How should we use Office 365 applications?

Many clients and prospective clients ask me: What Office 365 (O365) applications should we use in our business?   That’s a hard question to answer, because every organization has its own business processes, culture, experience in existing Microsoft applications, and familiarity in using a cloud-based system.

In my experience, an organization will have much better adoption of O365 applications if there is guidance to users on what applications will be used, and how they should use them.  This can be a tall order for many organizations, because they now have a whole host of new Microsoft applications to choose from, and a new way to access those tools (“The Cloud”).

To help organizations determine how they will use O365 applications, and which ones to use, I’ve put together a O365 Strategic Planning Cheat Sheet to guide the evaluation and business utilization process.

The O365 Applications Evaluation Process

To orient you to the Cheat Sheet, it takes a “top-down” approach to the evaluation process.  An organization can take the process to whatever level of detail is required.

It’s very important to have subject matter experts in the organization’s business processes participate in the evaluation and recommendations process.   These personnel will be best suited to identifying how to improve business processes with new tools.

Step 1 – Review the features of each Office 365 application

In this step, involve a consulting partner (like Peters & Associates!) or Microsoft technical sales person to provide an overview of each O365 application.   Some applications, like Office Online, will be familiar to most business users, while other ones, like PowerApps or To Dos, will offer new functionality that can be integrated into existing business process.  Demonstrations can also be helpful in this process.

Determine what O365 applications will be adopted by the organization (now and/or in the future).   It’s okay to not use all the O365 applications; there are so many and all might not be appropriate for you.   Identify how the application will be used at the organization.

Step 2 – Identify the groups and content with which the application will be associated

In this step, determine what kinds of business content will be impacted by the application and what groups will use the application.    Keep in mind that content and O365 applications can be utilized by both employees and external users.

Step 3 – Identify the steps needed to implement the application

In this step, create a list of tasks and changes that will be needed to implement the application.   For example, you may want to send users to training for Flow or PowerApps, or coordinate with a partner to design how PowerBI dashboards can replace existing reports.

Step 4 – Provide training and guidance on how to use the application

In most cases, you will want to document and review how each application will be used in the organization.   Identifying the types of content associated with the application and how the application is to be used in business processes is key to user adoption.

Step 5 – Implement the application

Communication and access to support for the new application and work process is key to successful adoption.  Remember that user adoption is not a one-time activity but an ongoing process to ensure continued use of the application and end user satisfaction with the experience over the long term.

Check out this cheat sheet to download any apps you may need!

As you move forward in this process, if you have questions about the Cheat Sheet or any of the features or applications in O365 reach out to us at info@peters.com.  We are happy to help!

By |2019-05-21T14:53:56-05:00May 21st, 2019|Office 365|0 Comments

About the Author:

As Solution Architect at Peters & Associates, Chris Cummins is responsible for design in Peters & Associates development and business intelligence practices. This includes ensuring the team delivers to our standards of successful design, implementation, and satisfaction of our clients. He has over 25 years of industry experience, and has delivered over 375 Microsoft SharePoint projects for Peters & Associates. Chris has an undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois (Urbana), a MBA from Lewis University and industry technical and project management certifications. Chris’ primary role with our clients is aligning technical solutions to business needs.

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