6 Ways To Transform Construction Operations With Office 365

construction operations with office 365

Timlin’s focus is on helping customers with their digital transformation journey.  Although we have worked with clients in several industries, our work in the Construction industry has illustrated some notable opportunities to transform business operations using the tools in the Office 365 platform.

The Construction Lag

The construction industry currently lags other industries in the implementation of technology.  Technology advancements could boost productivity and operational efficiency through more effective communications, collaboration, business process automation, business analytics, and project management. Employees could be more empowered, optimize operations, and identify and address inefficiency.

It’s time for construction organizations to embrace technology, else they may find their peers gaining a competitive advantage. Consider that there are over 273,000 open jobs in the construction industry.  Also, consider the average age of a construction employee is 43, and one-fifth of the workforce is over 55.

As companies replace their workforce with younger staff, they are going to find employees with expectations of higher-level digital tools and capabilities.

Opportunities to Achieve Digital Transformation in the Construction Industry

In our experience, we’ve found several areas where the tools in Office 365 can transform construction Operations:

In our experience, we’ve found several areas where the tools in Office 365 can transform construction Operations:

1.) Enable employees to access critical job-related information, regardless of location or device

Bandwidth can be an issue at construction sites, but a well thought out approach allows on-site and remote employees to access to information they need quickly and easily on a phone or tablet. This information typically includes from CAD files, design specifications, contract information, and project plans and schedules.  The mobile applications available for Teams, SharePoint, or OneDrive all provide access to all the documents you may need to get the job done.

2.) Optimize – and even automate – business processes

Job delays are problematic and all too common in the industry. One of the biggest ways technology can transform operations is time savings from optimizing – and even automating – business processes. Employees in offices and in the field can move from manual processes, often using paper, to more effective document management, sharing, and security.

Such efficiencies can extend to supporting departments as well. HR can automate vacation tracking, employee reviews, or expense management. Legal can more effectively organize and secure documentation for faster claims response. And that’s just a start. All of this automation can be provided through the implementation of Microsoft Flow workflows and PowerApps forms, and they are available to the desktop, tablet or phone users.

3.) Improve internal communications

With a large number of remote workers, it is critical to bring the team together, communicate key news, and reinforce your company culture. As you move to a younger workforce, this type of communication is going to be assumed.

A SharePoint intranet makes it easy to access and share information and documents, regardless of where employees reside. It does not have to be too elaborate but it should be kept up to date with effective communication.  The result is an improved sense of community that allows you to enforce your brand and culture through electronic communications.

4.) Enable efficient and secure project management and collaboration

Microsoft Project Online and Teams are tools to enable efficient project management and collaboration. These tools allow your internal and contract resources to work together, and your IP is protected through proper security measures. The structured nature of Project Online also allows you to more effectively resource your projects, track your variances, and get projects done on time.

5.) Increase and improve business analytics to make better, data-driven decisions

Power BI is a powerful reporting tool that can be used to build dashboards that present the KPIs you need to track and act on to improve operations.  Dashboards that present your gross revenue, profit, and other project financials in real-time ensure you act on these metrics quickly and are not surprised by actual results.

6.) Eliminate time-wasting activities

Construction operations produce a lot of documentation. And, as mentioned, it’s often paper-based documents. With highly-organized document repositories, employees can access a document based on its content classification, if it’s specific to a project, architecture, engineering, supply chain, vendor, or another category.  With proper content classification, you can set up powerful search capabilities that eliminate wasting time looking for documents.

Timlin has successfully implemented the tools in Microsoft Office 365 for several construction companies. For example, read our case study about we helped The Middlesex Corporation achieve digital transformation with Office 365.

And contact us if you’d like to have a quick conversation to see how we can help you as well.


Offshore Support: The Detriment to Digital Transformation

Effectively supporting a platform as extensive (and complex) as Office 365 is challenging, and you need to know the resources in place are up to the task.  

It’s why we made an intentional decision when we introduced our new Office 365 Center of Excellence Managed Services to continue our approach of using only US-based support resources. An offshore approach is often in direct opposition to the goals of our company and our clients.

