blog.frederique.harmsze.nl my world of work and user experiences

March 31, 2018

The user properties need to be correct in Office 365

Filed under: Adoption,Office365 — frederique @ 22:31

In Office 365, things like the job titles, departments and offices of our users are very visible. And we use those properties heavily in the search options. So we are in trouble if these properties are incorrect.

At the moment, we are rolling out Office 365 in a large company. Users are invited to join SharePoint Online sites and Yammer groups. They get Outlook Online. So they are looking around in Office 365 and noticing the properties that are displayed. A well-meaning IT guys pointed out the people search. But now the users are starting to notice that these properties are sorely out of date… And they are not happy about that…

  • “I’ve uploaded my photo in my profile, but that profile says that I am a secretary and I have changed jobs years ago. So how can I change that?”
  • “I’ve followed the wizard to set up Multi-Factor Authentication, like you told me, and I ended up on a page that displays as my office the location where I worked over 3 years ago. I have tried to get that changed time and time again, but it is still wrong”.
  • “This people search result that you pointing out does not make any sense. When I filter by my department, I get the wrong people.”
  • “That search result gives me several people who have left the company years ago.”

The functionality does not work properly, so we don’t get the benefits. And the users get annoyed, so we are actually worse off…

In her Office 365 profile, Megan can change her add her own mobile number and change her birthday. But she cannot edit her job title or department.

In her Office 365 profile, Megan can change her add her own mobile number and change her birthday. But she cannot edit her job title or department.

So:

  • Try to clean up your Active Directory before you roll out Office 365. And implement a solid procedure to keep it up-to-date when people join, move or leave the company or change anything else.
  • If you cannot trust your Active Directory data, do not synchronise too many data into Office 365. Let the users enter their contact details manually. Not the optimal solution, but better than incorrect personal data.
  • And until you have arranged something appropriate, do not promote the functionality….

 

 

January 31, 2018

Office 365 rollout: 5 basics easier said than done

Filed under: Office365 — Tags: — frederique @ 23:42

Currently I am involved in the roll-out of Office 365 at a large construction company. Several thousands of users move over to new tools and a lot of content is migrated. Of course we try to disrupt these users as little as possible, because their business is construction and not IT. But it is not that easy. These are 5 basics that should be taken care of, which sound obvious but turn out to be quite challenging real life.

1.Decide early on how you deal with the different brands in the organization

Not all organizations are homogeneous. In this organization, we have different companies, with different brands, within the same Group. And they are all part of the same Office 365 tenant, facilitated by the Group. Say, the Contoso Construction Group has operating companies and business units like ‘Contoso Buildings South’, but also a unit specializing in hospital support called ‘Helping Health’. So now what?

  • Should everyone get an SMTP address (for e-mail), SIP address (for Skype for Business) and UPN (to log on) that is unified on @contosogroup.com?
  • Or is it important in their market that the people working for the separate brands keep their special e-mail addresses and Skype addresses so that their clients recognize them? So do they keep @helpinghealth.com for these people, in addition to the @contosogroup.com that others have?
  • Or do they have an @helpinghealth.com e-mail address that clients understand, while they log on with the Group UPN @contosogroup.com? This can get confusing for these users, because instructions often say that you have to log on with your email address. Not in this case.

You can keep the separate addresses, but then you need to connect those to your tenant. And for that, you need to decide what you want to do. Preferably with plenty of time before the technical guys need to make it happen and the communication and adoption people need to explain everything.

2a.Make sure you have reliable information on your users

Many things in the Office 365 roll-out are about individual users. Yes, creating a SharePoint portal and templates for collaboration sites is about communities. But licenses, mailboxes and Office 2016 installations for example are about individuals. Which means that you need correct data on those individuals. This sounds obvious, but we have been tearing our hair out over incomplete and incorrect data for a while now…

  • Who is working in the organization? So who needs a license? Whose mailboxes need to be migrated? We have seen a lot of prehistoric mailboxes and accounts that have not been used since 2015. And on the other hand we are not sure we are not missing people.
  • What type of employee are they? Who has a full laptop and who only has a smartphone? Who works in an office and who works at a construction site? As an Information Worker or a construction worker? So what license do they need? What should they install and what kind of support will they need for that? And what would be helpful in their jobs, so what should we promote to them? We have users with special Toughbooks for which the installation process is different and we still don’t know exactly who has such a machine.
  • And who is part of which operating company, business unit, team when you migrate in batches? We try to address colleagues as a group, and to get managers to encourage their own people to take action of they have not done so yet. But there are always people on the wrong list.
  • Where are they based? For example, are they in or near the Amsterdam office or the Rotterdam office? This is particularly relevant if you offer support on location. Too often we have invited people for the wrong sessions.

