users across the organisation?

  • Does it support your models of collaboration/access/sharing? 

For example, if your users are currently self managing access to information, they won’t want to start using a tool that requires authorisation from central IT, and the same is true vice versa.

  • Does it complement your existing tools/line of business systems? 

If you need to integrate with other programmes or systems, you should consider whether the tool in question supports the relevant connectors or APIs.

3. What are the dependencies?

Does the tool require any preparation before deployment/release, e.g training, support, trial/pilot groups, or technical dependencies?

For example, if a permissions model is required, does your Active Directory need a clean-up beforehand? How long will this take?

4. What business value will it deliver?

  • Will there be demonstrable benefit?

It can be tempting to deploy new tools as they are released just to see what they are like (and because it’s fun!) but this approach often causes chaos among users as they become confused by the different tools on offer. It is important to ensure that rolling out the tool to your users will deliver tangible business benefits before hitting the button.

  • How many users will benefit and to what degree? 

Understanding which users will benefit the most from each tool will help make the rollout more efficient and easier to manage – it may be that not all tools are useful to all users, so deployment can be focused on those who need it.

  • Does the beneficial impact outweigh the disruptive one? 

The introduction of new tools/services inevitably causes disruption to the business as users take time to set up and become familiar with using them, and IT support must make themselves available to provide troubleshooting assistance. The benefit of the new tool must outweigh this disruption, or users are unlikely to adopt it. Productivity tools will only add value when they are used correctly.

5. What’s the risk?

  • Does the tool pose any additional business risk?

Some of the Office 365 tools can be used for external collaboration, and so may involve the exposure of company data to external users. It’s crucial to the security and integrity of your data that you understand the potential damage that could be done to your business if this information should accidentally be shared with the wrong users. Carefully evaluating the risks will highlight any additional measures required to protect your data, such as Enterprise Device Management, Information Rights Management and Data Loss Prevention policies.

  • What Governance is needed?

Consideration of how the tools will be governed is essential. This may take the form of guidance, policies, or training. Creating a clear structure of governance around how each tool will be used by different users makes it easy to identify when a tool has walked outside the established boundaries of that governance, and further security tooling investment is required.

  • Who will support it?

For each tool, you should look at whether its support will be covered within your current Managed Service Agreement, and if not, where you can find the appropriate level of support for the tool to prevent an “only Dave knows how to change it” scenario.

6. Can users be delegated to securely self-manage?

  • Where are permissions controlled? 

Does access need to be user controlled, or is there a requirement for permission to be controlled centrally by IT? This ability varies by tool, and is an important consideration when choosing the right one for your business.

The more you empower your users and the more responsibility they have, the more training they will require, therefore if management is being delegated to users, you may also need to consider the additional training and support required to ensure the security of your corporate data.

Approach

To get the most value and impact from your Office 365 subscription, the evaluation of each new tool should be treated a mini business improvement project. It should involve engagement with your users to understand their requirements and appetite, an evaluation of the tools available on the market to meet those requirements, and a pitch back to the business to demonstrate the value.

Also, once you have chosen your tools, it’s important to continually evaluate their effectiveness as your organisation and processes evolve, to ensure they continue to deliver the maximum possible value to your business.

Which Office 365 tools is your organisation using? How are your users getting on with them? Let us know in the comments.

The Business Cloud Integration team offer guidance and support for the entire lifecycle of your SharePoint deployment, from initial guidance and Office 365 roadmap planning through to SharePoint design, build, development, and training.

info@businesscloudintegration.co.uk / 01223 772365

Sharon Sumner

Author Sharon Sumner

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