Digital transformation requires collaboration, automation, and task efficie

cy, and it relies heavily on clear and trustworthy communication among key stakeholders of an organization, their teams, and their vendors. I have had countless conversations with business users and owners who are frustrated with poor customer support and then turn to Shadow IT as a result of their poor experiences.

This trend of short-term cost-savings by using less expensive resources overseas has permeated beyond its original usefulness.

There is a place for offshore work, but directly engaging with business users to assist with the training, support, and implementation of Office 365 tools and capabilities is not one of them. Why? Because the successful adoption of Office 365 requires a change in people, NOT technology.

You need the right tools for the job, and this job is about applying the right people to the process.  Business users are listening only at a point when they have a need.

If there is a communication, culture, or technical barrier at that extremely impactful point in time, there is a chance you lose the opportunity to solve that organization’s problems.  

I look at each and every one of those moments as the most critical aspect of digital transformation. If we can help that one user in that instance, some small magic happens: We gained a little more of their trust.  We gave them some knowledge they lacked previously. They use the tools a little more than yesterday. They might tell their colleagues about this.

However, if the situation ended poorly, it can have a big and negative impact on the business as a whole. With the wrong people assisting your business users, you’re probably moving the needle in the wrong direction.

This applies to more than offshoring, it applies to poorly skilled support staff in general. It all adds upon the same — if your business users don’t receive the required experience during the overwhelming majority of their direct encounters, you are most likely doing more harm than good.

If your organization cares about digital transformation, keep this in mind as you build your plan to actually enable your broader workforce to adopt these tools. And if you’re interested in how we deliver expectational services by using only US-based services, learn more about our Office 365 Center of Excellence approach here.

An Alternative Approach: How to Achieve Success with an Office 365 Center of Excellence

How to Achieve Success with an Office 365 Center of Excellence

The future is digital. Every company, irrespective of industry, is, or will soon be, thinking and operating like a digital company, re-engineering operations to support the new speed of business. If you’ve invested in Office 365, you have the capability to execute your own digital transformation. Enabling and sustaining that capability, however, can be challenging for even the largest organizations.  

Just maintaining deep knowledge on the entire platform and understanding the implications of each tool and every enhancement on your environment alone can be daunting. It’s why taking the “if you build it they will come” approach to Office 365 is simply destined for failure.

That’s why we developed an alternative, managed approach – the Office 365 Center of Excellence. We approach digital transformation as a process, instead of a project. Our proven methodology is made up of six pillars which we’ll explore in this blog post and will show how you can achieve the maximum success of your Office 365 investment with a Center of Excellence approach.

What is a Center of Excellence?

The Center of Excellence is a proven process methodology that provides solutions beyond standard managed services by utilizing six services areas to improve and execute on digital transformation in Office 365 and SharePoint. Through this process, Office 365 becomes an extremely powerful business productivity solution that if used and supported correctly, can greatly improve innovation, deliver business value, protect your internal and external data, decrease reliance on email, and further empower your employees.  



 

Six Pillars of a Successful Office 365 Center of Excellence

The power of the Center of Excellence (CoE) comes from combining the right skills, activities, and commitment and focusing them on your organization’s goals. There are six service areas that require focus for a successful Office 365 CoE, and communication is their underlying foundation. Let’s take a look at each service area:

  • Strategy
    Strategy is critical to success because it forces your organization to define what you need instead of expecting the technology to solve problems that have not been thoroughly defined. Strategic efforts focus heavily on asking stakeholders what problems must be solved and defining the value derived by meeting the goals. Developing a strategy first allows you to measure success in a tangible way to ensure you meet your objectives. In addition, when employees understand why they are being asked to do something, they generally respond more favorably when they know the vision of the project.
  • Governance
    Governance takes Strategy down to the service level. Governance efforts define usage policies, guidelines, and rules for your solutions. A successful plan leverages Microsoft’s best practices, demonstrates how to use different services to meet the business objectives, and ensures there is ownership of critical requirements and processes.

