7.5 min to readDigital Workplace

Customer Roundtable: embracing new ways of working

Paul WooldridgePractice Lead – Future Workplace

There is no doubt that change surrounded us in every facet of our lives over the last year. For organizations around the world, changes may have been made much more quickly than originally anticipated. We saw a dramatic shift to remote work, and many organizations rapidly rolled out Microsoft 365 to enable their employees to work collaboratively from afar. Now that teams everywhere have settled into their new normal, we wanted to reflect on how Adoption Change Management (ACM) has gone for a few SoftwareOne customers, and where they believe their journeys are headed.

Paul Wooldridge, SoftwareOne UK’s Future Workplace Practice Lead, sat down with customers from the Leeds City Council, City of Lincoln Council, and Almac to share their learnings and experiences with driving new technology adoption in their respective organizations. Let’s recap some of the top insights from SoftwareOne’s Adoption & Change Management Customer Roundtable and the key takeaways we learned.

The challenges that spark ACM

Maybe it happened before the pandemic for your organization, or maybe just as it was breaking, but everyone can pinpoint a time when they knew a change was needed. For Fraser Trickett, an Organization Change Lead at City of Lincoln, it was obvious that a strong ACM strategy needed to be put in place. “Giving everybody a laptop with Microsoft 365 on it was not going to be the best approach,” he said. “So we liked the idea of ACM.” Fraser Trickett said what was most important to his ACM strategy was truly working alongside people to understand their work styles and needs. By nailing down the personas of the organization, he was able to find the best path forward.

All the panelists agreed that while there are many employees ready to dive in, it tends to be a shock to the system for long-serving team members who are more set in their ways. That’s why, as Fraser Trickett pointed out, good ACM is so successful in getting the job done. Instead of end-users turning to a traditional help desk, they can ask their questions to a familiar face without hesitation.

Giving everybody a laptop with Microsoft 365 on it was not going to be the best approach, so we liked the idea of ACM.

Fraser Trickett

Organization Change Lead at City of Lincoln

For Jonathan Graham, Senior Configuration | SQA Engineer at pharmaceuticals company Almac, Shadow IT was of particular concern at the start of his ACM journey. “When I look back at how this journey started, we were seeing one of our business units was starting to take a liking to Slack.” The combination of needing to reduce the risks of Shadow IT and enhance communication posed a unique challenge for Almac: how could they transition their teams over to Microsoft 365 when they are attached to a similar platform like Slack? That’s precisely why an ACM team was needed. It was the piece of the puzzle that brought people and technology together. “The change was about driving the adoption and improving user productivity, and not simply passing the technology over to them,” Jonathan Graham explained.

And as Joe Morley - a Modern Workplace Pre-Sales Consultant for our UK team - pointed out, change seems impossibly hard when it comes to work. “IT departments are seen as the bastions of deploying and maintaining technology, but not the ones to actually go talk to the individuals in the business and understand their needs and requirements.” You have to reach out to users and see what would get them to change. And as Morley explains further, 67 percent of technology changes are driven by IT, and unfortunately, they often fail. When the change rollout comes from the people within, that’s when you will experience a successful project.

The change was about driving the adoption and improving user productivity, and not simply passing the technology over to them.

Jonathan Graham

Senior Configuration, SQA Engineer at Almac

The importance of business buy-in

Another critical factor discussed during the roundtable was the importance of senior leadership buy-in. When rolling out an ACM strategy, you must have the support of top-level leadership. Your senior leaders have to be passionate about helping to drive this change. After all, you are essentially sending out laptops and making your workforce mobile, and they should know exactly why this has to be done with a plan in place.

David Collier, the Senior Project Manager | Microsoft 365 Staff Adoption at Leeds City Council, said the key for his organization was that the process remained focused on technology. While the organization had previously focused on the technology only, they realized that adoption was as much about meeting the requirements of the business and employees and providing them with the understanding of how it could help improve their daily work as well. Delivering a technology that best fit the needs of the business was the most important bit. Second, the support of an executive sponsor who was ready to serve as a role model for the initiative was also a pivotal component of his strategy. When the senior leadership team communicates their excitement about this change, the strategy will move forward.

Why you should measure productivity

As you work through implementation, you must measure productivity. As David Collier explained, it’s a great way to find out if your strategy is working. “I would be taking a look at the productivity scoreboard and making sure that those things are in place and also looking at the adoption dashboard to see if there’s a reduction in emails or an increase in sharing.” By also employing the use of focus groups, David Collier was mindful not to push the technology too hard and to truly listen to employees. It’s important to see if your strategy is a success through measurements and always listen to the feedback you are receiving through end-users.

Measuring productivity is important because it allows you to look at each department individually and see what’s working and what isn’t. If one unit is using Teams much more than the others, what is the reason? Look into what worked for these end-users to find new tactics to refine your methods. As Jonathan Graham mentioned, ACM should feel less about the IT department alone and more about a collaboration, and that’ll be the difference.

In terms of change management, one of the most beneficial features of Microsoft 365 is the analytics tool. And while taking note of productivity is a huge plus, you must also measure for the simple fact that your leadership is going to want to understand the cost of ACM. “The measurement of productivity is personal and intimate to the business,” said Joe Morley. “Per department, everyone has their own story.” Through analytics, you can start to piece together what your ACM story is and shape out what will happen next.

Accessibility features in Microsoft 365:


Training & finding your user champions

Finally, all panelists could agree that understanding how training works and managing champions are both strong factors in successful adoption. As Fraser Trickett noted, champions are “people that readily show the aptitude for change.” When you first announce this change, it becomes relatively easy to recognize the people in the room who will click with the technology right away. These people will become your champions, and you can ask them to join the ACM team to help others who are more hesitant to change.

Here at SoftwareOne, we encourage our customers to repeat, repeat, repeat the process until they have an outcome everyone is happy with. While it may seem tedious, this is how you will be able to truly fine-tune your strategy and work out all the kinks. Keep talking to your end-users, continue to measure productivity, and make sure your champions are ready to help you every step of the way.

Final thoughts

As our customers have pointed out, rolling out an ACM strategy is no small feat. Whether you are struggling to change the minds of long-serving employees or faltering with receiving business buy-in, you’re not alone. Every organization is undergoing some sort of change and there is something to be learned from everyone’s experiences. And if there’s one thing we learned from this roundtable, it’s that when you focus on the people, you can bring about effective change that will make a lasting impact.


Encourage adoption of digitally inclusive practices across your organization

Watch our recorded "Accessibility & Digital Inclusion Virtual Summit" to learn how to help employees with disabilities prosper through technological and organizational change.

Encourage adoption of digitally inclusive practices across your organization

Watch our recorded "Accessibility & Digital Inclusion Virtual Summit" to learn how to help employees with disabilities prosper through technological and organizational change.


Paul Wooldridge
Practice Lead – Future Workplace