By Allison Maguire, Principal, Engage for Change Consulting 

365Tribe has teamed up with Future of Work Strategist, Allison Maguire, to create a series of workshop programs to aid you in getting the most out of your Microsoft 365 investment. We connected with Allison (on MS Teams) to discuss why taking action now to safeguard your M365 investment is so critical. 

365Tribe: Remote working has been around for a long time, what makes our current situation so different? 

Allison Maguire: Well, the most obvious difference is, of course, COVID-19. The modern world of work has never experienced anything quite like this global pandemic. Organisations who had never seriously considered enabling staff to work from home were suddenly required to do so to survive. 

The good news is that many are seeing the light as far as the potential to not only maintain productivity but to see productivity gains as an effect of remote working. Of course, there are some hiccups. We know that making the move to remote or geographically distributed teams is not achieved by simply implementing a technology solution. I feel like I’ve been saying that for decades! 

The underlying needs and benefits of connecting teams who are not co-located are not all that different from connecting teams who share physical space in an office. We are all human, we want to feel a sense of investment and belonging in our work, make a positive contribution, and be valued for what we do. It’s how this is achieved that is a little different. Creating those authentic connections, with both the work and colleagues within the workplace, is achieved differently when you’re not sharing a physical space. Many organizations were already facing this challenge with globally distributed teams. 

365Tribe: For organisations that may not be new to Microsoft 365 and collaboration tools that connect remote teams, is it too late to be thinking about strategy? 

Allison Maguire: Decidedly not! I am laughing, but it’s only because that is such a long-lived misconception. I think it stems from the traditional view of IT as more of a cost center and less of a strategic partner. It’s been more than 20 years since the role of the CIO evolved and IT got a seat at the strategic table, but we are still fighting to convince businesses to think of IT investment as more than a cost. 

We should never really stop thinking about strategy when it comes to IT investment. The technology solutions are just enablers. Sure, it’s hugely important to get them right, but if you stop there you will never see the full benefit that technology could bring you. 

A technology investment, like Microsoft 365, should always be underpinned by business goals and objectives. These objectives and priorities are constantly evolving, especially in today’s world of rapid change. That means we should always be evaluating the solutions to make sure they are being successfully leveraged to meet the business objectives. That starts with having a strategic plan for how you will use Microsoft 365, always mapping back to overarching business objectives. That plan should be evaluated at least every 6 months, sometimes more frequently; like when you first implement the platform, or if your business is going through any other transformations. COVID-19 has forced nearly every business into a transformative state, so revisiting your goals for using M365 is a good step to consider right now. Our Plan for Success workshop program is a great way to get expert help with establishing those strategic goals, and defining or refining the governance principles and practices that will aid in their achievement. 

365Tribe: Why is mapping the technology to underpinning business objectives so important? How does it help you get value from your investment? 

 Well, there are a couple of reasons why tying your M365 investment to your business goals is so important. The more obvious one is that you want to make sure that your use of the tools is helping your organisation to reach those business goals. This means more than just documenting the objectives you already have in place. You need to further map out how you will use the tools to enable those objectives and define some measure for how you will know you have succeeded. 

Once you’ve defined the what and the how, you need to move on to the why. Achieving success from M365 requires your workers to understand not just how they will use it, but why. Defining and communicating why is vital to embedding new ways of working and creating sustained value for the business. Much like your strategic plan, it’s not a “once and done” activity, but an ongoing journey. As your objectives and business priorities evolve, so should your change management approach. Sustained value from M365 comes when using the platform consistently, in ways that enable business objectives, becoming business as usual. It makes subsequent changes easier too because all workers understand the benefits. 

Conclusion 

As COVID restrictions continue to evolve and we work towards creating a new normal for work, it’s clear that remote and home working are here to stay. We’ve known for decades that remote working can create productivity boosts, we also know that it can create feelings of disconnection in some team members. If you’ve recently invested in Microsoft 365 to connect your workforce, it’s time to protect that investment by ensuring it’s supporting workers both in and out of the office, enabling business objectives, and connecting your workers into engaged, productive teams. 

Our expert workshop programs: Guiding Success in Microsoft (Office) 365 help you plan for, lead, and guide success through strategic planning, governance, executive engagement, and MS Teams ownership and adoption. Also, don’t forget to check out the Digital Champions Programme, to embed success with Microsoft (Office) 365 into your organisational DNA!