    Governance is critical because it requires that other parts of the business are engaged to ensure success. One of the most important aspects of governance is gaining traction with a group of stakeholders that will take ownership of the digital transformation process. And governance doesn’t stop — it requires regular meetings to discuss progress, collect feedback, and make changes to the governance plan, roadmap, and service offerings as technology and business needs change.
  • Architecture
    Architecture focuses on the technical components of leveraging Office 365, including information architecture, taxonomy, metadata, branding, user experience, best practices, technology changes, application integration, and the continuous effort to ensure that all the pieces fit together correctly for your organization.
  • Training
    Training isn’t one size fits all. It’s customized training in small doses on a regular basis in order to increase user understanding and adoption. Custom training combined with repetition increases user interaction and sends a message to the end users that your organization cares enough to ensure users have what they need to be effective.
  • Administration
    Administration components in Office 365 are different from classic on-premises platforms. The needs of patching, service packs, upgrades, and most of the routine maintenance activities are gone. However, many of those requirements have been replaced with new features and capabilities that should not be ignored. A successfully engaged administration plan will involve monitoring Microsoft messaging relating to tenant updates, changes, and outages. It’s not uncommon to see 15 or more messages per week relating to items affecting each Office 365 environment.
  • Support
    Support includes defined service level agreements based on requirements of the business. If your organization needs 24×7, one-hour response time because it’s critical to the business objectives, then this must be considered. CoE resources must have deep understanding of the platform and capabilities. While no single person understands it all, it’s imperative that your organization’s support skills align with its intended use of Office 365. With user adoption, including from your support teams, this will grow organically. While all the service areas are important, this is the area to absolutely ensure the proper resources are in place. Most customer contact, feedback, and ideas are generated through support interaction. Proper support teams will have plans to collect feedback and present this information to the governance and architecture teams to continue the circle of improvement.

The Importance of Process

The real CoE magic happens when you have the right combination of pillars driven by a defined and ongoing process, supported by the right resources for each set of activities, all of which are set with the proper cadence.

Your CoE is like a puzzle. All your components should fit together to showcase your vision with a total solution.

Without some pillars (or pieces of the puzzle), you will find there will be a hole in your process. Depending on the size of your organization, the needs and complexity of the solution will vary, but all are necessary to a certain degree.

When your entire plan is working harmoniously, it demonstrates to the organization the capability of IT to deliver on the needs of the business. This builds internal trust, while spotlighting IT as a leader and innovator in your organization, versus positioning IT as a cost center. This is key to transform your internal end users’ impressions of IT of simply providing tools and services to one where IT provides full life-cycle solutions to business problems.

A Customer-Centric Approach

The difficulty with digital transformation is that it is 100% based on people and their ability and willingness to change how they operate. When all of the pillars of the CoE are executed and maintained, user adoption will increase. As adoption increases, the entire solution becomes self-sustaining.

There is a tipping point where existing users create most of the new demand for capabilities because of their reliance on these tools. Your CoE activities drive user adoption, which in turn, support your overall transformation efforts. You should see a few of these benefits across your organization as overall user adoption grows:

  • Cultural shift from manual processes to automated technologies
  • Increased efficiency from a work processing perspective
  • Decreased reliance on email
  • Streamlined communication, searchable communication

With a Center of Excellence approach, you will begin to see an increase in user awareness, engagement, adoption, and all of the measurable and tangible benefits of true digital transformation.

If you are interested in delving deeper into the Center of Excellence methodology, you can learn more by downloading our free whitepaper here.

 

Y B a < SP > H8r? Learn to Love the New SharePoint

If there’s one, strong, recurring theme I’ve witnessed over my 10+ years working with SharePoint and the people who use it, it’s that most folks love to hate SharePoint!  

And for good reasons.

SharePoint is far from perfect – I too have been plagued with deep negative thoughts about the platform. But admittedly, MOST of the time, my frustration has turned out to be my own fault.. 

  • Rushing into building farms by clicking next>next>next 
  • Building tall, rigid hierarchies that followed my company’s org chart 
  • Showing enthusiastic power users how to copy their files over with Explorer and build elaborate InfoPath forms 
  • Installing free 3rd party widgets to make sites “pop”  
  • Crawling EVERYTHING!   

