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

September 30, 2021

IT governance and user adoption need each other

Filed under: Adoption,Governance — frederique @ 21:24

I have said it before: it is not enough to set up an IT solution. You will just end up with a solution that nobody uses and that soon is no longer useful anyway. But then again it is not enough to only organise its governance. Or to only stimulate its user adoption. The IT solution needs both of them. And governance and user adoption also need each other.

The users need to adopt the IT solution for it to be useful

If the users do not adopt it, why did you spend time and money to create and roll it out? For a museum? You will never achieve your business goals if the users do not embrace the solution and use it.

If your project only had technical goals, like migrating from an obsolete platform or updating it, before its end of life: if nobody uses the new version and you are fine with that, why didn’t you just unplug the old one? No need to replace or upgrade it it. And yes, I do see projects where only technical goals are stated, like the migration or update of an obsolete version of SharePoint, for example. And then I also ask what’s in it for the users, would-be users or should-be users.

So you need to be clear on what’s in it for the users and help them adopt the solution to achieve those goals. In other words: you need an adoption plan and you need to implement it.

Governance needs to be in place for the IT solution to stay useful

If there is no governance on the solution, it may soon be obsolete when the environment evolves, the users get swamped in obsolete stuff that is not curated and cannot find the stuff that has become relevant. Security issues appear, as the recent users don’t have the right permissions and old users have permission that they should no longer have. I already talked about this is a previous post, the snags we hit if you don’t have governance in your Microsoft 365 environment.

So you need to determine what the governance should be, so that the organisation and the users can keep achieving the goals you were aiming for. In other words, you need a governance plan and you need to implement it.

Governance also needs user adoption

Even if you have a brilliant governance plan, it won’t help you if the users do not adopt that governance along with the solution. If they haven’t adopted that governance, they won’t know what to do to, and what rules and guidelines to follow. For example, they need to know if and how the can get a Teams environment, if and how they can get access, if and how their document will be archived or deleted.

Of course some of the governance is completely invisible to the end-users. For example, if everyone has the same license, the end-users don’t have to know how you manage those licenses, as long as it all just works. No adoption needed there.

So you need to include the solution’s governance in your adoption plan for the solution. For example, on help pages and in training, teach how users can request a Teams environment, what are the rules, how owners can give colleagues access.

And user adoption needs governance

Even if you have a brilliant adoption plan and made sure that, at the start, all users embrace the solution enthusiastically, it won’t help you in the long run if you haven’t arranged governance for your adoption plan and materials too. For example: when Microsoft adds a new app to the Microsoft 365 toolkit, how do we make sure that users adopt that one as well?. If it turns out that users are having trouble with a particular aspect, how do you solve it?

So you also need to include the solution’s adoption in the governance plan for the solution. For example who will Introduce new apps, explain what’s in it for them, and update the adoption materials to include this new addition? How do you identify gaps in the user adoption and fill them in?

If you fit all of these pieces into the puzzle, you will get a solid and future-proof solution that meets the organisation’s and the users’ goals and keeps meeting them. And that’s what we want.

March 31, 2021

Is it about the new tool?

Filed under: Adoption — Tags: , — frederique @ 23:42

In Microsoft 365 for example, we get new tools and new improvements regularly. Some people immediately get excited and start using them. But when we try to help innocent users to adopt the tools, we sometimes see challenges and obstacles that have nothing to do with the tool as such. So we will not overcome them by fixing the tool, and we need to stay aware of that. Here are some examples I encountered recently, when we organized a series of training sessions to introduce a new tool.

“Why didn’t we hear anything about this sooner?”

The IT department had set up SharePoint, to replace an old document management system that was falling apart. They did try to get buy-in from the main stakeholders in the business, but it was difficult to get any traction. So IT went ahead and implemented the new toolkit, before the old one died…

But most people in the organization did not know what was happening, why it was happening, what it would mean for them, how they would benefit et cetera. And when we started talking to them in the context of the training sessions that had been initiated, we got a lot of disgruntled response along the line of “why didn’t we know about this?”

So it is important to communicate early and often about developments. Not everyone will be interested, but they people who are interested will at least know about it. And then maybe you can get them onboard as key users or champions.

This is not about the tool, but about communication and engagement.

“You can’t ask us to join a training session when you haven’t finished the new environment”

The timing of when you communicate what, and when you train who, is delicate. One the one hand, you have people who want to learn soon what’s new and what’s hot. But on the other hand, you have plenty of people who do not want to be bothered by new stuff until it works perfectly and is completely finished.

The problem with waiting with your training initiatives until everything is finished, is that nowadays we have a continuously evolving environment. It is never finished. And it if you want to switch off the old system, the people have at least to be empowered to actually get their jobs done using the new system.

So it is key that you explain that they can already get serious benefits from the new system, even if it is not “finished”. And that they can really learn something useful in the training that you propose. They won’t learn everything in that session, but they will learn something worth their time.

This is not about the tool, but about encouraging people to be flexible and accept ongoing change. And about showing respect for the value of their time: don’t waste it.

“You did not involve me, so I won’t cooperate”

One of the teams was experiencing issues: they could not find files that were migrated from the old system into SharePoint. So they told IT about their problem and gave some nicely specific examples. Then IT started to investigate the problem and look for a solution: improving the search center, maybe the metadata need to be migrated in a different way. But they did not keep in touch with the team lead who provided the feedback about their progress and how to deal with the fact that some of the issues are .

As a result, when that team was scheduled to get some SharePoint training, they assumed that all of their problems would be addressed and solved in that session. Because otherwise, why invite them for training now? Unfortunately, that was not the case. The team lead did not actually say “you did not involve me, so I won’t cooperate”, but you could almost hear him think it… He wanted to cancel the training and stop everything. Fortunately, when we had a meeting with him and discussed with him what would be best for that team at this time, we determined together that it would be best to do the training session about the aspects that did already work.

So: go for the personal touch. Talk to people. Get them involved at an early stage or at least offer them the opportunity to get involved. Don’t just push a schedule at them. And don’t hide in your tech cave when you investigate someone’s issue, but keep in touch. Personal touch.

