Creating an adoption plan with the Office365 Customer Success Center

O365successAt the Office 365 summit  I learned about the Office365 Success Center. This contains tons of resources and planning tools to get your Office365 launch and adoption planned. I was quite happy about that because it means all those Microsoft/Office365 customers no longer have to reinvent all wheels themselves. (You know I hate that)

A Yammer implementation (Work like a network)
I recently had the opportunity to do a Yammer implementation for a specific team so I was eager to test-drive the tool and share my experiences.

0. Access and sign-in.
Go to https://success.office.com/en-us and go to Adoption > Adoption Plan. My default Dutch version does not have the Adoption Plan options, so please add “en-us” to the URL.

How to create and access your plan.
How to create and access your plan.

After signing in, click on Create New, add title and description, and after saving the following screen is shown. (All progress bars are grey if you start)
You can see different steps with their progress. You set the progress yourself using the Save (in progress – blue) or Finish (finished – green buttons below every topic.
You open or close the item with the icon on the right of the section.
As you go along, you will also see many document-based templates on the left-hand side of the page, such as tips or templates for posters/flyers. This blog focuses on the online plan.

Progress Overviw
Progress Overview. You start with only grey boxes and you set the progress yourself.


1. Stakeholders.

You can select which roles are involved and add their names. You can also remove all roles not needed. In this case, we only had a few roles, but it was a useful exercise to note the names and responsibilities for everyone in the project team.

Adding names to roles
Adding the names to the roles.

2. Vision
The tool tells you to use ”1-4 sentences” but it is unclear exactly how many characters you can use. There is no warning when you exceed the character limit. In that case your data is simply not saved, or an older shorter version is saved.

Vision statement
Enter the Vision statement


Suggested improvements:

  • Add information about the # of characters allowed for the Vision. Show a warning when you are using more.
  • Make the Vision statement more useful, by e.g. prompting to check or revise the vision during creation of your plan.  I understand that a tool like this can not tell you that “this action or metric is not in line with your vision”, but I would like to be prompted to review the vision or to check if your action plan will promote the vision.

3. Scenario
Next in line is the Scenario you are looking for. There are 5, and I chose “Work like a network”. You can then prioritize the scenarios, but we only had one so there was no need.

4. Success Metrics
Of course you have to measure if you are on plan.  You get 6 examples, but you can add, edit and delete according to your own plans.
The examples were very useful for the exact wording of our metrics, but the display is a little odd 🙂

Success Metric section
The Success Metrics section. Good content, but the display needs some work.


Suggested improvements:

  • In the plan, please improve the display of the texts – there is html in there (screenshot)
  • In the Snapshot, check display – many spaces between words are missing.

5. Activities
Selecting your Scenario filters the suggested Activities for your project. These contain a very complete overview of all possible actions during pre-launch, launch and post-launch, including a proposed timeline.
There were a few that we had not thought of and gladly included in our plan.  There were also a couple that were not relevant for us, so we removed those.

Activities
Activities, grouped by Pre-Launch, Launch and Post-Launch.


Suggested improvements:

  • Replicate the names of the Stakeholders automatically into the Owner fields.
  • Explain what the square box does. (highlighted)
  • Replace “Office365” by “Yammer” in the Activities texts if you select the “Work like a network” scenario.

6. Snapshot
You can save and download a Snapshot (in Word) of your adoption plan, with all information you entered as well as a lot of explanation, tips etc. This turned out to be many pages (25 in our case for just 1 scenario!), and it also does not sort as in the plan.
I had to rework it (mainly removing all content that was not added/modified by ourselves) to make it into a concise actionable sharable plan.

Snapshot in Word
The Snapshot is your total plan in a document


Suggested improvements:

  • Add an option to create one Snapshot per scenario. Success Metrics and Activities may be different for each scenario.
  • Remove the additional info from the Snapshot so you end up with a concise plan, preferably in Excel so it can be turned into a SharePoint Task List 🙂 
  • Make Snapshot available as PowerPoint and/or Sway  so it can instantly be presented and/or shared.
  • Check texts for consistency: e.g. the Stakeholders are called Project Members  in the Snapshot.
  • Accept the comments in the first pages of the Snapshot.

Conclusion:
The concept is excellent. This tool and the templates will help you structure your adoption plan for the maximum chance of success, without having to invent everything yourself.
I have suggested some improvements mainly on the execution part. I expect Microsoft will be solving those soon. The current plan is already much better than when I used it a month or two ago.

Have you used this tool as well and if yes, what were your findings?

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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The deconstruction of the intranet

Deconstructed-PuzzleJust after publishing my last post, I found three interesting things that increase my belief that we are currently “deconstructing” the intranet and making it into something different.

