10 min to readDigital WorkplacePublisher Advisory Services

Adopt 365: How to train your Microsoft 365 user champions

SoftwareOne blog editorial team
Blog Editorial Team
A group of people sitting at a table in an office.

In part one of this Adopt 365 series, we covered the “Envision” piece of the Microsoft Adoption Framework. Now that you have learned how to envision a plan, assemble your team, define your business strategy, and determine the overall readiness of your organization to adopt Microsoft 365, you should be ready to learn about the next step: Onboarding.

For this second part of our series, we teach you how to work with key stakeholders to build and launch your adoption plan. The steps you take will entail preparing your environment, launching to early adopters, and adjusting your plan based on their feedback. Let’s get into how you can train your Microsoft 365 user champions.

Prepare your environment

Successful onboarding begins with making sure your environment is technically ready for deployment. Technical issues are the most frustrating from an end user perspective, as they are typically out of the user’s control. This is why it is crucial to test your software before deployment and take note of how it affects your environment before you bring in your champions.

Pay attention to IT’s performance and any immediate changes you see from testing. Try to identify any disruptions in the way employees work, as well. When you learn more about how people connect to their working environment - such as what software they use and which devices they use it on - you will learn more about who will use M365 and how in the future. The idea is to gather the information you need to put policies and procedures in place that you may not have had before.

Your service desk’s readiness to take on an adoption of this caliber is the most important aspect of this step. The amount of support calls and tickets that come through will surely rise, and your team has to be prepared. By including these team members in all pre-launch plans, you’ll be able to familiarize them with the process and help them learn what to expect.

End user engagement is key

The next step in this process is to work on engaging your end users. You have to get the word out about this adoption, and you have to do it often. Deploy a variety of tactics, including ones you may have tried before, such as posts to internal social channels and distribution groups. Remember to keep an eye out during this time for those who are enthusiastic about the adoption and ready to make the change. These are the members of your organization who would be great candidates for becoming a user champion.

Alternatively, look to tactics you may have not tried before such as holding special engagement events. Remember the leadership support we talked about in our first phase? Bring those same leaders in to help get end users familiar with kick-off launch. Place demo booths around the office and meeting spaces, host online events, incorporate impactful success stories, or even keep it old school and pass out some flyers.

Another way to communicate the business value of this adoption is through scenarios. By identifying and prioritizing scenarios and then planning and executing them, you will be able to measure and share the program’s success. That’s how you will be able to report - and build on - wins.

Ultimately, if you design your engagement strategy around the question “What’s in it for me?”, you will be able to stay attuned to your organization’s needs. After all, that’s exactly what your employees are going to be asking. If you communicate this change as a big deal to the success of your organization, they will really believe that M365 will have a major impact on them and their team. By holding frequent training events and having a variety of on-demand training resources, this adoption will be much more likely to stick.

Considering training best practices

When you are piecing together your training program, consider the current productivity tools you are already running at your organization. If your users are currently using an older edition such as Office 2010, there may need to be more time spent on training to bring them up to speed. Look back to how your previous adoption went with that productivity system and use it to inform your new strategy. Remember, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel here, use what works.

Second, gain a good understanding of the technical saviness of your users. Some may be more ready to pick up a new system than others, so make sure you’re able to identify who needs the additional support. Also, so as to not confuse employees, stay aware of the other change programs that are taking place. You will want to make sure your launch is viewed completely separate from anything else occurring at the organization.

Finally, get feedback. By continuously learning from your teams, you’ll know how they prefer to train. Whether you move forward with more in-person training, or employees express their preference for online tutorials, do what works best to keep everything on track.

Identify your champions & adjust your Microsoft 365 adoption plan

To get a better view of what works about your plan and what does not, design your training strategy to scale with your launch. To begin, start with your Microsoft 365 champions and sponsors. Your Microsoft 365 champions can come from all over the organization. They should be enthusiastic and knowledgeable, but they are by no means expected to be M365 experts. Champions should be visible throughout the process, so they can be the first people you contact to get feedback. This core team will help keep your organization stay engaged, excited, and inspired.

Next, you’ll want to focus on IT preparation. Hold an administration course for IT resources and ensure your team receives formal accreditation. This will boost your IT department’s confidence in both themselves and the launch.

After your IT team has gotten comfortable, create business groups to begin auditorium training, online and/or on-demand training, and brown bag sessions. Whether your employees are in-office or working from home, you will want to make sure all employees are continuously engaged. By consistently providing the organization with tips and tricks or lunch-and-learn sessions, this launch can stay top of mind. Remember to incorporate your Champions here, as well. They will essentially be your ongoing voice from within the organization.

Build your Early Adopter Program

Now that you’ve learned about best practices, how to train and engage end users, and how to adjust your plan, you have the knowledge needed to begin building your Early Adopter Program. An Early Adopter Program will help provide your organization with the insights needed to launch a truly successful M365 adoption. This program is essentially a test run, which means you will identify pitfalls and collect feedback that is crucial to the success of your full launch.

By testing with your early adopters, you will have the opportunity to adjust your messaging, training, and support as you move forward. And those user champions we talked about identifying? Consider your early adopters. They will make excellent candidates for user champions, as they will have gotten to test drive M365 before everyone else and can help lead the process.

And if you’re in need of support, don’t hesitate to reach out. Here at SoftwareOne, we know the importance of a strong onboarding process. Our 365Simple solution was designed to accelerate the adoption process so your organization can sooner begin realizing the full benefits of Microsoft 365.


SoftwareOne blog editorial team

Blog Editorial Team

We analyse the latest IT trends and industry-relevant innovations to keep you up-to-date with the latest technology.