Most of these mistakes were made in my early days of SharePointing, and I learned quickly just how bad they werePerformance would drag, tickets would pile up, and HR folks once asked me to explain why employees’ salary information was visible in SharePoint search results (oops). If you’re anything like me, you don’t often learn things the easy way. So, we repeat these mistakes and keep wondering why the platform is so bad. 

And it’s not just the Admins   

End users have been forced to adopt a new way of doing things that is clunky, confusing, undependable, and slow …then have to deal with bad attitudes of already frustrated IT techs who helped create these unfortunate messes (or worse, have inherited them, not given time/$$$ to fix them, and have to juggle complaints that grow exponentially). Then, the business gets a vendor quote for an upgrade or migration, and panic ensues. Is it any wonder why some people are visibly shaken when they hear the word “SharePoint” 

Sure, there are bugs – some stuff just doesn’t work the way it should. And, yes, it is true that Microsoft “stitched” together several products from different (and competing) project groups to deliver early versions of SharePoint. This resulted in a disjointed, awkward admin experience that seemed always broken and nearly impossible to troubleshoot with any speed. End users paid the price with poor collaboration experiences and the inability to find their stuff. They reverted to email and attachments from file shares (or their desktops <shudder>)Weren’t these the very things we were all told would never happen in the world of SharePoint?  

Then Microsoft wised up 

Even with mounting frustrations, Microsoft saw strong potential in this new way to collaborate. With time, they wised up and pulled product teams together with more clarity on vision, leadership, and product strategy. They listened to end users and delivered vast improvements in administrative ease, end-user experience, and scalability with each major release. Since the 2010 version (the first “true” enterprise version), the total cost of ownership has continued to go down even as adoption and overall environment size has gone up.   

Now, with the cloud offering virtually unlimited scale, stable performance, flexible costing models, and a constantly evolving set of features/functionality, the platform appears to be unstoppable. While on-prem environments remain highly relevant for some organizations, the steady push from Microsoft is to go to the cloud. It’s better for them (who doesn’t want predictable, recurring revenue?), and they’re doing everything they can to make it better for clients. The more recent enhancements implemented across the Office 365 platform with Microsoft Teams, Planner and Flow/PowerApps to name just a few, make it quite compelling platform for your digital transformation.  

Pushback against going to the cloud 

Yet, there has been pushback against going to the cloud. However, in our experience, most of the pushback we see is purely psychological.

  1. Is it secure?
    Fears about data security and/or geolocation abound. However, growing evidence has shown that Microsoft’s infrastructure is likely (and statistically) far more secure than yours.  
  2. My portal doesn’t look right.
    Yes, businesses may not be able to make their portal look, feel, and act exactly the way they’d like. Trust us, this is usually a good thing! Standardization seems like small beans in the grand scheme of things when weighed against stability, supportability, performance, better end-user adoption, and lower costs. And, keep in mind that migration happens! More customizations = harder, more expensive, longer migrations that no one enjoys. Unfortunately, there is no magic pill for this condition! Even the best migration tools simply cannot handle all the variability of these boutique environments.  
  3. If we go to the cloud, what’s a SharePoint Administrator to do?
    Rather than shedding their SharePoint administrators, many businesses are finding huge value in leveraging them throughout the organization. Behind the scenes, former admins can prove indispensable for:  

    • Managing external sharing 
    • Forming and managing governance committees  
    • Prepping for compliance audits 
    • Establishing taxonomy/folksonomy 
    • Archiving stale data 
    • Monitoring and testing new functionality 
    • Enforcing the general rules of engagement  
    • Automating processes 
    • Building forms  
    • Setting up managed metadata 
    • Optimizing search 
Bottom line? You can learn to love again. 

The Office 365 platform has a lot to offer organizations striving for digital transformation, but balancing flexibility, scalability, performance, end-user experience, administrative overhead, and a constantly-evolving feature set is exceptionally difficult. There are bound to be missteps along the way, and most organizations are not prepared to manage Microsoft’s rapid release cycles. You will want to think differently about your resources, just like you did about your platform. 

If you don’t have in-house expertise that has kept up with the evolution of the platform, it will be imperative to leverage a trusted partner who has. Doing so can dramatically improve your business outcomes, increase user adoption, and reduce your long-term costs.