So if there is a way to clean up your HR-system and Active Directory before you roll out Office 365, do it! Not only for the roll-out, but also to offer the users up-to-date and correct profile information. The people pane and Delve and such are quite prominent in Office 365 and these don’t make any sense if they tie into outdated data…

2b.Set up a watertight process for joiners, movers and leavers

As a corollary to the previous point, getting correct user information should not be a one-time effort, but a process that keeps everything up-to-date. When people join the organization, they need a license. When they move to other units or other roles, their information should be updated. When they leave the organization, their license should be revoked and their content archived or disposed according to the rules and regulations. Even while you arrange to migrate, for example, the users mailboxes, the list changes, so prepare for the moving target.

3.Think about the right order and logical batches first

You cannot do everything in one day, especially if you have a large organization, with a large group of users. And there are dependencies. So what do you have to do first? And what do you have to keep together?

In our organization, it was decided that we were not allowed to store active mail and department information in the cloud (in Exchange Online resp. SharePoint Online sites) without Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA). And Multi-Factor Authentication does not work with Outlook 2010.

So first we have to move everyone from Office 2010 to Office 2016. Then we can enable MFA. And then we can migrate to Exchange Online and get started with department sites in SharePoint Online. Not the other way around.

For the installation of Office 2016, we aim to roll out in batches to groups of colleagues who work on the same location. Then we can offer support on that location – users like face-to-face support more than remote support. And the colleagues can encourage each other and get triggered when they have been left out (because the list turned out to be incomplete again).

For the migration of the mailboxes and calendars from Exchange on-premises to Exchange Online, we try keep colleagues who collaborate a lot in the same batch. Especially managers and their management assistants. If one colleague is still on-prem and the other is already in the cloud, they cannot work in the same shared mailbox (they can read but not send on behalf) and they cannot consult and work in each other’s Outlook agenda. So we organize the batches by business unit.

And because we know we cannot trust batches to include all people who collaborate closely, we try to make the Exchange migration as compact as possible, to lose as little time as possible if somebody is migrated with the wrong batch. This implies that we do all the Office 2016 installations first, so that we have a clean run of Exchange migrations afterwards.

4.Don’t forget the details and the exceptions

The basic plan can be quite simple, but the devil is in the details. For example, the users need to install Office 2016 before Multi-Factor Authentication is switched on. Otherwise they can no longer use their Outlook. Ok, but what do we do with:

  • People who are on leave? Let them deal with it when they come back? Tell their boss?
  • People who don’t have the time for these things? Ask their boss to give this higher priority and stimulate them do the installation anyway?
  • Computers that do not have enough disk space for the installation? Give them a new computer or do some magic to make space anyway? How and who?
  • People who are very busy all day long at a construction site that has a very feeble internet connection? Can we ask them to do everything at home in their spare time or not?
  • Legacy applications that don’t work well with Office 2016? Is there a workaround like a remote desktop?
  • Training laptops managed by one person who does not have enough licenses to install Office 2016 on all of them?
  • People who don’t have a laptop or tablet but only a smartphone? An Office 365 license may be useful, but they don’t have to install Office 2016?
  • People who don’t have a company phone for the Multi-Factor Authentication messages? Ask them to use a private phone?
  • Non-personal accounts, like reception@contosogroup.com?
  • …?

Users often grumble that headquarters (and IT departments in particular) try to steamroller all over them, regardless of the complexities of their everyday work. And they are right. So pay attention to these real-life exceptions.

5.Involve all of the stakeholders

You always have to involve all of the stakeholders, and this is definitely no exception. It takes quite some time, to involve everyone and even to make sure everybody is informed. But it is indispensable.

