With the lessons of 2020 still fresh, now is a great time for IT and business leaders to build an implementation roadmap for tools such as Microsoft Office 365. Here are seven steps they should consider along the way.
1. Perform Internal Assessments
As many tech enthusiasts may know from their (multiple) viewings of The Matrix, “temet nosce” is Latin for “know thyself.” Too often, companies simply don’t know themselves. Before undertaking major new IT initiatives, business and IT leaders should conduct internal assessments — surveying and interviewing employees to find out exactly how they work. This will help to segment users and create user persona types, which helps organizations improve cost efficiency and security. By providing users only with the Office 365 applications they need, organizations can optimize their environments.
2. Start Small
In many cases, organizations have no compelling reason to roll out all of Office 365’s capabilities at once — or, at least, no reason compelling enough to make up for the miscommunications and other missteps that are likely to occur during an all-at-once implementation. While roadmaps vary by company, it often makes sense to start with email. Migrating from on-premises Exchange to Office 365 is simpler than ever before, and email is such a common and familiar tool that it is often a great place to start.
3. Establish Identity Consistency
At many organizations, different users employ different login conventions to access the same applications. This may sound like a small detail, but it can cause a great deal of confusion during the early days of an Office 365 implementation. By standardizing login credentials within Active Directory, organizations can pave the way to a much smoother transition.
4. Emphasize Shared Responsibility
When organizations migrate resources to the cloud, there is sometimes a misconception that the public cloud vendor is now responsible for all aspects of security. In fact, companies still need to protect their own environments, maintain effective password policies and enforce the principle of least privilege. In some cases, the cloud really can provide an instant security boost. (For instance, even the most basic versions of Office 365 offer built-in multifactor authentication.) However, it’s important that IT and business leaders understand their security responsibilities before implementing a new tool.
5. Anticipate the Effects on Your Network
More traffic going out to the cloud means more traffic traversing an organization’s firewalls and internet connections. A partner like CDW can help companies anticipate the impact of cloud investments on corporate networks and plan out upgrades that will lead to a seamless transition.
6. Actively Promote Adoption
Office 365 can’t help an organization achieve its goals if employees don’t know how to use it. Many companies underestimate the importance of adoption and change management to the success of their implementation efforts. Consider, for example, that cloud software tools often change frequently, with updates pushed out automatically by vendors. IT shops must find effective ways to communicate with users about coming changes and direct them to any required training.
7. Embrace Flexibility
Even after the world returns to some semblance of normalcy, companies should still consider leveraging Office 365 to help them break down the traditional barriers of the office. Before the pandemic hit, many business leaders were wary of giving workers too much freedom to work from home, but we’ve actually seen that employees are sometimes more productive in a remote work environment, where they spend less time in meetings and in transit. Going forward, companies should look for opportunities to attract and retain top talent with flexible work options.