1. No more Internal Comms department.

A Dutch bank and insurance company reported they have done away with their Internal Communications department. The rise of enterprise social networks (two-way communication – I wrote about this earlier) as well as the large number of customer-facing employees in webcare and other business processes had made them decide that communications is no longer a role for one department but for all the company.
English version of article.

Why is this important? Because it is often Internal Comms that has been the department that has introduced intranets to their employees as a communication tool for all the company. They have made sure intranets looked good, that people got training and that the corporate news got the best real estate on the homepage.  🙂

Most of them have realized that the intranet is no longer only a communication tool, but a tool to do your work. In that respect, it may be time to hand over the ownership of the intranet to a different part of the organization, and the digital workplace team may be the best candidate. They can take care of a proper technical installation, governance, training, app selection and development, usability etc. (which, incidentally, apart from the technical installation, are all things I really like to do :-))

If Internal Comms is no longer the owner of the intranet/digital workplace, it means that we can finally use that prime real estate for the most important work stuff, regardless of what that is. Perhaps we can also be less fanatic about design and branding, 🙂 and focus on usability.
But of course this is just one company. I have no idea if (m)any others will follow suit.

2. More talk about an app-store on your intranet.

I came across an article about Neil Morgan’s work for an intranet app store at Richemont. And that was done in 2012!

3. More proof that the app intranet exists! 

And then I found another intranet teaser video featuring a Windows 8 tile view with apps! This is the screenshot. (Please click to enlarge)

Screenshot of the desktop
A screenshot from 19s into the video shows the desktop, with various apps. Source: http://vimeo.com/98925422

Once again, all kind of tools are displayed on the desktop and several elements from the intranet are there (news (in the centre – prime real estate!),  time and weather, an HR app). But there appears to be no integrated website called “intranet”.

[Update October 17th, 2014: Unfortunately, the video was suddenly made private, so I removed the embedded link. I am glad I made that screenshot! ]

This feeds my theory that the “intranet” will be replaced by the individual building blocks of the intranet-as-we-have-come-to-know-it + other tools. I will call it the “deconstructed intranet” 🙂
This term has already been used earlier in a blog by Russell Pearson. I am not sure if he meant exactly the same thing though.

Is this the same as a Digital Workplace? I do not think so – this may be part of a Digital Workplace or a stage towards a Digital Workplace, but I think the Digital Workplace has more to it than just a set of tools.

Have you seen other examples of “deconstructed intranets”? I am ever so curious how this will develop!

Image courtesy of ponsulak at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

The pick-‘n-mix app intranet

PicknMix-JellyBeansLong ago, our intranet was custom-built because there was no intranet software available. We always spent a lot of time integrating our third-party applications nicely into the intranet. Any application, e.g. travel booking or ordering office supplies, was built with the same user interface and style as our intranet, and of course they were all single-sign-on!

Later, budget restrictions, the availability of intranet platforms, our management’s decision to buy rather than make, as well as the rise of internet-enabled third-party applications resulted in a mish-mash of different color schemes, user interfaces and password requirements on our intranet. I hated the fact that our employees could not move frictionless from one application to another. But I learned to be happy with small things like seeing our company logo on the travel booking system. 🙂
I strongly believed that a consistent user interface is a prerequisite for an effective digital workplace.

Is consistency in design and user interface still relevant now?
That belief has been shaken recently by an intranet introduction video (unfortunately it has been deleted) where the intranet was replaced by a collection of different apps (Office suite tools, general apps and custom intranet apps) on the desktop in a Windows 8 tile view. The intranet as an integrated website no longer existed.

Although I was shocked at first, I now think this is not such a strange idea. In our private life we are managing many different apps with different interfaces without thinking. We love spending time collecting them on our devices, moving them around, updating them and learning different interfaces, because we want or need to use them. With the rise of Bring-Your-Own-Everything, is designing your own workplace not a logical next step?

What did I see in that video?
I have tried to recreate the video’s concept.  Since I know Microsoft Office suite and SharePoint best, I have used those elements, but of course this concept works with any Office and intranet suite.

At the moment, we generally make these big blocks of functionality available to our (new) employees.

New employee desktop
1. This is the software on the desktop for a new employee.

Over time, most employees adjust that by adding individual links to Office and other tools to their desktop or task bar.

This is the workplace that the video showed. All suites and the intranet have been broken up into building blocks to create a personal digital workplace, in this case for a Sales-type role.

The new toolset as seen in the video.
2. This is what I saw on the video – a selection of all kinds of specific tools, without any mention of the word “intranet”.

