Are Microsoft confusing Office 365 users?


I tweeted this quote the other day and it got a huge amount of attention. Well huge for me!


The article in question from Mary Jo Foley raises some very valid points. It is also connected with a previous post of mine about handling change in Office 365 and a group discussion at Collab 365 recently. And it was the quote I used, which to me, was so spot on.

So what’s the problem? Are Microsoft confusing users? Is it impacting on adoption?

If we are looking for hard data on this, there is not a lot.

Other challenges concerned administering Office 365. In comments, respondents said that Microsoft’s administrative portals were difficult to use and they took time to learn or they were inconsistent.The pace of change with Microsoft’s frequent Office 365 software releases was considered to be a challenge by respondents. Some complained about forced feature additions. However, it was also something people liked. Cannell commented that Microsoft’s faster Office 365 release pace had the effect of a double-edged sword among the respondents.

But they do highlight the challenges for end users.

Beyond the age of users, there is also enterprise culture to consider. Many enterprises are entrenched in the tried-and-true desktop application method of productivity. Cloud computing, document sharing, and simultaneous collaboration are all relatively new concepts that will take time for many enterprises to fully adopt and accept.

So we can see where training, managing change and user adoption are key areas to be considered when moving to and using Office 365.

But it is a moveable feast. Migrating and moving to Office 365 is one thing (and pretty important naturally) but there is an ongoing element too as Microsoft continue to update, change, adapt and bring in new features. That brings more challenges in keeping up to the date with changes.

So is choice a good thing for users? It is and it isn’t. Choice from a range of productivity and collaboration tools is fine if everyone uses them in the same way or the same combination. Many people attach documents to email and have been doing so for some time. That will continue despite many different (and better) ways of manging documents.

It’s a habit. And habits are hard to break. “But I’ve always done it this way,” your users say.

Users can go into Office 365 and be met with a myriad of ways to use and share documents or information. Of course they are confused. Trying to see what tool or mix of tools is tricky. Email and One Drive for Business? Skype and Email. Groups? SharePoint and team sites? And where does Yammer fit in?

A user on Microsoft’s Office 365 Yammer network shared this useful image which helps understand a couple of Office 365 features.

Source: Simon Denton MVP

i we share

The main thing is this.

There is no right way to use Office 365 tools. Users have to be coached and trained in being shown how to use a combination of tools to achieve different things. And these tools have to fit in with how people want to work. Microsoft provides the choices, users have to learn to choose the tools that suit them for what they want to do.

Yes there is learning, there is training. And it doesn’t stop either. It is ongoing as Office 365 continues to change and adapt. Organisations have to plan for that ongoing learning and adoption. It doesn’t stop at a one day course or a ‘magic manual’. In the world of Office 365, user adoption is a constantly changing process and differs in each organisation. What works for one place might not work in another. But it has to be planned and organised. Don’t let your users get confused.