Making the Administrative Rounds
Office 365 can provide rich cloud-based solutions for many business scenarios, but getting all users and services set up involves several administrative rounds before your users are fully ready to go.
You’ll likely need to traverse Office 365 admin center user management, purchasing, and billing settings, the Exchange admin center, the SharePoint admin center profile and OneDrive settings, and more.
While Office 365 cloud-first solutions remove the heavy lifting of farm configuration, installation, and updates, there are some key administrative tasks you might encounter when getting users set up:
- Purchasing or switching Office 365 plans
- Purchasing more user licenses
- Adding new users
- Assigning licenses to users
- Assigning administrative roles (as needed)
- Modifying mailbox settings (unless the default mailbox is all you need)
- Setting up user profiles
- Configuring OneDrive for Business settings
- Performing Active Directory synchronization (for staged or hybrid migration)
Lather, Rinse, Repeat, and More
Depending on how you set up users and services, you may need to repeat many of these tasks to get multiple users up and running, and then reverse many tasks as users leave or offboard.
For example, consider the multitude of administrative tasks required when a company acquires or merges with another company. Beyond identifying and addressing hardware needs and integrating business requirements, there are multitudes of administrative tasks that need to happen.
Some examples might include reconfiguring Active Directory domains, Office 365 subscriptions, reassigning or purchasing new licenses, restructuring email server and account settings, reallocating server resources, providing access to SharePoint sites and other content, and updating OneDrive for Business and personal sites, and that’s just for starters. People from the acquired company might be using different on-premise product versions or different Office 365 plans, and have different permission structures and information management policies.
Another challenging scenario might be adding new users, especially for a company that has large numbers of users to add at once, but isn’t using tools to automate bulk processes. In Office 365, for example, an administrator might have to visit Admin>Office 365>Users>New, and create the new user, configure multiple settings, and apply a license. If there aren’t available licenses, however, the administrator may need to segue back to purchasing more user licenses.
If users are being added manually, the same process needs to be repeated for each user, often starting at the same point, even if some of the settings are similar across users in the same department or workgroup. Once users are added and licenses assigned, the mailbox settings, user profiles, personal sites and/or OneDrive for Business (as needed), and other settings need to configured. The repetitive tasks can be time-consuming, tedious, and costly, and can lead to fatigue and potential error.
There are some tools that can help with specific adding users, such as the Office 365 Admin Dashboard, adding users in bulk via a CSV file, and PowerShell Cmdlets, but there isn’t an Office 365 tool that pulls together all the disparate tasks across all the different administrative interfaces – at least not yet….
The Bulk add users wizard, for example, enables administrators to add multiple users from a comma separated values (CSV) file, although the CSV file first has to be created. Plus, the administrator would still need to configure any mailbox settings, profiles, and so on until all users are set to go, which could still involve a significant chunk of time and cost.