  • We have the directors and high level managers of the group and the operating companies as decision makers. And where they don’t have to make a decision, they still need to be the first to be informed, before the innocent employees.
  • The IT, communication and information management teams guide and carry out the rollout.
  • We have champions all over the organization who help their colleagues with information, support and encouragement. And don’t forget the secretaries of the different business units, who help us with practical things like locations for the floorwalkers and checks on our user lists. They get updates and knowledge sharing from us before we communicate to the end-users.
  • We communicate with the users who have to take action and/or be aware of something that is changing. They get messages and have the opportunity to respond and ask questions via email, a feedback form, a phone number, whatsapp and sometimes a floorwalker on location.
  • And we have contact with the bosses of the end-users if the end users don’t take action before the deadline: if they don’t listen to us, they may listen to their own boss…

So is this rocket science? No. is is surprising that you have to take care of these basics? No. But is it then easy to do in real life? No! It takes time and effort and smarts. But we will get it done anyway!

December 31, 2017

Article in DIWUG eMagazine – Let us work in Teams

Filed under: Office365 — Tags: — frederique @ 17:46

DIWUG eMagazine is a free magazine published by and for the Dutch community of Information Worker solutions specialists. It has an on school printed paper version as well as a downloadable electronic version.

My article in this edition is about Microsoft Teams. This tool allows teams to collaborate in a chat-based app. It is a hub for teamwork in Office, that ties into existing features combined with new functionality. In this article, we look into the why, what, who and where of Teams.

You can find it here: Download DIWUG SharePoint eMagazine #20

DIWUGPaperVersion

November 30, 2017

Where do I find my Teams?

Filed under: Digital Workplace,Office365 — Tags: — frederique @ 22:44

Ok, so Microsoft Teams is a helpful tool in the Office 365 toolkit for collaboration. But where can I find those Teams? Actually, in many places: in the Office 365 portal in the browser, in a desktop app and in a mobile app. You can structure your set of Teams to make your favorites more prominent, and ask for email notifications with shortcuts to recent activity.

In previous posts I discussed the questions what’s with Microsoft Teams and who is in my Team? Now let us dive into the question where you should look if you want to work in a Team.

On different devices, in the browser and apps

The best way to experience Microsoft Teams is in the desktop app.

The Microsoft Teams desktop app

The Microsoft Teams desktop app

But here is also a Teams app for iPhone, Android and even Windows Phone, so that you can find your Teams on the go.

A Microsoft Teams channel conversation in the Windows Phone App

A Microsoft Teams channel conversation in the Windows Phone App

In Office 365 in the web browser, there is an online version that offer almost all of the functionality included in the desktop app, except for calls with voice and video. Teams has its own tile in the App Launcher.

Teams has a tile in the App Launcher of Office 365.

Teams has a tile in the App Launcher of Office 365.

Structure your collection in the desktop app

Because you may soon be a member of many Teams, it is important to structure your Teams collection.

  • Collapse the Team headings when you don’t need to see the underlying channels, to get a better overview.
  • Select your favorite Teams and demote the rest: click on the ellipsis at the root of the Team and toggle to Favorite or Remove favorite.
  • Within the Favorites list, you can determine the sort order by dragging and dropping Teams up or down. Simple, but I like this a lot! In the overview of my Team Sites in SharePoint Online for example, I don’t have that level of control.
  • The Teams and channels marked in bold have something new.
  • Still can’t find a Team? Then use the search box.
You favorite Teams are displayed at the top of the list. Add a Team to your favorites via the ellipsis.

You favorite Teams are displayed at the top of the list. Add a Team to your favorites via the ellipsis.

The one thing to keep in mind when you organize your favorites, is that Teams in other tenants, where you are a guest (external member) are NOT listed in the same menu. You need to switch to see them.

Switch tenants

Megan works for Contoso and has some Teams there. She can switch to the Teams at Macaw where she is a Guest.

Email notifications to guide you in

It is helpful to receive an email notification when something happens in a Team, especially for people who do not live in Microsoft Teams all day.

You determine which notifications you want to receive and how often, via your Profile in the left bottom corner.

In the notification settings, you can ask for an e-mail, for example, when you are mentioned in a chat (Via Profile > Notifications)

In the notification settings, you can ask for an e-mail, for example, when you are mentioned in a chat (Via Profile > Notifications)

So yes, I find it quite easy to find my Teams.

October 28, 2017

Who is in my Microsoft Team?

