User Adoption

The Coffee Chat on 365 Adoption (episode 5)

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Daniel Glenn and I recently recorded episode 5 in our podcast The Coffee Chat on 365 Adoption. In this myth-busting episode, we confirm and debunk common Office 365 user adoption myths. Check out our thoughts on common theories like:

  • “We hire smart people. They’ll figure out how to use Office 365 for themselves.”
  • “If you build it, they will come.”
  • “Clicks (or volume) equals value.”
  • “Once that killer feature is here, the tools will sell themselves.”
  • “Voluntold champions will drive usage and adoption.”
  • “Organic adoption is the best!”

We hope you enjoy episode 5!

About the podcast:
The Coffee Chat on 365 Adoption explores the challenge of driving Office 365 adoption at the organizational level. In episode 1, we dispelled the idea that adoption is an urban myth. We explained why the traditional “build it and they will come” IT model doesn’t work and outlined why organizations must invest in user adoption as an ongoing service.

Episode 2 focused on organizing and facilitating user adoption events. We shared creative ideas for hosting internal user group events, including virtual or in-person office hours, “lightning round” demos, and hack-a-thons (aka innovation day events). We also discussed the importance of making these events your own by tying them to your company culture.

Episode 3 focuses on strategies for building user adoption campaigns to support Office 365 product rollouts. We discuss how user personas can help you identify product use cases and key product features, share practical ideas for generating user excitement, and talk about the importance of running Office 365 pilot programs to road-test your communications and training plans.

Episode 4 is our listener Q&A session, where we answer questions like:

  • How do I work with (or around) executives that don’t support our SharePoint/Office 365 efforts?
  • How do I build a user adoption strategy when my own leader doesn’t want to support it as an ongoing service offering?
  • How can we encourage geographically-dispersed staff to engage in local Office 365 community events?

Previous posts in this series:

#MVPbuzzChat episode 54

I sat down with Christian Buckley (@buckleyplanet) recently to record an episode of #MVPbuzzChat. We had a great conversation about enterprise Office 365 and SharePoint adoption and governance. Topics covered include:

  • Growth in end-user adoption content and sessions in the SharePoint & Office 365 space
  • History of SharePoint Saturday Twin Cities
  • Impact and growth of female-led technology sessions
  • Metrics analysis trends for SharePoint and Office 365, including the challenge in defining what strong adoption in organic OneDrive implementations looks like
  • The challenge justifying technology’s value to the organization (and how technology utilization and value differ)
  • How to connect with your end-users to drive interest and engagement
  • How innovation games can help you gather requirements, build consensus, and drive strategic discussions with your end-users and decision makers
  • Why companies should adopt a practical model for SharePoint and Office 365 governance that reflects your organizational culture and industry you’re working in
  • The great content we have available on REgarding 365, including The Coffee Chat on 365 Adoption podcast miniseries that Daniel Glenn and I recently recorded

Enjoy the #MVPbuzzChat!

The Coffee Chat on 365 Adoption (episode 4)

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Daniel Glenn and I recently recorded episode 4 in our podcast miniseries The Coffee Chat on 365 Adoption. The user adoption Q&A episode focuses on answering listener questions, including:

  • How do I work with (or around) executives that don’t support our SharePoint/Office 365 efforts?
  • How do I build a user adoption strategy when my own leader doesn’t want to support it as an ongoing service offering?
  • How do we meld user adoption programs after a merger or acquisition?
  • How can we encourage geographically-dispersed staff to engage in local Office 365 community events?
  • How do we balance user adoption needs (e.g. speed of delivering new Office 365 groups) with the need for governance and rigor?

We hope you enjoy episode 4!

Want to know more about our podcast miniseries?
The Coffee Chat on 365 Adoption explores the challenge of driving Office 365 adoption at the organizational level. In episode 1, we dispelled the idea that adoption is an urban myth. We explained why the traditional “build it and they will come” IT model doesn’t work and outlined why organizations must invest in user adoption as an ongoing service.

