Processes for file migrations to Microsoft 365


Recently, I wrote about

A framework for file migrations to Microsoft 365

In essence, this helps you understand where to put what when it comes to moving file data to Microsoft 365. However, collaboration in Microsoft 365 is more than just moving data. To really get value from that data you need to ‘process’ it or ‘transform’ it. How do you do that?

When you go through the process of migrating data there are four major process steps you should be focus on:

1. Structure

2. Permissions

3. Metadata

4. Automation

and do so in that order.

1. Structure

Before you move any data you need to think about the structure of the destination. Is it going to be the same as the source? What data moves into Teams versus SharePoint? How many Document Libraries are there going to be? How many folders inside each Document Library will there be? And so on.

Best practice when it comes to designing structure is not to go beyond three levels deep (Robert’s rule of three applies). Thus, Team = Level 1, Document Library or Channel = Level 2 and Folder within that = Level 3. Moving into this new collaboration world means you should be aiming to have a structure that is as flat and wide as possible rather than narrow and deep. Why? Because the tools provided in Microsoft 365 make it easy for users to filter and sort data that was previously not available to them. Deep structures hide information away and users waste time and effort navigating up and down trees looking for the things they need. It is better to have lots of unique Document Libraries in SharePoint than a single Document Library containing a very deep folder structure.

Every time you create a level in your collaboration structure you ask the question “Will this be by function or location?”. For example:

Q: “Will this Microsoft Team be by function or location?”

A: Function, since it is for Finance

Q: “ Will this Channel inside the Finance Team be by function or location?”

A: Location, since we want a unique channel for each of our state branches

Q: “Will the folder inside the State channel be by function or location?”

A: Function, since we want it to hold our policies

and so on. In most cases, your structure will typically be by function, however you should continue to ask the question at every point during the design or your structure.

Like building a house, your structure is the foundation that your new information system is built on. Build so it has the right structure for you. Build it so it can support your business as it grows. Build it so you have the flexibility to change as required. However, above all else, build it for your users to get the most from!

2. Permissions

Now that you have established the structure, you need to determine who has access to what. If you use the previous framework that I provided it is generally pretty easy to achieve this.

OneDrive for Business = each user is the only one that has access to their own area. This is already configured by default.

Teams = simply add the desired people into the Team and they will receive contribute rights (read/write).

SharePoint Team site = typically everyone one will only need read rights here, a select group will need read/write.

Intranet = all users will typically need to be able to read the whole site while selected groups of people will typically need read/write inside the structure to provide updates.

Yammer = all users will have contribute (read/write) rights.

Best practice with permissions, is to approach it from a top down perspective. That is, apply permissions to the largest containers first and work your way down. Who needs access to this location? Then, who needs access to this Document Library? Then who needs access to this folder? Then who needs access to this file?

Best practice again, is not to apply unique permissions too deep inside the structure. If you are applying unique permissions more than three layers down you should break that item out into its own container. For example, if you have a folder, two levels deep, inside a Document Library that requires unique permissions that differ from the parent folder, I’d be creating a new Document Library for that data and applying permissions on that. Again, ‘Robert’s rule of three applies’, unique permissions beyond three levels calls for a new container.

Aim to keep permissions as simple and top level as possible. Yes, you can more granular and complex but that makes administration and management much harder, especially to those following behind you.

3. Metadata

This is all the material that helps describe the data inside the structure. This is therefore the additional columns you add to your Document Libraries, the graphics, look and feel used in SharePoint, the descriptions you use for your sites and locations. Metadata is really, really important because it helps optimise search which is the major tool people will use inside your new environment.

Unfortunately, I will say that in most cases, I don’t see people investing in adding appropriate metadata. They create the structure, set permissions and do little more. Metadata is really about polishing your data so that it shines. Metadata is also a way to help you flatten your structure. Metadata is about applying consistency across your environment. Will you have an document naming convention? What are common items assigned as? For example, is a state location going to be NSW, N.S.W., nsw, New South Wales, etc, etc. Having consistent metadata adds so much value to search and is therefore worth the investment to define up front and apply as a standard.