Filed under: Digital Workplace,Office365 — Tags: — frederique @ 17:19

In the beginning, Microsoft Teams had a limited scope: a team was always private and limited to colleagues within the same organization. Now, your team can also include people outside your organization. And all team mates, including the external guests, can easily see who else is on the team.

I’ve discussed in a previous blog post on what’s with Teams: what does this chat-based collaboration app in Office 365 offer us and why we use it. It is a hub for teamwork. Now let us look closer who can be part of such a Team.

Inviting team mates

Colleagues as team members

A Team Owner can add new members from inside the organization via the famous ellipsis (dot dot dot…), selecting Add Members. You can only do this at the level of the Team, not at the level of a Channel: the permissions apply to the Team as a whole.

The Team Owner can add Members to the Team via the ellipsis.

The Team Owner can add Members to the Team via the ellipsis.

Once you have added a colleague as a Member, you can upgrade them to become a co-Owner.

Switch role to Owner

The Team Owner can upgrade Members to the Owner role.

 

Externals als team guests

The Team Owner can also invite guests from outside the organization. At the moment, you can only invite people who have a Azure Active Directory account, such as everyone who uses Office 365. Later on, you should be able to invite anyone with a Microsoft account, like in SharePoint Team Sites.

The Team Owners can invite guests via their email addresses

The Team Owners can invite guests via their email addresses

Note that when you participate in Teams in more than one organization and more than one tenant, you have to switch between them in the app.

Switch tenants

Megan works for Contoso and has some Teams there. She can switch to the Teams at Macaw where she is a Guest.

Joining a public Team?

When you create a Tean, you can select the option to make it a public team, that anyone in your organization can join.

Option for Public Team

The can select to create a Public team

However, in none of my tenants I have seen the opportunity to join such a Public Team. I suppose it will become available later…

Checking who is in my Microsoft Team

All Team participants, even the external Guests, can check who is part of that Team via the ellipsis (the dot dot dot…), selecting Manage Team. Yes, it is strange that this option is labeled Manage Team rather than View Team, because viewing is the only thing non-owners can do. Or you navigate to the root of the Team, where you will find the Members page. The Members page displays all participants: Members as well as Owners and Guests.

View Team

All team mates can view who is in the Team, via the option Manage Team. Even guests.

Want to know more about a team member? You can check their place in the organization. This only works for colleagues; external guest cannot see your org chart.

You can get there by hovering over the photo – or photo placeholder – of the colleague you are interested in. In the people pop-up that appears, select the View organization icon.

People pop-up View organization option

Hover over the photo or placeholder to get the people pop-up with the option to view their place in the organization.

When you are chatting with a colleague, you can also reach the org chart via the tab Organization.

People org chart

In the context of a chat with a team mate, view his or her place in the org chart.

So all in all, I am quite pleased with the options we have to collaborate with different team mates in our Teams and to see who is in the Team. Even if not every option is available yet, it works nicely. In particular, external guests have a better collaboration experience in Microsoft Teams than in Office Groups.

September 30, 2017

What’s with Microsoft Teams?

Filed under: Digital Workplace,Office365 — Tags: — frederique @ 19:55

Microsoft Teams is a hub for teamwork, allowing teams to collaborate in a chat-based app. It is part of Office 365 and ties into the existing features, supplemented with new functionality.

You can use a Microsoft Team as the one place where you collaborate with a particular team, with everything you need at your fingertips, anytime, anywhere. You take part in one or more Teams, in the web browser or the client version. Like with Office Groups, collaboration in Teams can be quite informal: anyone who can create a Group can also create a Team.

Why Teams?

Office 365 offers different collaboration tools, because not everybody works the same way. Microsoft Teams is ideal for people who prefer to collaborate in a chat-based environment.

The key novelty of Microsoft Teams is its persistent chat functionality. We already had persistent email conversations in Groups and conversations in Yammer. But the chat functionality we have in Skype for Business right now is more volatile. Yes, you see the conversation history, but only for the conversations you were personally involved in. And when you invite other people into your conversation, they do not see what was discussed before they joined the conversation.

In Microsoft Teams, you can see all chat conversations conducted in your Team, including what has been said in the past and what is said by team mates who have not invited you explicitly to join that conversation. And it is not just about talking: in Microsoft Teams you have serious collaboration functionality, for sharing documents for example.

