Within the last six to eight months, Microsoft has made a tremendous push by adding more features to Office 365. As I am talking with my clients about these features, I am always asked “So now what are we going to do?” or “That new feature is really cool!”. Most organizations will look at these new features and say “We are going to restrict the use until we have time to figure out what this can do”!. They do not want to have the “Shiny Thing” issue that can happen when new features are implemented. Additionally, they never really get to it because IT is distracted by many other internal activities.
So what are some of the features we are talking about? They include:
- Office 365 Groups
- OneDrive for Business
- Video Portal
- SharePoint Online (not new but still being improved upon all of the time)
Additionally Microsoft has promised more things will be added in the future such as Infopedia and Office Planner.
With that said, it is important to not be caught up in the “Shiny Thing” frenzy that sometimes happens within organizations. So what does an organization do? Really, nothing different than what you are currently doing. Make sure you are continually answer the following questions:
- What type of content do we currently have?
- How do we communicate and collaborate internally and externally of our company?
- Where does our content live and how do we want it available?
- What type of business processes are users interacting with daily, weekly, or monthly?
When you look at the “Day in the Life” of a user within a department, you will be able to answer these questions and then determine the eventual solution. I have found that not talking about the technology and focusing on what users are doing helps to create an safe meeting that participants give us useful information.
After the information has been gathered, then you need to look at all of the functionality that is available not only within the SharePoint online area but anything that Office 365 has available. This will mean diving in and understand what Office 365 features can do. As you determine the best solution for your business units, it is important to document the best practices to ensure end users know what is the overall solution for this type of business requirement.
Here are some examples of business requirements and possible solutions that involve Office 365. I purposely made these examples similar in nature so show how business requirements may change the end delivery.
Business requirement: The sales department primarily collaborates using emails which typically contain document attachments of content they are working on. Additionally the email conversations can become very lengthy and rarely include everyone that needs to have a say. Additionally the sales manager would like to move this information out of Outlook and centralize document sharing because IT has a mailbox quota in place.
Possible solution: Combination of SharePoint Online team sites for centralized document collaboration, embedding Yammer group feed into the team site and using the Post to Yammer feature already integrated into the platform. Additionally, the organization should implement Identity Management components to enable seamless single-sign on between applications.
Business requirement: The sales department primarily collaborates using emails which typically contain document attachments of content they are working on. Additionally the email conversations can become very lengthy and rarely include everyone that needs to have a say. Because they are Sales, they live and breathe through their Outlook client. Their focus is centralizing their content around the conversations they are having within Outlook.
Possible solution: It is highly recommended the Sales team uses Office 365 Groups and Outlook 2016. Office groups allow the department members to still utilize Outlook 2016 to connect with the group. The Office Group also has a OneDrive for Business area to allow the group to collaborate on content.
Business requirement: Currently the Marketing department is utilizing DropBox to send files to external consultants. The Marketing director has had a hard time when someone leaves the company and they need to retain an of those files that were used in DropBox. The marketing director also wants to leverage Microsoft products because of their integration.
Possible solution: Implement OneDrive for Business (ODFB) for the Marketing group. This solution allows for files up to 10 GB to be added into their person ODFB, they are allowed to share externally to other users and information is retained using Active Directory security. Additionally Information Rights Management can be implemented to ensure that intellectual property is retained.If someone leaves, all files can be made available to the Marketing manager. Additionally, with ODFB desktop sync, it allows for files to be made available locally.
Business requirement: Currently the Marketing department is utilizing DropBox to send files to external consultants. The Marketing director has had a hard time when someone leaves the company and they need to retain an of those files that were used in DropBox. The marketing director also wants to continue to leverage DropBox because of some of features.
Possible solution: Implement Azure AD Premium which allows the organization to have single sign-on functionality with DropBox. Once established, DropBox is integrated into Outlook Online as well as iPad/iPhone apps. This also allows IT and Marketing director the ability to have access to the content if someone leaves the company since it is controlled by Azure and the companies Active Directory.
When it comes down to it, business requirements will still need to be met no matter how “Shiny” the features are. If they do not provide a solution to an existing problem then hold off on implementing. Good luck and remember not to be distracted by the “Shiny Thing”!