4 Ways to Combat Fragmentation in the Office 365 Workspace

February 28, 2019   //   User Adoption, ,

Office 365 offers an abundance of tools designed to meet nearly every need of your workforce. From email and instant messaging to file sharing and data analytics, users can easily access and customize applications to meet their individual requirements and work styles. But just because you can get started leveraging these tools with the click of a button, doesn’t mean you should!

Consequences of Fragmentation in Office 365

Businesses are understandably eager to make the most of their Office 365 investment. Collaborative work in today’s workplace has increased by 50% and takes up almost 80% of our time. Additionally, new generations are entering the workforce with new expectations for how they prefer to communication and collaboration. As a leader of your organization, one of the most important responsibilities is to build and support a collaborative team. While we’re seeing Office 365 enable workforce collaboration in new and exciting ways, business and IT leaders are also faced with new and complex challenges.

Simply turning on a new application with little understanding or guidance around its intended purpose will lead end-users to make their own decisions around when and how to leverage the tools. This fragmentation of usage can have a significant (and detrimental) effect on your business. Not only does it create silos, further limiting teamwork and collaboration (the very thing Office 365 is supposed to solve!), but it also interferes with the IT department’s reasonable need to maintain a secure and efficient environment.

Overcoming Fragmentation in Office 365

If you think of Office 365 as a collection of small bricks needed to build your digital workforce, then a strong foundation can provide the cement necessary to bring your fragmented application portfolio together. Here are 4 important steps for building a strong foundation in Office 365:

1. Define a clear set of use cases for each tool (both current and coming soon)

The goal is not to make everyone in the organization use every application. Just because the tool exists, doesn’t mean there is an inherent problem with the way you’re doing things now. Rather than allowing the application to drive your use cases, identify the actual needs of your end-users first, and let those needs drive the choices you make about which apps to use. When you take a user-first approach, you start to more clearly see a visual mapping of which tools you should be using and when. If you are using tools outside of the Office 365 suite that will continue to be utilized, make sure to also include those in your plans.

2. Identify a group of key decision makers that represent both IT and the business

As users are becoming accustomed to acquiring new applications in Office 365 on their own, they’re bypassing any strategic planning that takes into account company-wide businesses capabilities, ROI, resources planning, and potential vulnerabilities. Given the adoption of new and emerging tools in Office 365 is only going to grow from here, efforts should be made to put an Office 365 governance program in place so adoption abides by compliance, regulatory, and security rules – while also encouraging flexibility and innovation in the workplace.

Start by identifying a group of people from both the business and IT side who can help to make informed decisions around the management of everyday tools they utilize. See this article for the types of individuals Microsoft recommends you included in your governance team.

3. Build a team of early adopters

Once you’ve identified which tools are going to best meet the needs of your organization, and you have a governance plan in place for managing those tools, it’s time to start using them. However, there is one inherent problem – not everyone is going to be open to this change. To help facilitate adoption, it’s important that the end users understand when they should start using the tools and how it is going to impact their current usage.

A good place to start is with a small group of people who are already using the tools or are excited about the opportunity to leverage the new technology. By establishing a small group of early adopters, you can build enthusiasm and gain buy-in from the larger organization. Additionally, this approach will take the onus off of IT (when providing training and support) because there will be more people throughout the organization that understand how to use the new tools.

4. Solicit feedback and adjust the approach where necessary

Feedback surveys, when used correctly, are a powerful asset. As a new tool is rolled out, it’s important to understand how it’s being received, what further training the business feels they need, and what can be learned from the rollout that could be applied to future launches. Remember, it’s one thing to gather feedback and another to analyze and make adjustments in approach based on that knowledge. End-users will appreciate a “we heard you” statement from IT and business leaders.

The everyday tools your business uses to collaborate is a very important investment. Ensuring the business understands when to begin leveraging these tools and how it will impact their current tool usage is essential to realizing the full return on your Office 365 investment.

If you’re interested in learning more about how you can ensure your business is leveraging the latest Office 365 collaboration tools, contact us to discuss what technology is best suited for your needs.