What makes Teams powerful to me, is that it combines chat conversations with tools to collaborate on documents and share information, in an interface that connects it all up.

What do I get in a Team?

The functionality you get with Microsoft Teams is helps you to collaborate closely with your team mates: colleagues, but also guests from other organizations, who usually work in other Office 365 tenants.

Advanced team chat

The chat functionality at the heart of Teams is more advanced than the chat in Skype for Business.

  • As I just mentioned, it is persistent: it stays there when you close your Teams app, for everyone who is or who will be part of the Team. So it is very fortunate that you can edit your message…
  • The participants can start multiple conversation threads, which are kept together. In addition to messages sent by the participants, other activities are displayed among the conversation threads, such as new members added to the Team.
  • You can make a message pop out to somebody, by mentioning him or her. And make your posts and replies stand out visually, by including not only smileys but also animated gifs and stickers.
Teams chat

In the chat, you make your message stand out by mentioning people and by including visuals.

  • The main idea is to have a conversation with the entire team. But you can also have a private chat one specific person or a limited group of people: an ad hoc team. The difference with a Skype for Business chat is that this private chat in Teams remains available, just like the conversations with the entire team.
Teams private chat

Start a private chat with one or more people via the pencil icon next to the Search box.

Channels with tabs

Within the Team, the conversations are structured in channels. For example, in a Team about Office 365, the conversation about the different ingredients of the toolkit could take place in different channels. The same group of people can then follow all of these conversations, but it is easier to find something about a specific topic by using these channels.

For each channel, you not only have conversations, but also other information tabs. By default, you have a Files tab and a Wiki tab. You can add other tabs to your Team, like a specific PowerPoint presentation stored in the Files section. Or external sources, like YouTube or SurveyMoney.

Add a Tab to a Channel

Add a tab to a Teams channel, like a PowerPoint presentation or a YouTube video.

YouTube Tab in Team channel

Tab in a Teams channel displaying a YouTube video

Integration with other Office 365 tools

When you create a new Team, you also get a new Office 365 Group, its SharePoint site, plan in Planner and everything.  For example, the files displayed in the Team live in the SharePoint site, as does the OneNote notebook that you can add as a tab.

OneNote tab in Team

You can add a OneNote Notebook to a tab. This Notebook is stored in the SharePoint site associated to this Team, via its Group.

If you already have an older Office 365 Group and you want to add the new Teams functionality to it, you can do that, provided you are  the Owner of that Group. The dialog for creating a new Team has a section titled ‘Add Microsoft Teams to an existing Office 365 group?’; then select the existing Group that you want to connect to.

Add Team ot an eisting Group

Adding Teams functionality to an existing Office 365 Group

In your Team, for example, you can collaborate on a presentation in an integrated fashion. When you upload a draft into the Files section, you can start a conversation about it. You see the chat conversation right next to the presentation when you view it or edit it within the Team. By the way, I have not seen this nice integration when I add the file directly in a conversation. Not yet anyway.

Collaborate on presentation

Have a conversation about a presentation while you edit it inside the Team

 

For Team Meetings, we have integration with Outlook. When I schedule a meeting from Microsoft Teams, all team members also get an invitation in their Outlook agenda and they can open the meeting from that invitation. The meeting then takes place in Microsoft Teams, just like Skype meetings take place in Skype for Business.

Teams Meeting

The invitation to a Microsoft Teams meeting appears in Outlook and you can enter the meeting from that Outlook invitation

You can also start from Outlook 2016 using the ‘New Team Meeting’, to invite the team to a meeting. At the moment, that does not seem to work  as smoothly as starting from Teams. In Outlook, you have a button to schedule a New Teams Meeting (next to the button to schedule a New Skype Meeting), but then you cannot select the Team you want to invite. You can use the channel’s mail address to get the meeting into the channel, but the team members do not receive a personal invitation. Not yet anyway.

Teams Meeting invite from Outlook-ann

Scheduling a new Teams meeting from Outlook, by sending the invitation to the Team channel’s mail address.

How serious should we take Teams?

Very. At Ignite 2017, Microsoft Teams featured prominently. It was stated that Microsoft Teams is central, as communication is at the heart of team work, and Teams will evolve to be the core communication client. The Teams app will be the hero experience for voice and meetings and it will replace the Skype for Business client. And it is positioned as the tool par excellence for high-velocity projects. To hear it from their own lips, see the on-demand sessions.