This is not about the tool, but about conversations.

“That is not applicable to us at all!”

We proposed training sessions to all teams in a certain business unit. We had created demo scenarios and exercises using examples from the main field that the business unit is working in. So we optimistically asked the team lead from the ‘minority domain’, if it would be ok to use those existing examples for their training too. The explanation would basically be the same after all. But it was absolutely out of the question to use the examples from the other domain! We saw a similar reaction from other departments: “we are different and the stuff that you did with the others does not apply to us”.

So: you do need to make communication and training as specific as you can. The people need see how it applies to their situation, or they will assume it is not applicable for them and stop paying attention. It does take more time to find examples and tips for every team, but it improves the adoption.

This is not about the tool, but about approaching people in their world. It is also about politics, and respecting the sense of ‘self’ of business units and departments that don’t want to be seen as just part of the ‘One Company’.

“Who will answer our questions after this session? I never get answers!”

People will have questions about any system, especially a new one. And they need to be able to get answers to those questions. They need to know who or how to ask their questions, and then there has to be someone who is actually willing and able to answer them. In most organization, this does not just “happen”. And unfortunately, in too many organizations I’ve seen that the follow-up after implementation of a new system is lacking.

So: make sure you have a proper support system in place. For example, key users in the business, and an accessible and competent helpdesk. Plus clear procedures and “buttons” to contact them. You really cannot skip this.

This is not about the tool, but about your support organization.

So yes, the tool should work properly of course. And preferably it should work excellently for the users. But it is not enough to offer a great tool. You really also need the rest.

February 28, 2021

Microsoft 365 Learning Pathways: some lessons learned

Filed under: Adoption,Microsoft 365 — frederique @ 23:59

Microsoft 365 offers a lot of applications that can help our users get their jobs done. But in order to take full advantage of the tooling, they need to understand what the possibilities are and how it all works. So we want to provide our users with an information portal, where they can find that out. But Microsoft 365 evolves all the time: new applications are added, existing applications are improved and expanded, new connections are added, tying these applications together. So how do we keep that information up-to-date?

We used to set up information portals and fill them with relevant content, but it is rather time-consuming to keep those up-to-date. It usually came down to one person managing the site. And when that one person leaves the company or gets another role, the information portal starts to fossilize…

Microsoft Learning Pathways helps us to outsource a lot of that work to Microsoft: they update the toolkit, and they update the information about the toolkit. See also Microsoft’s documentation Microsoft 365 learning pathways. I’m setting up Microsoft Learning Pathways for some clients, so let’s take a look at some lessons I learned when I got down it.

1.It is an information portal, rather than Learning Management System

When I started talking about Microsoft 365 Learning Pathways with HR people who are really in the learning business, they had expectations based in the name, that it would be a full Learning Management System, with courses, testing, tracking, certification and everything. It’s not.

Microsoft 365 Learning Pathways is more like an information portal, where you can find information about the applications and instructions on how to use them. Users consult the portal when they want to learn something.

So it went down a lot better when I called it an information portal. It actually is based on the Communication Site template, so it looks like the other information portals that we had in our environment.

Microsoft 365 Learning Pathways home page

Microsoft 365 Learning Pathways home page

2.The learning content is hierarchically structured with reusable assets

The content is organised in a structure that is mostly hierarchical, though the actual content can be used in different branches of that topic tree. The high-level structure is fixed, but we can add lower levels ourselves. 

The M365 Learning Pathways structure of Categories, Subcategories and Playlists

The M365 Learning Pathways structure of Categories, Subcategories and Playlists

  1. All of the information offered in Microsoft 365 Learning Pathways is organised in three main Categories for the end-usersGet started, Scenarios, ProductsPlus a category Adoption tools that is more geared towards Owners.
    We cannot add our own category.
  2. Within those Categories, we have Subcategories: the different scenarios and different products, like SharePoint.
    We can add our own Subcategories
    This hierarchy is strict: each Subcategory belongs to only one Category. 
  3. Within the Subcategories, we have Playlists. For example: Intro to SharePoint OnlineShare and sync with SharePoint. 
    We can add our own Playlists
    This hierarchy is strict: each Playlist belongs to only one Subcategory. We can create a copy of a Playlist to include it in another Subcategory though. 
  4. Within the Playlists, we have Assets. For example: What is SharePointFind and follow sites and news. The Assets contain the actual content
    We can add our own Assets.
    We can re-use an Asset in as many Playlists as we want.

The M365 Learning Pathways structure: the Playlists contain Assets.

The M365 Learning Pathways structure: the Playlists contain Assets.

3.The M365 Learning Pathways web part displays the content

What makes it the Learning Pathways instead of just a regular Communication site is the Learning Pathways web part that displays the actual learning content to the users.

As a user, you an browse the playlists: click on a playlist to open it and then browse the asset using the Next button or the pulldown menu.
Please note: we’ve experienced that not all users see that they can navigate through the playlist. So we have added a line of instruction at the top of the web part.

Browse the Assets in the Playlist using the Next button or the menu.

Browse the Assets in the Playlist using the Next button or the menu.

As the owner, you configure what you want to display on a particular page: the top level allowing the users to drill down the categories, subcategories and playlists. Or maybe a particular Playlist or even one Asset.

Configuring the M365 Learning Pathways web part to display the top level.

Configuring the M365 Learning Pathways web part to display the top level.

Configuring the M365 Learning Pathways web part to display a particular Playlist.

Configuring the M365 Learning Pathways web part to display a particular Playlist.

4.The Assets are bite-sized pieces of content stored elsewhere 

The Assets with the actual content consist of introductory videos and instruction videos of maximum a few minutes each, plus a short text version of the instructions. Some Assets are text only. By the way, the videos do not all have the same style: some have a voice-over, others do not talk but give their explanation in written text labels.  

Each Asset is a URL in the catalogue. Either in the portal, elsewhere in your Microsoft 365 environment or elsewhere on the internet. The standard content provided by Microsoft all lives on the internet, at https://support.office.com 

5.The content gets updated quarterly by Microsoft 

Microsoft updates the content four times a year; they don’t have fixed dates. For example, they will announce a list of content updates next week during Ignite (March 4th 2021) via Driving Adoption – Microsoft Tech CommunitySo the information about new features does not become immediately available in Learning Pathways. We have to wait for the next update. 

