Overcome Confusion and Overwhelm with Microsoft 365 and Teams

The obvious surface potential of Microsoft 365 and Teams has caused many businesses to take notice. Unfortunately, the excitement is usually short-lived and replaced with confusion, overwhelm, and finally, delay of usage.

Businesses recognize huge potential in the platform, but most don’t know where to start.

In just the past two days, I’ve had the following three quotes from business owners who have emailed me:

  • “Every time I try to figure 365 out myself, I get lost and disheartened…”
  • “I’m confused by SharePoint and Teams so am just not really sure where to start…”
  • “If I’m honest I am a little overwhelmed!”

And that's just this week. I've heard this sentiment from the majority of business owners and managers.

If Microsoft 365 is so great, what's the secret to unlocking its potential?

In order to succeed with 365 and Teams, existing paradigms for software implementation must be abandoned.

With the old Microsoft Office products, you simply put them on employees’ computers, gave some training, and then turned everyone loose. Power-users generally developed due to their individual interests and those few employees provided the necessary skills for business success.

For example, if a killer spreadsheet and pivot table were needed for a meeting, it was sufficient to punt the task to the office power-user, who in turn, produced a great product every time.

That’s because the old Office products were individual-use products. Individuals built PowerPoint, Excel, and Word files. Those applications didn’t require coordination of a group to be successful.

Teams and much of 365 require group coordination and group work process adjustments. Having a couple Teams power-users won’t suffice. Everyone in the office has to participate and possess a minimum set of usage skills. While that sounds difficult to achieve, it is not.

Today’s apps are user-friendly. Do your employees need a complicated change management process and training to use apps on their smartphones? Rarely. Likewise, end-users don't need a lot of training to be successful at Teams usage.

The disconnect today is in leadership rather than a lack of end-user skills or abilities. Teams is simple. All most employees need is a couple of days using the platform, along with leadership’s clear expectations and just enough training/orientation to get them going.

Teams is a group platform. It is not geared towards individuals like PowerPoint, Excel, and Word. And…any time you have a workgroup needing to perform a coordinated effort, that group must have a minimum set of skills and the expectation that they will use the supplied tools.

But, back to how to achieve the business results promised by Microsoft 365…

With 365, you must let your business needs drive the software, not the other way around.

Per my previous post, you should first list your business needs and issues. Next, prioritize those needs and issues, and then address those needs with only the necessary specific functionality within 365 (not entire apps with all the associated training!)

For example, let’s say your most pressing current need is better tracking of specialized equipment (such as heavy cranes and expensive one-of-a-kind tooling) because work has been frequently delayed due to uncertainty about who has what equipment in their possession.

It doesn’t take a full implementation of SharePoint, Power Automate, Planner, Shifts, or any of the other 365 apps to solve that problem. It takes a couple of SharePoint lists that can be built and rolled out within a day or two.

That's an incredibly short time to build a simple point & click web-based tool.

Once built, the only requirement for success and immediate improvement in the business is for leadership to 1) Explain to employees that this single list is the tool of record for reserving and tracking specialized equipment, and 2) provide the link to the tool or have the IT provider to put the link/icon on everyone’s computer and mobile device.

Immediate business improvement without confusion or overwhelm.

That’s the promise of Microsoft 365 and Teams. Whether you’re self-implementing or hiring outside help, your goal must be fast business-driven improvement using software rather than "software implementation".

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