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4 steps to drive Microsoft Office 365 adoption in your organization

Office 365 includes many useful features for workers, but can be overwhelming. Here are tips on how to get the most from the suite.

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Microsoft Office 365 offers a host of productivity apps and tools, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and OneDrive. However, many employees get overwhelmed by all of the suite's features, and IT leaders must step up to drive Office 365 adoption across their enterprises.

In a session at Microsoft Ignite on Wednesday in Orlando, Nuno Árias Silva, manager of GFI, walked IT professionals through several tips to drive adoption of Office 365 and improve workers' productivity within the suite.

"How you use best practice adoption is crucial for a successful use of Office 365," Árias Silva said.

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Here are four steps to drive Office 365 adoption, according to Árias Silva:

1. Set a vision, and identify business scenarios

"You need to show people what's in it for them," Árias Silva said. "If people understand how it's going to help them, they will be more motivated to use it." This means clearly communicating goals and milestones, and tailoring your language to target your specific audience.

2. Prioritize solutions and create an adoption plan

You can move adoption plans at the pace of each set of users, Árias Silva said. Identify where they are and where they need to go, and then offer an on ramp to Office 365 with products they are already familiar with. For example, If an employee is using on-premises email and manages their own servers with legacy functionality, but need to move to better functionality and compliance and controls, you can transition them to Office 365 using Exchange Online, Árias Silva said.

3. Commit resources and execute an adoption plan

To maximize adoptions, you need to employ a variety of tactics, including communications, engagement events, and training, Árias Silva said. "If you don't do any of those, the people don't adopt Office 365," he added. "If you have even just a little training, it will push them to adopt and learn more."

4. Measure, share success, and iterate

"We have to involve the people in the organization in this project," Árias Silva said. "If the people are involved, they will give you more feedback on how it could be a better tool."

IT leaders must also plan activities to drive adoption from pilot to post-launch, Árias Silva said. You can use the SMART mnemonic to guide your definition of success:

Specific: Clear and unambiguous, answers the questions "What, why, who, where?"

Measureable: Concrete, clearly demonstrates progress

Attainable: Realistic, not extreme

Relevant: Matters to stakeholders

Timely: Grounded to a specific target date, answers the question "When?"

Deliver simple, targeted, and engaging training, and leverage early adopters who are enthusiastic about the suite, Árias Silva said. "If you give people a big memo, many won't read it," he added. "You have to be direct with your messaging, in just a few sentences."

Image: Josh Miller/CNET

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