Episode 2 focused on organizing and facilitating user adoption events. We shared creative ideas for hosting internal user group events, including virtual or in-person office hours, “lightning round” demos, and hack-a-thons (aka innovation day events). We also discussed the importance of making these events your own by tying them to your company culture.

Episode 3 focuses on strategies for building user adoption campaigns to support Office 365 product rollouts. We discuss how user personas can help you identify product use cases and key product features, share practical ideas for generating user excitement, and talk about the importance of running Office 365 pilot programs to road-test your communications and training plans.

Previous posts in this series:

The Coffee Chat on 365 Adoption (episode 3)

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Daniel Glenn and I are releasing episode 3 in our podcast miniseries The Coffee Chat on 365 Adoption! The episode, titled User Adoption Planning for Office 365 Pilots & Rollouts, was recorded at the 2019 MVP Summit. It focuses on strategies for building user adoption campaigns to support Office 365 product rollouts. We discuss how user personas can help you identify product use cases and key product features, share practical ideas for generating user excitement, and talk about the importance of running Office 365 pilot programs to road-test your communications and training plans.

We hope you enjoy episode 3!

Have a user adoption question?
During our next episode, we’ll be answering user adoption questions. Want to have your question featured on the episode? Submit it now at https://go.re365.show/CoffeeChatQ

Want to know more about our podcast miniseries?
The Coffee Chat on 365 Adoption explores the challenge of driving Office 365 adoption at the organizational level. In episode 1, we dispelled the idea that adoption is an urban myth. We explained why the traditional “build it and they will come” IT model doesn’t work and outlined why organizations must invest in user adoption as an ongoing service.

Episode 2 focused on organizing and facilitating user adoption events. We shared creative ideas for hosting internal user group events, including virtual or in-person office hours, “lightning round” demos, and hack-a-thons (aka innovation day events). We also discussed the importance of making these events your own by tying them to your company culture.

Previous posts in this series:

Piloting your Office 365 rollout

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If you’re just beginning to plan your Office 365 rollout (or are in the process of rolling out additional Office 365 applications), it’s important to consider the benefits of running a formal pilot program. A pilot enables a subset of users to access Office 365 prior to its rollout to the entire organization. There are many benefits to running a pilot, including:

  • Road-testing your communications and training. I host weekly Q&A calls for my pilot testers. The calls enable pilot participants to provide feedback on their experience, highlight favorite features, identify gaps in our training materials, recommend new methods for engaging business teams, etc.. This feedback is key because it comes from the business. Whenever possible, I like to test out the pilot users’ training ideas during the pilot itself. If they request a What is Office 365 training session, I’ll assemble a training curriculum and offer the new class to the pilot group. Taking this extra step during the pilot enables me to gather more feedback and puts me in the best possible position for my org-wide rollout.
  • Building a knowledgeable set of pilot users that can support your rollout and (hopefully) recommend Office 365 to their colleagues. Giving users early access to Office 365 and offering them the opportunity to impact your rollout builds rapport. This enhanced sense of community engagement will help you build momentum for your rollout, enhancing user adoption.
  • Testing your license enablement and support processes. As part of your pilot, you’ll need to enable Office 365 applications for your pilot testers. You’ll also need to provide support as they begin using the products. This is an excellent opportunity to test (and improve) your licensing and support processes. After all, pilot testers are more likely to forgive enablement issues and support delays. And learning from your mistakes during a pilot will ensure the same mistakes don’t occur during your org-wide rollout!
  • Identifying use cases and success stories. Ideally, your pilot testers will be leveraging the new capabilities they’ve received. Consider setting up time for them to show off their results. You may find unexpected use cases for Office 365 and success stories that highlight key value-adds. Leverage these use cases and success stories to tell the story of Office 365’s business value.
  • Validating your governance and compliance policies. A pilot program enables you to see how Office 365 performs in your environment. Your networking team can validate network traffic is flowing smoothly. Your information security team can validate all appropriate risk requirements have been met. If you have compliance or legal record hold requirements, those teams can validate to ensure data is being scanned, stored, and supervised appropriately. If there are issues, you have time to correct before Office 365 is rolled out to your entire organization.