When the content is updated, it gets streamed to our Learning Pathways automatically. Not need to pull it in, because the Microsoft’s content lives on their site. 

6.Standard Playlists don’t work for us, so we use custom Playlists 

You can use the standard Microsoft Playlists offers in the catalogue. However, we found that they did not work for us. Usually we want to add something, remove something, change the sort order, change a title. And you cannot change anything in a standard Playlist. 

So we create custom playlists, often starting from a copy of a standard Playlist. In a custom Playlist, you determine the details of the Playlist as a whole, like the title, the summary and the image. Please note: you can select the level and audience, but you cannot add any choices. That is a pity, because most audiences don’t make sense to innocent users. 

A custom Playlist, with some standard Assets and custom Assets.

A custom Playlist, with some standard Assets and custom Assets.

In the custom Playlist, you can search for and add existing Assets.  

Add existing Assets to the custom Playlist: standard Assets and custom Assets.

Add existing Assets to the custom Playlist: standard Assets and custom Assets.

Or you can add your own Assets: add a title and a URL, for example of a page created in the portal. The custom Assets are indicated with the people icon in the Playlist.

A custom Asset: a page created in the same portal.

A custom Asset: a page created in the same portal.

7.Microsoft has more Assets than you can find in the catalog 

I could not find everything I needed in the catalogue. Fortunately, Microsoft has more Assets online, so I did not have to create the content myself. 

So, yes: Microsoft 365 Learning Pathways is very helpful. But is not “automagically” providing us a learning portal that meet our needs with one push of the button. We still have to do some manual work. 

June 30, 2020

Adapting to change: life in an intertidal zone

Filed under: Adoption — Tags: , , — frederique @ 21:04

Our organizations face changing circumstances: disruption of our markets, new regulations, the Corona virus forcing us to keep our distance and work from home. So our organizations, and we as the employees, have to change to stay competitive, compliant and safe. In nature, plants, animals and people also have to deal with changing circumstances. Sometimes we try to change what we find, sometimes we all just go with the flow. But in any case, we all – including plants, animals and people – have to do something to adapt.

Wadden Sea: ever changing

Recently, we went for a short holiday trip to the Wadden Sea in the north of The Netherlands. Yes, we are now allowed to get out of our houses, as long as we are careful, though our trip abroad was canceled… In that region, change is very visible. The Waddenzee or Wadden Sea is called a sea, but it is a large, shallow intertidal zone. So now you see the sea, and now you don’t, because a few hours later you get mudflats as far as the eye can see. The ferry boat to the island of Ameland has to wind its way and find a channel that is deep enough. And that channel tends to shift and silt up. So the captain has to pay attention and adapt, to be able to sail to the island, and the dredging companies have to work hard to keep the harbour and a route clear.

Wadden sea at low tide

View from the island of Ameland to the mainland. A few hours ago, this was sea. Now it is mostly mud. And if you don’t mind getting dirty and a bit wet, you can walk to thg mainland.

The birds adapt to the tides

The birds are very much aware of the tides. They have their long-term genetic adaption of specific types of bills that allow for specific types of feeding. And that has to be combined with the short-term adaption of finding the right place and time to suit their needs.

Low water is great for the waders, who can stalk the mudflats and eat the juicy insects and shellfish that burrow in the mud.

Avocet in shallow water

The pied avocets catch crustaceans and insects by sweeping their bill through the shallow water or picking them from the mud.

Turnstones on a mudflat

Turnstones can’t probe deeply for their food, with those shorts bills. They turn stones to find it, as their name indicates. Or they just pick it from the sand at low tide.

Spoonbills need shallow water, to “spoon” for aquatic creatures. We have seen them appear in shallow pool when the tide was right at that place & time.

Spoonbill eating a mussel

Spoonbills usually “spoon” small fish and shrimps, but shellfish like mussels are appreciated too.

Fishing birds like Terns have to fly to the right place to catch their fish. When the water is gone from the Wadden Sea, the Sandwich terns on the island of Texel fly to the other side, to the deeper North Sea. At high tide, they can find water and fish closer to their colony.

Sandwich tern with fish

This Sandwich tern has caught a nice fish. He has to fly to water deep enough to harbour fish.

High water allows swimming birds like Eiders to dive for molluscs near the coast, where we could see them.

Eider female fighting a gull

A lot of female Eiders were lounging and feeding in the water of the Wadden Sea, though sometimes they had to defend their catch from Gulls who tried to steal it.

Waders however, who prefer shallow water and mud, tend to get out of the way of all that water and find a refuge at high tide.

Flock of waders landing on a small beach

A flock of thousands of waders – mostly Knots but also some Bar-tailed Godwits – land on a high-water refuge. Unfortunately, today the water was higher than yesterday, so the little beach disappeared at high water and the flock has to leave early.

The plants adapt to salt water

The border between land and sea is not very clear cut in this region. At low water, the sea looks like land, with those extensive mudflat that you can walk on.  At high water, the sea floods the land and plants end up with their feet in the water. The salt marshes have special plants, that have adapted to handle the salt water.

Salt marsh at high water

The glasswort and sea-lavendar in the salt marshes of De Volharding on Texel don’t mind the salt water that floods them at high tide.

The people adapt the landscape and seascape

The people living on the islands in the Wadden Sea appreciate their natural environment, but there are limits. If they let nature take its course entirely, not only the ferry channels will shift, but the islands themselves too: in some places the sea erodes the dunes and beaches, in other places the sea deposits the silt. So they need to dredge the harbours, to keep the sea where they need it. But they also have to take measures to keep the land where they need it. In gale force winds, the sea can break through and flood the land. Unless you protect the land with some serious dikes.

Dike protecting the low-lying land from the sea

The dike protects the east side of the island of Texel. Now that we have the dike, we can also use it to provide cycling lanes and put some sheep out to graze.

