6.5 min to readDigital WorkplacePublisher Advisory Services

Microsoft 365 is prevalent - But is it reaching its full potential?

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Jeanette PrinceSenior Consultant, Microsoft Advisory Services
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Microsoft 365 is being regarded as a key part of the evolving business environment, no matter the size or sector of an organization. This simple, integrated solution gives users access to a wide range of business-critical software, including Office 365, Enterprise Mobility + Security, and Windows 10.

Consequently, adoption rates for Microsoft 365 are soaring. In a recent survey conducted on behalf of SoftwareOne, 88 percent of respondents claimed that they have fully deployed Microsoft 365 within their organization. However, “fully deploying” technology can be a bit subjective – and it certainly doesn’t mean that the organization has completely adopted the technology into their daily processes.

Ensuring adoption across the organization is a surefire way to help your Microsoft 365 deployment reach its fullest potential, and assist in your ongoing digital transformation initiatives. With that being said, encouraging the widespread adoption and utilizations of all the features contained in Microsoft 365 isn’t simple. Let’s take a look at a few challenges that organizations experience when adopting Microsoft 365, and uncover the best strategies to encourage its ongoing use.

Common challenges when adopting Microsoft 365

Making the most of your cloud deployments will become increasingly important as workforces become more geographically dispersed. This is especially true for Microsoft 365, which rolls in a range of collaborative, flexible, and mobile features that break down physical barriers between workforces. This makes it clear – Microsoft 365 is necessary to future-proof your organization.

However, making the most of your Microsoft 365 deployment isn’t necessarily straightforward. There are several key challenges that organizations must overcome in order to fully enjoy the benefits of Microsoft 365. A recent survey of senior IT decision makers uncovered the following challenges:

  • 44 percent of respondents found it difficult to integrate Microsoft 365 with their existing infrastructure.
  • 34 percent of respondents were limited by budgetary issues.
  • 22 percent struggled with poor adoption among employees.
  • Across the board, many reported that several individual applications were being underused.

These challenges are a primary reason that 79 percent of organizations partner with third-party Microsoft experts when adopting or implementing Microsoft 365. With how much organizations spend on their initial Microsoft 365 deployment, this is a wise investment. It’s always worth digging deeper and finding new ways to use the service to its fullest – whether that’s continuously learning how to effectively use the product, or onboarding new users to encourage adoption.

Tips to drive Microsoft 365 adoption

The crux of a successful Microsoft 365 adoption plan is a person-centric approach. This means getting employee buy-in by any means necessary. In any technology rollout, the Pareto Principle would broadly estimate that 20 percent of success is driven by the actual technology, while 80 percent is driven by how people use the technology. This means that everyone that will interact with Microsoft 365 products needs to be told exactly how these products can improve their day-to-day work, and emphasize how exciting it is.

However, generating enthusiasm among employees is easier said than done. Thankfully, there is a simple four step process that organizations can follow to help them drive adoption in a person-centric manner. Let’s break down each step:

Step one: Plan your rollout

The first step is to plan your rollout, and determine which areas will need additional support. Keep in mind that adoption is a top-down process – if executives are snubbing Microsoft 365, the rest of the organization won’t take it seriously either. Next, assign Ambassadors across your organization. These ambassadors should dedicate time every week to find new ways to use Microsoft 365 in your organization, so they are a wealth of knowledge for their peers to lean on.

Before launching the program, make sure that you’ve created a format for user interviews, and scenarios for users to practice their Microsoft 365 know-how. This will help you understand how users are using the applications, and where they need further training.

Step two: Generate awareness

Once the product is ready to be deployed, it’s time to begin officially educating ambassadors, and building excitement among the organization as a whole. Go over the different functionalities of Microsoft 365, and explain exactly how Microsoft 365 will benefit workers within your organization. If you have many employees who seem set in their ways, it may be worthwhile to invest in Change Enablement, which will help users accept that change not only necessary, but good.

Step three: Teach and empower users

After building interest in Microsoft 365 and rolling the new services out, your workforce should be educated about best practices. It’s best to leverage a combination of formal training, and more informal interaction between users and internal Microsoft 365 ambassadors. Using internal employees as a point of contact will ensure that your employees are learning the most efficient way to use this technology within the context of your organization. Not only that, but these internal agents should be vigilant to ensure no employees are backsliding into old, outdated methods.

After the solution has been deployed, have your IT team and ambassadors test the solution on a regular basis. Since Microsoft 365 includes constant feature updates, sometimes the best practices for these applications can change on a week-by-week basis. Consequently, it’s important to ensure that employees are always given new tips and tricks to make the most out of Microsoft 365.

Step four: Encourage readiness and promotion

Optimizing your Microsoft 365 deployment never has a clear end. On one side, Microsoft 365 features many applications that constantly change, requiring organizations to re-examine their approach on a regular basis. On the other side, employees aren’t always going to adhere to best practices. To make the most of their deployment, organizations need to continuously promote the benefits of Microsoft 365 and provide ongoing educational and learning materials to ensure that employees are as knowledgeable as possible.

Final thoughts

Every organization should strive to make the most of their Microsoft 365 deployment. However, the process isn’t easy. It’s important to ensure that users are properly trained on how to make the most out of the product, and can rely on proper guidance from individuals within the organization.

Due to the time, money, and labor power invested in simply acquiring and deploying Microsoft 365, it’s important that organizations always dig deeper and look for new opportunities to drive adoption. With the right strategy, organizations can educate users and ensure they are able to realize the full potential of Microsoft 365.


A silhouette of a woman on a white background.

Jeanette Prince
Senior Consultant, Microsoft Advisory Services

Microsoft, Microsoft 365, User Productivity, Publisher Advisory