Office 365

Posted by

After our research in our latest insights report, I’d love to get some more feedback from the AIIM community.

When it comes to Office 365, do you think businesses are really taking steps and the initiative to connect and optimize their Office 365 and SharePoint environments in ways that they gain maximum benefit, or have they just installed another application for the user community to try, potentially use, and let fall by the wayside for the next shiny object that comes along? What needs to be consider before selection and implementation? And what measures of success does your organization use?


My company is moving to O365 enterprise-wide. We’ve moved from SharePoint on-prem to SharePoint on-line, as well as the office suite (Word, Excel, PowerPoint). Our next step is One Drive for Business, as a replacement for our personal network drives. I’m not involved in doing the work, but am a consumer of the end product.

I think for any effort like this to be successful it needs to be rolled out by the team responsible for the toolset / capability, with appropriate education, and definitive cut-over plan. It can’t be optional for people to use only if they want to.

Ameriprise Auto & Home Insurance

We are moving the content we use, into SharePoint On-line. The content that we are simply archiving or the records we are managing, that are already in SharePoint on-prem, can stay there. We want to give our employees the ability to easily access the content they need, wherever they are and on whatever device they might be using. Toward that later goal, we have moved to Office 365 for most applications.

We are moving gradually, but the course is clear and we recently hired someone who will be providing training and will be able to provide assistance as needed.

American Nuclear Insurers

I think that you’ll find that if SharePoint / Office 365 adds value to the business that it will be used. If it’s just another tool in the tool belt that doesn’t do anything important for anyone, I’d agree — it won’t get used and will be a waste of time. The best deployments I’ve seen are where people are using the tool to solve real problems — whether it’s mandated or not.

Thor Projects LLC

We have used SharePoint on premise for over 10 years. All our company documents are stored on the platform and it’s served us well. However we are now moving to SP online primarily because we also use Dynamics 365 (with PSA) online and the integration between the two is very helpful. We can store project files for D365 projects online, and in turn these can be synced for offline use using One drive. All very smooth and a real benefit to the business.

Office 365
What is a cut over plan? I am assuming it is the plan to move to SharePoint online and O365 but is it more than just that?

Snohomish County Public Works

Cut over = switching off the old / alternative system(s), or switching them to read-only, moving to archive etc.

Changing our old habits is the hardest thing of all. This is because our ways of working, and the systems we use for that, become a “second nature” over time – it takes sustained effort to change that and to change ourselves.

Thus, without a mandatory, effective cut-over the majority of people will just keep working the old way, using the old system(s) (often with the excuse they are “too busy” to switch now). Even those who enthusiastucally start with the new one, will gradually switch back to the old one, or keep switching between the new and the old.

As a result, your ECM / Digital transformation project will fail to have the planned impact (or any at all) – and may just make things worse by adding to the proliferation of systems and storage locations.

Sadly, only a few out of 10 projects / organisations manage to cut over fully. Almost every customer we meet has an “abandoned” or “under-used” ECM, with users still storing their content on personal folders, file shares etc. Yet it’s always a struggle to get them to accept the cost/budget for proper roll-out (which ends with the cut over). Typically, the objection is “we’ll do it later, ourselves”.

SharePoint City London, UK

I came in to my organization as part of an effort to move away from SharePoint, with O365 as part of the replacement solution. I’ve worked with SharePoint in other jobs, and I’ve worked with O365 in other environments.
My experience is, as with any tool adoption, unless there’s systemic adoption, and clear rationale, folks are going to continue using what they’ve always used. It helps to have at least one member of senior leadership really pushing for the tool. I agree with @Ken Schiller’s note that you need to have a clear cut-over plan as well.

All of my experience is with small organizations (under 200 staff), but with that in mind, I’ve seen that for the most part, people use what they are familiar with unless there is a really strong cultural movement towards something else. And if there are issues with usability/ expected behavior, folks are really quick to jump ship. One example is with the collaborative document sharing in O365. Our ED needed to work on a document with a member of staff. We set it up through O365, and then found out that if he opened the document in Word instead of in his browser, the changes weren’t saved dynamically, so we ended up losing a lot of content, and his collaborator couldn’t see the changes he was making as he made them. We ended up switching over to Google Docs for that project, because we all knew exactly what to expect from it.

In terms of your question about taking the steps to connect and optimize O365 and Sharepoint, it’s worth noting that not every organization has the resources required for this. Microsoft tries to be everything to everyone, but the fact is that their support is really lacking for small organizations. I’ve never been part of an organization that has the time or budget to go through, truly identify all of the use cases, and develop specific training to match. Far more often I see situations like the one I described above, where you have great intentions that are foiled by the complexity (or simply the difference) of the new tool. We would love to be able to fully adopt O365 into our organization, but it’s been difficult and time consuming to find the correct training and resources, and so it has fallen by the wayside, as we all have other, familiar ways to accomplish the same tasks. –

Association of State and Territorial Health Officials

I agree wholeheartedly with b4-e1@Pauli Visuri and 6-f59b@Ariel Brandt Lautman. While O365 (SharePoint Online, Teams, Planner, Flow, PowerApps, etc.) offers a great digital workplace platform, unless a majority of the most senior leadership (or at least a very persuasive and politically powerful single member) consistently champions a FULL cutover, the platform and the initiative will, over time, fail. Especially the SharePoint component for document/records management. Hard stop.

