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Why ‘on time, on budget’ Office 365 projects still fail

Microsoft | Posted on September 17, 2014 by Veronica Skender

Months of meticulous planning. Hundreds of hours of hands-on migration and careful configuration. Then finally, one day, it comes: Office 365 launch day. All systems are go without a hitch.

Don’t pop the champagne just yet. Delivering “on time, and on budget” is only half the battle. The real, often over-looked value of any major IT project hinges on one key thing: adoption. For Office 365 — a technology suite designed to change the way your workers do their job — adoption is more important than ever for realizing its desired business outcomes.

Defining Office 365’s adoption value

It might seem obvious, but the reality is we approach most projects this way, so it’s important we get some definitions straight. Adoption all comes down to usage and habits. At Softchoice, we define it as “the deep utilization and habitual use of a product or a technology by end users.”

Looking at it closely, adoption is something much deeper. Adoption is, in fact, the way by which a technology derives its benefit. Usage directly translates your business goals into actionable, measurable results. If you think about it for a second, it’s evident there can be no ROI without usage. So adoption is, broadly speaking, the value of the technology itself.

O365 Adoption is about return, not sunk costs

Traditionally, before a new project even starts, most of the focus is placed on evaluating the initial investment and sunk costs (such as licensing and project activities) – rather than how it will generate value and return on the investment after launch.

If you start to think of adoption as the goal, the upfront goals link to a broader success factor rather than a back-office migration. Since we are detailing a scenario where an active, regularly-used technology –  say, for example, replacing on-prem email with the cloud-based Office 365 solution – an example success metric could include increasing sales productivity or remote worker satisfaction levels.

5 Key Steps to Successful O365 Adoption

In order to get to this promised land of actively-used tech, there are a number of key strategies to bear in mind:

  1. Executive Sponsorship: It’s crucial company executives and stakeholders accept the new solution. End users will look to them with high expectations, and if the execs are sitting on the fence, it could be disastrous. Once you have their blessing, start showing target users and get them excited for the new tools that even their manager or the CEO are using.
  2. Planning: Map out the behaviors that need to start and stop in your target users, and the time and effort it will take to execute. With Office 365, an example of this might be collaborating openly on projects. From the start then, make it clear to your team what they have to start doing – e.g. uploading docs to the cloud – and what they need to stop – e.g. attaching docs in emails.
  3. Education & Communication: Probably one of the most undervalued, yet important, aspects of change management. The first thing to broadcast is “Why” – why you are doing this, why it matters. Doing this reduces stress and makes the end goal clear. Next, make sure users know what’s in it for them, not just the business (or for even worse just IT).
  4. Measurable Objectives: Without this, it’s impossible to know whether your deployment or adoption goals are successful. We need to make sure we’ve set measurable usage and adoption metrics from the outset.
  5. Incentives: The carrot is always handy to support change. Competitions between departments, rewards, and even turning it into a game are great tactics. Even little things such as coffee cards, putting up a scoreboard or winning a free lunch with a manager can be powerful adoption tactics.

What you need to do now

The bottom line is that when planning for O365 Adoption, priority number one should always be setting clear objectives to know if it’s actually happening. This is the most effective – perhaps only real way – to realize the technology’s business potential.

To get more details on how you can start your own adoption planning, keep reading this series all about Office 365.

Or watch the our business track seminar on training and adoption a successful Office 365 roll out.

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