Microsoft 365 Business for Admins For Dummies
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Garnering support for Microsoft 365 Business adoption isn’t easy. It's understandable for a leader approving a significant budget for a SaaS solution (such as Microsoft 365 Business) to want to see the return on the investment (ROI). Guess who's on the hook for demonstrating the ROI of Microsoft 365 Business? Your IT team.

One of the ways you can convince your leaders about the ROI is to show your success in getting end users to adopt the technology. Unfortunately, though, technology adoption is tricky. If you think you can just roll out the changes and expect users to start using the technology and singing your praises, think again. Change is usually met with resistance. Studies have shown that only 34 percent of the user population typically will adopt a new technology, as illustrated in the theory of Diffusion Innovations.

Here, you find some of the best practices, tips, and tricks for driving adoption of Microsoft 365 Business. Feel free to customize and tweak these suggestions to fit your organization. Do take credit if any of the suggestions here bring you success.

Get leaders to sponsor the adoption of Microsoft 365 Business

Executive sponsorship in technology implementations are usually a foolproof way to get users to adopt a new technology, even if begrudgingly. Let's be honest, an IT admin does not have as much clout as the president, CEO or owner.

After you identify the executive sponsors for your technology implementation, make sure you agree on what's expected of them. Ideally, you want executive sponsors to assume a shared responsibility for the success of the implementation. They can provide air cover when you run into political challenges in your organization or when end users push back on the changes you're rolling out.

For your part, make sure to give your executive sponsors training on the functionalities of the technology based on relevant scenarios. For example, if they tend to use email a lot versus co-authoring documents, train them on the new features in Outlook instead of teaching them how to save and share files in SharePoint. When they see the value of the technology, they'll be able to share their experiences with the rest of the organization.

Recruit and activate champs to promote Microsoft 365 Business adoption

Scientists have not figured out a cloning machine yet, but you can create clones of yourself to scale up your training efforts. How? By recruiting and activating a network of champions for your cause, namely the adoption of Microsoft 365 Business. Usually, these people are early adopters and super users of the current technology in your organization. Give them access to the full suite of the Microsoft 365 Business services and conduct a focused training for them. Apply the “train the trainer” model so that they understand that they will be tasked with training other people in the organization. It might help if you give them an incentive to be in the Champs network (such as a new laptop) in exchange for going through the experience of a Windows 10 AutoPilot deployment.

Ideally, you'll want a champ from each department who understands the workflow for the users in a department. You might find that people in the Marketing department, for example, are excited about Microsoft Stream, but the folks in the Finance department, not so much.

Communicate the change

It has been said that 90 percent of a project manager's job is communication. This statistic is true and applicable when you're implementing Microsoft 365 Business in your organization. Whether you have an assigned project manager or are tasked with the role of the project manager, it's best to have a solid communication plan.

Be mindful of the cadence for the communication. If you send an email every day for three months reminding end users of an upcoming change, you may end up with annoyed people who will create a rule to automatically delete your emails or route them to a folder to read later. If you space the communication too far apart, they might miss a communication and be unprepared when you finally make the switch. You need to find the right balance based on what you know about your end users.

For small businesses, you should make an initial announcement about the Microsoft 365 implementation around the time that licenses are procured. Then about three weeks before the email is cut over to the new system, the drip communication starts, and the frequency gradually increases as the cutover date approaches.

Develop and execute a Microsoft 365 Business training plan

The saying, “fail to plan, plan to fail,” couldn't be truer when it comes to implementing a new technology. Key to the overall implementation plan is the training plan for end users. The training plan doesn't have to be complex. Even an outline of who's going to be trained on what and when is sufficient, especially if you have a small organization. Remember the champs network and the executive sponsors? Those groups need to be included in the training plan.

You may find that you need to adjust your training plan as you get a feel for how well your initial groups of trainees are responding. As such, create your training plan in a format that can be easily updated or collaborated on. You can expose your trainees to the new technology by using SharePoint lists or document libraries as the repository for your training plan. They will start to get trained on the functionalities without even realizing it!

Start with “easy win” scenarios

A trainer was once asked to deliver a four-hour training on Office 365 for a small business with 25 users. Attempts to get information from the business owner on the training needs and the technical skill sets of the employees were unsuccessful and the trainer was told to just train the users “the dummies way.” What that signaled to the trainer was that he couldn't have a fixed topic for the training. The trainer ended up preparing different scenarios to fit a variety of personas. Based on the flow of the conversation, the trainer pulled a certain scenario and focused the training around it.

So, what is a scenario? In the above example, a scenario went something like this:

Jane, Rob, and Paul work in the marketing department and are constantly emailing each other documents they're collaborating on. It's hard to keep track of the latest version of the document and figure out who's made what comment. Jane, who is in charge of culling all the feedback, is getting frustrated because just as she thinks she's made the final version of the document, someone sends belated feedback. Or someone pulls into the conversation another person who then provides feedback on issues, not knowing they have already been dealt with in previous conversations.

The trainer presented that scenario to the workshop attendees and asked if that happens in their organization. The response was overwhelmingly yes. Based on that, the trainer spent 30 minutes showing them the co-authoring features in Word, OneDrive for Business, and SharePoint. They then used their own laptops to practice. By the end of 30 minutes, everyone had a good grasp of the concept and figured out which people were better at it than others. The ones who were more skilled became the go-to person for the ones who needed more hand-holding.