There are dozens of Ignite sessions about Teams in particular and Teams as part of the Microsoft 365 landscape. These are Day 1 overviews where Teams are included as part of the toolkit:

August 31, 2017

DIWUG eMagazine article: How do we get users to adopt Office 365?

Filed under: Adoption — Tags: , — frederique @ 22:48

When the IT department rolls out Office 365, we cannot assume that all users in the organization automatically adopt it and keep adopting the new options that appear regularly. An ongoing user adoption program solves this problem. In an article in the DIWUG eMagazine, I dive into the question what the fuss is about and how to plan for ongoing adoption.

DIWUG is the Dutch Information Worker User Group. They organise community events in The Netherlands and publish a magazine that exists in a print version as well as a downloadable version; the magazine is in English. To read the article How do we get users to adopt Office 365? , you can Download DIWUG SharePoint eMagazine #19

In the article, I discuss

  • Phase 1: Envision what you need from the start, zooming in on champions
  • Phase 2: Get the users onboard, zooming in on help & training
  • Phase 3: Keeping driving value, zooming in on measurement

DIWUGemagazine19

July 31, 2017

Blocking the wrong tool does not guarantee adoption of the right tool

Filed under: Adoption — frederique @ 23:02

Sometimes I hear IT people say that they will block file shares, because the employees in their organization do not use SharePoint. The theory is that the users will automatically turn to the new SharePoint sites when they lose their old, familiar storage space. Or not, as it turns out.

I have talked about this in an earlier post  (So do we unplug the file shares now? ) , but let me add a real-life example that I have just encountered. No rocket-science or amazing revelations, but it is always good to touch base with real life.

Today, an innocent user approached me. She is used to storing files on her laptop, but fortunately she knew realize that something was wrong.

As it turned out, her personal file share had been switched off soon after she was onboarded earlier this year. This was the H-Drive (for home drive), which in some organizations it is called P-Drive (for personal drive). Its key feature is that it is connected to My Documents on your computer, so that your files are available offline and they are available on a server in case your laptop crashes. She had heard that she was supposed to use SharePoint sites instead of that file share. But nobody had explained to her how to get her files into a SharePoint site and how to use it.

Apparently, IT simply blocked her old tool, without enabling her to adopt the proper new tool. And as she was busy doing her actual work, instead of messing about with IT stuff, she just put her files on the C-Drive of her laptop. Which is actually a step back from using a file share, instead of a step forward…

Fortunately, she did grow to realize that her files would be lost if her laptop would crash or be stolen. So when we met about some other topic, she asked if I could help her out.
And yes, she was totally willing and eager to embrace Office 365, when I showed her how to upload the team-related files into a team site, and upload the personal files into OneDrive for Business. Especially when she saw the additional features, like versioning. She just needed to be empowered first.

How many other people in that organization have been forced back onto their C-Drive in the same way…? How much crucial information has been lost, when files marooned on the C-drive disappear in a laptop crash or theft? Tomorrow I’d better ask IT what’s going on…

So what I saw – again – today:

  • People will not automatically switch to a new tool when the old tool is blocked
    So: Don’t shut down an old file storage location before the new one is available and adopted by the users.
  • People are busy with their own work and don’t want to waste time on IT stuff
    So: Make it very easy to introduce and use the right tools
  • People don’t like calling an IT Servicedesk. They prefer to ask somebody they know.
    So: Be available and approachable. Make sure there are “champions” all parts of the organisation

June 25, 2017

Adopting new options? It works for the gannets

Filed under: Adoption — frederique @ 20:01

On holiday, I don’t think much about work or work-related issues. But sometimes I am reminded of, for example, user adoption. Not all Office 365 users are willing to adopt the latest and greatest options. But the gannets in Shetland do embrace and adopt new options.

Gannets build their nest on cliff ledges, from seaweed and plants.
But when an additional ingredient is available, they take advantage of it. Like fish nets. We have seen quite a few gannet nets that incorporate fish nets.

Gannet nest using fish net

Natural nests and nests with fish nets, in the colony on Noss (Shetland)

Gannet nest on Hermaness

This gannet at Hermaness on Unst (Shetland) also uses green fish nets.

