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3 Reasons to Incorporate an Early Adoption Program in Your Office 365 User Adoption Plan

By Asif Rehmani
Updated October 15, 2023

3 Reasons to Incorporate an Early Adoption Program in Your Office 365 User Adoption PlanAlong with incorporating an early adoption program, the most commonly asked question is the impact it will have on the overall company-wide adoption of the platform. Planning for early adoption does contribute to success, considerably. Here are the 3 reasons why.

  1. When planning to roll out Office 365 user adoption activities across your entire organization, a need to set a baseline for success, especially when dealing with a digital workplace of considerable complexity.

  2. By running a small pilot user adoption program, you will gain valuable insights that can be instrumental when it is time to implement the subsequent organizational change. This exercise is an opportunity to gather feedback from participants and validate your chosen strategies for the broader adoption activities.

  3. Running an early adoption program has other crucial advantages:

    1. Giving momentum to the company-wide adoption efforts.

    2. Having the opportunity to gather success stories that you can use, together with case studies and demos, to encourage everyone to adopt the platform.

    3. Providing an easier way to run tests to find out what works best.

    4. Discovering ways of avoiding pitfalls.

5 key steps of a successful early adoption program

An Early Adoption Program is usually limited to the IT team, a small group of influential end-users, and a small number of prioritized solutions. The key steps you need to follow are:

  1. Prioritize your solutions

  2. Build a collaborative workspace for the participants

  3. Select the right individuals to include in the program

  4. Provide these individuals with training and expectations

  5. Establish weekly office hours for Q&A sessions

1. Prioritize your solutions

Prioritize a set of real problems that Office 365 will solve for the company. This should include issues that get in the way of collaboration, productivity, data security, regulatory compliance, etc.

The solutions at the top of your list should benefit the highest number of people across the organization.

2. Build a collaborative workspace for the participants

Create a Yammer group dedicated to all individuals that are participating in the program. This will provide a hub for everyone to view announcements, leave comments, share feedback, and communicate with the rest of the team. Once a few people start to share feedback, other participants will follow suit.

It is essential that the leader of the group and the IT support team regularly use the Yammer group to encourage the rest of the team to do the same. Having this centralized hub will keep everything organized and eliminate the need to search for files, conversations, etc.

3. Select the right individuals to include in the program

After enlisting the IT team, select a small pilot group of potential early adopters. Participants from the IT team will provide support and the selected end-users will become super-users, evangelists, and influencers. Given that you may be tweaking things along the way, it is not necessary to include people from leadership at this point in time. Bring them in when you are ready to officially launch throughout the entire company.

When assigning roles and responsibilities, make sure you remind the participants to schedule a time to share their experiences with their colleagues. This is a way to quickly build a team of influencers which will be vital to the success of adoption as a whole.

The following criteria will help in the selection process. Try to select at least one participant from every department.

  • Do they possess a natural aptitude for technology?

  • Do they quickly embrace novelty and innovation?

  • Are they influential within the company or their department?

  • Do they regularly collaborate with others on projects?

  • Will they directly benefit from the prioritized solutions?

4. Provide these individuals with training and expectations

In addition to traditional classroom-like training sessions, it is critical to automate some of the guidance, help, and support using a contextual help system. Training content should focus on the problems you have prioritized and the Office 365 capabilities that provide solutions to the users.

The training will create awareness and the step-by-step walk-thrus native in the contextual help system enable end-users to use the platform even if they aren’t familiar with it, reducing the strain on your support team.

5. Establish weekly office hours for Q&A sessions

Sending emails back and forth is not a practical solution for this task; use Microsoft Teams instead.

Teams is a valuable tool for coaching participants. Appoint an individual to be available on certain days of the week during office hours to allow participants to ask questions and get helpful tips.

If it is not possible to answer all of the questions in one session, think of scheduling multiple days during the week. It is important that participants get answers as quickly as possible.

Encourage everyone to write down their questions beforehand to ensure the sessions run smoothly and are productive.

Begin with an early adoption program

Beginning with an early adoption program is a good idea if it is your first time initiating an organizational change of this magnitude.

When planning to drive Office 365 adoption it helps to test the waters first by using a small trusted group of users that is flexible enough to allow you to solve any unforeseeable setbacks.

Start small and implement change gradually. The feedback and insights that you obtain will prove useful in your long-term pursuit of sustainable Office 365 user adoption.

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