Pilot Planning
But how big should your pilot be? And how long should it last? The scale of your pilot should reflect the size of your organization and the level of governance and compliance controls you need to implement.

As a general rule, I recommend building a pilot program that is roughly 3% of your overall user base. If you’ll be rolling out Office 365 to 10,000 users, that would mean having a pilot group of 300. If you have a user base of 50,000, you’d want to build a pilot group of 1,500. While this 3% target may sound large, it affords the best opportunity for user feedback. Keep in mind that you cannot expect strong participation from all pilot users. No matter how well-intentioned, there is always a percentage of pilot testers that contribute minimally or not at all. Targeting 3% of your user base ensures you will have a viable set of pilot testers to try out your products.

Your pilot program will also enable you to test key governance and compliance controls (e.g. archival and supervision of Outlook email, record retention, SharePoint hub site governance, etc.). In order to run a valid test, you will need a sufficient data sample size. If 3% of your user base will not give you enough data to work with, increase the size of your pilot group accordingly. It is always best to adjust any necessary governance policies or security and archival controls before your org-wide implementation.

Now that you have a rough idea of your pilot size, it’s time to start planning who should be part of the pilot. Ideally, you should target:

  • Highly engaged users from across multiple business lines (not just IT).
  • Green dot and yellow dot users that are quick to adapt to change.
  • Volunteers. Always engage those who want to be part of your pilot. These users are more likely to engage, will dedicate more time, and are much more likely to provide feedback. While it may be more work to amass a set of volunteer resources, they will be more engaged and provide better feedback than voluntold users.
  • Strong communicators. Feedback is an essential part of the pilot process. You want to engage those that are willing to provide written or verbal feedback.
  • A variety of personality types. Ideally, you want to include technology optimists and pessimists in your pilot group. Technology optimists have a good impression of IT and are generally enthusiastic about trying out new technologies. Technology pessimists have a stronger “what’s in it for me” mentality and need to see or hear something compelling before they decide to jump on board. Incorporating both technology optimists and pessimists in your pilot will give you the best opportunity to validate your Office 365 messaging and training.

How long should your pilot last? While many companies have intense pressure to roll Office 365 out quickly, I’m a firm believer in meaningful pilots. The more time spent piloting and refining your approach to governance, training, and license enablement, the more successful your rollout will be. A pilot period of 3 weeks is incredibly tight, but can generate value. A pilot period of 1-2 months will generate more user data and enable you to refine your training offerings.

There is one exception to this “lengthier is better” rule for pilots. If you work for a company with a strong technology innovation culture and most of your users are very comfortable with technology change, a longer pilot may not be necessary. If your organization is facing a great deal of technology debt in the workforce productivity space, a longer pilot will better enable you to build momentum for the upcoming change.

Pilot execution
Now that you’ve completed your pilot planning, it’s time to execute your vision. Plan to launch your pilot with a formal series of kickoff meetings, brown-bag lunches, and/or targeted pilot communications. The goal is to celebrate this important stage of your Office 365 rollout efforts. And the more positive noise you can generate, the more pilot user engagement you’ll see.

