The process of testing and launching an Office 365 pilot in organizations has changed through recent years. In the recent past, it was strictly technical. We had around 200 slides and 100 detailed technical questions which we discussed only with IT departments. The goal was to confirm that there are no technical blockers for successful Office 365 deployment. Where are we now? In this piece, I will guide you through 6 critical steps to become your users’ hero without much time and effort.
So again back to my memories, there were a couple of well-known limitations – such as public UPNs requirements for Exchange configuration that has to be met to enable the migration.
Now, the landscape is completely different.
Microsoft worked hard on technology to enable as much deployment scenarios as possible keeping the service standardized. They also recommend going straight to the business with an offering called Value Discovery Workshop. However, some of the challenges are still the same if you want to check if Office 365 platform suits your company.
Start with gathering feedback
It’s a good starting point – not an easy task, but still, from my experience, it’s always best to just talk. It works much better than using tools such as surveys, doodles, and others. People become more open, especially when they talk to an external consultant. The goal here is to discover how your people work and what are their daily problems.
Choose real business cases for an Office 365 pilot
Based on the feedback you get from the people, it’s good to identify real cases for the pilot. Only after identifying and prioritizing the scenarios you should propose the technology that will help with achieving your goals. Each of the scenarios below can be addressed with many services.
When you ask your users what they want to test, you will probably get an answer “We don’t know what we want because we don’t know what is possible in the service”.
Don’t test everything
Office 365 already gives you many services – even more are about to come. You should focus on just a few during the pilot. That is also why you should start with business cases at first. Rolling out Yammer, SharePoint One Drive, Video, PowerApps, Power BI during the pilot will result in just one feedback from your users:
“Yep. Works for me. OK, cool. “
But does it help you with your job?
“I don’t know”.
It’s also hard to make a decision which plan to purchase and what is even more important – it’s hard to get a budget for the project after getting similar feedback. My advice here is to prioritize and choose wisely, limit your tests to a maximum of 3 – 4 services. To make it clear – as an IT, you can, of course, check if the services work, just don’t bother end users with it.
Support your pilot users and communicate with them often
The worst scenario you may be up to is to enable the technology and leave your users on their own.
Remember that not everything is intuitive for them, and they will become demotivated very, very quickly. The best pilots I have seen were the ones where the dedicated person was constantly in contact with testers. On the one hand, it gives you some early invaluable feedback, on the other – testers know who to contact when their help is needed.
You can ask – “Isn’t the service a modern and intuitive one?”. Well, it is, and is not at the same time. Some recent parts such as Yammer or Planner are well thought and easy to adopt, but other such as SharePoint or Outlook clients bring a huge legacy do deal with.
Don’t forget to go through technical assessment
It’s easier than ever before to deploy Office 365 in your organization. The funny thing here is that apart from Office ProPlus client, there is hardly anything else you can deploy. All the technical work is usually connected with AD or the email system integration.
The list of 100 technical questions I mentioned in this article’s lead is still valid. Remember to go through the technical assessment to identify any blockers or problems you can have. There are also many technical decisions to make – for example, “Is it worth to deploy SSO, or maybe password sync will be sufficient?”. All these will help you with scoping your final project.
Engage with an expert
I have seen many customers trying to do the pilot by themselves… It almost always ends up taking much longer than expected with many questions not answered. Just look for and expert to support you during the process. This person or a company should have certain experience with both technical (services tips and tricks) and business (adoption) part of the service to guide you through.
To sum up – Office 365 grows very quickly, and it’s quite easy to do a technical deployment, but it takes some energy to decide what you should deploy and how to support your business users with adoption. I hope that these 6 tips will help you break the ice.
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