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Office365 - where do I start?

I have heard this asked at so many customers and events in the last few months that it's not funny. Yes there's lots of stuff on the web about the Office 365 services and use, but how do I know which are ready for prime-time and mature in enough to invest my precious staff time?

Well unfortunately it's a lot like asking about the length of the piece of proverbial string.

It depends...

Here at Spoke we use some basic criteria though which allows you a quick, moderately sensible way to assess the plethora of services and apps available on Office 365 today.

...and I stand behind this lot... at least for today or until Microsoft moves the goal-posts again :]

How to assess Office 365 app or service is ready for general use, and broad adoption in my business? Well lets just pick up the fundamentals:

  • does the app have the O365 integrated sign-on experience?

when I login to my machine, or my office portal, does the new app or service know its me opening it? i.e. its got my ID and login in top-right?

  • does the service have the integrated OfficeSuite bar?

a clear indicator that Microsoft is investing in this service or app, and will likely keep doing so

  • does the service also have a desktop app and a mobile app experience?

any services which don't are not likely to go very far as app + service is Microsoft's basic building-block in Office 365 cloud

  • does the service or app create or storing its content in SharePoint Online or Exchange Online?

Microsoft is not walking away from their primary ECM and Comms platforms; they are expanding their use underneath other offerings

  • does the service have an integrated Office app experience for content?

This sounds too simple doesn't it? Well there are lots of other factors, but fundamentally if you can not answer yes to all the above, the Office 365 service / app is not mainstream for Microsoft and can die suddenly.

Lets take a look at the new kid on the Office 365 block: Microsoft Teams.

Applying our criteria?

1. integrated sign-on experience

Yep, from the moment I login in to Office 365, either desktop or portal – if I click on Teams it signs me in no extra hassle.

2. integrated OfficeSuite bar

Again yes! It has the applauncher on the top-left with Office 365 apps, and my identity (top-right). Now they have changed the look-up to keep the ABM audience happy, but it’s the office suitebar.

3. service with a desktop app and a mobile app experience

Crickey yes! At launch he browser and desktop apps have had (and maintain) feature parity. …well they would the desktop app is basically a wrapper around an imbedded browser. And completing the trio are really good mobile apps for iOS and Android.

4. create or store its content in SharePoint Online or Exchange Online

while you may never need to leave the Teams client experience, believe me when I tell you all your content – documents, chat, wiki etc – are all stored in SharePoint Online (and OneDrive). And the rest is a skin over Exchange Online and Skype for Business for comms.

5. Integrated app experience for service

This is trickier one *but* on the whole, if you don’t see a good level of integration with core Microsoft Productivity stack inside the service its not likely to survive

So, from a ticking the fundamentals, we can see Microsoft Teams is highly likely to persist. Other good indicators are the fact its made massive head-way in the market in just 18 months and is driven by a Competitive threat (Slack)

Still don't believe me? - check these out:

* in that Office web-apps are imbedded via Tabs, and Teams sits over SharePoint content that Office is responsible for generating.

If this me assessing where I invest in Office 365 services for roll-out and adoption, I’d be going taking a close look across the suite.

You’ll be relieved to hear I’ve already done it!

What can I / should I use when we roll-out?

CAVEAT: Assessing applicability must always be aligned to the specific organisation and demographic.

[1] Microsoft Access has been on a slow-decline in the last 10-years, but is still broadly used in various industries

[2] Microsoft Publisher is more specialised application and will not apply to many organisations

[3] This Office application is typically made available to specific subject-expert roles, as required.

[4] Skype for Business is to be deprecated in favour of merging functionality into Microsoft Teams.

[5] OneDrive has Office web-applications integrated for basic document creation and editing.

[6] utilised Exchange engine for storage and management of communication, and associated data-history

What is presented above is based on the following common criteria:

  1. deployment for an established organization (>5 years old),

  2. a higher than average age demographic (average age of 40+),

  3. long-running experience and use of Office based tools and infrastructure,

  4. coming from a traditional managed desktop and IT services

What about the ancillary services?

The what? oh, you mean the 'glue', the stuff which adds value to a great (but generic) productivity suite? Well you are in luck, I had a look at that too.

Well those need to be looked at with an eye for additional criteria, because they often only interact with other services, without being stand-a-lone. So with these we also asses the service against which...

  1. Capture information or data

  2. Process or transform information for a specific purpose

  3. Present, render or stream the content to range of channels and devices

  4. Integrated into the rest of the suite, better to support wholistic business activities and processes

The results look a bit like this:

Surely, that's not everything?

There is a 3rd group. These are the misfits, and also-rans. The ones identified with the highest risk when assessed:

But you'll notice that several are still assessed as worth enabling early for general adoption. That's because Microsoft is showing significant continued investment - or because they offer a significant value.

The rest? What about random left-field, new ones like:

  • Microsoft Search (nee Bing for Business Search)

  • Kaizala (look it up)

  • Whiteboard

  • ..

Assess them for yourselves. Use our spot-check test, and you decide which are worth the risk and which not.

Which services do I enable at the start?

Well here's the rub, while the Core services are most definitely mainstream and (largely) robust, not all will be appropriate for every organisation. There's a lot dependent on your organizations' inherent IT savvy and support, as well as internal need.

Just remember the turn-on order starts with network, your device and identity for a reason - but then EVERYTHING ELSE expects an Exchange Online inbox to be available in order to get full functionality.

While you can do email later, it's just too flippin' messy and painful remediating it after you are arm-pit deep in documents, projects, intranets and other stuff in Office 365. Be sensible. Do email first.

The rest comes down to knowing some very basic things about Microsoft: they want you to turn on as much as possible at the start - that way you likely to keep paying the subscription; second Office becomes really useful if you lnk your storage to your document creation tools so...

  1. If you deploy Outlook, or Office Pro apps they all Save-as to OneDrive (even if you cripple the setup, the icon is still there);

  2. With Office apps you want the Save-as to include a SharePoint location, so you can find it and share/collaborate on your documents

  3. Identity is fundamental, and people's profile is tightly bound - so Delve is there and has to be confronted straight away. Its your staff directory.

  4. If you are going to use OneDrive and /or SharePoint (same thing really) you will need to plan for using PowerApps and Flow. They are present, integrated and visible everywhere - even if you don't enable them for access

everything else is case-by-case.

Still struggling? Give us a call, we can help you sort out the best approach, and not let you got lost in Office 365 tide.

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