How to work smarter not harder with truly effective Office 365 training

Feb 6, 2018 | Blog, Change Management, Office 365 | 0 comments

The Office 365 productivity suite is made up of many applications that work together to enable a more productive workforce. As such, there are many opportunities to change how employees work – both as individuals and as teams. However, problems can often arise post-deployment and as a result many organisations see low utilisation and adoption rates across many Office 365 technologies and workloads.

One of the most common reasons for lack of up take is that Office 365 training (if provided at all) tends to provide employees with a basic entry-level introduction to new applications and then stop there. Simply put, these application-level, session-based training sessions are not sufficient to make the best use of Microsoft products, technologies and applications.

Staff will typically leave the training room and simply go back to how they were working before. For this reason, it’s becoming old school to think in terms of user training. What is needed is help to frame a fundamental shift in thinking about ways of working, enabled by a broader Office 365 user adoption approach.

This is because behaviour change is an iterative and slow process – using Office 365 to its full potential is more than just technical. An Office 365 user adoption approach will help staff to truly appreciate the value of the Office toolset by highlighting the processes they follow to complete their work today, then mapping those processes to specific applications within the platform.

Focus on quick wins first

When you focus on quick wins or simpler processes first you are halfway to getting employee buy-in for Office 365. An excellent way of identifying these processes is through visual meetings with specific user groups or teams. These fun, engaging workshops help everyone to get a picture of what Office 365 can bring to current ways of working.

Successful Office 365 user adoption also needs to include a good Office 365 communications plan in order to convey the value the technology can bring for your workforce. Ensuring that a strong plan is in place will help employees embrace the concept of a digital workplace and ultimately ensure that ROI is fully delivered on your Office 365 investment.

Creating Office 365 Change Champions

Office 365 change champions are integral to Office 365 training

Once processes have been mapped in Office 365, training becomes specific to team members and their high value activities, rather than generic entry-level user training. The involvement of Champions is critical to this. Champion groups can immediately address concerns, issues, and identify opportunities for improvement.

What is an Office 365 Change Champion?

This is a team member who receives additional Office 365 training, becoming especially well-versed in the technology and your organisation’s internal best-practices. The real value of adoption of Office 365 comes down to enhancing productivity, which means how, when and why people interact with new tools.

Why you need Champions for successful Office 365 adoption

It is well known that co-workers greatly influence each other. Champions can evangelise the technology and help their peers to learn how to use their new Office 365 tools. For this they need to be formally trained, encouraged and empowered to teach, and  they also need a clear plan to follow.

Tips for building a great Office 365 Champion programme:

  • Develop a Champion community by identifying staff who are knowledgeable and committed to furthering their expertise within Office 365
  • Utilise the new tools you have at your disposal and create a Yammer Group or Microsoft Teams Channel for your adoption project participants. This will ensure that staff are able to see any feedback that is posted and feel encouraged to add their own thoughts
  • Develop an overall coverage plan. Here you will need to identify the number of Champions required per office, department, team, floor, etc.
  • Design feedback mechanisms between employees and the core Office 365 project team


What you should be looking for in an Office 365 Champion

They should:

  • Be well networked in your organisation and respected by peers
  • Want to make a difference in your organisation and commit to it
  • Have the courage to speak up for what they believe in
  • Be perceived as ‘go to’ people and thought leaders within your organisation
  • Have a good understanding of your organisation and the way it works
  • Be able to translate the overall change vision in to local ‘what’s in it for me scenarios
  • Feel passionate about the change – whilst also showing empathy for the mindset of others
  • Be tuned in to the mood of the area of the business that they are in, and able to pick up on resistance to change and communication gaps
  • Be available to commit to ten hours per month for knowledge, ability, and reinforcement activities

Getting the most from your Office 365 investment

If you’d like to get the most out of your investment it’s important to maintain a focus on Office 365 user adoption after the deployment. This is why we recommend a “Continuous User Adoption” approach to change management. Staff engagement can dwindle if communication from Champions and Leadership falls away. Furthermore, Office 365 is continuously updated by Microsoft over time. Without a plan, user confusion and frustration can return once again. To help with this Microsoft has created activity reports that allow you to track potential drop-off and then proactively address it with staff.

Overcome the reluctance to change

At Content and Code, our Prosci® accredited Client Success Team help organisations like yours overcome employee reluctance to change and incorporate powerful new Office 365 tools into their working lives. Speak to Content and Code today.


About our author

Natalie Inwood

Head of User Experience

Natalie is passionate about effective comms drawn from User Research and has many years experience with the BBC. She leads the User Research Team at Content and Code and is responsible for ensuring that end-user high value activities are identified and represented on client engagements. Natalie has helped many clients such as Mott MacDonald, Sony Music, Wellcome Trust, Yorkshire Water and Pizza Hut, succeed by simplifying and making technology easier to use, through change management.


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