When you look at existing data, for example, you’d probably see something like:





and so on

When you transform this, you’d create it as say a Team called Finance, a Team’s Channel called Customer and instead of folders below that for each year, you’d have an additional column called “Year” with the values “2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, etc” and you’d “tag” each file with the appropriate year. Once tagged, people can easily filter and sort to find what they need. They can quickly filter by year to find everything from 2018 say rather than having to navigate deeper into the structure. This means they can find what they want faster and now each item is ‘tagged’ for additional value rather than just living inside a container. Thus, when you now search, you can do so by that tag. Metadata adds ‘signals’ around your data rather than just a boundary.

In most cases, the metadata required is already in place in the source structure and most don’t even appreciate that. Many of the subfolders within the existing structure have been used in an attempt to apply metadata. It demonstrates that most people are already using ‘metadata’ today but they are using a tool (old style files and folders) that doesn’t lend itself to appropriate ‘metadata’ usage. Using the collaboration tool in Microsoft 365 allows you now to take full advantage of ‘metadata’ and reap the benefits thanks to search.

Using this guidance around file metadata it becomes easier to collapse deep structure and organisation information in a flatter and more open way. Doing so makes it easier for users to find and work with, thus improving productivity.

Another important thing to point out here is that metadata is the third step in the process not the first! What I typically see is people wanting a ‘pretty’ Intranet first without considering the functionality first. Thus, functionality always trumps form, because you users will be using the environment to get work done, not spending their time ‘ooohhing’ and ‘aaahhing’ about what it looks like, because ‘ooohhhs’ and ‘aaahhsss’ don’t last long. Yes form, look and feel, is important but how your environment operates and is structured is far more important to the productivity and effectiveness of the business. Best practice is also to stick with the tools Microsoft provides. Yes, you can go nuts with customisation on this platform but don’t! And certainly don’t go berserk with it first out of blocks. If you are tempted, as many are, read this article I wrote a while back:

SharePoint customisation code will bite you

and listen to what Tracey Haun, Director, IT Collaboration and Privacy from Dupont says:

When we set up SharePoint we were so proud of ourselves for only customizing less than 5% of the environment and that less than 5% customization has come back to bite us time and time again. Every time we upgrade, every time we migrate we have to deal with these customizations. I just want to say that we were so rigid in the way that we in way we wanted to — and this is specifically around our records management and the way we classify the security classification of our sites, we were so rigid and so set in our ways on how we wanted to do that. So I highly recommend, if you are just getting started, go with the industry standard. Don’t force your business model into SharePoint. Let the it adapt to the Microsoft way.

This is why metadata is the third NOT the first process you should focus on. Remember, your collaboration environment in Microsoft 365 is there to provide business benefit (i.e. generate more profit) primarily, NOT be focused on being pretty above all else. Save pretty and customised for your website that everyone in the wide world can see (and remember of course, how much you paid for a ‘pretty’ web site which hopefully you do get ROI from). Make your collaboration environment something your employees love to use because it makes their job easier to use! Function over form, always!

4. Automation

Now everything else in place you can, and should, turn you attention to automation. How can you use tools like Microsoft Flow and PowerApps to remove repetitive processes. How can you design systems that get things done faster and in more consistent ways? Optimise, optimise, optimise should be your mantra here.

You can’t automate until you have your structure so you know where stuff is. You can’t automate until you know what people can access. You can’t automate until you have metadata around your data to help provide additional signals around that data that automation can then take advantage of.

Automation is truly the domain of businesses who will be successful into the future.


The idea is to focus on the right processes in the right order. Doing so makes life much easier and becomes something that you can repeat over and over again. Like the framework I provided, these four simple processes give you a path to success with collaboration in Microsoft 365. Chances are, whatever the system you are coming from, there was never a framework or a system in place. That is why the current data is in such a mess and in many ways hampering the productivity of the business. Simply ‘moving’ data to Microsoft 365, transfers those inefficiencies and frustrations as well. Why would you pay all that money and invest all that time and effectively end up in the same place with the same inefficiencies? Strangely, many do exactly that. They lift and shift, failing to appreciate that they not only bring across their data but also their antiquated and inefficient ways of working with data. Success in the Microsoft 365 collaboration space is defined by TRANSFORMING data. Such transformation means cleaning, structuring, adding value with metadata and so on. Every transformation requires work but the investments pay huge dividends down the track. They allow your business to work faster, be more efficient and agile. In the end they allow the business to be more competitive because they are taking maximum advantage of the tools that they have.