Last year a new hybrid dike was constructed in the south-east, because the old dike could not guarantee the safety of the inhabitants, given the changing circumstances: sea levels are rising, the soil is compacting and getting lower and our rules are stricter. But our other requirements have also changed. Putting in a new traditional dike would take up a lot of agricultural space and damage the biodiversity. So they adapted and came up with a new solution: a “sand dike”, artificial dunes outside the dike. These can safely soak up the waves and provide a new habitat of dunes and salt marshes for wildlife.

Now we need the plants, the birds and the other animals to adopt the new dunes. The people have planted Marram grass to keep the sand in place. And they have transplanted  a piece of salt marsh that would disappear under the new dunes to a new location: turf with some rare plants. At this time, the whole thing looks rather sandy, but we’ll have to wait and see if the plants and wildlife can adopt it, make it their own, or if they need some more help and change management.

New artificial dunes

A new “sand dike, the Prins Hendrikzanddijk, consists of artificial dunes, with marram grass to keep the sand in place and fences to catch more sand.

The birds and people adapt to each other

Birds who liked to nest in the salt marshes got in trouble when people put up a big dike on the east side of the island of Texel. Because people like birds, they dug some shallow pools right behind the dike, to provide some space for birds like waders, terns and geese. This works very nicely, though the birds and the people are still getting used to each other and adapting.

There used to be a colony of Sandwich terns in the north section, but the birds left. The experts think that they were disturbed, maybe by people walking their dogs. Terns nest on the ground, their nests in a ground scrape. So they don’t like dogs. Fortunately the terns re-established the colony a few miles south in the area. Apparently there are no dogs or other disturbances there, because the birds have seriously adopted that pool and its islands: there are over 6.000 pairs of Sandwich terns nesting there!  We also saw plenty of avocets with chicks and oystercatchers with chicks.

A small part of the colony of Sandwich terns

The colony of Sandwich terns is a very busy place: noise, smelly and a feast for the eyes. This is only a very small section of it.

Sandwich terns and chicks

The Sandwich terns have adopted the artificial pool and island, to nest and rear their chicks

So that change went very well- sometimes it just works!

January 31, 2020

3 things that work well in Office 365 training sessions

Filed under: Adoption,Office365 — frederique @ 22:15

Currently, I am involved in an adoption programme to help our users make Office 365 their own, so that they can take advantage of the toolkit and make their work more effective, more efficient and easier. We offer class room training sessions, in addition to things like information pages and webinars. Let us look at three aspects of this training that work well in our organization.

1.Training based on user scenarios

We don’t just teach our users to push the buttons in the Office 365 applications, what options there are and how they work. Our approach is to teach our users how they can perform their jobs better using Office 365. For example: to collaborate safely in construction projects, discuss plans, manage their team tasks, meet online to save traveling time, share their notes

And yes, this implies that we teach them how to use tools like SharePoint, Teams, Planner, OneNote and Yammer. But this way, the user can see what’s in it for them, and apply what they learn to improve their actual work.

2.Practical exercises in playgrounds

In these sessions, we have small theoretical part explaining about our business challenges and the cloud. We show in a demo how you can perform the user scenarios. But the main part of the sessions consists of practical exercises guiding the participants through the scenarios.

To facilitate these scenarios, we create for each session a playground Site / Team / Plan et cetera with sample content. Here, the training participants can do the exercises and explore, without risk. The playgrounds remain at their disposal.

3.Sessions per business unit

We are trying to improve the collaboration within the organization, so we want colleagues to learn together and to discuss how they can improve their particular processes. After all, our business units have different specialties and they have different challenges. And the people in that business unit know better than the IT guys from head quarters what is important for them.

We not only organize our training sessions per business unit, but we also tailor our sessions to the needs of those units. The basics of many scenarios may be similar, but the priorities are different as are the specifics.

November 30, 2019

The importance of support for Office 365 adoption

Filed under: Adoption — frederique @ 22:04

Ok, this is valid for all new tools. But my nose is currently getting rubbed in it for Office 365. If we want end users to adopt Office 365, we need to make sure that they can get answers to their questions, get the tools they request and generally get the help they need. Quickly, easily and smoothly.

Too often I have seen initiatives supposed to promote Office 365 adoption only focus on training. They organized great sessions, trained a lot of people. And then they stopped. After these training sessions, the users wanted to get started and use the tools to make their lives easier. But then it turned out that no real support was available to help them, when they – inevitably – had follow-up questions.

In these cases, the training sessions were mostly a waste of everyone’s time, because the users got stuck and could not use the tools properly. And then they forgot what they learned in those training sessions, because they were not applying that knowledge. So we need to arrange for proper support.

Make sure the helpdesk knows how to deal with Office 365 questions

Preferably, the first line helpdesk people can already answer the easy questions. The more complex questions, they should forward to the correct team of second and then third line support.

So we need to – or somebody needs to – provide them with reference materials and training, so that the helpdesk can deal with all reasonable Office 365 questions. Not just once, but continuously: Office 365 changes, the configuration in the tenant changes, and new helpdesk employees come on board.

In theory, this is obvious. In practice, this is problematic… I have spoken to users who were desperate or furious or both, because they simply did not get the help they needed: For example:

  • Their question or request got lost somewhere in second or third line support and they simply did not hear anything from IT in ages.
  • The helpdesk told them that the tool was not supported. And that was for OneNote, a completely standard part of Office 365, which has been rolled out and officially included in our support years ago.
  • First line support looked into a synchronisation app issue with the user and concluded that they did not dare try to do anything. Instead of contacting a specialist, they just closed the ticket.

So we have to spend the time, energy, money or whatever is needed to get  and keep the helpdesk up-to-speed.

Recruit local Office 365 champions

Even if we have a fully functional helpdesk, it is advisable to have local Office 365 champions: colleagues who know the end users, who understand the end users’ situation and who can guide the end users to take advantage of the Office 365 tools to improve their particular processes. Of course these local champions become even more important, if the central helpdesk is not up to the task of helping the end users quickly and adequately.

