The human factor in Office 365 deployment

LAN645 The human factor in Office 365 deployment

Any new technology introduced into the business environment is likely to meet user resistance, regardless of its benefits.

Generally, people don’t like change. In the case of new technology in the business environment it has almost invariably been imposed upon them from above. And almost invariably the reasons for its introduction are business benefits, which may not be apparent to those using the technology.

These are general rules, and Office 365 is no exception. As Paul Robichaux, senior contributing editor, Windows IT Pro, and Joe Diamond, director of product at Proofpoint – a provider of security software – write in a white paper Accelerating Office 365 Adoption, implementation is no guarantee of adoption.

“Widespread acceptance depends on stakeholder buy-in and user adoption.

… It is advisable to generate support among business task users, security teams, compliance and eDiscovery teams, and individuals with financial concerns.”

Step one: organisational buy-in

Their white paper says the first step in Office 365 adoption is gaining organisational buy-in. “Sometimes moving to Office 365 is a contentious decision and competing interests must be heard. The key is understanding which stakeholders have the ability to say ‘no’ to moving to the cloud.”

They identify four groups as being the primary naysayers: business users; security teams; compliance and eDiscovery; financial. And they offer a range of solutions to win over these respective groups. However these are largely functional and technical solutions: they don’t address people’s emotional responses to change.

As another article on the subject: The Road to Awesome Adoption, says: “A successful SharePoint rollout starts with understanding and ends with action. … Driving adoption is about human beings, not technology. … The human factor is the essential element throughout your deployment plans.”

Getting to the nitty-gritty of SharePoint deployment, the authors quote a US survey and say: “A failure of senior management to endorse and enforce SharePoint was the biggest reason for lack of success, followed by inadequate user training and a general lack of planning.

Avoid a suboptimal installation

“In their survey, 26 percent of respondents reported that their SharePoint project had stalled and 37 percent have struggled to meet their original expectations, meaning a total of 63 percent had suboptimum installations.”

Those are pretty gloomy statistics for a piece of software with the potential to bring very significant productivity gains, and the authors offer a range of ‘human factor based’ suggestions to up the success rate:

  • People follow their leaders. When endorsement comes from the top, it means the business has taken the time to listen and take part;
  • By gathering feedback you are listening to the business and starting to build supporters of the initiative;
  • Lean on best practices of those who have done this before and choose your use cases wisely;
  • Some people love to lead and be recognised for it. Empower these folks to empower the rest of the organisation;

As they point out: success or failure of a technology implementation – Office 365 or anything else – ultimately depends on people.“Driving adoption takes time, planning and buy-in. Whenever new technology is brought into an organisation, remember it’s the people that make or break it, adopt it or ignore it.”

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