The REgarding 365 team have had this topic in mind for months and we thought it would be a fantastic opportunity to open up the discussion with a live audience.

There is pure gold in this debate, the points made and the responses from panelists and audience members alike. As always, “it depends” is the answer. But we like to take sides to tease out the details. Many thanks to Susan Hanley, Liz Sundet, Steven Collier, Loryan Strant, Daniel Glenn and Alistair Pugin for picking a side and provoking discussion with your experience, opinions and stories.

I have made a best-effort to summarise and transcribe the points made throughout the debate – firstly the teams as they each stated their points, then responses from the audience. Look for trends in the responses. Find some inspiration for your own organisation. But most of all, start and continue the conversation between business and IT.

The debate topic in this episode: Should we turn it all on in Office 365?

Steven Collier…

…from the affirmative team opens.

I only want to turn on Teams. But you need to turn on a lot more to take advantage of all that Teams has to offer. Office 365 is a suite. It’s not really individual products. It is being blended together. So when you turn services off, it’s like buying a thouroughbred race horse and cutting it’s legs off [with the promise of reattaching them later… eventually – Ed.] and still expect to win the race.

Loryan Strant

… from the negative team responds. Loryan compared his previous “turn it all on” view with experiences and observations from an end-user standpoint. He observes that end-users experience frustration when the find stuff in all kinds of random places. In his heart he believes that it should all be turned on, but organisations need to have governance. If you have already started to use all of Office 365, great but claw it back and form some governance. If your org is new to Office 365, ask what do you want to do. Everybody doesn’t need everything. Teams doesn’t need Power Apps or Flow. We don’t necessarily need Teams straight away. Have a plan in place, address business challenges and let people have a containerized free-for-all.

Liz Sundet

Experimentation is the life-blood for innovation. Liz has personally learned much from technology by experimenting. She has to have all the availability of services to know what’s available to create solutions. Liz doesn’t like travelling half-way down a path putting together a solution, to find that she is trapped and cant go futher because she doesn’t have access to required services and tools. Others are blogging about it and talking about it. But being in an organisation where the possibilities are turned off prevents her from going further.

Turn it all on. Innovate with it. Experiment with it. You might be like 3M and innovate from a mistake or accidental discovery. Create the next sticky note.

Sue Hanley

Most of her users are clueless. They get thrown a bunch of tools and don’t know how to use them. It’s complicated. If we don’t have training available and tell them what to do, or solve their business use-cases, they are going to be overwhelmed. We live and breathe technology every day. Regular people do not. They may want to learn about a particular technology and what it can do for them, before you throw it in their face.

Before we turn everything on, we have the training available, so that on day one they can get their job done.

Alistair Pugin

All thinks we underestimate what our end-users are capable of. His 82 year old mother will text on Facebook Messenger and comment on Al’s Facebook posts. There’s enough tooling inside the Microsoft 365 stack to close the gates behind. Use Azure Information Protection. You do need training. But if you give people a reason to use the tech, no trained you on Facebook Instagram and Snapchat, but yet everyone uses the tools.

Daniel Glenn

Don’t roll everything out at once, take your time to make sure you have all the structure in place.

Are you operationally ready, to support all the requests when you turn everything on? Do you need everything turned on? Absolutely not. You want to create a form but don’t have Forms turned on? Use SharePoint. Operational readiness is important to getting the ROI out of your initiatives. If you’re not ready for those support requests and that speed bump that a user runs into while using that tool, and you don’t have an answer, it’s going to proove to them that you are not ready as IT Pros to rollout. Their confidence in you goes down.

You need to get your IT Pros ready and have a tiered approach for handling those requests. Have a resource community, a place for people to learn on their own and people to talk to about that tool. Train your support task to handle those requests in an efficient way. There isn’t an organisation in the world that can be ready to support itself and turn it all on.

