Navigating the Complex World of Microsoft 365 Management
Microsoft 365 has become a critical tool for businesses worldwide to enhance collaboration, productivity, and data security. However, the platform’s complexity has created various challenges for customers, leaders, and IT managers. I’ve had a number of presentations on this topic over the years, and was going through my various abstracts and content while submitting for some events later this year, and thought I’d share some of my thoughts on the biggest strategic mistakes customers make with Microsoft 365:
Not updating their operating model
With all of the talk about “business transformation,” I’ve found that one of the most significant strategic mistakes organizations make is not updating their operating model to align with Microsoft 365’s capabilities. Companies think “transformation” ends with “updating” their existing tools to whatever latest version is out there, but fail to look at how their systems and processes should/could be altered. Microsoft 365 offers a wide range of tools and services, and companies should reevaluate their existing workflows and processes to maximize the benefits of these features. This includes adopting a cloud-first strategy, streamlining communication and collaboration with Teams, and improving data security with advanced threat protection.
Lack of adequate training
Microsoft 365 has a plethora of features, and a lack of adequate training can lead to an underutilization of the platform. Organizations often think they don’t need to invest in training, because, once again, they consider it an update to what people should already know. It’s just Teams and the Office suite, right? They already know how to use Word and PowerPoint, so why invest in training? Companies should invest in comprehensive training programs to help employees maximize the use of Microsoft 365, leading to improved productivity and collaboration.
Inefficient license management
This is a problem that plagues companies large and small. Many organizations fail to manage their Microsoft 365 licenses effectively, leading to unnecessary costs and limited access to essential features. Companies should regularly review and optimize their license allocation to ensure they are utilizing the platform cost-effectively.
Fail to keep pace with Microsoft
Microsoft continually updates and improves its platform, and organizations must stay informed to take advantage of new features and maintain security. To keep pace with Microsoft, companies should subscribe to Microsoft’s update channels and announcements to stay informed about new features, updates, and security patches. They should also encourage employees to join Microsoft 365 communities and attend webinars, conferences, and other events to gain insights and best practices. And most importantly, they should implement a robust change management process to ensure seamless adoption of new features and updates.
Don’t adapt to industry and organizational change
Organizations must continuously adapt to industry changes, such as restructuring, migrations, mergers, and acquisitions. To stay ahead of these challenges, companies should develop a long-term strategic roadmap to guide their Microsoft 365 journey, including plans for migrations, integrations, and other major changes. Additionally, they should try to regularly collaborate with a trusted Microsoft partner (or their friendly neighborhood MVP) to ensure successful migrations, integrations, and other critical projects. As part of that, they should know their data and leverage analytics and reporting tools to monitor platform usage, identify trends, and make data-driven decisions to support organizational change.
Treating multi-tenant and multi-cloud environments the same as on-prem
Increasingly, organizations need to manage multiple Microsoft 365 tenants and cloud environments due to mergers, acquisitions, or other business requirements. To successfully navigate these complexities, companies should establish a clear governance model for managing multiple tenants and clouds, including role assignments, permissions, and security policies. They should use tools like Azure AD Connect and Azure AD B2B collaboration to streamline identity and access management across tenants and cloud environments. And most definitely (not that I am biased or anything) they should leverage third-party solutions that support multi-tenant and multi-cloud management to gain a unified view and centralized control.
Insufficient security measures
Organizations often fail to implement proper security measures, leaving the company vulnerable to data breaches and cyberattacks. Managers should leverage Microsoft’s built-in security features, such as multi-factor authentication, data loss prevention, and advanced threat protection, and create a comprehensive security plan.
This one is near and dear to my heart. Without a clear governance strategy, organizations can experience confusion and inefficiency in managing their Microsoft 365 environment. Managers should establish a governance framework (there are many examples out there), including guidelines for user management, data classification, and permissions, to ensure consistency and control.
Managing Microsoft 365 can be a complex task, but by avoiding common mistakes, keeping pace with Microsoft and industry changes, and leveraging available tools, organizations can maximize the platform’s benefits. As Microsoft continues to evolve, organizations must adapt to stay competitive and unlock the full potential of this powerful platform, but as many companies quickly realize, keeping up is a full-time job in itself.
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