The explosion of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) tools and applications has been a boon for companies of all types and sizes, and few SaaS offerings have been as widely adopted as Microsoft Office 365. Office 365 extends all the capabilities of your legacy, on-premises Office applications that you’ve come to rely on into the cloud.
The enhanced productivity provided by Office 365 can be a game-changer for businesses. Team members can work together remotely, enabling enhanced internal collaboration as well as the potential to better leverage external human resources, such as freelancers or business partners. Additionally, employees can access their work from any location where they have Internet access. This means that they can work on any project, anywhere, at any time.
So how do you reap the benefits of Office 365? For starters, your team has to adopt and use Office 365. This may sound obvious, but poor adoption rates are a common problem for organizations that attempt to implement Office 365 without the proper skills and expertise.
Compounding the challenge is the fact that, if your team fails to adopt Office 365 within the first ninety days, there’s only a 10% chance they ever will. 
There are three primary components to successful Office 365 adoption: migration, training and ongoing support. While most companies know how to secure ongoing support, many falter in the migration and training components.
Mitigating Migration Problems
The process of migrating to Office 365 requires a specialized skillset, as well as the right technology to ensure all your data is transferred properly. Many organizations make the mistake of taking on migration themselves. This do-it-yourself approach is likely to result in lost data and an uncertain migration schedule, leaving you to pick up the pieces.
Finding the right managed service provider can help you overcome the obstacles faced by migration. An expert onboarding team will work with you to schedule migration and any downtime that may be required. Because managed service providers do this on a regular basis, they will know exactly how long migration will take. When migration is done, employees simply log in and begin work in the cloud.
Training for Office 365 Success
Transitioning to the cloud and SaaS represents a significant shift for most businesses. Even if you get the implementation and migration right, you will still have to train staff on how to use their new cloud applications. Without human-assisted onboarding, staff members are more likely to become frustrated trying to work with unfamiliar technology, and will revert to using what they know.
It may be tempting to send employees a welcome email or pre-packaged instruction manual. However, these strategies are often ineffective, resulting in either information overload or a lack of adequate information. Like most new skills, it is far more effective to have staff trained in-person; this way, all sticking points can be dealt with in real time, with employees receiving instruction tailored to their individual needs.
It’s All About Starting Off on the Right Foot
At Broadview Networks, we use our four-step engagement process when implementing cloud solutions for our clients. This begins with a cloud assessment, in which we review the cloud-readiness of your data infrastructure, cloud usage (if any), existing applications and services, and organizational readiness. The cloud assessment provides us with a thorough understanding of how your business works, and what you require from a cloud implementation.
Next, we build a strategic cloud vision. This is where we begin to implement Office 365 by introducing the components that will let you see the most immediate benefit to end-user productivity, without overwhelming your organization and increasing the rate of app churn. A common strategic starting point is the transition to Exchange Online, as it provides the same user experience as legacy, on-premises exchange, but with more reliability, extra storage, and additional features.
After easing your organization into its cloud transition, we begin to look at some of the following:
- Expanding mobile access to documents with applications such as Office 365 and OneDrive for Business.
- Integrating a SharePoint environment for increased data availability, as well as streamlining workflows and processes.
- Implementing Skype for Business Meetings for complex real-time communication and enhanced remote collaboration.
The third phase is cloud adoption, where we focus on onboarding and training your employees. Our IT instructors work with the technologies they teach in real-world deployment and support scenarios, and use this experience while applying classroom theory to the needs of your environment.
The fourth and final phase is where we test, review and revise. Did employees adopt new applications and processes? What’s working, and what requires further optimization?
To learn more about the benefits of working with an experienced Managed Service Provider for your Office 365 implementation, contact us:
Author: Michael Orloff
 The 90/10 Rule of Adoption and Customer Success