In the cloud adoption game, Microsoft Office 365 has quickly become the clear leader. According to a May 2018 Bitglass report, Office 365 has been deployed by more than 56 percent of organizations globally, up from 34 percent in 2016.
However, as we’ve noted before in this space, increased usage doesn’t equate to an increased return on investment. To get the most out of Office 365—or any technology investment—business leaders must focus not only on whether employees use the technology, but also on how they use it to create value for the organization.
While the specific path each company takes toward Office 365 adoption will be different, we have found from our experience that successful outcomes are more likely when organizations approach it with purpose and planning. Knowing where to begin helps, too. Here are three ways to get your organization started:
1. Go Macro The beginning phase of any tech transition is almost always focused on bringing users up to pre-migration productivity levels. After you achieve this, shift your efforts toward encouraging new ways of working. Show users how the suite’s applications work together to increase productivity, encourage collaboration, and spark innovation. For example:
– OneDrive for Business enables users to save files and access them anywhere via a browser or from within an Office application; share files with people inside or outside the organization; work with others in real-time on documents; and more.
– With Microsoft Teams and SharePoint, users can find their team files, communication and more in one place, without having to worry about attachments or version control.
2. Go Micro No matter where you are in a migration, it’s critical to keep an eye on Microsoft’s roadmap to see what changes are in development, are rolling out, or have recently been launched. Devise a plan to regularly communicate the changes to employees—including what the changes are and how they might affect them. Be ready with training and support when they need it.
3. Focus on the Pain Points with Office 365, many organizations primarily use a handful of tools—Exchange Online/Outlook; productivity apps like Word, Excel and PowerPoint; plus OneDrive for Business, SharePoint, OneNote and others. Other Office elements are often underused or feared.
In a pulse survey published earlier this year, Gartner asked respondents which Office 365 components their organizations use, and also asked them to assign each element a value on a scale from 0 to 100. The survey shows that usage of applications such as Teams, Power BI, Yammer, and others was much lower, dipping just below 50 percent and as low as 30 percent.
In the study, Gartner also found that there was a significant gap between usage and value. For example, nearly three-quarters of respondents indicated that they use SharePoint, but they assigned it an average of 14 points out of 100 for value. The disparity was even wider for other applications such as OneNote, Teams, OneDrive for Business, and Skype for Business.
An effective way to eliminate pain points is by fostering employees’ desire for change. Explain why the technology is beneficial, to both the individual and the organization, and follow through with training and support that isn’t overwhelming or too intensive from the start. For example, teach specific tasks in SharePoint or Excel—features they can use immediately in their jobs. Give users the ability to build up to more difficult features, encourage questions and tell them where to get help when they are stuck.
Adoption of cloud technology like Office 365 will continue to grow, and with it will come immense productivity potential. Organizations that equip their employees with the desire to change and the ability to meet challenges will achieve more value and a much greater return on investment.
Jen is an award-winning journalist who writes about workplace productivity and technology for Vitalyst. She believes in the power of using plain language, especially when writing about technology, and lists “achieving and enabling clarity” among her life goals.