Can you use a screwdriver with nails? Yup, sure can. However, it is a much better idea to use the right tool for that job such as a hammer. Is there a best practice method to using a hammer? Yes, there sure is. Is it better to learn that process before or after you start work? Effectiveness dictates before, of course! Start using the Microsoft 365 collaboration environment in a way that it will be most effective instead of using it as a screwdriver to hammer nails. Staring thinking about “transforming” your data and processes to take full advantage of what Microsoft 365 provides. Follow frameworks and processes as I have outlined here to help you on this transformational journey and you may even enjoy the ride!

A framework for file migrations to Microsoft 365

One of the major points of confusion and poor execution I still see today is the approach that many take to migrating files to Microsoft 365 and Office 365.

Many years ago I wrote a number of articles about this:

The classic SharePoint migration mistake

SharePoint Online – Pilers and Filers

SharePoint Online migration – Start up is key

and all of that is still valid and I recommend you read it, however the technology has moved on somewhat and it is now perhaps time for an update.

What I’ll cover here is a framework for migrating on premises data, typically on file servers in network shares, into the collaboration tools in Microsoft 365. And that’s the first point. You need to look at this across all the services Microsoft 365 provides you today. Not just SharePoint. Not just OneDrive. And not just Teams. Microsoft provides a range of services that you should consider in this file migration process.

Now many claim that because of all these options it is too complex and therefore you should just dump your data in one place. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve see exactly this, everything from a file server F: drive dumped into a single Document Library in SharePoint. Oh the pain.


The secret of success is to have a “system” and not do things randomly without thought. Thus, my framework is shown above. Now let me break down the pieces for you.


You firstly start with the source (on the left i.e. a file server drive) and the destinations (on the right, i.e. collaboration services in Microsoft 365).


The first step is to filter the source information and remove (yes I said DELETE) stuff that doesn’t make sense to move. Old and duplicate files are example but I have highlighted this in more depth in a previous article:

Data discovery done right

Thus, you should now have less data to move because you have thrown some away. If you haven’t then you are not being serious about this. You should also have a better idea about what data to archive, what is user data, what is common data and so on.


With the remaining good data you move (yes, I said move NOT copy) users personal data to their OneDrive. You actually get them to do that so firstly they get familiar with the new environment, they move only what they want to keep and you crowd source this task reducing the workload. We all know that some people will never ‘get around’ to moving their data, so after a suitable time period has elapsed you move it for them. The typically data that is moved in this process is anything on the desktop, home drive or in user profiles.


Next, is to identify the common data by function or location and move it to a Microsoft Team. In a typical on premises file server the existing shares you will find data stored in folders like F:\Finance and F:\Administration and so on. These top level shares are most likely going to be the name of the Team and the next level down folders to be the channels inside that Team. In many cases, users may also wish to ‘clean up’ the existing or ‘start fresh’, which is also fine. However, it is relatively easy to find the data that should go into a Microsoft Team and move it there.


The next data to move is common data that makes sense living in it’s own dedicated SharePoint Team site. Data that goes into stand alone SharePoint is data that does not require chat and conversations around it, Teams is where that data would live.

The best example here is probably Archive data. This is data the business want to keep ‘just in case’ but won’t be updated by users. Thus, you move the archive data as is, into it’s own designated SharePoint Team site, mark it as read only for everyone so they can use it as a starting point if they need to. The major advantage of moving the archive data to SharePoint is that it is now searchable using the tools in Microsoft 365.

Another good example of a stand alone SharePoint Team site would be an Extranet from which you want external parties to come and download data. Having a stand alone SharePoint Team site makes managing securities much easier.


