Most organisations are not getting true adoption and value of Office 365

I spend a lot of time working with end-users and driving change in the way they work in the Office 365 ecosystem.

Lately in particular I have been running many workshops and activities to understand embedded behaviour for organisations post enablement, and then drive further knowledge and advancement with the applications. Some of the work is to increase adoption for greater ROI, reviewing metrics in the tenant and focussing on the low use areas. Or the work is for organisations who enabled the services in the last couple of years and are either finding bad habits have led to user dissatisfaction, or remaining confusion has halted any further advancement.

The findings are surprisingly consistent. From Melbourne to Kentucky, Queensland to Hungary, or wherever I have travelled there are strong themes. I have collected some brief points in the below sections. To the Office 365 consultants out there I am sure this is not new information, however useful to reflect and take into your next engagement.

Information Management

I have engaged with many individuals and departments across organisations who are frustrated and confused around where to store or locate files, and they still lack confidence on the fundamentals of collaboration in Office 365.

Add that to then moving an organisation into Microsoft Teams and the users carry the underlying issues into this collaboration space. And combine that with lack of clear governance and it just becomes a mess. I have come across some unique ‘ways of working’ in Microsoft Teams. One group I met with recently were creating a new Team to discuss a customer issue, rather than just having a group Chat in Teams. 
People are creative, they find a way to do things, and when lacking knowledge will find odd ways and embed bad behaviours leading to stress and then a negative view of the services.

Foundation knowledge is still lacking across many users. It’s not possible to have a ‘go-live’, some one-off training and then dive into this new world grasping it all. Instead, they take on enough knowledge to ‘keep the lights on’ and move forward scraping by… pulling their hair out possibly for months.

Groups I have engaged with 6–12 months post enablement haven’t advanced from the basics they absorbed at the beginning and need help. 
Some people I have seen have the ability to sync and have offline access, which was kindly setup by IT during the project however not explained, so they have no idea of the Files on Demand icons or how to sync other libraries leading to errors and frustration. There is so much value alone in Files on Demand and using it well to work for an individual and it’s a shame so often its misunderstood.

Another key behaviour to change is to have users build the habit of moving documents, or posting/ sharing the right type of link, rather than uploading duplicates when sharing across Teams or Sites, or even externally. I feel like I could travel the world globally on a quest just to reduce duplicates, highlighting the many ways users create duplicates and educate and drive so much change in this area alone!

We need to work more on increasing end-user understanding of document sharing and storage to assist with more effective use of Teams, OneDrive or SharePoint. With this we can reduce using Outlook as a filing cabinet, kill the habit of duplicates, increase satisfaction and confidence and be more compliant with information shared both internally and externally.


While I understand we have relied on Outlook for many years, even decades, and some habits are deeply engrained, it’s time to move forward.

I will try hard not to rant and rave here but all I will say is that I have major frustration with ‘reply all’ emails. And they are so common.

Users rely on Outlook for so much of organisation wide communication and need to open their eyes to modern, more effective, communication techniques. You either ‘don’t know what you don’t know’ or are too stubborn to change. Either way, it’s a key area to drive change in that can really find quick wins and positivity.

My personal golden nugget I often drop into a showcase is the ability to forward an email into a Team Channel and continue a conversation there. People. Are. Blown. Away.

Just like posting links instead of duplicates. It’s not super complex but there is little knowledge out there. Which constantly surprises me.

Again, during enablement a focus is most likely on document storage, cloud libraries, syncing, co-authoring. Its complex stuff. So modernising communication is secondary however still deserves effort in awareness and education.

We need to increase knowledge in Microsoft Teams and Yammer as a place to share information, ask questions and actively collaborate with co-workers on projects. This will truly help drive the value of Office 365.

Personal Productivity

Personal Task Management and notetaking are like the poor cousins of ways of working and Office 365.

This is an area I workshop across organisations and find the most outdated behaviours.

For managing tasks, users rely paper lists, emailing themselves, or using their inbox to manage workload.

And of course for personal notes, trees are still dying daily so we can write hours in notebooks that most people don’t often reflect back on.

I get it, I know the psychology behind the pen, hand and process of writing and our brains. It’s just a shame to see us not advancing when technology has ways to help us adapt and be more effective.

I can say that every organisation I have engaged with this year alone has a general lack of OneNote and To-Do product awareness or knowledge as they are outside of “mainstream” collaboration and document storage tools. People are so excited by the features here but I do feel we are a long way from going paperless. It’s hard to change our ways but important to try.

We need to increase understanding of OneNote for personal work notes and content along with the ability to enable shared Team notes. The value of searching, tagging, sharing etc are too good to miss out on.

People should utilise OneNote and To-Do for more effective management of personal work. I haven’t yet seen one person try and then tell me “it wasn’t worth giving those a go”. Usually it’s the opposite energy.

So what should we do?

Remember, Office 365 is not set and forget, nor one size fits all.

During enablement the focus may be on removing servers and moving files to the cloud, migrating mailboxes and ensuring users can continue their work. As time goes on though, knowledge needs to step up.

Don’t rely on once-off training. People learn differently, they apply things differently and absorb it all at a different pace.

Give them the opportunity to try, fail, ask questions, try more and succeed in stages. To do so they need ongoing access to support and up-to-date content.

If you don’t invest in this process you will not see the true value of Office 365. People are already being left behind. Organisations are expecting people to be empowered to self-learn and it’s not having strong results.

How satisfied and savvy are your users?

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