The Office 365 End-User Adoption Kit: Identifying Patterns

nostalgic Polaroids

The Office 365 End-User Adoption Kit: Identifying Patterns

By Tracy van der Schyff | August 10, 2017

Let’s take a quick stroll through Memory Lane and imagine we’re back in the 1980s: Duran Duran on the Walkman, neon spandex biker shorts, Alf… and all of the other cringeworthy things that made the 80s so glorious.

Now that we’re in that 80s state-of-mind, how do we segue to user adoption?

Think of it this way: user adoption is like being forced to transition into a new space and not knowing how to fit in. It’s comparable to being back in high school and hoping you could avoid being such a nervous wreck all the time.

Everyone looks back at the 80s with such fondness and nostalgia, but the reality is, it wasn’t always Hammertime. Similarly, if user adoption is a trending topic at every conference, boardroom meeting, and strategy session, why aren’t there more success stories?

Unpacking the Office 365 End-User Adoption Kit

In my recent webinar, we covered user adoption patterns, as well as types of change, planning, and campaigning. In this blog, we’ll unpack the Office 365 end-user adoption kit to shift the way we perceive user adoption as an obstruction point and begin impacting a digital transformation.

What are User Adoption Patterns?

User adoption patterns are often open to interpretation, especially depending on the organization’s infrastructure. Generally, the following are the most common ways to identify user adoption patterns:

Cloud services

  • Traditional On-Premises
  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS)
  • Software as a Service (SaaS)

User types

  • Innovators
  • Early adopters
  • Early majority
  • Late majority
  • Laggards

Considering the number of possible combinations between cloud services and user types, every organization is susceptible to a uniquely distinguished set of user adoption patterns. There may be no standard checklist of items to refer to when mapping user patterns, but there are definite means of influencing user adoption.

Influencing User Adoption Patterns

To ensure that your organization’s users are all transitioning to the collaborative platform of your choice, you can set up your adoption strategy to first communicate which apps and services your organization will deploy. This conveys to your users that an executive transition plan has been set and provides them with adequate time to anticipate a change in their workflow.

Subsequently, you should announce the timing and sequence in which your users must begin adopting the new platform. By providing a general structure, your organization can be better equipped with the resources to handle a large-scale migration and confide in IT to administer the process as smoothly as possible.

Types of Change

At several points of the migration journey, your users will be exposed to three different types of change. Though each constitutes a separate leg of the move, they all require the same actions and effort.

1. Developmental Change

Developmental change is one of the most frequent types of change that organizations face, and it occurs at the early stages of migration and user adoption. It typically involves incremental changes to familiar systems and processes, and is not disruptive.

2. Transitional Change

Transitional change occurs when organizations embark on shifting their systems and processes. Corporate restructures, mergers and acquisitions, and new product lines and services all fall into the transitional change bucket. Adopting new technology sits at the top of this list, which is why moving to Office 365 is considered a transitional change.

3. Transformational Change

Transformational change is a combination of both developmental and transitional change, and it is by far the most disruptive type of change. Examples of transformational change include servicing entirely new markets and products, making radical changes to technology, culture, or infrastructure, and even rehauling the organization’s vision and values.

How Do You Facilitate Transitional Change?

Facilitating transitional change can be summed up by three words: Communication is key.

The more you communicate with your users, the better prepared they’ll be. If you understand that communication does not necessarily entail positive reinforcement, you’ll be able to convey both organizational successes and failures—as well as triumphs and challenges—to your users.

This not only helps to foster trust, but it also allows your users to personally partake in the change.

Remember: communication is not a one-way street. If you keep your users in the dark, you’ll certainly face repercussions down the line. Asking your users for feedback and accommodating their responses embodies the most crucial part of facilitating transitional change.

Prioritize Digital Literacy

Digital literacy should always be at the top of your priority list. Why? If users are fluent in the technologies your organization is introducing, they will undoubtedly be comfortable enough to embrace the change. On the other hand, the inability to understand or work with a new set of tools breeds fear, further damaging user adoption and setting yourself down a path of migration failure.

By equipping your users with the necessary skills and tools for the change, you can help the transition process immensely. A solid digital literacy campaign includes training users to transition from the status quo to the future state. As administrators, it is our duty to break down any fears that users may foster and shine the light behind the move.

Present Iterative Changes

An iterative change approach is necessary, as small, baby steps allow your users to familiarize themselves to the change at a pace that they are comfortable with. Maturity does not grow overnight, and learning stems from repetition. Provide your users with the luxury of time by pacing your project and rolling out new apps and services incrementally.

Understand the Required Initial Planning

Though Benjamin Franklin never had to deal with facilitating end-user adoption kits on Office 365, his advice regarding “Fail to plan and plan to fail” is incredibly relevant to a successful adoption strategy. Just as Project Management is a necessary discipline, so is Change Management—taking shortcuts to achieve quicker results will almost always result in failure.

