Remember the days when a change in IT was of no interest to us as communicators? In those days you’d barely notice it, bar the odd call to the tech team as you got used to your new laptop or software.
Now, with the arrival of O365, such detachment is a luxury we can ill afford. Daunting perhaps, because it requires a change of mind-set and a new way of working, but then again that’s what O365 is all about.
In fact, as many companies are now finding out, O365’s positive potential for us as communicators far outweighs the price of being pushed out of our comfort zones.
Here’s some quick tips to help with a successful implementation.
Tip 1: it’s not a project
Adoption of O365 isn’t just a project with a beginning and end date. The day you go live is actually the beginning of the journey proper, not the end.
Tip 2: it’s not an IT change
In fact, it goes far deeper. O365 has the potential to dramatically change the way we work and to increase collaboration and sharing. It’s a change of mind-set that will take a while to embed and it relies on a cultural change across the entire business, something that conventional training can’t fully deliver.
Tip 3: it’s all about the people
Because people are vital to the success or failure of O365, bringing everyone along for the ride from day one is critical, regardless of their job role. Make sure your communication explains why O365 is being adopted- from the people working on the front line to the CEO. Identify an executive sponsor to explain the benefits and importance of O365. People can be cynical of change, so make sure everyone realises why it will benefit them, the business and customers.
Tip 4: make your communications reflect the difference
O365 is different, so make sure your communications, engagement and training reflects this. Recruit and nurture influential super users or champions, not necessarily using the most obvious tech-savvy people. If you can convince the dubious to champion it, the impact is greater. Let employees drive the adoption rather than taking a top-down approach. Hold engagement events but focus on hands-on collaboration.
Tip 5: be there before and after
A soft launch where the new system runs alongside the old for a few weeks can lessen the jolt of the implementation. Once launched, have floor walkers on hand in the early weeks to offer essential advice and support. Rather than risking employees ‘getting by’ at the start, encourage them to explore the apps and get an idea of their full potential. Encourage feedback at all stages and act on this insight.
Tip 6: make it manageable
Don’t try to launch too much, too fast. With +28 apps to choose from, a little time spent identifying the priority apps to introduce during the planning phase will ensure users aren’t overwhelmed. Focus on a small number of apps that will deliver the optimum benefit with the least upheaval, and gradually add the more complex ones at a later date.
Tip 7: think strategically
No doubt strategy was central to your adoption of O365 in the first place, but make sure your implementation (and the apps you choose) has a close link to the company’s strategy. How will O365 make a real, lasting contribution to the values and strategic goals of the business?
When waste management companies Shanks and Van Gansewinkel merged in February 2017 to create Renewi they were faced with the challenge of embedding a ‘one-Renewi’ culture while still working on separate legacy systems.
Head of Communications Helen Kemp explains: “The decision to move to O365 came naturally because we needed to be united on the same platform to improve collaboration and to encourage a one-team culture.
“At Shanks, we’d been using an IBM product called Connections, so the switch to Microsoft was a big shift in itself, but perhaps the biggest difference for everyone in Renewi will be adapting to O365, which enables a totally new, collaborative way of working.
“We have 8,000 employees working in a diverse range of places – from drivers to office workers – and this is one of the biggest transformations we’ve ever undertaken.”
To make the change manageable, Renewi is treating the implementation of O365 as an ongoing journey. Though the official launch happened in late February, it was preceded by a soft launch, extensive user training and the recruitment of super users.
The company also chose to launch a few key apps initially, such as Teams, OneDrive and Sharepoint, but will add to these in the coming months once O365 has fully bedded in.
The transition was also aided by having expert floorwalkers on hand in the weeks after launch and the company has also placed plenty of emphasis on the importance of users taking full accountability for realising the potential of O365 by ensuring they fill in their profiles and visit an e-learning portal for online training, etc.
Corporate Communications Executive Alex de Waal says: “It’s obviously too early to talk about any benefits or lessons learnt, but we hope the use of Skype for Business for online meetings will reduce our travel costs by around 5 per cent. We also expect Teams and Sharepoint to be particularly useful in enabling employees to share documents and resources.
“From a comms perspective I think the scope for using Skype, webcasts, hosting video content and, in time, getting more from our intranet, will be really beneficial, and it will also help us to change our culture, so people across the business don’t see comms as a hand-holder and can take real accountability for their local communication needs using the tools on offer.”
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