The data that is now left is typically company wide data like policies, procedures, manuals, etc. This is then moved into the traditional ‘Intranet’ using a nice pretty SharePoint Communications Site. This Intranet is available to all and typically used to consume data i.e. get something, read something. New data for this Intranet comes from the output of the individual Microsoft Teams created earlier. For example, imagine the Finance team produces an annual budget. They do this creation inside their own Team and publish the finished result into the Intranet for everyone in the business to consume. I’ve covered this concept in greater detail in a previous article:

The layers of Office 365 collaboration


Now you have data all over the place inside Microsoft 365 as many will point out correctly. What’s missing is a consistent method of navigation between all these sources to make it easy for users to navigate. This is where SharePoint Hub Sites come in. You uses this to provide a consistent navigation over the top of all your data. To users this makes it all appear very logical and structured (even perhaps like their old file server) and yet provides the flexibility to be reconfigured at any stage and have those changes automatically applied across the whole structure thanks to SharePoint Hub sites.


The final layer is Yammer. This is for company wide communications such as water cooler chat (birthdays, sports, holidays), information on how to better use Microsoft 365, questions about the business, messages from CEO, suggestion boxes, what’s happening with the business or competition, sales, wins and so on.

Like the Intranet, Yammer is designed for corporate wide chat that doesn’t fit into any specific Team (which are arranged by function or location). I have detailed the importance of Yammer in a previous article:

Why Yammer is still relevant


Now that you have a linear framework that builds on top of itself, hopefully you have a better picture of where you can put data from a file server into Microsoft 365. Having a framework is great but more importantly is how to get users to also adapt to working in this way. My approach is to start with Yammer and OneDrive first as I have detailed previously:

Focus on the ‘Me’ services first

In short, if users get used to working with just files using OneDrive and then with just chat in Yammer, they will find it much easier to then move to Teams which is effectively files and chat combined. This thinking stems from:

The rule of three

I advocate to not over load people. This is because you need to:

Stop making your users feel stupid

You can have the greatest technology in the world but if no one uses it then it is pretty much wasted. that’s what I see with Microsoft 365. Not enough through and time is devoted to adoption and transformation. Most migrations are done as fast as possible to ‘close the ticket’ and move onto the next. The fallacy of that rushed approach is evident in failed adoption and user frustration.

So there you have it, a framework for migration of file data into the world of Microsoft 365. You can use this framework in whatever way makes sense to you. You can use all of it, none of it or as a basis for your own approach. However, the key message is to HAVE a process rather than something random. Remember, moving to a world of collaboration from a world of storage requires transformation not just migration!

Once you have the top level framework or process, you can then start developing individual frameworks and adoption processes for each piece. That is, one for OneDrive, one for Teams, One for Yammer and so on. Once you have these processes, next you can start automating them to improve reliability and allow you to scale. Without a system you can’t automate. Without automation your effectiveness and profitability continue to fall, so investing the time in a collaborate system is definitely worthwhile. It makes users happier and it makes IT more profitable! A win – win. That is what a move to Microsoft 365 should be all about!

The layers of Office 365 collaboration

One of the misconceptions that many have about Office 365 is that SharePoint Team Sites is the only place that you have files. My response to that is that SharePoint Teams Sites is not the hammer to every request for an Intranet. You need to case your gaze wider. You need to consider all the options that Office 365 provides. You need to think collaboration not just storage. You need to shift your thinking from the way it has been to the way it could be.

Now having lots of options for collaboration can make choice harder, I get it. The solution is knowledge. Know what each service does well and then determine if it is a good fit. If, after consideration of all the options, a stand alone SharePoint Team Site makes sense, then great, but in my experience that is rarely the case.

Here’s an Office 365 collaboration framework that I present people to help them understand how to better use the collaboration tools that Office 365 provides them.


The simple structure I start with is shown above. There are 5 layers, each embedded within each other.

The inner most layer, layer 1, is a personal OneDrive for Business. Next is layer 2 being Microsoft Teams. Layer 3 is good old SharePoint. Layer 4 is Yammer and the outside layer is everything outside Office 365.

