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If you were on a road trip from New York to Philadelphia for the first time, you would likely rely on your GPS or mapping app on your cell phone to guide you. It would enable you to reach your destination as efficiently and effectively as possible and help you navigate around any unforeseen obstacles.

Office 365 Roadmap

The Office 365 Roadmap helps IT leaders anticipate changes, enabling them to plan for the expansion of Office 365 across their organizations.

In the same way, Microsoft offers its Office 365 Roadmap to help IT leaders navigate changes to the suite of applications. It informs you about releases down the road as well as those in the rear view mirror. You can use it to discover updates that have already launched, are rolling out, are in development, and even those that have fallen by the wayside. Because you can see the path ahead, you can anticipate changes, enabling you to plan for the expansion of Office 365 across your organization.

How can you use the Office 365 Roadmap to boost proficiency and productivity within your organization? Here are four suggestions:

1. Monitor It

Set up a procedure for reviewing the Office 365 Roadmap to ensure you have time to plan ahead for upcoming features and releases. Bookmark the roadmap on your computer and set up reminders to check it out every couple of weeks or once a month. Note any planned changes that could impact your organization and will require you to take action.

2. Respond Swiftly

Because Office 365 is in constant flux, you will need to put the actions you take to smooth the ripples of change on autopilot. That means setting up a step-by-step, agile process for responding to updates and introductions, one that avoids duplication of effort. For example, instead of planning to create content to explain mid-to-large changes to employees, use the email templates from Microsoft’s Message Center as a starting point and modify to the needs of your business. Create the emails in advance so you can send them as soon as the update occurs, allowing for timely updates.

3. Communicate

To ensure users pay attention to your updates, communicate as much as necessary, but as little as possible. For instance, some updates are so critical that you will need to share them immediately while others can wait until you send out a monthly newsletter. Use your judgment.

Take advantage of social media and email sharing mechanisms included in the Office 365 Roadmap to let users know about relevant changes. The roadmap supports spreading the word through public social media platforms as well as Yammer. Using Yammer will enable employees to collaborate with you and each other across departments and geographical borders. Remember that people have different preferences, so use a variety of tools such as your intranet, your company newsletter and posters to get the word out. Also, provide a series of checklists to make sure employees know what steps to take when a program launches.

4. Help Users Adopt Change

Make a plan as to how and when to inform users about updates pertinent to your organization. You can find articles and troubleshooting tips to share in Microsoft’s Office Training Center. However, you need to supplement this information.

With everything on their plates, employees may have a hard time digesting a large amount of technical information in one serving. Serve up micro-trainings one bite at a time. Have users reserve time on their calendars for learning new ways to be more proficient and productive. Once they have mastered the basics, conduct interactive workshops for advanced users, digging deep into complex issues.

Also, training does not have to be face-to-face. Self-help resources provide employees access to videos with screen captures and step-by-step instructions, enabling users to visualize how to use various apps at their own speed and convenience. Such training empowers employees to solve their own technical issues.

With Office 365, you have to react faster than ever before, but change will not be as momentous as going from one desktop version to the next. The key to remaining agile and getting users on board is to map out your change processes and provide a robust training program that’s flexible and caters to individual needs.

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