The lesson here is that if you want users to adopt the Microsoft 365 Business, make it a quick win for them and tailor the training to a scenario that is real for them. It wouldn't have worked if the trainer simply started the training with Outlook and how to send encrypted emails.

Provide self-service Microsoft 365 Business resources

If you have a small or one-person IT team, you can reduce the burden of supporting many users during the implementation of Microsoft 365 Business by creating a self-service portal in SharePoint or Microsoft Stream or both. You can post 30-second how-to videos to give end users a refresher on the training. You can ask the champs to post content at your portal, or open your self-service repository to anyone's contribution. By doing it this way, your end users will be practicing what they've learned as they load content in SharePoint or Stream. If you want to get fancy, you can gamify the process by giving incentives to users who have the most-liked video.

The Internet has a ton of videos on different scenarios for Microsoft 365 that you can include in your resources. However, it’s often the case that raw videos created by a co-worker showing the organization's environment resonate more with users than high-production-value marketing videos from Microsoft on YouTube and other channels.

If your users are not into videos, another option is to start a OneNote notebook from a SharePoint site. In the notebook, create different sections focused on a technology. In each section, include step-by-step instructions showing how to complete a task using the technology. For example, you could have a section on Outlook where you have a page for email, a page for the calendar, and a page for tasks. As users read your content, they'll be learning about not only Outlook but also OneNote and SharePoint, albeit unknowingly.

Highlight your Microsoft 365 Business wins

Implementing a new technology such as Microsoft 365 Business is not an easy task. When you have success stories, take the time to celebrate and share the win with your end users. When users understand the value of their contribution to the success of the implementation, it helps motivate others who may not be participating much.

An example of a win is showcasing how much the company saved by reducing travel costs since people started having videoconference meetings using Microsoft Teams. A win might also be a testimonial from someone about the increase in productivity from co-authoring documents in real time versus emailing documents back and forth.

SharePoint Online has a nifty feature called News, an out-of-the-box service that allows you to create content that then gets shared across the different SharePoint experiences and apps. You can highlight your wins by using SharePoint News to further drive adoption of the technology. To find out more about SharePoint News, download this PDF file.

Check the Microsoft 365 Business usage report

As a global admin to your Microsoft 365 tenant, you have access to usage reports that provide insight into how your user base is adopting the technology. The reports include activity and usage metrics for Exchange, Microsoft Teams, Office 365, OneDrive, SharePoint, Skype for Business, and Yammer. You can export the reports into Excel for further analysis. If you're so inclined, you can even analyze the data in Power BI, yet another tool from Microsoft for visualizing data.

One way to act on the available data to drive adoption is to look at OneDrive for Business usage. The report includes information on the user, the last activity date, the number of files, the number of active files, and the storage used. If you notice that a user has zero (0) files and very low storage used, that might be a good indication that the user isn't adopting OneDrive for Business. Based on that information, you could target training for users who have low usage of OneDrive for Business.

Be ready to provide support for your Microsoft 365 Business Integration

When deploying a new technology, nothing fails as spectacularly as a deployment with no support model in place. Following a deployment, people have even been fired from their jobs because of bad user experience and no clear path for escalation.

Depending on how you acquire your licenses, you may have different options for support. If you bought your Microsoft 365 Business licenses directly from Microsoft through their website, your support is provided by Microsoft. Unless you're paying big money for Premiere support, only the global admin can submit support tickets to Microsoft Support. That means you, as the IT admin, will be on point for providing support for your end users. However, you can submit a ticket on behalf of your end users, and Microsoft Support may end up working directly with them to resolve an issue.

If you purchased your licenses from a Microsoft Partner, either through the Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) or Enterprise Agreement (EA) model, the partner is on the hook for providing support. Depending on your agreement with the partner, you can either send your end users directly to the partner's support team or act as the intermediary between your end users and the partner's support team. Be aware that partners may charge an extra fee for support on top of license fees. At Cloud611, you can purchase Microsoft 365 licenses that include 24/7/365 end user support for a minimal fee on top of the license cost.

Bring in the Microsoft 365 Business pros

If you have followed all or most of the tips above and still aren’t having success in driving adoption for Microsoft 365 Business, it may be time to bring in the pros. The Microsoft Partner Network is replete with highly qualified training and adoption partners who can help you unblock adoption challenges. Although you have to shell out good money to engage these partners, the investment may be worth it in the long run.

You can search for Microsoft training partners. Just a heads up — that web address may not work in the Chrome browser, but the URL works perfectly in the Microsoft Edge browser.

One of the partners you'll find from the Microsoft Partner Network is Softchoice Corporation. They have a robust end user adoption professional service that includes defining use cases to understand the end users' needs all the way to the creating an implementation plan to drive desired business outcomes.

Yet another training partner you might consider is Brainstorm Inc. They were contracted by Microsoft to provide training for the Customer Immersion Experience program.

If you feel your organization has unique training needs, you may just need to be connected with the right partner. Please send an email to [email protected] with the subject line “Need help with training.” Someone will respond ASAP.

About This Article

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About the book author:

Jennifer Reed is the co-author of Office 365 For Dummies and founder of Cloud611, an IT services company that helps SMBs take advantage of cloud technologies to drive business outcomes. As a solutions architect, Jenn has helped migrate thousands of users to Office 365. As a manager of a high-performing team of solutions architects, Jenn's focus is enabling IT departments to adapt to evolving technological innovations and adopt the best approach to digital transformation.

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