Office 365 Worst Practices – Part 10 – No Focus on Office

Here is the next installment in the Office 365 Worst Practices series.  Office 365 contains many components. For regular users most of these components are new, except one – Office. Training programs are conducted during the adoption phase to educate users – with No Focus on Office itself. Only server products are covered. Bad idea!

In this post I will explain why this is a major problem and how to solve it. In summary, if you do not know how to use Office well, you will never be able to get maximum gains from Office 365 platform.

Office 365 Worst Practices

Why “No Focus on Office” is a bad idea

Everyone uses it for 3 to 4 hours everyday. We know that already. Office 365 consists of SharePoint, OneDrive, Exchange, OneDrive for Business, Planner, Groups and so on.  Office itself has been around for 26 years. All other tools came much later.

Needless to day, the primary design principle of all these newer applications was to ensure that they integrate with Office.

Office is the creator. Other applications help you work with what was created in Office. That way, Office is central to the overall Office 365 platform.

If you do not use the integration points available in Office, other programs tend to get used in isolation. That way, their utilization is limited and cumbersome. If something is cumbersome, it will not be used.

Change can only happen if convenient

Effective usage of Office 365 requires users to dramatically change the way they are used to working. Habits established for decades cannot be changed easily. In many instances, users are aware of the lacunae or inefficiencies associated with the older, traditional methods of working. However, familiarity trumps inefficiency. That inefficiency is so ingrained in our lives that we actually call it “part of life” or “comfort zone”.

Moving from these established practices requires a very compelling reason. If the compelling reason (the new way) itself is cumbersome, change will never happen.

Example: Skype for Business

Most deployment activities related to SFB will include training programs, posters, banners, eLearning and so on. These focus on what SFB is and how to use it. That is just not the right way.

Remember, if any component of Office 365 is being promoted, it must start with what people already know – that is Office. If you create awareness about SFB in isolation, users will not use it to the fullest extent.

Here are the integration points which are often missed.

  1. In general, stress upon the fact that you rarely have to go to SFB. It is available where you need it.
  2. Wherever you see the name of a person, anywhere in Office (or browser in O365 context), hovering the mouse cursor will show you the available communication options.
  3. Names and Person photo in comments (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) support this behavior.
  4. In Outlook, while adding a person’s email id, the presence is also shown. If you want a quick answer, just hover the mouse over the email id to get the communication options – chat quickly and now you do not need to send the mail at all.image
  5. If you want to share a document, go to File – Share – Present Online and Skype. Now SFB will automatically share that document and start a chat session. You just need to add the desired person(s) to the chat.
  6. If you create a OneNote page from Outlook, a list of attendees is shown. Hovering on a name in that list shows all the SFB communication options – again eliminating the need to explicitly go to SFB.
  7. In OneNote, hovering on the author name abbreviation shows presence information and communication options.image

Well, I can go on and on. But you get the idea. This list was just what came to my mind while thinking about this blog. Of course it is a much longer and comprehensive list.

Now, think about it… would your SFB training include these topics?

The Solution

Consider the Office 365 platform as a set of features integrated into Office. Any promotion, awareness creation, change management collaterals or training content you create must utilize this integration as the central theme.

Remember, the business needs have not changed just because you have got Office 365. Business has been happening without Office 365 or for that matter without any technology for centuries.

All that we are supposed to do is look at what the new technology has to offer and incorporate the useful stuff to improve whatever we do. Why? Because we all want to grow – more and faster – with minimal additional effort. That, by the way, is called the “Efficient Mindset”.

Read more Office 365 Worst Practices

This is an ongoing series of articles. I work with hundreds of customers globally and help them maximize the value of Office 365 platform. Whenever I notice any mistakes or wrong approaches being used, I document those in my blog. Good things are documented extensively! However, Office 365 Worst Practices are rarely documented.

This way, we can learn from other’s mistakes and prevent wastage of investments, effort and time.


Comments? Suggestions? Wish list?