You’ll also want to make it easy for pilot users to learn about Office 365 and provide feedback on their experience. A few ideas I’ve seen work well:

  • Share “getting started” scenarios. Many users may feel intimidated when they first open a new Office 365 app. Providing quick, easy-to-follow “getting started” scenarios for each app gives your pilot users a running start. If you’re going to pilot OneDrive for Business, for example, you could create getting-started scenarios that explain how to:
    • Create files in OneDrive
    • Save Microsoft Office files to OneDrive
    • Share a OneDrive file (or folder) with someone
    • See OneDrive files that have been shared with you
    • Open files using the OneDrive sync client
    • Edit files in the OneDrive mobile app
  • Host weekly Q&A sessions. As I mentioned previously, I host weekly Q&A calls for my pilot testers. The calls enable pilot participants to provide feedback on their experiences and ask product-related questions.
  • Schedule “Show & Tell” events where pilot users can share Office 365 tips and demo solutions they’ve built. Provide an opportunity for your pilot users to shine. Schedule a recurring meeting where the pilot users come together to share cool new tricks they’ve learned and demo solutions they’ve built in Office 365. For best results, keep this a peer-to-peer sharing meeting. Having a pilot user demonstrate a new Microsoft Flow they’ve built is powerful stuff. Their excitement and confidence in using Office 365 will motivate other pilot users to follow suit.
  • Build a private Yammer group for your pilot users. Yammer is a great “thinking out loud” app that supports discussion and sharing of ideas. I recommend creating a private Yammer group where pilot users can share insights, ask questions, etc. Add all pilot testers to the group before your pilot begins and send them the group URL for easy reference. As the pilot coordinator, it’s important you actively participate in the Yammer group. Share Office 365 tips, provide links to appropriate training resources, and answer pilot user questions.
  • Track your pilot user Yammer sentiment. If you’re providing your pilot users with a Yammer group for sharing ideas, use Microsoft Flow and Azure Cognitive Services to perform sentiment analysis on the pilot Yammer posts. The sentiment data gathered may provide insights into your pilot group’s overall satisfaction with Office 365 and help you identify solution use cases.
  • Stay in touch. I always want my pilot testers to feel like they are part of a valued community. Connect with pilot users that are in your geographic area by hosting meet-ups or coffee chats. Communicate with geographically-distributed pilot users via Yammer or Teams. And share an “Office 365 tip of the week” for all pilot users.

Want to learn more?
Asif Rehmani published a great article on the key reasons to include an early adopter program in your Office 365 rollout. Check it out–it’s well worth a read!

Learning & doing more with the Microsoft 365 Adoption Guide

Microsoft released a new Microsoft 365 Adoption Guide in January 2019. The guide explains why technology change is so hard and provides practical ideas for driving organization adoption of Microsoft 365. If you’re tasked with driving organizational adoption, the guide is a must-read.

Adoption requires users to adapt and change their technology behaviors. New Microsoft 365 users must understand the new technology at their disposal and be willing to fundamentally change the way they work. Bringing about a change of this significance requires an open mind, as well as an organizational investment of time, people, and resources. It requires effective just-in-time training to help people get up to speed on the technology, operational support that can assist users with their questions, and champions to promote the use of Microsoft 365. But organizational adoption programs also have to inspire users. Change is an individual choice that cannot be mandated or coerced.

The adoption framework outlined in the Microsoft 365 Adoption Guide provides a process for building your adoption plan and optimizing your results. It guides you through defining your strategy, determining your readiness to adopt, building your adoption plan, measuring and reporting usage, and encouraging ongoing engagement/adoption.

accomplishment-achievement-adults-1059118The guide also shares the inspirational champion story of the Best Buy SharePoint Ninja program. I’m thrilled to see the program still being upheld as a success story. Launching the SharePoint Ninja program at Best Buy was one of the highlights of my career, and effectively-built champion programs are a vital part of the Microsoft adoption story. For more information on the Best Buy SharePoint Ninja program, check out the session Matthew Ruderman and I delivered at SharePoint Conference 2014: http://aka.ms/bestbuyninjas 

Building a flexible model for sharing Office 365 changes with your end-users

Darrell as a Service published a great article recently about upcoming changes to the Office 365 ‘save’ dialog box. Starting in February 2019, Microsoft will roll out updates to the default save function for all Windows and Mac Office 365 users. When users press CTRL+S or click Save, the simplified ‘save’ dialog box will display. Files will be saved to OneDrive by default, but users will be able to change the save location via the More save options link. While we still have many questions about how this new ‘save’ dialog box will work, we know that this functionality change will impact our end-users significantly.

