Microsoft 365 Adoption Blockers

Have you stopped to think about it?

What do you think is actually hindering greater adoption of Microsoft 365 across your organisation?

No doubt your answer will be to do with the people, or technical issues.

Like with many projects, when implementing Office 365 during the early stages we would review impact across people, process and technology. So it makes sense after time in the Microsoft ecosystem to review these areas to consider what is blocking further uptake and inhibiting greater success.

Across organisations I feel there are a number of factors reducing adoption of Microsoft 365 — the apps, specific features or even broader ways of working. Below are the areas where I feel there can be obstacles to success.


The area of governance can have quite a polarizing impact, in that it can be too little or tight control.

Many organisations have moved through years of using Microsoft 365 and over time increased apps and services enabled for staff without pausing to either establish or review governance detail. 
Too little thought or detail in governance can result in a headache for users with no clear direction. This creates variation and inconsistent use within groups or across broader departments and constantly raises questions on what to use, where to store and how to collaborate. Lack of control means anyone can create things like Groups or Teams which can become messy.

If governance is too tight and controlling this can create pain for users, particularly if it’s an afterthought and locked down later — taking away what they once had is a tough pill to swallow. Tightening up control and disabling features creates an obstruction for the user who will find a way around it. Users are like water filling a space — they find a way, use leaks out and most likely with shadow IT.

If in the early planning there is analysis of organisation needs, user groups or applications, then the setup and configuration should be ideal for the way of working across roles and departments. Too little governance means this analysis is not completed and the requirements cannot be fit for purpose which impacts adoption greatly.

Some examples here are if an organisation feels external sharing is a risk and locks it down. Then users struggle to collaborate with external stakeholders. 
 Another challenge I see often is in Microsoft Teams when IT make a decision to restrict Team creation, which also restricts the creation of other services such as Office 365 Groups connected to SharePoint, Yammer, Stream etc. Lock it down if need be, but communicate reasons and have a clear process for requesting Team creation. Clear information and process to help people understand reasons, rules and configuration helps build understanding and reduces resistance.

The setup and configuration across Office 365 can hinder processes, frustrate people and fuel resistance. It is a key driver in the adoption journey.


Ever tried new technology and experienced initial frustration and given up?

Remember Office 365 isn’t just a set of tools we learn to complete a process. It’s not technology you learn, use repeatedly and then instinctively use.

With Office 365 enablement projects comes opportunity for transformation and innovation. This technology can be something people try and pickup quickly, driving further enthusiasm to learn more. If a feature is pushed at them through training, comm’s or IT and it’s not of value for their role that experience can negatively impact their desire and uptake of the next new thing. 
I think this is possible with the buzz around Private Channels in Microsoft Teams. It’s a great feature but too much hype may result in it being pushed too hard when it’s a small use case and not for every role or business area.

If something is too challenging they can give up and not persist further to change. I see this so often with people not bothering to increase their learning and really understand how to apply rules to links for sharing documents. I am still amazed at how little people learnt about OneDrive when they have been using it for years, but then remind myself how foreign the concepts were a few years back.

The other aspect of features is all the things people don’t know about. Many people adopt major features across the platform that they see or learn in the early stages, then future enhancements are simply not communicated and ongoing learning halts. It’s possible many features remain unknown and unused such as those in Microsoft Teams that are commonly unknown in my previous blog.

Features can be under your nose that you are completely unaware of and some, if you find them, can excite and impact you in a way that gets you curious and energised to adopt more and more.


When I suggest people impact greater adoption across office 365 you are no doubt thinking of stubborn, resistant end-users.

But it doesn’t solely sit there.

It can start with decision makers. Yes this ties heavily into the governance area discussed above, or it could be leaders controlling spend, timeline or other decisions in a project. 
Stakeholders drive key decisions and are led by their beliefs, knowledge and expertise. Any gap in knowledge or expertise to begin with can drive poor decisions. Any negative beliefs from previous experience with Microsoft 365 or learning from peers or previous jobs will also impact decisions and attitude, and this then reduces adoption for themselves or colleagues.

Something I have experienced multiple times this year is when a business leader pushes their own beliefs on what is best for Microsoft Teams forcing a roadmap that is meetings first, then everything enabled later rather than a phased approach. This is often without any alignment to a file migration strategy.

Companies that focus with blinkers on, such as last week one said to me “we are moving File Shares to SharePoint sites next year, when that is done we will think about giving areas of the business Microsoft Teams”. I personally think that decision maker should consider how both Teams and SharePoint fit in the organisation rather than each in a silo.

Other opinions that I have experienced multiple times by a decision maker are:

  • The cloud is less secure than servers
  • Technology can change without culture change — thinking a product is the fix.
  • Staff need a single training session and then go back to their role and use the technology without considering the use cases or value of the application and how it varies across different areas of the business.

The other way people greatly impact adoption of Microsoft 365 is their resistance to trying the new technology, their lack of enthusiasm to experience something different, and their attitude to changing how they work. I don’t think I need to dwell here as we all know how difficult a negative end-user can be. We just have to keep going and hope one day they find a win and it drives a change in attitude… even just a little.


There are so many ways training can reduce uptake of Microsoft 365 apps and features.

Firstly, the person leading the training can be inexperienced or simply boring. Lack of engagement in a session reduces how that new behaviour can stick. The session content can be too generic and also not targeted at the right skill set of a group of people. I have seen people lost and left behind in a session I have watched with a trainer unaware the group are disengaged. A powerful trainer and great session can make or break success.

The training content can be an issue — low quality, long winded or lacking visual detail. Who wants to read long word documents when a snippet video can drive home how to do a task. I am sure many sites of file libraries have content that is out of date because of the ongoing enhancements in Microsoft 365.

Only being trained once is a common mistake. Many organisations enable apps or services, run some sessions and then close a project. People leave a session with a chunk of information absorbed. I cannot say it enough — allow them to try, fail, try, try again and drip feed information to help them build the new skills.

My other concern is the growing trend for self-learning. Organisations have LinkedIn Learning, Microsoft 365 Learning Pathways or things like QuickHelp. The content in these is all great, however many people don’t log in. Or they do login once, setup the account and barely anything more. 
I have been pulled into an organisation after a program report low adoption and when we look at the metrics people didn’t watch the learning content. It must be coupled with strong campaigns and community support to drive the conversations and push people to ‘do the thing’.

My key advice here is to put the work and budget into the quality of content and trainer along with a strategy for continual learning and communication. There is great free content out there but it is generic. Ensure you supplement a tailored campaign or snippet content for your organisations way of working. Give people support ongoing to help reinforce concepts and work with them to drive confidence to have ongoing increase in adoption and really get value from the suite.

This is no way an exhaustive list of the things that can impact adoption but it’s the main areas I see across organisations trying to implement a more modern workplace.

It’s a balancing act across many factors, or a union of areas that need to work in harmony to all drive combined success.

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