The SharePoint layer, layer 3, has three sub layers that are still SharePoint features but should be considered independently. These sub layers are: layer 3A being Hub sites, layer 3B being Communication sites and finally layer 3C being the traditional stand alone SharePoint Team Site.

Layer 3C is where many seem to think is the only place available to them when it comes to document collaboration. Each layer provides its own unique abilities and should be utilised in its own unique way. Let me explain further.


As you move from layer 1 (OneDrive for Business) to layer 5 (external) there is a move away from creation of information to a consumption of information. For example, most people start working on document in their own private space (layer 1 = OneDrive for Business), when they are ready they push these into a shared space for their team (layer 2 = Microsoft Teams). Here they are worked on by more people and seen more people. From here they are then pushed to the next layer (layer 3 = SharePoint) where they are seen by even more people but now few people are actually making changes to the document. Finally, the document is pushed to layer 4 where it is announced with everyone in the business. This garners the most eyeballs most of whom are merely going to consume or view the work.

Think of this analogy. A single user creates a new HR policy document in their OneDrive for Business. When they are ready they push that into the HR Microsoft Team to get further input from others in HR. Once that process is complete the completed HR policy document is pushed to the Intranet (SharePoint) where everyone else in the company can view it. Once the document is pushed to the Intranet it is announced publically on the Yammer network were it is now available for all to consume, use and comment on it.

Just as the creation process changes from creation to consumption as it moves through the layers, likewise the audience grows, from the individual to the team and then to the whole business and potentially those outside the business. Thus, information generally flows from layer 1 through to layer 5.


Let’s break this down some more. A user creates a new document in the OneDrive for Business. At this point the document is undergoing 100% creation.


When the user is ready they move the document into the appropriate Microsoft Team. Now the user may belong to some Microsoft Teams in the structure (2A and 2B) and not to others (2C).

At this point the document is probably undergoing 75% creation and 25% consumption.


From here the document is pushed to a traditional Team Site. There can be many different Team Sites if required, that people may or may not have access to. In this case it is being pushed to Team Site 3CB.

The ratio of creation to consumption here probably falls below 50% i.e. more people are reading it than editing it.


I think you get the picture. The document continues its journey through the various layers with different, but increasing audiences, having access to the document. However, the further through the layers it gets, the less the document is edited but the more it is viewed.

The reality here is that layers 3A (Hub sites) and 4 (Yammer) are really just providing navigation to the completed document which probably actually physically lives in either a traditional SharePoint Team Site or a Communication Site inside layer 3. However, the consumers of the information don’t care where it is actually stored, they simply want to know how to get to it.

At each layer I can only see and access information that is relevant to me. If I am part of the Microsoft Teams that works on the document then I can contribute. If I am not, then that document won’t be visible to me until it is pushed to a location further along that I have access to.

This means that the working for the final product can remain hidden from those not involved. So, think of the Microsoft Teams area as the traditional location where groups of people “create” and “work” on the information. This should be the location where most files from a file server are migrated, they should not be ‘dumped’ into a single location at layer 3 (SharePoint). They should be ‘placed’ into an appropriate work area for that team.

So, you should build your collaboration framework on layers. The above is just a simplified model but it is a good place to start I believe. The next point to consider with collaboration is information flow. Chances are, information is going to need to flow through to different places i.e. even though the finance department works on budgets, at some point they need to be shared with others in the business. Collaboration is about creation AND sharing of information. Simply creating information doesn’t serve any real purpose or benefit the larger cause without actually sharing it.

In most cases, your layers are going to mimic what your business already looks like structurally i.e. you’ll have a financial team, a HR team, a management team, etc. Each of these groups needs to create and publish information, thus they make logical Microsoft Teams in your collaboration structure. You may of course not need or want all these layers but I urge you to consider using them as a ‘standard’ no matter how large or small your business as each layer bring unique features and functionality to the table.