How many of our end-users will adapt quickly and easily to this ‘save’ dialog box change? And how can we ease this transition? Without an effective strategy for communicating changes like this one, we could be facing significant user confusion and a tidal wave of calls to the internal help desk.

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Image source: support.office.com 

Building a flexible communications model
Most organizations can’t afford to create a formal communications plan for individual Office 365 feature changes (particularly given the volume of changes rolling out monthly). So how do we efficiently and effectively share Office 365 changes with our users?

We build a flexible communications model that guides us through the process of sharing Office 365 product updates. This model should provide a variety of conduits for communication, along with guidelines on when/why each should be used.

Your communications model should reflect the culture of your organization and the learning style(s) of your end-users. As I discussed in my post Change by color: The secret of green dots, yellow dots and red dots, some end-users will easily adapt to change. They’ll either roll with the changes when they come across them or be content with a quick explanation posted on a SharePoint Communications site or Yammer post. Other users require formal change communications. These are the users we need to build a flexible communications model for.

So how do you build this flexible model for sharing Office 365 updates? To start, I recommend building a list of the communication mediums you have at your disposal. Examples include:

  • Internal user group meeting announcements/demos
  • Yammer announcements
  • Microsoft Stream videos
  • News articles on a SharePoint Communications site
  • Tips & tricks rotator/carousel on your internal Office 365 learning center
  • Subscription-based email distribution groups (e.g. have end-users subscribe to an email distribution list to receive feature change communications)
  • Department or company-wide email broadcasts
  • News bulletins/announcements on your company intranet or help desk site

Once you know how you can communicate changes, you can build criteria for when to use each. You may decide, for example, to use an internal Office 365 Yammer group to share quick product updates. To help users differentiate these Yammer posts, you’ll use a consistent set of hashtags for product announcements:

  • #WhatsNew – denotes a new feature or capability
  • #mobile – denotes when an announcement is mobile-related
  • #OneDrive – denotes a OneDrive Yammer post
  • #Flow – denotes a Microsoft Flow Yammer post

The key is predictability. Users that want to learn about Office 365 changes on a proactive basis should have an easy time figuring out where to go to learn more. And your help desk agents should know where to go to review recent Office 365 changes so they can validate if a recent change is causing user confusion.

Your communications model must also flex and change over time. Be open to suggestions for improvement. And keep an eye out for trending information from your help desk. If you’re seeing large spikes in Office 365 user issues after changes are released, it could mean your communications model isn’t marketed well enough or isn’t hitting the right target audience. Focusing on a continuous improvement model will enable you to hone your approach and find the right strategy for communicating changes to your users.

The Coffee Chat on 365 Adoption (episode 2)

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Daniel Glenn and I just released episode 2 in our podcast miniseries The Coffee Chat on 365 Adoption. The miniseries explores the challenge of driving Office 365 adoption at the organizational level. In episode 1, we dispelled the idea that adoption is an urban myth. We explained why the traditional “build it and they will come” IT model doesn’t work and outlined why organizations must invest in user adoption as an ongoing service.

Episode 2 focuses on organizing and facilitating user adoption events. We discuss creative ideas for internal user groups, including virtual or in-person office hours, “lightning round” demos, and hack-a-thons (aka innovation day events). We also discuss the importance of making these events your own by ensuring they reflect your company culture. We hope you enjoy episode 2! And keep an eye out for episode 3 in the coming weeks!

Have a user adoption question you’d like us to answer in a future episode? Tell us about it: https://go.re365.show/CoffeeChatQ

Previous posts in this series:

The Coffee Chat on 365 Adoption (episode 1)

I have exciting news to share! Daniel Glenn and I are ready to unveil the first episode in our new podcast miniseries “The coffee chat on 365 adoption!” The podcast enables us to drink coffee and talk about the challenge of driving Office 365 adoption at the organizational level. We recorded the first podcast episode several weeks ago at SharePoint Fest Chicago.

