6 tips for successful change enablement with Office 365

  • Posted on October 31, 2017
  • Estimated reading time 5 minutes
Office 365 change enablement

The following blog post was written by Avanade alum Suzanne Williams.

Creating a positive employee experience with Office 365 is as much a cultural change as a technology change. Too often our clients focus on the products being deployed, and don’t consider the productivity possibilities that exist or how their workforce will adopt to a new way of working.

The human factor – the most important aspect of delivering improved business outcomes - is missing. If employees don’t understand what’s happening and why it’s good for them, their behavior – how they work, with whom they work, and the tools they use to perform their work - won’t change. Absent a shift in behaviour, the business value that comes from technology investments is lost.   

Realizing the full benefits of Office 365 requires a thoughtfully designed and well executed change enablement program. It’s not just about publishing a training video that illustrates how to share a document in OneDrive or sending an email touting the virtues of Skype. Effectively preparing people for the implementation of new capabilities in a way that enhances performance and delivers business results takes time, effort and experience.   

Avanade has helped more organizations move more people to Office 365 than any other services firm in the world. Through this work, we’ve learned a lot about how to optimize organizational adoption. Here are six best practices everyone should apply:

1) Be clear about the business rationale and value to people

Any successful implementation of Office 365 starts with a clear understanding of your business objectives and employees’ needs. It is one thing to tell employees that you’re about to deploy a tool that allows them to share documents with one another. It is another thing entirely to tell them that they’ll be able to compile and report their monthly sales figures in half the time. Human nature is such that we change only when we feel like there is a reason to change, so your vision must be connected to the things your employees care.

2) Know your stakeholders and address their needs first
Focus on identifying, understanding and engaging the people impacted by the change, and invite them to come along on the journey. An effective change enablement strategy is designed from the ground up to directly support the impacted stakeholders and address the business scenarios most relevant to them. This approach will help you to prioritize what to roll-out first as part of your overall roadmap. 

3) Ease – versus plunge – into the change
Office 365 is a powerful productivity transformation platform that can dramatically change the way people work. Sometimes the possibilities, and the change is required to realize these possibilities, can be overwhelming. It’s important to view the move to Office 365 as an evolution, not a “big bang”. Rather than trying to implement the full Office 365 suite at once, start with the mission critical products that will enable your stakeholders to solve their immediate pain points and go from there.  This builds credibility, achieves quick wins and allows people to become comfortable over time.  

4) Encourage leaders to become activists for change
Executive leadership must become ‘Office 365 activists,’ leading by example through visibly engaging with the new technology and promoting its benefits. If senior leaders are visibly using Microsoft Teams others will feel they could benefit from doing the same.  This lead-by-example approach encourages the transition to new ways of working, and creates a “we’re all in this together” atmosphere.

5) Build a mixed team combining internal and external expertise
The most effective teams are those comprised of client and Avanade personnel working together to achieve a common goal through a jointly designed, executed and managed change program. With mixed teams, employees feel that change is happening “with them”, rather than “to them”. It also reinforces that the change is owned and being driven by their colleagues and not an outside consulting partner. I recently heard someone say, “People fall in love with what they build,” and that’s absolutely true.  

Our philosophy at Avanade is to enable clients to manage and maintain change long after we’re gone.  Office 365 is an evergreen technology platform; the programmes evolve and improve constantly. Our goal is for our client to become self-sufficient so that they can continue to enable change for themselves as new functionality becomes available. Mixed teams allow organisations to learn and build this self-sufficiency from day one. When we work hand-in-hand with our clients, they benefit from our subject matter experience and we benefit from their organizational knowledge and commitment.  

6) Communicate, communicate, communicate
Talk about the business rationale and benefits of Office 365 early, often and above all, in a way that resonate with your stakeholders. Make sure you understand how your employees prefer to receive information, and recognise that the way you reach employees may differ along lines such as generation, geography and function.  For example, we know that employees aged 30 and under tend not to read email that often, so an all-employee email may go unnoticed by a significant portion of the recipients.  The information shared should be relevant, relatable and consumable – whatever that means for a given audience.

At Avanade, we are committed to our client’s success. This means supporting the human and technical aspects of the journey to Office 365. When we humanize the change, results are realized. It’s that simple.  

Learn more best practices and advice on how to get the adoption you need for a successful digital employee experience. 

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