What are the implications of this concept?
I think this is a plausible direction, but it raises many questions:

  • If it is pick-‘n-mix, will some apps be mandatory or will you leave it to the employee? Or will you have mandatory or recommended sets for different roles within the organization?
  • Will people have the same patience to create their own start page and learn different tools in the work environment as they have in their private life?
  • Will more employees spend effort in personalizing their start page than the reported 5% that has ever personalized their intranet homepage?
  • Who will be responsible for management and governance? Will it be one role or will every department have responsibility for their own role apps? Or a mix?
  • Will the responsible have any influence on a consistent user interface for internal and external apps? Or will they only be responsible for a set of design standards that every department will have to stick to?
  • Will  “consistent design and user interface” still matter, or is it sufficient that apps adhere to common usability and accessibility standards? (And what would those standards be?)
  • Will the responsible brand apps and if yes, which ones? (after all, we all love email and spreadsheets, and nobody has ever branded those)
  • Will it mean that the employee can pick-‘n-mix another set of apps for their mobile or tablet device, if that works better for them?

What do you think?
I am building this theory on the basis of one deleted video, so I may be completely off the mark. 🙂  On the other hand, it may as well be a plausible and tangible example of a digital workplace of the near future. I certainly have never seen something like figure 2 in real life yet, and I am very curious if this will ever happen. Have you seen anything like it, or are you working on something like this? Or do you think this will take a different direction altogether? Please share!

Image courtesy of Bill Longshaw at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Are intranets electric?

electricThe word “intranet” appears to be slowly losing territory in blogs, company names, conferences, yearly surveys and on Twitter. The obvious explanation is that “digital workplace” is the new buzzword, with a wider definition, but there could be another explanation.

Electricity
I have been told that, when electricity had just been invented, a new position appeared in organizations, the “Electricity Manager”.  This manager was responsible for finding out exactly what you could do with this new invention. Could you use it to make existing production processes more efficient? Or would this allow you to create completely new products? And how did the company have to set up their own electricity production?
Nowadays electricity is so common that we no longer think about it, unless there is a power failure. You also do not have your own electricity production anymore. You take it “from the grid” and may have a generator only for emergencies.
To be honest, I do not know if that role really existed, but it sounds plausible. I could find nothing on the internet about it :-).

Internet
What I do know, because I was there,  is that around the turn of the century other new positions appeared, the “Manager New Media” and “Manager e-Business”. These managers were responsible for finding out exactly what you could do with “that internet”, apart from creating a company website.  Could you use it to attract new customers or consumers? Could you make our internal processes more efficient? Would the internet allow you to create new products or new services?
That role is now almost extinct.  If there is still anyone with that job title, it is because he or she has to focus on  the “how to use it” rather than on the “if”. For the odd marketeer a tv commercial may still be the icing on her or his job cake, but most have realized that you can reach your audience better via the internet. And by the way, all those sites are generally stored on the internet.

Intranet
Is that also happening with “intranet”? At this moment we are still fighting over ownership, platforms, design, and even still teaching people how to use it. We have “Intranet Managers” who are finding out how to manage content and content owners, how to align the design with the company branding, how to manage employee-generated content and how to increase adoption. We host intranets at our own servers.

But hopefully soon we will realize that the intranet, or the digital workplace, is an essential tool for employees to do their daily work, a tool that has become so common and so unmissable that we only think about it when it is down or being upgraded. Perhaps the intranet, like electricity and internet, will become a commodity that we just expect to be there and work. That is the other reason that I think the word “intranet” is starting to become less used.

Will the intranet still be hosted on our own servers? Perhaps only if in the case of very regulated industries. At the moment, many intranets already have 3rd-party applications running on external servers or in the cloud, so why not everything?

Will we still spend so much effort on visual design? Or will we use our intranets out-of-the-box, like email and spreadsheets? Perhaps a logo and some company colours are needed, but now that smartphones and tablets are becoming more used in the workplace, we will have to adapt our approach to visual design, and focus more and more on function, rather than form. (And shouldn’t form follow function , always?)

And what will happen to the “Intranet Manager”? Will she or he still be “managing an internal website” or will the intranet become so integrated and business-critical that the “Digital Workplace Manager” will finally be able to focus on usability, collaboration, employee conversations, efficiency and business improvement? I really hope so! 
James Robertson has written an excellent post about the change in roles from Intranet Team to Digital Workplace Team .

If you are interested in that discussion, why not join the Intranet Career Path group on LinkedIn?

Image courtesy of Suat Eman at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Title inspired by “Are Friends Electric” (Tubeway Army/Gary Numan)