So, you’re planning to implement Office 365 (or maybe you already have implemented one or more features). Good call! If you're a large business it makes sense to move to the cloud versus more capital expense in data centers and servers. Or if you're a smaller business the benefits of a cloud suite greatly outweigh the inefficiencies of free email and file sharing systems.
But moving to the cloud isn't necessarily going to solve all your productivity and security problems without some work on your end. We've helped hundreds of companies move to Office 365 and have seen most companies succeed, but we've also seen companies struggle to see a return on their investment. The companies that struggle tend to make one or more of these mistakes:
When moving to the cloud, it makes sense to start with email. It is an easy workload to use and fairly simple to migrate with the right project approach. However, this is where most people stop with their migration plan. If your goal is just to ‘move email’, then mission accomplished. But most companies we work with have other goals, like allowing their employees to work anywhere and on any device or helping teams be more productive.
Along these same lines, it is possible to go too far too fast. We see this frequently with applications like SharePoint. SharePoint can do a lot of cool stuff. Sometimes, when customers see all the capabilities, they want it all and they want it now. Unless you have unlimited budget and unlimited time, this is a bad approach.
We typically recommend starting with email but have a plan before you begin on what phase 2 will look like. If you aren’t sure where to start, consider asking your team what they struggle with the most, then use that as your phase 2 plan. (We’ve found the most common answer is that teams struggle with being able to find the right information.) Build up excitement and awareness for phase 2 before phase 1 even gets off the ground.
2. The 80/20 rule applies to Office 365.
Just like the traditional on-premises Office products that had lots of features that no one used (be honest, how many of you knew about QuickParts?), Office 365 has tons of really useful features to help make your team more productive.
Those features are only useful if your team understands when and how to use them. Consider a training champion who is aware of new features in Office 365 (the best place to look is the Office 365 Message Center in the admin portal). Activate a Yammer group to share challenges and best practices for getting work done, not for using a product.
I am amazed at the number of people who just ‘accept’ that it’s normal to have to boot up your laptop, log in to the laptop, connect to VPN, connect to the file share, make an edit to a file, then email the file to everyone on the team. There is a better way – but if you’ve never been coached on how to do it, your team will continue to work the way they always have worked.
3. Security isn’t taken seriously.
Most people assume, incorrectly, that Microsoft owns all the responsibility around Office 365 security. This is a dangerous assumption. As shown in the graph below, you have responsibilities for your cloud services:
At the very least, implement Multi-Factor authentication for your global admins. Check your Office 365 Secure Score regularly (we recommend twice a year, with the beginning and end of daylight savings time being your reminders).
If you are in an industry that has highly sensitive information (think finance, medical, legal), then strongly consider implementing Azure Information Protection and Rights Management.
If it would hurt your business if an employee ‘went rogue’ and deleted files or walked out the door with your information on their personal mobile device then consider implement Enterprise Mobility Suite.
We're written more about security features in Office 365 on this blog.
4. A lack of ownership is the death rattle.
Somewhat tied to #1 above, once most organizations ‘migrate’ to Office 365, they stop forward motion. Meaning, they move a workload (or all workloads) to Office 365 and then just stop. This is most common with small and midsized firms who may have worked with Microsoft’s Onboarding Center (sometimes referred to as the FastTrack Benefit) or an immature Microsoft Cloud Partner.
To be successful, you must nominate an internal champion or work with a partner who has a customer success manager assigned to your account. The things that we suggest that the champion (or customer success manager) be responsible for include:
- New feature awareness and evangelism across the company
- New hire on-boarding training
- Semi-regular ‘refresher’ training for employees (we recommend twice a year)
- Best practices identification and socialization of those practices with the organization
- Regular license reviews
Without someone championing Office 365 and ensuring you’re maximizing your investment, you’re likely going to waste money.
5. Most people aren’t willing to change their business processes.
Change is hard. I remember when I had to move from Quattro Pro to Excel (Yes, I am showing my age). It seems that in the past decade more and more people aren’t willing to really take a deep look at their business processes to make sure they are aligned for the next ten years.
We see this every day when we are working with customers. A common example looks like this.
Customer: “We want to move our file share to the cloud.”
Us: “Got it. Most customer have a file/folder structure that they have used for years. While well intentioned, it is probably difficult for people to either find files or know where they should save files. Does that sound right?”
Customer: “Yes. In fact, sometimes people drag and drop folders inside of folders and we think we have lost files!”
Us: “Ok, then the best option is to rethink how your teams work together and put together a good file sharing strategy which may require us to rethink the current file/folder structure and change how people work together.”
Customer: “That sounds very disruptive. Let’s just pick things up and move them the way they are.”
We have this conversation (or a very similar one) on a weekly basis with customers. If your team isn’t willing to look at current business processes and think about new ways to solve challenges, then you will continue to work the way you have always worked (and get the same results you have always received).
Some easy ways to get around this are:
- Start small. No one likes change, but they especially don’t like a lot of change at once. Ease into this, get some quick wins, and your team will be more willing to change over time.
- Explain the ‘why’ of the change. Most people can get behind change if they understand why change is happening. Explain how it will benefit them personally and help them get more work done every day.
- Work with a partner who understands your business and the nuances that are associated with it. The way a real estate development company uses Office 365 may be very different than the way a tax accountant uses Office 365.
- Create training cheat sheets. If you are going to change a process, make it easy for users to understand how to get their work done with the new process. In our experience, this is the number one way to get buy-in. A simple, one pager that shows the new business process flow can be kept at a user’s desk and they can refer to it quickly.
There are many great reasons to make the move to Office 365. Just don’t make the mistake of thinking that moving to the cloud won’t involve some work on your end, even if you’re working with a partner. If you put in the necessary work, and avoid the pitfalls above, then your chances for success are high.