Prepare your business for Office 365

Posted January 10, 2016

If you’re planning to upgrade to Office 365, here are some things to consider that’ll help you prepare your business for life in the cloud.

Don’t underestimate how big the change is

Moving to the cloud is relatively easy as far as picking packaged solutions, setting up logins and paying monthly subscription fees all go – and if you’ve been using Microsoft Office software for a while, all the familiar MS applications are ready to use as a part of Office 365.  But, don’t underestimate how significant a change working in the cloud is to end users.
There’s a fundamental shift in how we store and access documents, how we use apps and cut-down versions, and there’s also a couple of “gotchas” in the form of poorly named apps such as OneDrive and OneDrive for Business, and Skype and Skype for Business.  You’d be surprised how many folk are missing out on amazing collaboration features in the business versions purely because they don’t know what they don’t know*.  Assuming that your staff will just ‘get it’ will cost you in the long run.

Therefore I suggest the steps below:

  • Ensure you understand the differences between SharePoint and OneDrive for Business, and know how mobile apps and features will be utilised by your staff.
  • Start conversations early with users about the benefits of working in the cloud – reassure staff about what the change means to them.
  • Analyse whether your current software is used efficiently – do all staff have the skills and knowledge to utilise what you have now? How will they cope with the latest version of MS Office and the move to the cloud?
  • Have staff been trained on MS Office software in the past two years?  Will they know how to take advantage of productivity tools and new features?

Reduce subscription costs for remote users

Depending on the roles and team structure of your business and your organisation’s requirements, you may not need all staff to access some apps, and could reduce your monthly subscription by considering roles that require Office Online and tools that are only accessed by remote devices.
Some roles may only require access to Mail and Calendar, and not need to utilise the full versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint (e.g. warehouse or retail workers).  However, most office workers will require full desktop versions of Office, SharePoint and Skype for Business.

Things to consider:

• Do you have remote users that will only access Office 365 from a mobile device?
• Do all users need to access full desktop versions of Office?
• Does anyone share PCs, logins or access a common computer?

Work out how you’ll use OneDrive for Business vs SharePoint

Think of OneDrive for Business like you would a personal online drop box folder – it’s useful for individuals to quickly share files, particularly with people outside of your organisation, or for making a file accessible from another device, but it’s pretty much unstructured storage and it’s built to be personal to you.  On the other end of the scale you have SharePoint that provides a structured way of storing and sharing files and information across teams with built-in security.  SharePoint provides a professional portal for staff to share data, files and ideas, and information is only accessible by secure login.  It’s important to identify how you’ll use these tools and whether you’ll enforce security measures for your business files.

Define your SharePoint requirements

SharePoint requirements can be simple or complex depending on the information your business needs to manage and collaborate on together. The simplest way to identify requirements is to consider common business problems you encounter.
  • having difficulty finding the latest version of a document, or don’t know what’s going on
  • require security permissions to allow only certain people editing or viewing rights to specific data or files
  • would you like to be alerted when a document or item is changed or deleted
  • need to version control specific files or folders
  • would like to automate business operations like annual leave requests and logging incidents and hazards
  • need to manage Health & Safety and other operations, teams or projects files and information
  • would like a common place for staff to share knowledge, successes and learning

We can help you identify business issues and demonstrate how SharePoint can overcome these, and provide enhancements and automation to manual workflows.


Take advantage of collaboration features in Skype for Business

I meet a lot of clients who only login to Skype for Business when they have a teleconference or need to instant message with colleagues working in other offices or sites, but there’s so much more to it.  As I said earlier, Skype for Business is one of those great tools that falls into the you don’t know what you don’t know category, particularly where collaboration features are concerned.  Yes, you can easily IM or call someone to video chat, but did you realise you can share your desktop with someone, or tag a colleague to alert you when they’re free?  What about using the polls or Q&A to gain consensus on an idea, or setting up a meeting using OneNote meeting templates and Outlook Calendar?  There’s a rich set of collaborative tools that hide behind a menu that few bother to explore.

Upskill staff to reap the benefits of working in the cloud

Your staff may only use some of the Office 365 toolset, or maybe you can see ways your business will use all of the apps and cloud collaboration features.  In either case, training is vital – your team needs to quickly learn the most useful features in the most popular apps and how to get the most from them.  Your staff also need to understand the differences of working in the cloud, and buy-in to changes to storing and saving documents, sharing ideas and working together.
We provide Office 365 user training and can help you support your staff as you move to the cloud.
* However, many people think they know it, because they’ve used the non business version of Skype or OneDrive at home – sometimes prior knowledge is not useful!

Contact us if you need assistance in planning for your upgrade to Office 365.

For more information on how Excel at Work can help you plan for your upgrade to working in the cloud you might like to check out our Office 365 course.

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