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Forget about Office 365 features. Focus on this instead.

Microsoft | Posted on September 24, 2014 by Veronica Skender

Microsoft Office 365 comes with a long list of new and re-imagined apps, all delivered from the cloud to the desktop and mobile device. Naturally enough, these features are the first thing any IT manager sees when considering the new productivity suite.

What if there was a better way to look at Microsoft’s new offering – one that knocked features down a peg? What if there was something far more important to guaranteeing the success – both in terms of productivity and financial returns – when planning out your Office 365 road map?

This was exactly what I talked about in our Softchoice series covering Office 365 change management. And what I want you to know is this: you can forget the features. Focus, instead, on this.

Behavior is what you should pay attention to

The reason is simple, if not obvious. The real return on investment of any major technology comes down to O365 adoption. What value would those features have, if they just sat on a shelf? And since adoption is all about how and how much a given technology is being used, you need to focus on the user’s behavior, first and foremost.

Define the behavior change you want

As a starting point, every organization looking at Office 365 has to ask itself: what behaviors do we want to change? And what areas of the business are we trying to impact?

Step back and figure out what is the most important thing you want your users to start doing. This may mean that you will need to spell out specifically the activities you want people to start doing, stop doing, and continue doing. From there, you can map the time, effort and desired outcomes of your plan.

How this works

Here’s an example of how this plays out with Office 365. Let’s say you start by saying you want your organization to “collaborate openly on teams and projects.” Note, you aren’t saying: we want to install a collaboration app such as Microsoft Lync.

From there you can boil it down to objectives, the “starts” and “stops,” of the behaviors you want. You want users to start using a shared workspace for project files. You want to start communicating in shared forums to build history and onboard new members quickly. And you need to stop using email attachments to distribute files, and stop closing off communication by discussing projects in small groups and e-mail.

I can think of a couple of different projects I’ve worked on where two different customers had very distinct goals.

Behavior Change Example #1: Transitioning Users from Gmail to Office 365

The first was transitioning from having some users on Outlook, while some were using Gmail as their email platform. They wanted everyone to use Outlook and OWA in Office 365. It was important to them to educate their employees on the key differences between Gmail and Outlook so that everyone was using the same platform. The benefits we communicated we’re individually focused including areas such as working better together by leveraging unified calendaring.

The key here while doing this is to show people how much easier things will be for them.

Behavior Change Example #2: Collaboration vs. File Storage

Another customer was struggling with lack of standards when it came to file storage and sharing. One of their main concerns was getting people to stop using email for storage and file distribution and to move away from using external cloud based storage to using Office 365. So, in this case, getting people up to speed on using OneDrive was extremely important to them. They also had users who were responsible for manually archiving and managing their own mailboxes so another goal for them was to educate users on mailbox management, auto archiving and email best practices.

Coming up

In our next installment in our Office 365 series we’ll take you past the conceptual stages, and give you some hard-boiled, execution guides.

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