Make sure the local champions have the support they need to help others

If we have a network of Office 365 champions, it is crucial that we help these people to help their colleagues. In our case, we allow these champions to bypass the ineffective helpdesk:

  • For general questions, they post them in a Yammer group where other champions can reply as well as the official Office 365 team.
  • For specific questions about, for example, individual SharePoint sites, they can contact the Office 365 team directly via a shared mailbox.

We try to limit this direct contact and promote the official support process. But we know that it is worth our while to help the champions: helping one champion means helping a whole group of end users who are supported by that champion.

Offer help materials with information applicable to our situation

Microsoft has many user manuals, quick reference guides and such. And some users just search the internet for answers. But those are not tailored to the situation in our organization. For example, these generic materials led users to believe that they could create their own SharePoint sites. But self-service site creation is switched off in our tenant. They need to create their sites from CRM/Dynamics 365 or request them from the helpdesk. We need to explain that to our users.

So we need make sure our users can the support they need. For without proper support, any Office 365 adoption programme is bound to fail

October 31, 2019

How we organize our knowledge sharing sessions – 15 practical tips

Filed under: Adoption,New world of work — frederique @ 23:54

For several years now, I have been organizing lunch sessions for our department at the consultancy company where I work (Macaw): as consultants, we share the lessons we have learned in the projects and we share our research. And now I am also involved in a series of internal webinars we are organizing for the Office 365 champions at a construction company, as part of a user adoption programme. Based on these experiences, I have gathered a list of 15 practical tips for such knowledge sharing sessions.

In short:

  1. Pick relevant topics and relatable speakers
  2. Plan ahead on a regular schedule: “save the date”
  3. Provide the details at least a week before the session
  4. Publish the schedule
  5. Allow people to attend online
  6. Set up the online session carefully: mute the participants for large audiences
  7. Explain how it works beforehand
  8. Prepare the session. Does it still work as expected?
  9. Hook up half an hour before it starts
  10. Arrange for a host / moderator
  11. Don’t forget your online audience
  12. Make a recording
  13. Follow-up immediately afterwards: links to the materials
  14. Follow-up on questions soon afterwards
  15. Ask for feedback and improve continuously

Let’s now take a look at the details…

1.Pick relevant topics and relatable speakers

At the moment, the webinars for Office 365 champions that we are organizing are still rather “top down”: the champions haven’t had much training yet, so we tell them how they can use Office 365. But the people presenting these sessions have been working at that company for at least a year, so we know what challenges they face. Many of them already know us, and they know how to contact us.

We pick topics that people have often asked about, for example: how can you make your life easier by organizing online meetings, managing your personal files in OneDrive for Business, sharing notes in OneNote. We do not present a specific Office 365 tool and explain the buttons, but we start from a business scenario and show how to do it using Office 365.

At a later stage, we hope to invite some of the champions to show how they use Office 365 tools, their real-life examples of solutions that could be applicable for others too. This would be even more relevant for the others in the company than a story from “the IT guys at headquarters”.

We also keep that in mind in our own lunch sessions among consultants. We want to share knowledge. Not listen to sales pitches that have no relation to our work. Usually one of our colleagues shares her or his findings. Sometimes we have a guest speaker from another department or from a partner company. But when we invite a guest, we always stress the fact that we want to talk about the real experiences and challenges. Not the glossy sales brochure.

2.Plan ahead on a regular schedule: “save the date”

As soon as we announced our plan to organize a series of webinars, people started to ask if we could please schedule ahead, so that they could save those timeslots in their agendas. And they asked if we could please commit to a regular schedule, the same day and the same time, to make it easier to plan around the webinars.

Also important: book a meeting room at the same time, so that you know you have a place to set up and conduct your session. I’ve had trouble a few times with the first session of a series, when I was already too late to book my favourite room…

It took some trial and error to come up with the final day and time for the webinars: Tuesday afternoons, 13:00-14:00. We scheduled the first session separately, to gauge the response. That first timeslot turned out to be too late for a significant number of people. We had not done a poll or checked everyone’s agenda’s beforehand, because we invited 180 people and that would have taken ages… So we explicitly asked the invitees to give us feedback on the proposed time and then we finetuned based on their feedback. Once we were sure of the optimal timeslot, we send them a recurring invitation for the rest of the year.

These webinars for Office 365 champions, as well as the lunch sessions we have amongst ourselves as consultants, take place every other week: often enough to have a steady flow of knowledge sharing but not so often that it becomes a burden for the organizers as well as the attendees.

3.Provide the details at least a week before the session

Immediately after we sent the ‘save the date’ invitations for the webinars, people asked when we would give them the details on the subject and everything else. Even though we had told them in the ‘save the date’ invitation that we would make it more specific a week before the session. So I suppose this was really important to them…

We do not have a fixed programme for the webinars, because we want to talk about the subjects that the Office 365 champions want to learn about. We have asked them in a poll in Yammer, we ask at the end of the webinar and we ask around in general. But we make sure we decide on the details at least a week before the session, and we update the invitation.

I have to admit that for the lunch sessions between colleagues I am often late with the invites. But that is a much smaller group, of savvy and seasoned colleagues. They can handle the uncertainty better than  the large group of Office 365 champions who are still finding their way in the world of Office 365 and the newly launched adoption programme.

4.Publish the schedule

For the webinars, we have sent all the people on the Office 365 champions list an Outlook invitation. Similarly, my colleagues have received an invitation for our lunch sessions. But other people may be interested in joining; these knowledge sharing sessions are not secret. So we:

  • Publish the schedule for these sessions in a calendar on SharePoint. In Modern SharePoint, users can then add an event from the calendar to their own Outlook agenda.
  • Post a message in Yammer, announcing the event and encouraging people to request an official invitation if they want to be included in the Outlook invites. With of course a link to the SharePoint item that has all the details.

SharePoint event calendar and event details

Events calendar in Modern SharePoint. You can add an event to your own Outlook calendar.

5.Allow people to attend online

Of course it is great to join in an on-site meeting, to have some coffee together, catch up and share knowledge. However, physical meetings are difficult to schedule if people are working in different locations: we cannot spare the time to get together often enough. Fortunately, we can have online sessions with Skype for Business and now Microsoft Teams.