In order to properly manage change, there are many methodologies and strategies to consider. Personally, PROSCI’s Changement Process has always proven to work very well for my needs.

  1. Prepare for change
    1. Define the strategy
    2. Prepare your team
  2. Manage the change
    1. Develop a schedule
    2. Implement the schedule
  3. Reinforce the change
    1. Collect and analyze feedback
    2. Diagnose gaps and manage resistance
    3. Implement corrective actions
  4. Celebrate success

Ultimately, it’s about finding an approach that works for you. Don’t over complicate your change management by combining a hodgepodge of different migration and adoption strategies. Even the most comprehensive methodologies adhere to a very simple approach: Plan. Do. Check. Act.

Learn to Campaign Effectively

Many years ago, I was on a project where we hired a mascot to walk around in a bumblebee suit and hand out pastries and cappuccinos. Did it make the project any more successful? Absolutely not.

Many organizations fail to understand that effective campaigning is not at all about associating challenges with short-term rewards. Instead of emphasizing benefits or incentivizing change via gifts, the focus should be on empowering users with powerful skills that have a positive long-term effect on the organization.

Learning to campaign effectively has a profound impact on approaching difficult topics and situations. In my experience, applying this method to Office 365 end-user adoption has always proven to be successful. When we decide to focus on the apps and services rather than the benefits, we can anticipate a positive outcome.

Launch Your Primary Campaign

Here is an example of how you can structure your campaign messaging to specifically address your users’ needs:

“Digital disruption is upon us, and with new technology surfacing daily, we are embarking on a journey to ensure you have all of the tools and skills you need to evolve with the world. You matter to us, and we are not leaving anyone behind!

Over the next eight months, we’ll help you become digitally literate. And to kick things off, we’ll be focusing on Creativity through the month of August.

Do you think that only some people are creative? Are you tired of asking someone else to finish that presentation for you? Let’s dive into Microsoft Sway to see how this new tool helps you to magically add content! We have some cool PowerPoint tricks to share with you as well, so be sure to engage with us during our Show & Tell session!”

See what I did there? The messaging focuses on the problems your users are experiencing, the solutions that IT is introducing, and the benefits everyone can reap—all without packing on the stress, anxiety, or the hassle of implementing new technologies to an unreceptive crowd.

Use Available Tools to Measure Change

Once your users have started using the proposed apps and services, you need to begin measuring the outcome. This isn’t always the easiest of tasks, but if you don’t measure against established benchmarks and goals, you won’t be able to assess if your strategy was successful. However, success criteria or KPIs need to be defined upfront during the initial planning stage.

One of the traditional ways to measure “non-tangible” benefits is to ask for user feedback. I’ve always used SharePoint Surveys to gather responses, but Microsoft Forms is a powerful, new tool that is designed exactly for this purpose. Microsoft Forms allows admins to not only survey their users, but gives them the ability to quiz users after training.

The Office 365 Usage Reports on the Admin Center is also great since it showcases activity across various Office 365 products in your organization. Additionally, the Office 365 Adoption Pack within Power BI can help you to gain insights on how your organization is adopting the various services within Office 365.

Office 365 Usage Report

    Figure 1: Office 365 Usage Report


The was the best of times and it was the worst of times. We can never take back all of the embarrassing moments we shared in retrospect, but we can embrace it for the valuable life lesson it taught us: It doesn’t matter if you’re friends with the cool kids or if you enjoy geeking out with the A.V. Club, be just who you are.

Ultimately, even if you have all of the tools available, your migration plan won’t succeed if you don’t properly address your user adoption strategy. Don’t assume that your users will feel that they belong on the new platform, especially if they aren’t comfortable with the technology. Instead, hone in your users’ strengths and weaknesses and guarantee that you are acknowledging their needs.

By following along with the guidelines presented in this end-user adoption kit for Office 365, you’ll notice a better adoption rate and, more importantly, a happier user base.

Keep the following in mind when taking on your next project:

  1. Set up communication and training schedules as part of your change management project.
  2. Don’t overcomplicate projects to achieve success. Keep it simple.
  3. ROI is not only measured by numbers; focus on non-tangible benefits.
  4. Training is necessary. Don’t assume that your users are digitally literate.
  5. Change will not happen overnight. Be patient.
  6. Focus on your employees, not on the products.
  7. Don’t stop believin’.

Let Us Help Improve Your User Adoption

At Metalogix, we’re dedicated to providing industry-leading solutions. If you’re looking to get more control over your content collaboration platform and begin managing your users properly, check out Essentials for Office 365! Our tool allows you to optimize your environment, gain visibility over user activity, simplify complex migrations, and more.

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Tracy van der Schyff

Tracy is a Microsoft MVP and an energetic, hyperactive adrenaline junkie who sees challenges and issues as opportunities and thrives on improving processes, environments and the general quality of life. Her broad knowledge about IT and Business gives her the ability to communicate on both levels and convey meaningful requirements and narrow the (ever present) gap between the two.

Written By: Tracy van der Schyff