Office 365 is more than just SharePoint

If you have Office 365, then you have a world of collaboration and digital workplace enablement at your fingertips. Many organizations are using O365 only for SharePoint, email, and Skype, but there is so much more available!

Photo by Miguel Orós on Unsplash
“Office 365 is a cloud-based subscription service that brings together the best tools for the way people work today. By combining best-in-class apps with powerful cloud services, Office 365 lets anyone create and collaborate anywhere on any device.” ~Microsoft.

Microsoft describes Office 365 (O365) as a collaborate anywhere, on any device, solution. O365 is all about collaboration — and it’s true. The primary collaboration services in O365 are email and SharePoint, but there’s more than that. Many of the capabilities in O365 help supplement existing collaborative activities, introduce new ways of being connected and removing the friction that hinders employee creativity and collaboration.

Office 365 is no small toolset

src: https://app.jumpto365.com/, designed by Matt Wade

There is so much here and it can be daunting. We know what we know in O365: email, SharePoint, and Skype. Before we dismiss the rest of the stack, it’s important to understand what the rest does as well from a business capability point of view. Don’t narrow in on a single service, like Microsoft Flow, and say “No”. Instead, O365 has to be looked at in its entirety, as the holistic capabilities the entire stack has to offer. Did you know SharePoint workflows are best done in Microsoft Flow? Can’t say no to that service now, can we?

Many of these services work best when working with other services, they all play really well together, unlike my children.

For example, let’s take on a use case…

One big capability most companies need is effective collaboration around projects. Doing something as simple as throwing Jira or Project Server at it doesn’t suffice. Instead, we need to enable actual collaboration with the project team throughout the duration of the project. The below image is an example of how some of the services in O365 can be leveraged to maximize the capabilities our teams need.

Look to fill gaps with the capabilities of Office 365

Traditionally, our project engagement may have included SharePoint, which provides co-authoring and version control, email for “collaborating”, maybe Skype as well, or look to Slack (since it has a free version). Then we’re done with O365, we’d then push to do the rest of this manually or with other services with their own additional costs to the company.

Instead, using Office 365, we can improve collaboration and streamline some of the tedious tasks to help your people get more valuable work done. For example, we can automate a bi-weekly pulse survey using Forms, Excel and Flow, and have the results in PowerBI for easy digestion and pull out some powerful insights. We set it up once and we can monitor the health and satisfaction of the team and the project automatically!

As another example, we may have used a service like WebEx to hold a meeting and record it. Afterward, the meeting owner would have to download the video, then find a central location to host the recorded meeting (SharePoint is NOT great for this). Let’s consider Microsoft Teams! Using Teams for our meetings, we can record them and then they are immediately available in Stream and shared via Teams. Stream also auto-transcribes the video so we can search our meetings videos and find the answers we need, quickly. Imagine quickly searching and reviewing content and decisions from the kickoff, sprint ceremonies, closeout, etc.! Our meetings have such great content and decisions, and it’s too burdensome to keep recording them all, just to have them be unsearchable. Teams with Stream provides tremendous value together.

There is so much more

There are plenty of capabilities in Office 365 left to cover. What do you want O365 to do? To answer that, you need to have an understanding of what it can do, within reason. This does take some homework, but not much. A basic understanding of the services can easily ground you in what capabilities are possible in O365.

I recently shared these examples and more at the Boston Office 365 User Group, you can watch my session here: Watch Office 365 is more than SharePoint. In this talk, we cover in greater detail the use case above and one other one, then we review each service in O365.

Learn it, understand it, then decide

As we look at the entire stack of Office 365, it’s very easy to get overwhelmed. Supporting these services as an enterprise can get complex quickly, as we need to consider:

  • Training for support staff and IT admins
  • Change management activities
  • Adoption and engagement activities
  • Governance policies
  • Provisioning requests
  • Software deployment and upgrades
  • Communications strategy
  • Licensing considerations
  • …And more

As with anything, make a strategy on how you will approach level setting you and your teams’ understanding of what O365 is. You don’t have to adopt it all at once, be purposeful in what you roll out. Also, engage your best and brightest, let your people check it out and provide their feedback, allow them to discover the benefits organically. Deliver the services in a manner that will increase the probability of user adoption. Do not force it on them. Obviously, you’ll need to know your people to maximize success.

We at Slalom have partnered with many organizations in finding these answers, educating on the capabilities, discovering how they fit in their workforce, and guiding them in identifying the best capabilities for their people. We have O365 architects and user adoption specialists who can supplement your teams to improve understanding of Office 365 as well as creating a strong strategy for rollout and user adoption. Don’t shy away from it, engage O365 and reap the benefits!