The webinars we organize for the Office 365 champions are online only. We conduct them in Skype for Business. Yes, we know that Skype is old school and will soon be replaced. But at that company Skype for Business is still the primary tool for chat and online meetings, the video conferencing rooms are tuned for Skype, so that is what we use for the webinars too. Later we will transition to Teams live events.

Our consultants lunch sessions are hybrids. Usually half of the participants are at our offices, together in a meeting room. And the other half joins online, via Microsoft Teams. The presenters try to be present at the office. But quite often that is not possible and the session is presented remotely.

6.Set up the online session carefully: mute the participants for large audiences

We have our consultants lunch sessions in a regular Teams meeting and the participants make sure they mute their own microphones. That works just fine, because usually we have about 20 participants and they are all savvy and used to online meetings.

But for our webinars we invite 180 Office 365 champions, who are not yet fluent in online meetings. We know that we won’t see everyone in each session, but we usually see 50 participants logged into the meeting and we know some people join as a group in a meeting room. We don’t want to hear all of these participants talking all at once in our session. So we set up the Skype-meeting with some options:

  • Select the presenters. All the others in the session are attendees
  • Mute the attendees. Only the presenters’ microphones are active
  • Disable video for the attendees. Only the presenters are visible on video. The main reason is that we are experiencing some network issues and we don’t want to overload the line. In addition, this avoids potential privacy issues, if the participants don’t like their video recorded.

The attendees can ask their questions and add their remarks via the chat. So we were very careful not to disable the chat in the Skype meeting options…

7.Explain how it works beforehand

We invited our Office 365 champions to a webinar in Skype for Business, when they had not received any training in that domain yet. Actually, our first webinar was about online meetings. But we had enough experience with our users to know that not all of them would immediately grasp what they would have to do to participate in the webinar where they would learn everything…

So we did the following:

  • Create a Quick Reference Card and help pages detailing how you can participate in an online meeting.
  • Include in the invitation text a summary of how to join an online meeting, including the tip to use a headset for better audio, with links to the QRC and help pages. Also that their microphones would be muted an that they can ask questions via the chat.
  • Include a screenshot of the chat on the start slide of the presentation, so that people could see where to ask for help if their audio wasn’t working.
  • Explicitly state in the invitation and on the start slide that we will be recording the session, including the chat. This is important for privacy reasons. Our privacy officer was very clear on the point: we can only include the chat, which displays the names of the users participating in it, if we have clearly stated beforehand that we would do so.

Sart page webinar slides,  with screenshot of the Skype-chat in the meeting

Start slide of the webinar presentation (in Dutch), explaining how to ask a question via the chat

8.Prep the session: does it still work as expected?

The more formal the session, the more carefully you’ll want to prepare it and make it fool proof. Our internal lunch sessions between colleagues are quite informal and small scale. We don’t need to prep each and every detail of a demo, because our colleagues will understand it anyway. For the more formal webinars, where it is important that a large group of untrained people understand what we are presenting, it is even more important to prepare thoroughly:

  • Slide deck with an introduction and summary slides listing what we will demo demos.
  • Smooth demo script. Determine a scenario that clearly demonstrated your point: what you should do and tell, and where you should click.
    Is this a scenario that you have demonstrated before? Then it is important to check shortly before the session that everything still works as expected. In Office 365 in particular, things just change… 
  • Clean demo environment. For example: clean SharePoint site or Microsoft Teams environment with demo content, a OneNote notebook with demo content showing of the mail features, a clean set of synchronised SharePoint libraries and OneDrive folders in Windows Explorer (clean it up beforehand…). A test folder in Outlook, so that you don’t show your real email. Set your Outlook agenda to show only today, so that you don’t show your entire agenda. Close all applications and browser tabs that you don’t need. Open the applications that you need for your demo scenarios.
  • Shipshape computer, connected to the power grid and network. Reboot it in time beforehand, to make sure it doesn’t start talking about updates or freezing because it is getting overloaded during the presentation.
  • Mute your phone and make sure your Skype  / Teams is set to “Do not disturb”.

9.Hook up half an hour before it starts

Even for our informal lunch sessions, we always book the meeting room half an hour early and start hooking it all up. This way, we can solve any remaining issues before the official start, to avoid wasting everybody’s time

  • Does the beamer or screen in the meeting room work?
    If your session is online-only, you don’t have to worry about this. But if (part of) your audience is on-site, you need to reserve enough time to hook up that screen. Too often the cables are missing or the remote control is not working or the lamp has blown up or something. Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong with these things…
  • Can you open the online meeting in the meeting room?
    This often causes problems: you need to invite the modern conferencing tools directly in the same meeting, otherwise the tool won’t recognize the meeting.
  • Is the presenter’s shared screen visible?
    Can the participants see the presentation slides and the demo environment? This can be messy if you want to demo something on a different laptop, or if you are working on multiple screens.
  • Does audio work and can the participants hear the presenter clearly?
    This often goes wrong. Sometimes the presenter’s audio device does not connect properly. And sometimes some of the participants can’t hear anything (Is the sound on your computer switched on? Try leaving the meeting and re-entering)
  • Is the video working?
    And do you know where the camera is, and is there not too much garbage in sight of that camera?

10.Arrange for a host / moderator

The presenter is busy talking and showing a demo. In an on-site session, it can be handy to have a moderator, who keeps an eye on the audience and on the time. In an online session, a moderator is indispensable. When I present a webinar that has to be just right, I even like to have two colleagues assist me:

  • Help to hook it all up
    It is very helpful to have an on-site host who can help hook up the screen and everything, particularly if the presenter is online while part of the audience is on-site in a meeting room, or if the presenter is inexperienced. This host also rounds up the on-site participants who are still loitering at the coffee machine when we want to get started and closes the door.
  • Start and stop the recording
    If the presenter it too immersed in the story to remember, the moderator can take care of these practicalities.
  • Moderate the chat
    In our webinars, the chat is the only way the attendees can interact with the presenters and each other. Answer individual questions and determine which questions should be addressed by the presenter. We have had some very lively chats in webinars, where the moderator was glad to get some help from a second colleague…
  • Act as demo partner.
    When we demo Office 365 functionality, we often want to show interaction: when we talk about online communication, you need to see someone responding to my chat message; when we discuss collaboration on notes, you need to see someone else typing on the OneNote page I am showing. Preferably two different people, to make the scenarios richer.
  • Keep an eye on the shared screen and audio
    If for some reason, the shared screen is no longer visual or the audio drops off, somebody has to notify us quickly. I like to have a colleague monitoring the session from a different room or wearing a headset. The moderator usually is in the same room with me, and he won’t notice if the audio disappears…

11.Don’t forget your online audience

Having an online audience is more tricky than an on-site audience that you can look in the eye. It is even more tricky if you have an on-site audience in the room with you, as well as an invisible online audience. You need to be careful that you take into account what your invisible online audience experiences.

