Many small and medium businesses (SMBs) struggle to implement Office 365, not understanding the standard stages most professionals follow –

  1. Initiation
  2. Planning
  3. Execution
  4. Performance/monitoring
  5. Project Close

Number 2 is absolutely CRITICAL for a successful implementation that meets not only all current business requirements, but also future needs. Many of my clients come to me, forced to bite the bullet and pay for 20-30 hours of my time to straighten out their Office 365 and teach their administrator Best Practices. I STRONGLY recommend hiring a consultant to implement your Office 365 and teach you these Best Practices to build the foundation for a usable system that not only meets your business needs, but also maximizes ROI and is positioned to activate new features as your growing company needs them.

Features like Planner, Project, Sway, Stream, Delve, Yammer and more have their own Administration center where they must be configured to be ready when they are needed. The last thing you want to do is tear down what you’ve built and start over again. Migrating content from folders and subsites is tedious and expensive when implementing Hubs and folders (inside lists & libraries) could have avoided the cost and lost time. The learning curve is not that great though it does require a small adjustment like using plus signs to open a category instead of a folder.

I have a series of 35-40 short videos I am working on that covers everything a beginner needs to know. It should be out by December 2019 and can be found on the Packt site.

Gregory Zelfond, the SharePoint Maven, has an article published in 2015 that is still relevant. His article on taxonomy is also a good read.

The implementation process is too big to cover here, but the main point I emphasize is PLANNING.. Know Office 365 inside & out before implementing it and ESPECIALLY before migrating your Google docs over. While very similar to SharePoint onprem, it has some differences like OneDrive and browser portal versions of apps that you need to understand as they operate a little bit differently (auto-save, etc.).

Become familiar with the licensing as it can be a bit intimidating. The online feature comparison charts are very useful (and here & here). Microsoft’s article on planning is very useful as well. While they have many such charts, the more you look them over, the more they begin to make sense.

But this is where a consultant or Microsoft Partner can be a huge help and well worth the investment. For 20-40 hours of his/her time, you get a match to your business requirements saving you all that research (they should already be familiar with the offerings and have a very good idea which one you need after gathering & analyzing your requirements).

Letting them set it up can save you a lot of time and future headaches if you miss something. Be sure to ask for training or documents in Best Practices too.

Office 365 is a powerful Content Management System (CMS), that most companies rarely use efficiently, leaving ROI on the table. Do your homework, talk to a consultant (Microsoft will refer you to one in your area). You can have an efficient CMS that grows with your company that consolidates storage, document management, office meetings, sales, accounting, manufacturing and more if you only do it right from the starting line.

Let me know of questions and how I can help you move into the cloud and a centralized CMS.


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