How to get more out of Office 365 for businesses

 In Cloud, Office 365

You’ve switched to Office 365. You have a suite of new tools that can streamline workflow, easily connect to one another, and cut down on third-party apps.

But are you taking advantage of all that functionality? Or have you stalled out after getting Exchange up and running?

If you’re like most organizations making the move to Office 365, you’re probably leaving valuable productivity on the table, and passing over a number of features that could help your business.

To make sure you’re not missing out on that productivity, here’s what you can do to get the most out of Office 365.

Put the “business” back in your business IT

The first mistake organizations often make when deploying Office 365 is not sharing ownership between IT and business. While IT leadership is often heavily involved in the rollout of Office 365, many times they leave the business side of the operation out of the picture, figuring out what processes and workflows could use an overhaul on their own.

For the most successful adoption, business leaders must have a say in defining and prioritizing the use cases for how end users want to work. That helps IT figure out the appropriate applications to deploy, and where to cut down on third-party apps.

For example, if your file share storage is running out of space, instead of investing in new hardware, your IT team could put special attention on OneDrive for Business and move that storage to the cloud.

Instead of using WebEx or a similar conferencing app, you could implement Skype for Business, and eliminate a third-party application. Without input from business, IT may just go for the most popular applications (such as Microsoft Exchange), and overlook the certain pain point your business is trying to fix, or the goal it hopes to achieve.

These will differ from business to business, so there are no hard and fast rules for determining what pieces of Office 365 may benefit you most. Evaluate what your company is struggling with and what could be streamlined, and start talks between the business and IT sides of the company.

Create a roadmap to success

Beyond making sure you have the proper tools to fix the proper problems, you need to make sure your employees actually make the effort to adopt this new technology. This requires the right adoption strategy.

Part of this strategy will involve your business team once again. Executive sponsors and adoption champions can play a crucial role in getting the rest of a company to engage with Office 365. An executive sponsor promotes the change in the company, while a champion is often an early adopter of technology, or sometimes a naysayer who has been converted.

These champions are used to test the technology, and later provide valuable peer learning experiences, as well as to handle simple IT problems and questions from other employees.

The right information at the right time can do wonders to push users into adopting Office 365. It might seem silly, but put up posters announcing the arrival of the new services in a few weeks’ time. After that, send out emails explaining why the change is happening, including an introductory video.

Follow this up with proper training that meets your users’ needs in person, online, and on demand. The training will help them unlock hidden features they may not have used otherwise, and ensure that the technology doesn’t feel foreign, which could spur disapproval out of the gate.

Easing your end users into the new technology, rather than tossing them in to sink or swim, can make a huge difference in your eventual ROI. If users are more familiar with the changes when they’re implemented, they may be less resistant to the change, and more willing to try out some of the tools.

Getting the most out of Office 365

Office 365 is built to cut down on third-party apps, increase productivity, and save your company money. But it only works if you strategize both your intent and your actions.

For more information on Office 365, you can download a copy of the Unpacking Office 365 eBook, attend an on-demand workshop available in the Cloud Climb Base Camp portal, or talk to your SHI Account Executive.

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