Best Practices for Office 365 Change Management
When launching a new technology like Office 365, it’s important to build a supportive change management team. Each member of the team has a distinct role that orchestrates perfectly with the others to create a cultural shift that supports digital transformation. While you may be the Executive Sponsor leading the charge, you’re supported by department, communication and training leads, and a network of champions to evangelize your message and foster positivity during this time.
A successful strategy for Office 365 change management focuses on driving collaboration and use of the programs, rather than simply minimizing resistance and addressing anxiety. By building awareness, generating buy-in from leadership down to individual contributors, and supporting staff development, you’ll successfully guide your company through this transformation.
Show and tell
Communications is not the “be all, end all” of change management. Far from it, actually. It’s more important to demonstrate the benefits of the new tools, rather than tell employees all about them. That said, you still need to communicate early and often to introduce the idea of change, raise awareness and generate positive buzz for the new applications.
The most important things to communicate – through formal emails, during meetings, in the break room – are the why, where and how of Office 365: Why the change is necessary, where it will take the company, and how everyone is going to get there. By clearly stating the company’s vision for the future and how Office 365 plays a role, you’ll help employees begin to understand the value it provides in their own jobs. This understanding is critical to adoption, since the “what’s in it for me?” question guides so much of a workforce’s behavior.
You need to be able to answer the onslaught of questions before they’re asked, such as:
- How will Office 365 change processes in my department?
- What if I’m not technical enough to understand the new programs?
- Who’s going to provide training? Who can I go to with questions?
- What’s being replaced?
Who does what?
The most successful technology rollouts occur when there’s a team of individuals supporting the change management strategy. The Executive Sponsor (likely, you) communicates the high-level vision and values of Office 365 to the company.
Department Leads provide guidance, approval and support throughout the rollout. They act as intermediaries between IT staff and the various functional teams, helping to identify how their department will use Office 365 and what unique support they may need. A Communication Lead handles company-wide messaging, from emails, posters and flyers to updates on the company intranet.
Your Office 365 Change Management Checklist
Much of the work of planning change management is done before Office 365 is ever launched. By identifying key adoption activities up front, you stay ahead and make yourself available for any technical or training obstacles that might arise. Follow this checklist to make sure you’ve got your bases covered.
Prelaunch / Pilot Phase
- Identify pilot members and champions
- Circulate a baseline survey on pilot members’ and champions’ experience with, or perceptions of, Office 365 prior to account activation
- Host a Skype event to train pilot members and champions with how-to guides they can reference later
- Begin an internal email campaign introducing Office 365 to general staff
- Generate buzz by making announcements that “Office 365 is coming” on your company portal and in physical offices with posters and flyers. Note: Provide information about who they can reach out to with questions so that any concerns are addressed from the start.
- Release surveys at the half-way point and at the end of the pilot phase to gather feedback on pilot members’ and champions’ experiences thus far, and fine tune activities based on this feedback prior to general launch
Office 365 Launch
- Introduce the training plan early on, so employee anxiety about change will be minimized
- Host activities like a Lunch and Learn to introduce Office 365 to all staff
- Arm managers with information about who to contact if their teams have questions
- Identify Champions who can help within their departments
- Circulate a baseline survey before users’ accounts are activated to gather data about their familiarity with Office 365
- Distribute information on “quick wins” in order to capitalize on excitement and momentum
- Communicate policies and best practices so users are aware of corporate guidelines
- Train, train, train! This is where that extensive training plan you’ve devised will be critical
- After 30 days, release a survey to get feedback on employees’ experiences with Office 365 thus far
- Tell and retell. Then tell again. Communication is vital and needs to be an ongoing effort from you and all others involved in orchestrating the change
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