Q

Emphasize ease of use to win buy-in for Microsoft Office 365 suite

In this answer, expert Chris Moyer discusses ways to earn management and user buy-in to ensure a smooth transition to the Microsoft Office 365 suite.

Our organization is considering moving to the Microsoft Office 365 suite in a few months. The proponents believe the switch makes good sense from both the business and the IT point of view, but we anticipate some resistance from both management and our users. Do you have any tips for making a smooth transition?

In 2007, Google introduced Google Docs for Google Apps users. This started a lot of buzz in the industry, with many people predicting that the concept of an Internet-based document management system would never catch on. Today, of course, Google Docs has more than 10 million active users. The days of the traditional office suite are numbered.

Microsoft officials recognized that fact -- as well as the fact that their company could make more money by charging users for monthly usage rather than for a single product. That's the thinking behind the Microsoft Office 365 suite, which is a hosted, online version of the traditional installed version of the Microsoft Office productivity suite.

The Microsoft Office 365 suite offers lower up-front cost of ownership as well as document storage capability. The service saves all documents transparently in the Microsoft cloud, allowing users to access those documents on their laptops, tablet computers or smartphones, wherever they go.

The Microsoft Office 365 suite is a good combination of cloud and local systems; it provides the benefits of both platforms without the disadvantages of either.

This solution makes a lot of sense for businesses that want to support document-sharing to enable employee collaboration, because users will be working with familiar Office tools. Switching to the Microsoft Office 365 suite won't be as big a change as switching to something like Google Docs, which offers a completely different style of editing and requires an Internet connection to access documents.

Microsoft Office 365 is a good combination of cloud and local systems; it provides the benefits of both platforms without the disadvantages of either.

What are some of the major benefits of the Microsoft Office 365 suite? With it, users can:

  • Continue to use Microsoft Office on the company's local systems.
  • Access their documents from just about anywhere.
  • Collaborate more easily using a variety of devices.
  • Depend on their documents being automatically backed up.

Among its benefits from the IT perspective:

  • Upgrades are included.
  • Licenses are included in the monthly cost.
  • IT no longer needs to manage back-end servers for document storage, SharePoint and some other functions.
  • Documents remain on company servers when employees leave the company.

In both cases, the primary benefit is that an organization doesn't need to switch its users to a completely new system -- everything is still based on Microsoft Office -- and employees don't need to do anything special to save all their documents to the cloud.

This was first published in January 2014

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