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

April 30, 2019

No Office 365 adoption: Feedback from the workplace

Filed under: Adoption,Office365 — frederique @ 23:53

When you roll out Office 365, you need to make sure that the users will adopt the toolkit. Otherwise, why bother rolling it out in the first place? However, in real life, we see that the users and their adoption of Office 365 do not always get the required attention. When you do get in touch with the users, you get some interesting feedback, leading to the obvious conclusion that you should have helped them in the first place…

Yes, recently I have been talking to quite a few innocent users and even more people who volunteered to be Office 365 champions. Plus, we have just done a survey (using Microsoft Forms) asking hundreds of users what they use, what they think and what they want pertaining to Office 365.

Here’s some of the feedback I received.

“You guys have switched it on, but nobody has explained anything ”

Most of the Office 365 tools have been rolled out, in the sense that they are available. An almost purely technical roll-out. But hardly anything has been done to help the users become aware of the new tools, let alone understand how they work and how to use them to make their lives easier. Yes, some savvy early adopters already know or pick things up by searching the internet. But many people need training and guidance. This is something I hear in every meeting with the business, on every visit, on every occasion… “You need to provide training”, “maybe you could give us some information”, “who is going to coach us?”, “why did you dump this on us without implementing it properly?”…

You can’t just switch on Office 365 and automatically have all users of a large, non-IT company embrace it. You need to help the users to adopt the toolkit, to make it their own.

“But how should I have known that?”

A management assistant contacted me about this SharePoint site she had for her board of directors. SharePoint was acting weird, she said. When she added a new folder with documents, the other could not see it. But then I saw that she was sharing files in her OneDrive for Business. “But that is the same as SharePoint isn’t it? ” No, it is not the same. “But how should I have known that?” Well, nobody had explained what’s what, how it works and what it is for. So basically my answer was: I am here now to help you and the board with this…

If is really tricky when you deploy functionality without explaining anything or helping the users adopt the tools properly. If they use the tools in the wrong way, you may end up with information loss, data leaks, or at the very least seriously frustrated users.

“I have a feeling we are not taking advantage of the possibilities”

Everybody is using Office 365, but that is because they are using Office to write documents in the same way as before, Exchange Online to send email in the same way, make meeting minutes in Word like they always did, store files in SharePoint in folders like they were used to on the P-drive. A few people have an inkling that maybe there is more, you have new ways to work more smartly. But what and how? In the few instruction sessions that were organized by IT, they explained which buttons to push to make the tool work. But that did not help the users to understand how to move to a new way of working.

You need to show how the users can take advantage of the new tools in their work. Demo realistic scenarios, so that they can see how it all fits together. They can open a meeting invitation in their Outlook calendar to participate in an online meeting in Skype for Business (ok, already old school) or Teams (the new tool). They can then take meeting notes in the OneNote notebook that is shared in their SharePoint team site, which they can access via their Outlook invite and the Team and the OneNote client. Et cetera, et cetera.

“My colleagues already hate SharePoint”

Some departments and project teams have SharePoint team sites. However, SharePoint has not been explained properly to these users. I heard from a hardy “champion“, who does think that SharePoint can help them collaborate more effectively, efficiently and smoothly. His colleagues however, do not understand how it works, so it does not work for them. They don’t have the time, savviness or optimism to find out how to make it work. And the poor champion does not have the means to help them out, because he is not sure about the best practices either.

We have to make sure users can learn how to use the new tools as soon as they have to start using them. Otherwise, the negative vibe will block successful adoption.

“Aha, but that is handy and quite easy too! ”

At a small scale, I have been explaining how Office 365 tools work and how to use them to make our lives easier. For example, the board was very happy to see that they could share information easily in their new SharePoint site. The management assistant could give access to new board members in seconds, which had been a terrible hassle on their network drive. And even the least savvy board member agreed that uploading a document was actually not difficult at all. Another colleague wanted to telephone to talk about a SharePoint site. I talked her into a Skype meeting, and she was very enthusiastic about the option to share her screen and just show me. That is something that can really make your life easier…

If you explain the low hanging fruit, you can already help people and make them happy.

“I am glad you are here! When are you coming back?”

Recently, I visited several other offices, elsewhere in the country. I told key contacts I would be there and that this would be an excellent opportunity to discuss their Office 365 questions and needs in person. And yes indeed, at each office, I hardly had time to grab a cup of coffee before I was swamped by users and their questions.

Even at this day and age, with the excellent tools offered by Office 365 for remote meetings, it is still important to visit other workplaces in person, for real-life interaction.

“Do you people at HQ really think we have time for this?”

Yes, quite a few people were willing to spend time finding out how Office 365 works and improve their way of working. But that does not mean that the IT department or HQ in general can just dump anything on the innocent users and make it their problem. For example, the roll-out of Office 2016 caused issues, especially on older laptops. So IT formed a taskforce to solve these issues. Nice. But then they told the end-users that they had to come to the head office for a whole day on a Monday, to work with the taskforce. What? As if these users, who are already terribly busy, would have time to spend a full day at headquarters. And when they politely said “you people at HQ”? I could hear them thinking “you total idiots at HQ” or even worse…

IT and the other staff departments at headquarters are there to facilitate the business, not the other way around…

“Teams and Planner don’t work for me”

In our tenant environment, self-service creation of Office 365 Groups is switched off. So users cannot create Microsoft Teams or Plans in Planner. This makes sense, because the basics have not been configured properly and we would end up with a complete mess. Unfortunately, the Create buttons are there, and nobody has told the community that only IT can do this. So this time it is the savvy early adopters who get frustrated.

If advanced options are visible to end users, the buttons have to work. Or it has to be very clear why they have not been enabled yet, what is the plan for these advanced options, and maybe how they can request a sneak preview or pilot.

“The champions programme? We thought that had died”

Almost two years ago, we actively recruited users to act as Office 365 champions . We promised them training and asked them become the first point of contact for their colleagues. And then the plans from IT changed, funding was lost and that training was postponed. A year ago, we gave them a couple webinars about some of the aspects of Office 365. And no follow-up. Now we are finally trying to start up the community and get serious about adoption. But by now, some of the prospective champions I talked to confessed that they thought we had all died or something. Or at least the programme had died. “You are going to train us? Yes please, about time!”

Actually, it is a miracle most of them still want to talk to me, respond to the survey and tell us they want to learn more. Even if they need to vent their frustration first. When you recruit people to become Office 365 champions, you have to train and involve them right away and keep at it.

“Why didn’t you tell us that the adoption programme was delayed?”

Ok, we had to postpone our adoption activities and that was bad. Especially the people who had signed up to become Office 365 champions were very unhappy about this. But what really exasperated them, was that we did not fess up to the prospective champions what was going on. Quite a few of them reproached us that we should have communicated properly about the delay and the reason for it.

And they were right… You need to tell people what’s the plan, what is going on and what has been canceled.

So yes, it really is important to take action right from the start of the roll-out of Office 365 to help people adopt it. You should NOT deploy Office 365 and then start thinking about user adoption as an afterthought.  Not just because I say so, but because the people at the workplace, our users, say so… Many things went wrong in this Office 365 roll-out, but one thing is clear: now that we are finally starting a project to promote the adoption Office 365, we are definitely fulfilling a need.

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