This can ONLY be mitigated by a rigorous adherence to both policy and system-managed governance, eliminating access to “the old way” (except in exceptional circumstances with an appropriate and approved business case), and ON-GOING training, change management, and continuous improvement.


After reading all above, there is one thing that keeps coming back to me: the old ECM pitfall.

Call it SharePoint, call it Office 365, but it is nothing more (and less) than a tool. Up until today I still see way to many organizations install the tool without a strategy that justifies its usage. There is no need to use all of Office 365. There is no need to only use Office 365. Not for collaboration. Not for document management, information management or records management. With a strategy and a plan, you can safely introduce and use it and have success too. Success is not the outcome of senior management drilling. It is in my opinion the outcome of proving added value to the business and its users and have that supported by senior management. There where you can identify ‘what’s in it for me’, you will see users that accept the pain of change. That’s how we adopt to new behavior.

Sad thing is, that this particular tool is very good at creating chaos if you don’t govern it. Even sadder is that in many cases it still is IT that is on control. Together, they provide a platform that has failure as its destiny. But not because of the platform. Because of how we introduce and implement it. Unfortunately, at Redmond, they are extremely good at addressing IT and tech savy users and with a continuum of new features, changes and making functionality obsolete. It takes way more to let business users understand the added value of Teams. And of Planner. And the combination. And that if you through away a Planner environment, by default it also throws away the underlying document library. You need a strong understanding of the tool within the business to make it successful. It helps if you do your education (e.g. AIIM) and get 3rd party advice and support. There are many good consultancy firms that can help as long as business keeps the driver seat and you look beyond the windowdressing.

Altogether it may sound negative, but I truly believe Office 365 is a great collaboration tool. BUT remember Maslov. If your only tool is a hammer, all screws are going to be treated as nails. Don’t let Office 365 become your hammer. 😉

The experience of @Ariel Brandt Lautman is sadly all too common; but highlights another pitfall which SharePoint / Office 365 projects need to avoid: failing to consider the technical implications at the user’s end.

The problem that Ariel mentions is simply caused by incorrect configuration of the user desktops (or sometimes, internal network settings). It’s a common misconception that SharePoint – whether online, or on-premises – is only a browser-based tool; when it actually has a number of built-in deep integrations with the Windows desktop, Office software, and increasingly also with other “clients” from Macs to mobiles. These provide the unique features that few other tools offer: from opening and saving files directly from desktop software without having to download or upload, simultaneous co-editing of documents etc.

But as with any integration, it will only work if both ends have been set up correctly.

In my experience over the past 10 years and 100 or so projects, only one in ten IT teams were aware that they need to do something (and “asking the right questions”); and only a few had already done it – despite the fact that most had been running SharePoint for years! Most IT people simply considered SharePoint to be flawed (“c**p” is the most common word used) – without ever realising that they could fix it easily!

So to ensure success of a SharePoint roll-out, avoiding hassles and user disappointments that can kill off a project no matter how well everything else was planned and executed, the project needs to fully engage the IT team: ensuring that they have trained up and know the requirements and best practices; have readied the networks, desktop settings, user profiles etc. for the roll-out; and have the skills and knowledge to support users and fix things where issues arise.

Luckily, that has been getting easier over the past years – Microsoft has gotten far better at publishing best practises advice and testing tools; even a “fast track” service for setting up everything. Where they could still improve is in communicating that to customers. Many web-based systems warn the user if something is wrong with their settings; surely it would be possible for SharePoint to check everything is fine & advice if not?

But until that happens, “SharePoint endpoints planning” is the search phrase to remember!

Sharepoint City

I’d say over 50% of our customer base has Office365 as all, or part, of their solution. Many them are deploying it as an alternative to Exchange and on-premise SharePoint. Office365 has become so comprehensive that it is hard to for anyone to use all of the modules, but we’ve seen a decided uptick in the last year as more companies embrace more of the Office365 modules.


I have been following/implementing SharePoint for 10 years and have yet to be involved in full O365 implementations (will soon be with our pending merger). Aside from gaining experience and perspective through different employers/clients, I’ve been following the SharePoint community: MSDN forum, Microsoft community and virtual events, User Groups, Tweeter feeds from Microsoft MVPs that I follow, Meetups, etc. The SharePoint community of users have been persistent in engaging Microsoft to make changes … and they have listened. Now some of those users have become Microsoft MVPs to help advocate both for users and Microsoft. They have shared their wisdom and experience through SharePoint Saturdays and other events in different key cities around the world.

I have empowered myself with knowledge, lessons learned (from others’ experiences), continuing education (IT, non-IT like RIM), professional membership (AIIM), etc. that helped with staying “current” (or mindful), “proactive” and be able to “see the forest for the trees”.

Introducing SharePoint or O365 is just like any “change initiative”. Following the ADKAR model, “A for awareness” is the first step. Yes, it’s not just a “simple” first step – and that first step begins with “me”.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.