In all of this, you will notice that the concept of an ‘Intranet’ is really at the extremity of collaboration creation. To me an Intranet is about 20% creation and 80% consumption. It is not really the place you go to do work. It is however, the place you go to find stuff from others in your business. Think of the Intranet like a bookcase at reception, into which each department places the end result of their work i.e. when the finance team is done with the budgets they place them in the finance folder in this bookcase for anyone else in the business to reference. Once they have done that, they go back to their Microsoft Team to start creating the next round of budgets they’ll publish.

This framework also couples well with my recommended adoption framework detailed here:

Focus on the ‘Me’ services first

In that I suggest you implement Yammer first (layer 4) and then OneDrive for Business (layer 1). Once that is successful you move to Microsoft Teams (layer 2) and finally the Intranet (layer 3). In short, you win the adoption battle by adopting a two prone attack at the outside layers and then proceed inwards. In my books, that is a more certain way to victory.

Office 365 is a toolbox with lots of options for you to work with. Hopefully, this framework makes it bit easier for you to look at a way to conquer collaboration rather than simply abdicate for storage when it comes to your information in Office 365.

Need to Know podcast–Episode 168

In this episode I talk with Benjamin Elias from Ideocial about on of my favourite Office 365 service – Yammer. We follow up on some of the announcements from the recent Microsoft Ignite and how they will impact the product going forward. Of course, there is also news from Marc and myself on Office 365 and Azure to keep you up to date.

Take a listen and let us know what you think –

You can listen directly to this episode at:

The podcast is also available on Stitcher at:

Don’t forget to give the show a rating as well as send us any feedback or suggestions you may have for the show.





Azure news from Marc

Office 365 and Linkedin

SharePoint and OneDrive idle timeout

Using Yammer to keep up to date

I’ve written two previous articles about how you can use various Office 365 services to keep you and your business up to date. You’ll find these at:

Using Office 365 to stay up to date

Using Microsoft Teams to keep up to date

I’ll show you how to do exactly the same thing but this time using Yammer and Microsoft Flow.


I am going to assume that you already have your Yammer network in operation (it does come free with most Office 365 suites after all!). So the first step in the process, as with previous articles, is to go and find the RSS feed for the item you wish to track.


In this case I’ve created a new Flow and the trigger item I’ve selected is when a new items is created on the feed.


Once the process has started I’m then going to send that feed through a HTML to Text convert to make it easier for users to read.


I’m then going to take the result of that conversion and post it automatically to a location in Yammer. In this case, I have elected to post it to All Company but you may wish to create a dedicated Yammer group for these items (kind of like the dedicated channel I suggested when using Teams).


So when a new article is published like that above, it will appear on Yammer like so.


This should give the news much greater visibility and importantly allow other in the business to comment, add conversations and more value around the item. It also allows people to draw it to the attention of others using ‘@’ mentions.

You could extend this further by automatically adding appropriate ‘#’ hashtags to make search and categorisation easier. You are only limited in what you can do by your imagination.

I think this Yammer style automatic posting of new items works best for items that are relevant across the organisation or at least across a group wider than what you find in a Microsoft Team channel. However, all three that I have covered, Office 365 Groups, Microsoft Teams and this can be used where ever and when ever they make sense. They all have mobile apps. They all encourage participation and they all make the information searchable.

The idea with all these suggestion is to demonstrate how easy it is to bring the news you want directly to a common location in your business. Hopefully, it also demonstrates how powerful this can be when enhanced by comments from people inside your business. This concept applies for all business, large and small. It is the smart way to use the tools you have to fetch the information you need.

Remember, Office 365 is not just a single service like email, it is a toolbox that allows you to solve business challenges. Make sure you explore all it has to offer and implement it in ways to make your business more productive as I have hopefully shown here.

Focus on the ‘Me’ services first

The way I approach Office 365 adoption for businesses is very different from the approach that many take. My experience shows that successful adoption is all about understanding the human experience rather than just implementing technology.

The vast majority of people and businesses are very change adverse. That’s normal. This means they are already wary of what technology brings their work life. Many have also had plenty of experiences where technology failed them and actually made their job more difficult. All of these factors are an accumulated mountain that implementing new systems inside a business need to surmount.

