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7 Steps to Developing Office365 Roadmap for your organisation

In this post, I will aim to keep it short and cover only the high level strategy to develop an Office 365 or online services roadmap for your organisation. The time spent planning this roadmap would definitely save you 3 times the effort you would eventually end up spending and cleaning up during implementation.

Start with your organisation's strategy 

It is absolutely critical to start with your organisation's strategy and remembering to tie back technical projects to strategic business outcomes. I have harped about this point in few of my posts and will probably continue to do so in future as well.

As an example, the strategic objective for a resources based organisation at this moment could be cost reduction (due to current low commodity prices). An education related sector would probably want to drive distance education agenda. The technical roadmap would differ for the two examples above. In addition to forcing you to focus on strategic priorities, this will also act as a sure shot justification for dollars spent down the line.

If an organisation's overall strategy is not available, I like to interview senior management from various departments to get an idea of their top priorities. This will lead to a solid understanding of common priorities and department centric strategies. Works like magic every time.

Collate your user issues (Conduct Interviews)

At this stage, I generally interview business users at junior or mid-management level to get their most common frustration. I focus on frustrations from technical perspective but sometimes it helps to get non-technical frustrations as well.

As an example, a technical frustration could be the inability to work remotely, which is easily solved by online services. On the other hand, the non-technical frustration could be amount of time wasted in getting approvals because people are generally out of office or have conflicting priorities. The solution for second problem can still be partially solved by technology! I say partially because we can introduce solutions to automate business processes, however a larger part of finding a solution to this lies in either driving cultural change or users adopting the technology.

Categorise user issues into problem areas 

These could be categorised into problem areas dealing with collaboration (internal, external partners, team, functional), cost reduction, mobility, security, search, maintenance, digital, analytics and rapid application development.

The reasons for doing this is to get clarity on which program of work relates to what strategic objective and to be able to prioritise the areas that need to be tackled first. This will turn out to be of immense importance when you get down to creating a roadmap and eventually a project schedule.

Below is an example of how user issues can be categorised into problem areas, tied into strategic objectives and then prioritised accordingly:

User Categorisation

Map the existing technology with problem areas 

Once the first three steps are complete, this shouldn’t take too long. What I am alluding to is simple exercise of figuring out what technology would help in alleviating problems. Given below is a high level mapping. You can extend this by prioritising technology for each problem area. You can also break down technical services into sub services.

How the features contribute to the solution

In addition to looking at currently available technology, it makes sense to keep an eye on the rollout schedule for Office 365 services (or any other online service). Microsoft keeps a rolling list of services and updates that have been launched, rolled out, in development or cancelled. Here is the list:http://success.office.com/en-us/roadmap

Create a roadmap

Once you have completed the first 4 steps, creating a roadmap is about bringing together all the services into a logical order. Things to consider are technical dependencies, priorities (as identified in step 3) and the Microsoft Office 365 roadmap (or vendor online services roadmap).The purpose of roadmap is to help IT managers create business cases for project (or projects in this case) and thereafter creating schedule for the projects. Given below is a high level example I came up with:


Define metrics to measure success

Before embarking on implementation, make sure you define key business success criteria. Some examples are given below (courtesy Microsoft). 

Success Criteria

Plan for change management 

A strong user adoption or change management strategy will ensure sustainable success for your online services rollout. Another example from Microsoft is displayed below:

Office365 Adoption Plan

Posted by: Kartic Kapur , Senior Consultant, Business Productivity Solutions  | 21 September 2015


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