Topics discussed in this episode:

  • Why organizations have difficulty achieving strong adoption
  • Common adoption pitfalls and roadblocks
  • The challenge of scaling adoption initiatives (moving beyond one-on-one initiatives to impact a broader group of users in your organization)
  • Why adoption should be treated as an ongoing service instead of a one-time project

Daniel and I will keep the user adoption conversation going as we record several additional coffee chats in the coming months. Each episode will focus on a different Office 365 adoption topic. We’ll share successful strategies we’ve seen for hosting adoption events and provide practical tips for supporting the rollout and adoption of key Office 365 applications.

We hope you enjoy this episode. And don’t miss the outtake photos from the podcast recording!

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Organizational Culture: Take it or leave it, but it’s yours

Close up of men's rowing teamCan organizational culture predict the success or failure of your Office 365 rollout? Absolutely. The positive (or negative) impact of your organization’s culture has a direct influence on the success of your technology initiatives. After all, your culture defines how easy or difficult it is to do almost everything, from onboarding new employees to openly sharing ideas and driving adoption of new technologies.

Your IT department’s reputation and history of engagement with business teams is a key indicator of its cultural tie-in to your organization. An IT department that fosters open dialogue and has high-trust relationships with business teams has a tremendous advantage in deploying Office 365. Conversely, a tarnished set of relationships with IT can make it virtually impossible to drive successful change management efforts. Users that distrust or have an adversarial relationship with IT may be predisposed to view all IT initiatives in a negative light.

Your organizational culture is a living, breathing organism. It is built over time and is reinforced by operating norms, employee interactions, and executive modeling. Every communication decision your executives make and every unwritten social norm your departments have put in place has driven the design, shape, and usability of your culture. Changing (or rewriting) your organizational culture is a monumental effort that requires diligence, time, and a huge influx of positive energy. And ultimately, your employees will decide if the culture shift has a hope of succeeding.

Many factors can negatively impact your company’s culture: well-regarded executives leaving for new opportunities, founders selling the company or retiring, erosion of employee trust, etc.. Ironically, difficult economic times and business turbulence isn’t always a harbinger of negative culture shifts. Positive cultures can exist and thrive in negative business climates if there is trust, transparency, and a sense of company unity.

So what steps can you take to improve your company culture and support your Office 365 rollout? First, evaluate the current state of your organization’s culture. If you’re concerned your employees can’t evaluate your culture objectively, bring in outside consultants to perform a culture assessment. Next, build a vision for where you want to go. Interview employees, executives, and board members to gather their wish list for culture improvements. If you haven’t done so already, try leveraging innovation games to gather creative ideas for cultural improvements.

Once you’ve documented your current and desired future state, it’s time to build your transition plan. The specifics of your plan will be driven by your specific context, but common themes for cultural improvements include:

  • Aligning strategy & communications. Ensure your organizational goals are clearly defined and openly discussed at all levels. Having everyone on the same page and moving towards the same goal brings a sense of unity and common purpose.
  • Tear down the silos. Ensure your business teams are working together effectively and not competing for attention, funding, or recognition. Actively use the word “we” when referring to company initiatives, tasks, and efforts. Inclusive language fosters a collaborative, engaging atmosphere.
  • Be transparent. Employees can sense inauthenticity. Consistent, strong leadership is critical, and transparency and trust will build bridges and inspire cooperative behaviors.
  • Communicate early and often. Talk about what’s going well and what still needs work. Engage in departmental, cross-departmental, and all-employee meetings and engage everyone in the mission to improve your company culture. A unified strategy will help achieve buy-in and drive adoption.

There’s no wrong time to start your cultural transformation. Yes, it would be ideal if all our organizations had a winning culture before we began rolling out Office 365. This is rarely the case, so don’t sweat it if you’re not in a perfect position. Where you’ve been is less important than where you’re going.