Expedited Implementation of O365 & Teams in Response to Unprecedented Change

As organisations attempt to maintain a level of productivity as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, working from home is the new reality for many businesses. Microsoft Office 365 (O365) provides users with access to Microsoft’s Pro Plus suite of apps (including the traditional Office Suite, Outlook, OneDrive, Teams, SharePoint Online, alongside apps such as Stream, Yammer and Forms).

A recognised leader in the collaboration space, O365 allows organisations to leverage benefits in collaborative working, document storage and control, information security and data leakage prevention. As organisations around the world work-out how to stay productive in these unusual circumstances, O365 has provided the necessary support to facilitate the ‘New Norm’ working practises; Teams, has become Microsoft’s fastest growing business application, with an estimated 75 million daily active users in April 2020 (Microsoft, 2020). The emergency has given rise to unprecedented demand, with usage skyrocketing 134% from the mid-March figure of 32 million daily active users (Microsoft, 2020).

Launched worldwide in March 2017, Teams is the hub for team collaboration which integrates the people, content and tools an organisation needs to be more engaged and effective. Instant messenger, voice and video call functionality allows Teams to compete with the likes of Skype, Slack and Zoom. Microsoft published figures demonstrating the exponential increase in time spent in Teams meetings per day over the month of March 2020, clearly demonstrate the reliance that many organisations have placed upon the application’s meeting functionality to continue operating whilst working remotely.

Not only has Meeting and Call functionality come to the fore during the pandemic, Teams’ additional capabilities have been invaluable: collaborating on shared deliverables; editing documents simultaneously with colleagues in real-time; cloud file storage and application integration – all of these features have cemented Teams’ position as the go-to collaboration tool.

TORI has engaged with a leading global financial services organisation since February 2020 to support the implementation of O365, as part of a wider data migration programme for its 4,000 strong UK user base. Little did the TORI project team realise, back in February, that this project would be supporting the implementation of an application which, in the coming months, would be heavily relied upon by the entire office-based working population!

The extended period of working from home imposed by the nationwide lockdown, expedited the roll-out of Teams several months ahead of the original programme plan. Whilst the incumbent communications solutions could have coped with the increased traffic that the remote working environment placed upon it; a strategic decision was made to accelerate the switch to TEAMS due to its increased collaboration functionality, driving greater operational efficiency and reducing costs by standardising meeting solutions.

Our implementation team were required to promptly respond and support this top-level decision, adapting our approach, plans and resourcing model to accommodate the shift in direction. Whilst on the surface this may have appeared as a simple move to Teams for meeting and calling purposes, it actually represented a significant cultural shift to a new way of working which therefore required extensive training and adoption initiatives to prepare, equip and support the end users navigating this change.

The development of a Champions network was always a key component of the Migration Playbook. However, the criticality of this network grew tenfold to accommodate the rapid dissemination of training resources and knowledge across and down all levels of the organisation. A ‘Train the Trainer’ approach was adopted, leveraging customer journey mapping and persona-led stakeholder analysis to better understand the different types of users amongst the organisations’ population.

This insight allowed training resources to be tailored specifically to department requirements, aiding the adoption of the tool and its prospective usage. These tailored materials were made accessible to all Champions from the same central repository, ensuring consistent messaging was employed across the organisation. The Champions community was allocated to relevant training sessions, which were both interactive and collaborative in nature, providing real-time demonstrations of the tools and their functionality.

The programme team embraced the ‘practice what we preach’ mantra, recognising that the champions’ adoption of Teams was vital to their success as O365 Ambassadors. Therefore, at every stage of champion engagement, Teams was the tool employed. Furthermore, a specific O365 Champions Teams site was created as a platform for communicating. This engendered both a community ethos and a virtual meeting place where champions could go for resources, updates and guidance from not only the project team, but other champions too.

In addition, private channels were spun-up so that messages and resources could be tailored to the specific requirements and needs of different lines of business. The power of ‘on the job’ training proved indispensable as it has allowed the champions to test-drive O365 features and become more comfortable with the solution in a ‘sandbox’ environment, reaching out to the forum if they have any questions or concerns.

The TORI team are currently analysing Teams adoption rates, with positive uptake whilst the existing solution is still available alongside. The full switch to Teams as the all-round collaboration tool is imminent, a move which we believe through the approach we have taken will be successful.