  • Before you start, check if the online audience can see and hear you
    Preferably before the official start of the session, but in any case: don’t just start talking before you know that you will be heard.
  • Only point with your cursor
    Don’t point with your finger at the screen, wave your hands or otherwise use gestures.
  • Don’t walk away from the microphone.
    When I present for a live audience, I tend to move around. This may mess up the audio experience for the online audience, if you are not hooked up to a portable microphone. It is better to sit down and stay near the fixed microphone.
  • Move your cursor slowly
    The online tooling (Skype or Teams) cannot keep up with fast movement, especially if the network is slow.
  • Allow time for questions and ask if there are any
    When you are in a meeting room, you will notice that people look puzzled when they get lost. You don’t know if your online audience is still alive, unless you ask them. So include a short break between sections of your talk or demo, to ask if there are questions about what you just showed.

For me, the advantage is that the webinars for the champions are online only. And our lunch sessions among colleagues usually have at least have of the audience online (and I almost always join them online myself…). That makes it easier to remember the online audience, and we optimize the sessions for an online experience. However, I have experienced in other knowledge sharing sessions how bad it can be for online participants: sessions where they forgot or did not manage to hook up the audio, organized in a meeting room where you could not hear the questions from the audience in the room, where the presenter was pointing at things we could not see… Very frustrating…

12.Make a recording

There are always invitees who would love to participate in your sessions but who cannot make it at the scheduled time. And there may be participants who would like to hear & see the session again. Fortunately the Office 365 tools for online meetings (Skype for Business and Teams) allow you to make a recording of the session.

You can then publish the recording. The best place in Office 365 now is Stream. We have a Stream-channel for our webinars. At Macaw we also have a channel for the recordings of our lunch sessions.

Make sure the participants know you are making a recording and publishing for anyone in the company who wants to see it – that is the default for knowledge sharing. In a webinar, you only hear the presenters and only see a video of the presenters. But, at least in Skype, the chat is also included in the recording and there you see the names of those who participate in it.

13.Follow-up immediately afterwards: links to the materials

Participants often like to check back the presentation, watch the recording again, share it with colleagues, take action on what you mentioned. And often they cannot find the materials easily by themselves. So make sure you follow up on the session with links to the relevant materials, preferably as soon as possible, on the same day. We do the following after our webinars.

  • Publish the recording in the appropriate channel in Stream.
  • Publish the slide desk on the information portal about Office 365, on the page that also links to the webinar channel in Stream/
  • Post a link to the slide deck and the recording on Yammer.
  • Send an email to everyone I the Outlook invitation, with links to: the recording, the slide deck, the Yammer group where they can ask further questions, relevant help page in the information portal.
    Yes, email is very old school, but we want to make sure that everyone has the information at their finger tips and we know that for many people email is still the best way to reach them. Many of the participants have asked if we could please email them the links to the recording and the slide deck. We will try to wean them off email later…

14.Follow-up on questions soon afterwards

We try to answer as many of the questions as we can during the knowledge session. But there are always some questions cannot be answered right away, because we are running out of time or because they are too complex.

At Macaw, we know where to find each other in Teams or in Yammer, so we post our follow-up there. The Office 365 champions at the construction company do not have these reflexes yet. However, we try to reach them via a Yammer group, which we promote at every opportunity. We post our answers in that Yammer group, so that everyone can see them and respond to them.

The key bottleneck is that we need to make more time to take note of the open questions from the chat (we copy the chat history into the OneNote notebook of the adoption team), figure out the answers and post them. It all takes time and energy, but it is important that we follow up and not leave our participants with open questions.

15.Ask for feedback and improve continuously

As always, nothing is carved in stone. Situations change, insights change. And there is always room for improvement.

Especially with online webinars, where you don’t look the audience in the eye, it is important to ask for feedback. Are we talking about topics that are relevant to them? What do they want to hear about? Do they like our approach? Is bi-weekly the right frequency? Could they understand the explanation or was it too fast? Did they learn anything new or was it too slow and obvious?

So far, we have successfully held a poll in Yammer, asked the participants in the webinar chat and asked individual participants one-on-one afterwards. Our general request for feedback in Yammer did not yield much; maybe people don’t want to commit themselves in public. At a later stage, we will set up a survey in Microsoft Forms.

In any case, we will keep organizing our knowledge sharing sessions, and we will do our best to keep improving them.

June 30, 2019

Hovering along the cliff top – Sea birds taking advantage of the wind

Filed under: Adoption,Nature,Non-work — Tags: , , — frederique @ 22:22

I can watch them for hours, the seabirds going about their business at their nesting sites. Though most of them are awkward on land and clumsy at landing, some are acrobats in the air and expert divers in the sea. It is great to see how they take advantage of the local features that nature offers them.

I have just been on holiday in Orkney, an archipelago in the north of Scotland. Not many people live there, but of hundreds of thousands of sea birds do. They nest on the cliffs, on the beaches and in the grassland on the coast. Orkney has some great habitats for them.

The cliff ledges are particularly attractive to some species. The guillemots lay their eggs directly on the rocky ledge and right next to their neighbours, so you see rows and rows of guillemot backs. The gannets nest on the same ledges, but they build a real nest first, making sure that they are not so close that they can peck each other while sitting on the nest. Puffins prefer old rabbit holes and crevasses near the cliff tops. Fulmars find nooks and crannies.

