What I do – March 2022 edition

I do a job that didn’t exist just a few years ago. It’s a service management and user adoption role focused on Office 365. Office 365 itself has only been around since 2011, and this role is newer than that.  So what is service management and what is user adoption? What’s it got to do with creating a digital workplace?

Service management of Office 365 is managing the Office 365 service. Admittedly, that’s nearly a circular reference, but I think the rephrasing is the first step in breaking down what is involved in managing Office 365.  For me, managing Office 365 means being responsible for my employer getting value from their Office 365 subscription and its collaboration capabilities. That means:

  1. Staying on top of service changes and assessing their impact.  At my current and two previous employers, I implemented a weekly process to review service changes. I wrote a blog post about one of my early implementations of this process, but the process and tools have matured since then.
  2. Advocating to Microsoft for product changes that both benefit my employer and reflect the common needs of other large enterprise customers.
  3. Overseeing the support function for SharePoint, Yammer, OneDrive, and the Office Desktop apps.
  4. Managing a small team that is responsible for OneDrive, SharePoint, Yammer, and highly controlled deployments of Microsoft Office desktop apps,
  5. Partnering with peers who oversee the management of Teams, Exchange, Planner, To-Do, and AAD.

In addition to weekly reviews of service change announcements, as an MVP, I have the privilege of attending monthly private training and feedback calls hosted by the Office 365 product teams at Microsoft. Additionally, annually Microsoft hosts the MVP Summit, which is another opportunity for me to meet the people that make Office 365, understand their design intentions and provide feedback.

I attend and sometimes speak at Microsoft Ignite. By speaking, I get to attend for free, and MVPs get a special pre-conference day all about upcoming product updates.It’s also another key opportunity to network with the people building Office 365.

I attend SharePoint Fest Chicago (now called EduCon 365) annually, often speaking and hosting a community-based event. such as a user group meeting featuring a discussion panel of conference speakers. In 2022, instead of a discussion panel, I ran a community booth at the conference.

I work with a small team to organize M365 Chicago. This is one of the key ways I give back to the Office 365/Microsoft 365 technical community.

Although service management is critically important, it is user adoption that provides the greatest value to the business. You need both to succeed: A well-managed service without adoption provides no business value. A well adopted but poorly managed service will lead to compliance and security risks and the user experiences degrading over time.

My approach to driving adoption involves working closely with a number of other roles across the organization, including the Organizational Change Management team, Messaging team, Identity Management team, our IT security team, corporate communications, and the corporate training department.  User adoption is about getting end users to use a larger subset of the tools that Office 365 provides because it will make their job better.  Most users don’t realize Office 365 is more than just Outlook, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, and that even those tools are being constantly improved. Furthermore, making people aware of the benefits of coauthoring is a key step forward. Part of driving adoption is raising awareness of the tools available. To raise awareness, my team puts together omni-channel communication campaigns which include email, flyers, posters, webinars, helpdesk readiness, and in-person training.

Once users are either aware of the tools available to them or aware of who to ask for help with productivity challenges, next is helping end users use those Office 365 tools which will improve their personal work day.  This improvement is usually by saving them and their team time or money. It’s about automating away drudgery so people can be more engaged, creative, and valuable.  By working with end users to improve their business processes, I save the company time and money and improve employee morale. 

I consider myself a “digital workplace innovator” because Office 365 is a fundamental technology of the modern workplace. Digitally transforming the modern workplace is about both replacing traditional paper processes with electronic ones as well as improving electronic processes that still have too much friction. One common symptom of inefficient electronic processes is when someone spends far too much of their day copying and pasting as part of critical business processes. There is  a lot Office 365 can offer to fix those. Per the book, “The Employee Experience Advantage” by Jacob Morgan, the employee experience is the sum of a company’s culture, technology, and physical environment.  Office 365 is a Technology, but collaboration behaviors that use that technology are cultural.

To see how what I do has evolved over the last few years, here is the previous version I wrote in 2018.