The solution is not to attack that mountain with more technology, it is to focus on enabling people with technology. It is about making technology more personal for the user and showing them how it can help them get their job done. It is about letting them become familiar with what the technology can do.

Thus, the starting point is always the individual, because we all know everyone wants to know ‘what’s in for me?’. If you don’t get individual buy in then you’ll never get business buy in. It’s the individuals that make the business succeed, not the other way around! So what’s the strategy here when it comes to Office 365 adoption?


The approach I recommend is always to focus on the ‘me’ services in Office 365 first. These services to my mind are Yammer, OneDrive for Business, OneNote and Delve.

I have talked about why Yammer is the key starting point for adoption previously:

Why Yammer is still relevant

In summary, Yammer is a great way to make a big impact with little investment. It basically allows the business to work in public, which most businesses have never been able to do. Yammer also allows people to contribute and consume what is happening in the business and with those around them, on the desktop or on their phones. In short, it brings the social nature of being human into a business and in my experience produces huge initial wins for the business.

Once Yammer has been rolled out the next recommendation is to get users onto OneDrive for Business. In essence this gives them familiarity with the SharePoint experience of working with files but without being in the glare of everyone else in the business as they do with Team Sites. Because OneDrive for Business is personal, they can play, use and learn without fear of ‘breaking something’ or interfering with others. It has the added benefit of moving all their unbackedup data (desktop, My Documents, C: drive, etc) to somewhere they can easily access that just about anywhere. For the business, it provides greater compliance and security over their information.

Next up, I recommend OneNote. OneNote is an app that most people have never used but it is available on all platforms. That makes it easy to start saving information into. Once information is in OneNote it is backed up and sync’ed to all devices automatically. How many people do you know that carry a pen and pad wherever they go? Just about everyone right? Imagine the benefits those people would get if they recorded even some of their stuff into OneNote? The killer feature of OneNote is search. Since you have already got users hooked on OneDrive for Business, now you show them the benefits of creating and saving OneNote notebooks there. Whether they create one massive personal notebook or lots of smaller ones, it doesn’t matter. Now they have a digital notebook that never runs out, is always backed up and available on all their devices.

The final piece of the puzzle is Delve. How is Delve a ‘me’ service you may ask? Well, the way I see it, Delve is a user’s personal search engine. It allows them to search across all their documents, all the shared documents they have access to, their attachments as well information about others in the business. Remember how I said search is the killer feature of OneNote? It is actually the killer feature of Office 365.  Delve shows them THEIR document feed, the people THEY are interactive with most. It allows them to create THEIR OWN personal blog and so on.

Delve is also great from an administrator’s point of view because there isn’t much that needs configuring. However, for successful adoption an administrator MUST ensure that one feature of Delve is enabled. Can you guess what that is?


Nothing looks worse than having just a shadow staring back at you from your Delve. To drive adoption successfully you MUST have the user’s profile picture there automatically or show them how to upload it themselves.


Users will feel greater ownership if they see firstly, their own picture and secondly, pictures of the co-workers. Remember, you are implementing something like Office 365 to benefit users, not just for something to do. Thus, doing everything you can to promote buy in makes sense. There are so many other benefits of ensuring you have images in user’s profile that I won’t go into here, but rest assured, they are critical when it comes to adoption.

Once you have all these ‘me’ services rolled out, then you can start looking at ‘us’ services like Teams, SharePoint and so on. How do you know when the time is right to shift from ‘me’ adoption to ‘us’ adoption? Well, the metrics that you established prior to rolling out Office 365 should be the yard stick, however when users come to you and say things like:

– “Hey this Yammer thing is great, could we use it for this?”

– “OneNote is amazing, will work for this project?”

and so on. Basically, you’ll know then that the time is right to shift to rolling out ‘us’ services. You just have to wait till users start asking for them. At that point you know they are comfortable with the technology and have embraced the benefits themselves and now want to extend that elsewhere in the business. They are no longer afraid of the new technology, they see how it can make their lives easier. At that point, it is time to unlock your adoption achievement award and move on.