Guillemots standing on the ledges, interspersed with nesting gannets.

Guillemots standing on the ledges, interspersed with nesting gannets.

Usually, they seem busy foraging and yelling at trespassers – usually other birds. But the ground nesters, like the artic terns, also warned us not to get too close.

At Noup Head on the island of Westray, the wind was blowing hard. The intensity and direction must have been heavily influenced by the shape of the cliffs below our feet, because for us landlubbers at the cliff top it was quite unpredictable where the wind would be fiercest. But the sea birds seemed to love it. And they knew exactly how to take advantage of it.

Many were hovering along the cliff top, just hanging there and watching the scenery, as we were watching them. They did not look elegant, with their tails sticking up and their legs dangling. But apparently, that is the best way to hover in one place, because we saw many birds of different species do it.

Usually the gannets would glide by gracefully. On the cliff top at Noup Head, you can look them in the eye. This way, they go somewhere without hurrying.

Adult gannet gliding

Adult gannet gliding past at Noup Head, Westray

But they also hover on the spot, without going anywhere. At first, we only saw juvenile gannets doing it: immature gannets that still have a lot of black feathers on their wings and that need to grow up before they get the proper white & black wing tips look. Like a flight school? But then we noticed that in some popular spots, adults were hovering the same way.

Immature gannet hovering, sacrificing style for a nice steady hover.

Immature gannet hovering, sacrificing style for a nice steady hover.

Both adult and juvenile gannets hang out at this promontory.

Both adult and juvenile gannets hang out at this promontory.

And it’s not just the gannets. These razorbills hover as well. When they fly, razorbills tend to flap their wings like crazy – as do all auks. They seemed to enjoy this steady hover without moving their wings.

Razorbills hovering off Noup Head.

Razorbills hovering off Noup Head.

Hovering razorbill

Razorbill

We haven’t seen the puffins do a full blown hover, but the wind did enable them to stay in the air without flapping their wings frantically. And their landings seemed to be more controlled too.

Puffins were flying and landing relatively safely at Noup Head

Puffins were flying and landing relatively safely at Noup Head

The artic terns on the Holm of Papay on the other hand, had only low cliffs and a relatively even grassland to work with when they were flying around. So they had to do the work of flapping their wings. Not that it bothered them. They were very agile, fluttering about in all directions, using their wings and magnificent tail.

Arctic tern on the Holm of Papay.

Arctic tern on the Holm of Papay.

Yes, I have been watching the birds for hours during my holidays. In my everyday life, I am indoors, in an office, organizing Office 365 into a habitat suitable for my clients’ employees, and helping these people get comfortable in that habitat. So it was great to see the Orcadian users get the most out of their habitat. And I enjoyed getting some fresh air and sunshine for myself too 🙂

May 31, 2019

3 prerequisites for Office 365 adoption

Filed under: Adoption — frederique @ 23:52

We want our users to adopt Office 365. To make it their own, so that they can reap its benefits. But they can only adopt it successfully, if some prerequisites are fulfilled. Let us discuss three of them, which I have recently been addressing in a project.

These are not new; they fit into the barriers to a successful adoption I already talked about in 2012. But they still need to be taken care of.

1. Office 365 needs to be easily accessible

Many components of Office 365 live online, in the browser. So:

  • All users should have a working Office 365 account
  • There should be a clear entry point.
    If you have a SharePoint intranet in the same Office 365 environment, you are all set. Just explain where they can access the different Office 365 apps, in particular the App Launcher (the “waffle”).
    At my client, we still have an old intranet, in an old version of SharePoint. So we need to add an obvious link leading the users to Office 365. Because now they don’t know how to get there…

The Office 365 App Launcher also known as "The Waffle": once you are in Office 365 in the browser, you can find every online Office 365 app via this App Launcher.

The Office 365 App Launcher also known as “The Waffle”: once you are in Office 365 in the browser, you can find every online Office 365 app via this App Launcher.

2. It has to work

Ok, this is really obvious and sounds trite. But unfortunately it is not as easily accomplished. We hit some snags in practice… Computer savvy users can handle it, but the innocent end-users need a seamless experience.

  • Every Office 365 component has to work properly before you introduce it to the audience at large.
    For example, we’ve had issues with the installation of Office 2016, that came as a part of Office 365, next to Office 2010. That causes weird issues, so we must get rid of Office 2010 on every laptop before we can wholeheartedly promote Office 365.
    And many Office 365 profiles are incorrect, because the information in Active Directory is outdated. So we need to clean up Active Directory and only then will the profiles and the people search make sense.
  • Every third party add-on that you promote has to work properly
    Part of our user group has harmon.ie to connect Outlook to SharePoint. However, there have been issues with it since we switched from Office 2010 to 2016. We need to fix them, before we can roll it out to the rest

3. We need to get our story straight, given the dependencies and developments

So what is the story at this time? What should the employees use and how, to get their jobs done?

  • Currently, we are still working on project site templates in SharePoint Online. So we have to align our adoption efforts for SharePoint with the development of the new site templates: either wait until we have the project template for the business unit or introduce the department sites and explain what will follow.
  • We have just migrated the project sites from SharePoint 2007 and 2013. After this summer the intranet will be migrated. And we are formulating a plan to migrate the “home drive” fileshares to OneDrive for Business. So we need to align our story with the migration projects.
  • Most users still have Windows 7 and the official browser still is Internet Explorer 11. So we still have the “old” OneDrive syncing mechanism that takes up space on your laptop. And Modern SharePoint does not run smoothly at all for the innocent users.
  • We are transitioning from Windows 7 to Windows 10. For Windows 10, Microsoft recommends the new OneNote for Windows 10 app instead of the client we are using in Windows 7.
  • We are still on Skype for Business. which will be replaced by Microsoft Teams. The tool is too useful for online consultation to wait until we have switched to Teams. So we will start with rolling out Skype for Business, explaining that the basics will the same in Teams later.
  • We will roll out Microsoft Teams as a hub for informal collaboration soon. But we need to get our story straight first: what will be used it for, what are the best practices, how do we set up proper governance.

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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