Seven Key Ways to Gain Value from Office 365 User Adoption

To maximize your Office 365 investment, you need to ensure user adoption, so it’s imperative to incorporate proven change acceptance techniques when introducing new technology to your employees. Once you have business and IT alignment in regards to your innovation goals, it’s time to implement the software and ensure your users adopt, use, and expand their skills within Office 365.

Let’s explore seven key areas of value your business will realize with full Office 365 user adoption.

1.) Increased Efficiency and Innovation

With a functioning and adopted Office 365 solution in place, you save time managing technology and can focus on delivering innovation to your business. In order to achieve this level of innovation, your users will need to know how to properly use the Office 365 tools and will need to be comfortable using them on a daily basis.

Continually provide the solutions you know users need. For example, don’t let users randomly discover tools like Microsoft Teams. Instead, engage with and provide them with training, guidelines, and a process for using Teams to ensure they’re using it optimally amongst their own teams and across departments.

“With a functioning and adopted Office 365 solution in place, you save time required for managing technology and instead, can focus on delivering innovation and value to your business.”

2.) Protected Data: Internally and Externally

In 2017 alone, there were 1,120 total data breaches and more than 171 million personal records of consumers exposed. This number of attacks is only expected to increase, with a target on small and large companies alike.

Luckily, Office 365 has tremendous control and compliance capabilities across email, SharePoint, OneDrive, Teams, and Yammer, which makes it easier to control and protect proprietary information.

Properly enacting the policies, procedures, retention, disposition, data loss prevention, and information protection enable content sharing, internally and externally, while ensuring data is secure. Using Office 365 tools to collaborate with external partners, as opposed to non-supported third-party tools like Box or Dropbox, also ensures your content is properly governed and risk is reduced.

3.) Effectively Managed Intellectual Property

When your users have properly adopted Office 365, confidential or proprietary information moves to your intranet, Teams or team sites, communication sites, project areas, and OneDrive. By reducing your organization’s reliance on email, and instead, storing key information in a reliable system specifically designed for a search-first user experience, you more efficiently manage critical data and intellectual property.

Gone are the days when file shares, email, and the “My Documents” folder are haphazardly used. And with today’s agile workforce, it’s key that your important knowledge is maintained within your organization’s Office 365 structure and not in someone’s inbox, on their own personal device, or another unsupported third-party service.

“Using Office 365 components for more than simple email and document storage creates new opportunities for improving efficiencies.”

4.) Increased Business Intelligence

Once users have adopted Office 365, your organization can use Power BI to access valuable data stored in the various tools and deliver insights to make intelligent business decisions.

Microsoft has long been a leader in this area for a decade. Gartner has positioned them as a Leader in their Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence and Analytics Platforms for ten consecutive years. Sample areas where Power BI delivers insight include:

  • Key financial metrics
  • IT spend
  • Sales effectiveness

It’s another way using Office 365 components for more than simple email and document storage creates new opportunities for improving your organization’s efficiencies.



5.) Empowered Employees

With Office 365, you can empower employees by enabling more effective collaboration and supporting decentralized teams and remote workers through tools like intranets, extranets, and collaboration solutions using SharePoint, Microsoft Teams, OneDrive and all the features in Office 365. Employees now have a work environment that’s intelligent, flexible, and secure, and they can collaborate from anywhere, on any device.

6.) Decreased Reliance on Email & Client Applications

With Office 365, you eliminate the need to upgrade your desktop software, patch servers, and perform platform migrations every four years. This time savings improves productivity, allowing you to identify your organization’s business opportunities instead of just worrying about the IT problems. The underlying changes with upgrades, server patches, and platform migrations still happen, but they are gradual and more manageable as they happen over the platform life cycles.

Embracing and supporting employees’ use of Office 365 also keeps them on the front edge of modern technology, providing opportunities to grow their skills and career.

7.) Accelerated Digital Transformation

The difficulty with digital transformation is that it is 100% based on people and their ability and willingness to change how they operate. Users can send emails and use online file shares, but social content, publishing, project management, document management, business automation, and business intelligence are a different story. Full user adoption accelerates the speed of business and your digital transformation.