Thus, successful Office 365 adoption is about focusing on the individual before the team. It is about giving them ‘me’ services to allow them to become familiar in their own time and space. Once they do that they’ll come to you asking how these can be extended beyond their own world.

That is the way to do Office 365 adoption successfully in my books.

Why Yammer is still relevant

A little while ago I did a presentation at a user group on “Why Yammer is still relevant”. I’ve recorded that presentation and made it available to all, so take a look and let me know what you think. The slide for the session are also available for download.

The crux of my process is that Yammer is the best way to drive Office 365 adoption. Why? Because:

– Yammer is really targeted to do one thing well (public conversations)

– It requires no infrastructure to implement as it is a cloud only solution

– It has a free entry level version

– It is mobile ready

– It integrates well to other Office 365 services

The secret to implementing such a huge product like Office 365 is not to overwhelm users with an ‘everything at once’ approach. See my ‘rule of three’ for more thoughts on that.

Likewise, if you underwhelm users with just email, they will yawn and ask with they are bothering to pay for Office 365.

You need to find a good starting point for on boarding people into the new way of working with Office 365. This means you need to give them something that doesn’t take a whole lot of training to understand, yet provides some major productivity benefits. To me, Yammer fits that bill in spades.

That doesn’t means that you can’t use Microsoft Teams down the line but Microsoft Teams, with its links to files and stuff, can be too much initially for users to get their heads around, especially if they are coming from a world of files and folders. Yammer by contrast is simple and ‘works’ in a similar way to many social networks they already probably use (a la Facebook). That means less training, and importantly, less resistance thanks to pre-existing understanding.

The big productivity payoff is simply visibility of shared information. Such visibility means that information can now be shared with everyone in the business. This means users can find what they want themselves by simply searching for it.

Yammer also speaks to the two most important demographics I have outlined previously when it comes to driving Office 365 adoption, your innovators and laggards. Yammer allows you innovators to dive right and start posting information and showing people how much they know. For laggards, Yammer allows them to sit back and watch what everyone is doing before become comfortable enough to contribute.

Like all Office 365 services, to have a successful adoption you need to have a plan. My suggestions for overall adoption, as I have outlined, is to start with Yammer. To kick this adoption process off with Yammer you create two internal networks called ‘Social’ and ‘Office 365 101’. The idea with the ‘Social’ area is that it is somewhere that people can share birthdays, sports results, holidays, etc. You may think that have a ‘Social’ group is frivolous to a business. It is, however, very specifically designed to help drive adoption. How? Well, the more restrictions you place on people, the less likely they are to use it right? So, the concept of the ‘Social’ group in Yammer is as place with few restrictions, therefore encouraging adoption of the service. If you don’t want to see the ‘Social’ stuff you don’t join that group. Unlike company wide email blasts, users can select which Yammer group they want to be part of.

The ‘Office 365 101’ group in Yammer becomes a place that is initially seeded with helpful links, videos, and the like. It is the place people come to ask questions about Office 365 inside the business and get answers from implementers. However, here’s where the real magic of Yammer happens. Although there is some initial effort required to seed the group, what you generally soon find is that soon your innovators and early adopters start answering questions posted by others as well as contributing helpful information. They start doing what they have always done, showing people how much they know and helping others. Now all you need to do is stand back and the group ‘Office 365 101’ becomes self supporting. Amazing eh?

Once users have grasped the concept of Yammer with these two groups they will come asking whether they can use Yammer to solve business challenges. At that point, you know your adoption process is on the road to success. Until that point, you have to continue to work getting users to understand the benefits of Yammer and using the service for themselves (hint, just show them search and they’ll ‘get it’).

In a nutshell, that’s why I see Yammer now as being more relevant than ever. I look at it as the starting point for all Office 365 adoption projects and in my experience is works really well in that way. Implemented correctly, it is a product that will revolutionize a business and help them understand how the ‘new world’ of collaboration with Office 365 can improve their productivity and change the way they work.

Consistent success comes from having a system and Yammer is a key part of my adoption system for Office 365. I would suggest it should also be part of yours.