There is a lot of discussion on how to start using Office 365 in your organization before people are actually doing anything. Especially orgs older then 15 years tend to stall. They have file servers containing dozen of terabytes of data, created non-transparent work processes and have a relatively older workforce.
And then there is the fear of walking into a trap. Talking to IT-Directors and CIO’s about moving their data to cloud, often I get remarks about the vendor lock-in. I’ve addressed this issue before in this post. It comes down to that Vendor lock-in only really bites you when your dependent technology gets more expensive, but stagnates in value.
The real challenge lies in the user adoption and the adjustments of current processes (workflows) in which file servers are often used. And this actually is what this change is all about. You are going to use a new technology that will help you, your organization and employees to be more productive, agile and happy.
Change comes with pain because of resistance. So in a way, you can control the amount of pain you get. The less resistance, the less pain you’ll endure.
So, how to get there? What steps to take? I’ve got no list of to-do’s and statistics available to show you exactly how to do this or what it costs. That will certainly differ per organization, and is strongly dependent on the culture, the state of the IT environment, and the actual will to change at board level and management. I summed up my own experiences for you to take into consideration:
The customers I work for have around 2.000 employees and 70 to 100 branch offices, all use Microsoft Azure and Office 365. They are successfully making this transformation, step-by-step by doing things and not talk to much:
The actual transfer of the data to Office 365 (e-mail, Onedrive, Teams, Groups) is performed fairly quickly. Legacy plugins in Office 2010 or 2013 are often a real burden. Solve this by involving the business (plugin owner).
One or two people deal with the user adoption. What they do:
- Involve business and become the trusted advisor
- Give workshops around the new tools, use examples for inspiration on how to use them from other organizations, and then together determine how you want to use them.
- Select key users (ambassadors) and help them with all their questions, and let them explore, discover new ideas and spread the knowledge and enthusiasm.
- Prepare manuals and rules for using Teams, Portals, Skype.
- Use an intelligent portal on top of Office 365 that will improve the adoption rate and speed, user happiness, offers legacy software in a modern way and replace your old intranet (i.e. Synigo Pulse, Workspace 365).
Find solutions for applications that use the file shares which are going to be deprecated, and take care of the references in documents to other documents (as often is done in Excel).
It is probably necessary to adjust the company’s security policy – if this has not yet been done because of the recent introduction of AVG (GDPR). The principles formulated are used to introduce and configure tools such as Azure Information Protection and Data Loss Prevention. Introduction is done step by step to become familiar with the tools and their impact. These tools are being developed very fast so it makes no sense to write a large plan for this.
- Approach 1
I’ve learned that converting half-hearted – keeping the old solution available in addition to introducing the new solutions – does not work. If people do not get something done, the old tools and method is used, instead of finding a solution using the new tools. In this way the old system remains necessary, and the new system is increasingly perceived as an obstacle.
- Approach 2
Agile Teams work way better then the waterfall projects method. Learning how to work agile takes time and sometimes even some pain, but it pays off. Based on the priorities set by the product owner, who actively participates, the team members (technical, tester, adoption, scrum master) determines in which way and in which steps the deliverables are realized.
The organizations that are most successful in this transition have a committed sponsor (board) and spend a lot of time and attention on this transformation. Organizations that underestimate this, or even consciously do not address this – often for financial reasons – ultimately will cost you more because the quality of the processes deteriorates and the number of dissatisfied end users increases rapidly.
These are my own experiences. I hope that sharing them with you helps you out a little. Drip by drip. If you got suggestions or questions, feel free to leave a note.
One more thing. Pablo Picasso said, “Action is the foundational key to success.” Remember this when planning another meeting.