Unfortunately, an organization cannot simply deploy software and expect magic to happen. It’s accelerating broader business activities, processes, competencies, and models to fully leverage digital technologies. It’s challenging business leaders to harness technology to shape their specific destiny. It’s a living process that shifts throughout the journey.

It’s why 88% rely on third-party providers for at least one component.  

 It’s also why we leverage a proven process methodology that we refer to as Center of Excellence service for Office 365 and related technologies.

Interested in learning more about a Center of Excellence approach? Download our free whitepaper here.

The New Role of IT: How to Be Successful with Office 365 in the Face of Constant Change and Innovation

Over the past few years, IT has transitioned from a department focused on infrastructure and support to one of innovation, transformation, and competitive advantage. Traditional roles, resources, and expectations have been disrupted by shifting user demands and needs. To keep up and ahead of these demands, the IT department now has an important seat at the executive table. The role of IT is to not only provide technical support but to also provide fresh solutions and tools that will keep their organization ahead of the wave of innovation.

Cloud Computing Brings Change and Innovation

The focus in IT has been sky-high. Organizations and users fully understand and prefer the flexibility and collaboration of cloud technology. Now, IT is expected to lead the charge into the cloud by providing innovation, efficiency, collaboration, and—most importantly—business value. But many IT departments have high expectations to provide increased, faster, and better results with fewer resources and less time. Without the right technology and budgets, supporting, training, and managing SaaS technology becomes a daunting task.

At the same time of all this change and disruption, Office 365 has emerged and is aimed squarely at supplying the tools to make these capabilities accessible and less daunting for IT departments. By 2019, Microsoft expects two-thirds of their traditional Office customers to migrate to Office 365 subscription plans. This demonstrates a new normal for IT and the end-user community.

So as IT faces this new normal, how can you be successful in this new role? It requires two requisites.
Let’s dive in.

Business and IT Alignment

Leading business transformation with these new tools requires vision and focus. Without a laser-focused vision and a means to measure your intended success, most implementations are based on assumptions, and IT professionals are guessing their way through the process.

Instead of playing a guessing game, IT can take a step up to align technology with the needs of the business. IT can no longer work in a silo — they need to be invited to the table to define, release, and support solutions that will improve the business.

To successfully align IT with business, start by:

  • Meet with all stakeholders to understand their specific requirements—in detail—and clearly communicate why the services will benefit them and how business value will be achieved.
  • Implement solutions like Office 365 that meet all requirements.
  • Align stakeholders when planning and deploying collaboration solutions.

User Adoption

Just because an organization deploys Office 365, doesn’t mean they’ll reap the benefits of digital transformation. ‘Build it and they will come’ simply doesn’t work with this type of solution. The difficulty is that success is 100% based on people and their abilities and willingness to change how they operate. Users can send emails and use online file shares, but social content, publishing, project management, document management, business automation, business intelligence, etc., need support from skilled personnel.

The path to success begins at user awareness, which leads to user engagement, and ends with user adoption. Here are a few ways to become successful in your user adoption strategies:

  • Awareness
    It’s important to communicate to end users the benefits that the Office 365 platform provides. Initial and ongoing communication across your end user community enlightens them on what is possible, prevents misunderstandings, and provides a sense of belonging to the organization. When internal groups are aware that tools and technologies are available to them, they are more likely to use and build upon them.
  • Engagement
    Aware employees become engaged employees. Employee engagement goes beyond knowing tools, capabilities, and information exist and leads to genuine and sustained interest in how they can do their jobs better for the overall success of the organization. This occurs only when your tools are delivered deliberately and with purpose, training, support, and ongoing enhancements to suit user needs. Ongoing communication of the vision and value these tools bring to the organization fosters engagement and leads to adoption.
  • Adoption
    Successful adoption is the holy grail in the land of collaboration and digital transformation. Adoption occurs when the user community employs the tools, services, and solutions provided for them because they want to take advantage of the value they continue to experience. Additionally, engaged employees who have adopted the use of the tools in their everyday work will encourage their colleagues and new hires to do the same, promoting the use of the capabilities across their own teams and departments. True adoption leads to employee efficiency and fewer user complaints and increases the organization’s confidence in IT to deliver solutions that meet business needs.

