My “Hit Refresh” Moment

Have you read “Hit Refresh” by Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s CEO?  As a Microsoft MVP, I received a complimentary copy of the eBook and dutifully read it.  In it, he lays out his vision for Microsoft and talks about how he and his team are changing the culture at Microsoft.  He also lays out his views on the coming wave of AI innovations and some of the challenges that the industry and society face.

 Microsoft MVPs have been asked to share their own “Hit Refresh” moments.  In a web browser, when you hit refresh on a web page, some things change and others don’t.  Taking that as a metaphor, a “Hit Refresh” moment is a moment you’ve decided to change some things in your life, but keep others the same.

My professional “Hit Refresh” moment was earlier this year, when I left a 20-year career in IT consulting to become an employee in a company’s IT department. The “part of the page that didn’t change” was my focus on Microsoft technologies (ever since 1995), which since 2003 has been SharePoint specifically and since 2014 has been the broader portfolio of collaboration and teamwork tools within Office 365.

I’m now in a role where I manage my employer’s Office 365 tenant and drive adoption the Office 365 applications.  I’m the product owner and service manager for Office 365 and it’s my job to ensure that my employer is getting value out of their Office 365 subscription. It’s a job that didn’t exist five years ago.  Five years ago (2012), I was creating custom intranet solutions using SharePoint Server 2010 on premise, in a “SharePoint Architect” role (a mix of SharePoint developer and SharePoint IT pro skills). After that, I completed one final SharePoint 2013 development project on a team of about a dozen people. Next, I took the lead on a project to build a data warehouse in Azure. From that point on, I stopped working almost entirely with SharePoint On Premise and entered the larger world of collaboration and communication applications in Office 365. 

What I found in Office 365 reinforced what I’d seen with SharePoint on premise: custom development is the option of last resort.  It’s the most expensive, technically complex, and time-consuming way to get the platform to meet your needs.  So much business value can be created by configuring the out of the box capabilities to match the needs of the business users.  In order to achieve that though, the end users need to be aware of the tools available and needs help setting them up and understanding how to use them. My role moved from a mix of Developer and IT Pro to a combination of IT Pro, Business Analyst, and Trainer.  

User adoption and service management is part of a company’s ongoing operations, not a one-time project.  In the first quarter of 2017, it became apparent to me that it was time to leave the world of consulting and become an employee in an IT department. I felt that only in an IT department could I have the opportunity to drive adoption of Office 365, and do for my employer what I had been talking to so many clients about.  It was a risk. It was different. It wasn’t consulting. I would no longer directly be generating revenue for my employer. On the other hand, I had the opportunity to make sure Office 365 was “done right”: that it was governed and that it produced business value for my employer. It was a “green field” opportunity.  I would no longer be slave to my utilization metric, the portion of my work week that was hours billable to a client. I “Hit Refresh” and became a member of staff in an IT department at a company with thousands of users, very few of which were using Office 365.

I’m very happy that I made the change. Some of my key initial accomplishments include:

  • Selecting a backup solution for our Office 365 tenant
  • Purchasing an email campaign management tool so we can do measurable email campaigns to our users
    • We share the tool with Corporate Communications so they get the same benefits for their email campaigns.
  • Getting two teams to use Microsoft Teams
  • Teaching the help desk how to better handle common types of SharePoint and Office 365 requests
  • Working with our head of training to establish training and communication plans and content for training both IT staff and end users on Office 365.
  • Creating an Office 365 governance team and putting a governance process in place. 

 We are now well positioned to drive awareness and adoption of OneDrive, Microsoft Teams, and SharePoint Online. I’m excited about that.

 In Chicago on November 18, 2017? I hope to see you at SharePoint Saturday Chicago.

 This post is part of the collection of #HitRefresh moments. Read more at What’s your “Hit Refresh” moment?