During lockdown, we implemented Microsoft 365 to improve the way we communicate and collaborate as a team. I have been amazed at the volume of information that is being shared, how easy it is to stay informed about what is going on, and how effective SharePoint and Microsoft Teams are for document storage and collaboration. Increased visibility and increased productivity are two major benefits we have realised. However, it didn’t all come easily, we had to learn a few lessons along the way.
Lesson 1. Engage an expert
As a team of tech-savvy people, it was tempting to think we could do the data migration to SharePoint ourselves. I am very grateful we decided to engage the experts, Hammerjack, to migrate our files from Dropbox. The combination of specialised migration tools and established processes meant our files were migrated successfully. However, we did decide to migrate our files from Google manually… and that was hours of time I will never get back!
What we learned: Don’t try to cut corners, be a hero or save money. Engaging an expert will save time, reduce risk and be more accurate.
Lesson 2. Fail to prepare, prepare to fail
We did a lot of research into the best way to structure Microsoft Teams. We took the time to understand best practices around creating a new team vs a new channel vs a new chat group. Since go-live we haven’t had to change our overall Teams structure, however, we have had to recreate many of our channels to change them from private to public. One thing we learned the hard way, to change a channel from private to public, you must delete the channel and recreate, losing historical conversations in the process. We are now wanting to make use of the task management feature and that works best if all channels within a Team are public. The upside is we can now use the standard Tasks by Planner and To-Do functionality to give better visibility of open actions.
What we learned: Spend time planning your Teams structure and be sure to avoid private channels where possible
Lesson 3. Communicate and educate
As some of our people had used Teams before and others had never used it, it was important before go-live to make sure everyone was on the same page. We scheduled weekly mini information sessions, each focused on one topic related to the migration to Microsoft 365. In most cases, they were live demos followed up with written materials. Some people enjoyed attending the sessions, others watched the recording after, some read the published materials and others were too busy! We also nominated Change Champions who were responsible for doing regular check-ins with their nominated team members to make sure people were at least across the most important communications.
What we learned: Offer communications in multiple formats (e.g. written, visual, audio), be sure to repeat important messages and check-in with people before/during/after go-live
Lesson 4. Expect the unexpected
We planned a cutover of our email domain on a weekend and go-live on a Monday. We scheduled an “all hands” meeting on Monday morning to walk everyone through the new toolkit. We didn’t anticipate most people would have trouble logging into the Teams meeting we had scheduled. We quickly set up a Google Meet to troubleshoot each user account which took up half of the time we had allocated for the onboarding session. Login issues are something we factor in for client training sessions but forgot to do for ourselves!
What we learned: Have a backup plan for what might go wrong at crucial moments in the plan and ALWAYS allow extra time to resolve new account/logging in issues
Lesson 5. Small change, big impact
When we moved from Gmail to Outlook, as far as IT changes go it seemed like a small change moving from one inbox to another, especially considering all our historic emails and calendar events were being migrated over. As we quickly discovered, Gmail is a different user experience to Outlook and for those who take pride in effectively managing their inbox, it was quite unnerving when everything looked and behaved differently. It took several days for email productivity levels to return to normal.
What we learned: Don’t underestimate the impact seemingly small changes may have on people’s ways of working
I would highly recommend the M365 toolkit as an effective way to improve communication and collaboration in an organisation. As with any IT implementation, it is important to build awareness, engage your audience, provide appropriate education, and effectively manage the change, no matter how large or small. If you wish to hear more about our experience, please reach out via our Contact Us form below.