How a Center of Excellence Drives User Adoption and Value

In today’s changing IT landscape, it’s imperative to incorporate proven change acceptance techniques. With the above requisites along with a proven, deliberate framework, organizations can begin to truly realize the value of their Office 365 investment.

An alternative approach to achieving this success is the Office 365 Center of Excellence (CoE). What is the Center of Excellence? It is a proven process methodology that utilizes six services areas to improve and execute on digital transformation in Office 365 and SharePoint. It can greatly improve innovation, deliver business value, protect your internal and external data, decrease reliance on email, and empower your employees.

Learn more about the Center of Excellence framework by downloading our free whitepaper here.

Digital Transformation as a Service

Digital Transformation as a Service with Office 365

The Future is Digital.

If you subscribe to Microsoft’s perspective, every company, irrespective of industry, is, or will soon be, thinking and operating like a digital company.[1]

Why? The high-level answers are similar, and the granular ones vary by organization. At the core, businesses are looking to Digital Transformation to increase efficiency, agility, collaboration, innovation, and security … resulting in a competitive advantage.

It’s a Living Process

Unfortunately, Digital Transformation is not a project. It is also more than email and document storage “moved to the cloud.” It is an ongoing and living process that shifts throughout the journey. An organization cannot simply deploy software and expect the magic to happen.  As a matter of fact, most organizations have failed in their Digital Transformation attempts.

An Office 365 ‘Center of Excellence’ Approach Increases Adoption

While there is no magic wand, through our experience in consulting and gaining knowledge about what works, we have uncovered methodologies that drastically increase the odds of user adoption, which is the glue that holds Digital Transformation efforts together. We have developed what we refer to as a ‘Center of Excellence’ service for Office 365 and related technologies. It’s simply a term to describe an ongoing process of defined activities, communications, templates, training, and effort focused on end users.

Many organizations have invested in Office 365 and related technologies and have the capability to execute on Digital Transformation. The difficulty is that Digital Transformation is 100% based on people and their ability and willingness to change how they operate. It’s why 90% of our activities are targeted at the end user, helping them improve their ability to collaborate and communicate, empowering them to do their jobs better and more efficiently.

This Center of Excellence service is made up pillars, or service areas. They are meant to be circular and connected. We start with Vision, Strategy, Governance, Architecture/Design, and then tactically provide Training, Administration, Configuration, Development, and Support. Each service has elements to complete up front to ensure the process runs smoothly. For example, you cannot design a Strategy without understanding the organization’s Vision and the Governance plan to manage the process to get there. There are clear interdependencies in the process, which is why the sum is greater than the parts when all the pillars work together, helping our customers optimize their operations.

Guiding Principles

There are also some guiding principles to a Center of Excellence approach:

  1. Cross-Pollination by Design – Create and enforce specific scheduled activities that will require collaboration and communication internally and with the customer.
  2. Create Trust – Solve problems and build credibility by providing the best possible service is a requirement for user adoption. If people do not believe you can help them, they will turn elsewhere.
  3. It’s About the Business – This is not an IT exercise. The technology is the tool that enables Digital Transformation by solving problems, removing roadblocks, and allowing progress and innovation to occur as new needs arise. It’s NOT a solution looking for a problem.
  4. It’s a Process – You don’t “install” Digital Transformation, you build it.
  5. Embrace Change – The platform, business needs, users, and tools are shifting at an incredible pace. Stay on top of those changes and continue to refine the “playbook”.

The process is working. If you have been struggling to gain traction with your business users and only feel as if you’re scratching the surface, a Center of Excellence solution or some of its aspects might be an option for you to consider. Contact us if you’d like to learn more.

The Starting Point

As a forward-thinking leader, the starting point is for you to see the vision of what these modern tools and applications can do for your organization and getting stakeholders to and want to get there. Those are two very distinct elements. We talk with a lot of organizations, and they generally fall into two camps. One sees the value, knows why it’s important, but also realizes they have struggled with their current knowledge and resources to get there. The other doesn’t see the value. The latter makes for more difficult conversations and is outside the scope of this post, but look for the “Need and Value for Digital Transformation” in future post.

[1] Microsoft Enterprise Team, March 2017