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05 May 2020

IoIC and Sequel: how to drive results with Microsoft 365

The current COVID-19 pandemic has forced many companies to fast-track their migration to Office 365, so a recent webinar we ran with the Institute of Internal Communications (IoIC) provided some timely advice.

The session, titled Microsoft Office 365 for Communicators: How to Use Collaboration Tools to Drive Results, was led by Sequel’s Digital Media Director Charles Fenoughty.

He outlined the dos and don’ts of successfully introducing and managing Office 365.

Opening the webinar, Charles said: “Whenever we talk to people about O365 one of the first things we stress is the importance of careful forward planning.

“Of course, the current lockdown and switch to homeworking has meant many have had to rush things through, so it’s even more vital that we, as communicators, are there to help colleagues exploit the benefits and avoid the pitfalls.

“We’ll also have a leading role to play when the pandemic is over in helping to fix any bad habits picked up during the lockdown.”

Charles used the webinar to outline the benefits of the suite of O365 tools for individuals, teams and the whole organisation.

You can view the full presentation on the IoIC website and he’ll be going into more detail on these and other features at a future IoIC session later this summer.

Key learnings from the April 29 session:

1. Careful planning will pay off

Although the current pandemic has greatly accelerated the uptake of O365, we’d normally recommend that organisations plan their migration well in advance.

O365 tools are collaborative, so it makes sense to implement them with good collaboration between departments, including IT, HR, Comms and the wider business.

When planning the switch to O365, think about it from the end users’ perspective – don’t just inundate employees with apps without telling them how to use them, and always try to identify the tools that will work best for them.

Once introduced, keep on monitoring, supporting people, getting feedback and encouraging adoption – O365 is an evergreen solution, so our communication around it shouldn’t be limited to a launch campaign.

2. Engage your teams

Explain the benefits and reasons behind the switch. While IT enables the technology, it’s up to communicators to engage end users and ensure O365 does what it’s supposed to do – empower them.

Introducing new tools is likely to be ineffective unless you take your people with you; you won’t convince them to adopt O365 unless they understand what’s in it for them.

As the current pandemic has proven, apps like Teams and Yammer will really take off if you give employees a reason to use them regularly.

3. Maintain control

The switch to O365 comes with challenges, not least the risk of returning to the days of uncontrolled content, inconsistent messages and sprawling intranets.

While it has the potential to empower, it can quickly get out of control, particularly when the switch to O365 has been rushed through (as may be the case with the current pandemic).

When the lockdown ends, it will be important to reassess some of the habits and permissions that have been introduced to avoid a free-for-all where rogue publications or Teams abound.

As communicators, it’s up to us to identify any problems early on, to ensure that our organisation still communicates ‘one version of the truth’ and that O365 is effective, but sensibly controlled.

We’d also recommend that employees are made aware of the dangers of using rival apps that haven’t been approved by IT.

While apps such as Zoom, Dropbox and WeTransfer offer ease of use and attractive functionality, O365 apps have the advantage of being trustworthy and approved for use.

Explain why users should use O365 over rival ‘shadow-ware’ and, if you’ve previously used other apps, consider retiring them when it is viable to do so.

4. Right tool, right reason

Make sure you match the right O365 app to the correct users. Some apps are designed for individuals, some suit teams, while others are perfect for the whole organisation.

Make sure your training helps users pick the best use for the best app.

For instance, we suggest OneDrive is best used by individuals rather than teams because, if the owner of a Teams using OneDrive leaves the company, the drive is deleted and hard to recover.

As the name suggests, apps such as Teams and SharePoint are best used for groups, but make sure you keep them under control.

One organisation of 6,000 people introduced O365 and found that 4,000 teams had been created within months, so make sure Teams is managed effectively.

SharePoint can also be used for your company-wide site, while Yammer is another tool that can help your entire company stay in touch.

Similar read – IoIC and Sequel: how to stay connected in MS Teams

For further advice on matching the right app to the right audience, see the full slide-deck from Charles’ presentation or view the full presentation on the IoIC website. If you need any advice on successful Office 365 implementation or management, please get in touch at [email protected]