Gannets feed on fish, which they catch by plunging from great height and at great speed.
But when they get the option to grab a free fish offered by the skipper of a tour boat, they don’t turn it down. Then they hover quite close to the surface and to that boat. The only disadvantage is that there are many competitors for the free fish…

Gannets fighting over a fish

Two gannets grabbed the same free fish, tossed overboard by the skipper of the tour boat at Noss.

And I agree with the gannets: if a new option arises and it works for you, why not take advantage and adopt it?

May 31, 2017

Users and IT – Worlds apart?

Filed under: Adoption — frederique @ 23:25

As a consultant, I am part of the Office 365 in-crowd. But I also mingle with end-users. Sometimes it feels like these are two different worlds. What is perfectly obvious to IT is incomprehensible or outrageous to the users. And the other way around.

IT terminology?

Innocent users sometimes misunderstand what the IT people are talking about. Of course, this is the case for obvious technology jargon. But product names also confuse.

I am involved in an Office 365 implementation programme, part of which is the migration of the mailboxes to Exchange Online. As a result of some communication about this migration, a user concluded: “So we have to stop emailing with Outlook and start emailing with Exchange?”. Oops, that was not what we meant.

Let’s focus our communication on the tools and tool names that exist in the world of the innocent end-users. The tool that users know and love is Outlook. Exchange is something that lives at the level of the server. 

IT intuition?

I’ve worked with SharePoint for twelve years now, and I know my way around it. I don’t always know by heart how everything works, and I had to pay serious attention when the modern interface appeared. But my SharePoint intuition is sufficiently well developed to get the job done.

I am particularly conscious of my SharePoint, Office 365 or general IT intuition when I notice where some innocent end-users try to click, for example. Someone tried to open Outlook on his desktop by clicking the Outlook label in Outlook Online. I had to see it, to understand what he was driving at, when he asked me why it did not work. Or there’s the new communication specialist who wanted to upload a document and could not find the button. It turned out she was not looking at the homepage of the team site but at the main tab of the OneNote notebook that a link had led her to.

Mind you, I am not suggesting that these end-users are stupid. Not at all. What they do can be very complex and totally beyond me. But if they have no experience at all with the tools, they may struggle at unexpected moments.

Let’s keep in mind that not everyone has the same IT intuition. Watch what innocent end-users are doing, by observing in real life or asking them to share their screen via Skype. That allows you to help them better at that time, and to improve your IT offerings and support materials.

What’s in it for me IT?

To be worth its funding, the IT project has to benefit the business. And to get adopted by the prospective users, so that it has a chance of achieving the business benefits, it has to benefit the people themselves. The users not only need to be able to benefit from the project, but they also need to be fully aware and convinced of what’s in it for them.

For example, Skype for Business is not just a tool that we roll out as part of Office 365. It is the answer to the prayers of users who need to communicate and share with people who are in different locations. Instead of wasting a lot of time traveling or getting stuck in misunderstanding by having meetings by phone in which you don’t see what’s happening, Skype for Business allows you to share your screen or look the others in the eye via video conferencing.

So let’s focus on what’s important in the world of the end-users. And involve the business and the users, to make sure that we really pinpoint the scenarios that address their needs and the solutions that meet their needs.

IT priorities?

The projects and programs that I’m involved with are usually initiated or at the very least supported by IT. In such projects, we often need input of feedback from the business, especially if IT does its best to involve the business and the users to make sure they benefit from it. In any case, the users need to spend at least some time and effort when they transition from the old tools and the old way of working to the new ones.

But the people in the organization are busy building houses, selling groceries, curing patients, auditing companies, or doing whatever else the organization specializes in. In addition to their daily work, they may also be involved in non-IT initiatives and projects. And those may well be far more important to them then the projects that are so crucial to the IT guys.

Let’s plan IT projects in conjunction with the rest of the project portfolio of the organization, so that the IT projects and their priorities fit with the other projects instead of clashing with them.

 

So innocent end-users and IT people may live in different worlds, but we have to keep in touch and cross over to the other world. Innocent end-users may visit the IT world if they are interested about new technology. But IT has to be able to deal with the world of the end-users, to help them adopt the new tools and the new way of work. Because the job of IT is to support the business and the end users Not the other way around.

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