Office 365 Worst Practices – Part 3 – Nobody is officially responsible for effective utilization

Worst practices: Anybody responsible for effective utilization?

This has been a problem even before Office 365 was introduced. When it comes to ANY office product, there is NOBODY responsible for implementing it fully and ensuring that there is effective utilization.

Photo by W. L. King, Millersberg, Ohio; by courtesy of Military Intelligence Div., General Staff, U.S. Army.

The problem

The job of IT is to evaluate, migrate, deploy, manage and maintain various applications and tools. That part they are doing well. IT is involved in all these stages of Office 365 rollout.

The job of Learning and Development is to arrange training programs as per organizational needs. Even if training is arranged, few batches are  provisioned. If the initial batches are not full – L&D is not going to waste their budget in arranging more training programs. ELearning content, even if made available, usually finds very few takers.

Whose job is it?

To answer this question, we have to first understand what the REAL JOB is.

What is the REAL JOB?

Office is not just another software. Till now, Office was just a client (desktop) software. Now it works on multiple devices and browsers as well.

Secondly, various components like SharePoint, Lync, Yammer, etc. were deployed on-premise at different points of time. These are server components which are centrally managed by IT.

With Office 365 we are getting all components together in an integrated manner.

All these products potentially affect EVERY USER and therefore, must be approached differently.

The REAL JOB, therefore, is to look at what users need from a business point of view and guide them about the most efficient way to do their job. This requires a comprehensive mapping and education exercise – which is certainly not limited to the LAUNCH phase.

This is an ongoing process cutting across departments, hierarchies and locations.

Let us call it Office 365 Effective Consumption (OEC for short).

Whose job is the effective utilization ?

Now that we know what is the real job, answering this question is easy.

The answer is – it is NOBODY’s job. It is No Man’s Land!

(Sorry. I could not find a gender neutral phrase in this case.)

I am not blaming the world. I am saying that this requirement to relook at existing unstructured workloads across all users and mapping them to the right feature set across the Office 365 platform is a completely new scenario. Because we have never faced such a vast challenge before, we are not geared for it.

Now that we know the problem, let us explore what can be done about it.

Recommended solution

We want someone to be responsible for this OEC. Dumping that job forcibly either on IT or L&D is unfair. They simply do not have enough resources and domain expertise to execute this in a comprehensive manner.

So the solution is to create an OEC team. This must be a cross-functional team. Ideally, apart from IT and L&D, there should be representation from key departments as well as top management.

This team need will work part-time to enhance enterprise-wide efficiency on a long term basis. This team should be involved in all phases of Office 365 rollout.

The primary job of this team is to proactively learn the feature set available with each component of Office 365 and find out the business processes and roles which can benefit from these features. Once this mapping is done, the task of creating awareness, excitement and providing authoritative guidance should be done by this team on a long term basis.

Chief Efficiency Officer

Considering that Office 365 is becoming quite popular with all customer segments (SME, Enterprise, Government), we need to create a new position called
Chief Efficiency Officer. Although this position is being discussed for many years, the fundamental difference in what I am saying is that the CEO position should NOT be held by CIO or any other IT person. It has to be a business leader – ideally the Chief Executive Officer herself. I will cover this concept in the next article.

Current Status

I have recommended this approach to many customers and also helped them create such a team. Most customers are at various stages of understanding, organizing and execution this recommendation. Long term sustenance and effectiveness of such teams is still to be proven but this is the only feasible way available to maximize efficiency and ROI from Office 365 platform.

All traditional approaches are myopic, short-lived and ineffective in empowering ALL users.

Your thoughts and suggestions are most welcome. Feel free to post your opinion and comments.

Related Articles

Office 365 Worst Practices – Part 1
Office 365 Worst Practices – Part 2 – Phased Release: Underutilization by Design!
Office 365 Worst Practices – Part 3 – Nobody is officially responsible for effective utilization (this article)
Office 365 Worst Practices – Part 4 – CXOs don’t understand its benefits

Light bulb