Responses from the audience

Brian. I agree with Susan. We are technologists and are immersed in it. I’ve seen Marketing and HR not even know how to navigate their way around Windows 10. Most organisations have poor training, their Learning Management System is aging. You need to address the change management and adoption and everything else will follow.

Liz. Training resources need to be up to date. It costs a lot of money to keep them up to date. You need some responsible for change management in your organisation, deal with the training to support turning it all on.

Loryan. We can’t expect people to understand all technology. Facebook and Instagram are different to Windows. How many buttons does Instagram have? 4? A monkey could probably figure that out. We can’t assume that a millenial knows how to use that expensive iPhone.

Anon gentleman. How many of you have your own IT budget that isn’t given to the business? When you’re talking about adoption, the company doesn’t have an appetite for that which it doesn’t understand and they are not going to give it budget.

By the time you have all your green lights for training, technology will have moved on and changed. You’ll never launch.

I recommend that if we turn it all on, we need to help our company see the value in turning it all on with adoption and governance.

Daniel. Perfection is the enemy of getting it done. If you are working toward creating an instructional manual for Office 365, you’re doing it wrong. Utilize what Microsoft has. Connect with a resource community.

Sue. You’ll never be done creating training. Microsoft has a lot of great training resources. Our job before we turn it on is to get people comfortable on day one. When Sue’s son went to school, all he needed was his Big Bird backpack. When he needed to go to college, he needed a lot more and it cost a lot more too. But on day one, it was enough to make him comfortable that he could do his job.

What we need to focus on in our organisations is, “How should…?” (governance), and make me comfortable on day one (that’s a 2 min video.)

Steve. Users don’t say “oh you turned it off? I won’t do use that anymore.” If you’re not providing a service, they’ll find it somewhere else. If you turn off Microsoft Forms, they’ll all be using Survey Monkey. Users requirements don’t change because you haven’t provided a service. They have a requirement and it’s your job to meet it.

Alistair. Shadow IT is real. If you don’t enable OneDrive, they’ll go to Dropbox. Yes, training is essential but I guarantee you the workforce that is coming into your organisation now, if you make them ambassadors of change and you get the to embrace technology on day one, part of the induction process will cover what you think you lack in the organisation when it comes to training.

Don’t think that your users are as stupid as you think they are. As IT people we know so much and we think they know so little. People are starting to embrace technology much faster than baby boomers did, who needed to read a 370 page whitepaper on Azure before they’d switch it on.

HR person from the audience. I am in HR and I know how to use Windows 10. The challenge we are having now is that we don’t have a huge training budget. But we also have early adopters and millenials. I don’t see anything wrong with them getting their hands dirty. If we turn it all on and they have the time to get in there and try it and work with it, it can help us develop the training we need to help those who still need help.

Melanie Hohertz. It sounds like IT is going to wait till they are comfortable, until they feel like they’re in control, until they feel like they a firm grip on whose going to use what and how. The thing is IT cannot understand for company like mine with 150,000 employees in 70 business units globally, IT cannot understand all of their use cases. I can tell you personally that as a person who sits in corporate affairs and has no IT budget whatsoever, and yet is training half the company on Office 365 tools that I learned the day before they demand to be trained on it, the thing is you get a champion core, you turn them loose, you work them to learn these tools, to create their own videos customized to their own situations and meanwhile the people who don’t want this stuff are content to live their lives in Outlook until pull them and drive them out with a cattle rod.

Loryan. I used to be a turn it all on kinda guy until I met people who lost their jobs because it was their responsibility to look after the organisations security and compliance, risk and those kinds of things. Someone’s arse is always on the line. We’re not saying leave it off. We’re saying just don’t turn it all on right away. We have granualar license and product controls. We’ve got to put the framework in place so you’ve got the organisations butt is covered, and then go out there within your little walled garden.

An audience members tale from the trench. I’m working in support. We always have users that need training, whatever tool we use. We have other users that can go on the internet and go way beyond what IT think they can do. We have these two kinds of people and we need to cater to both.

Steve. I think generally that support needs to become like assistance. It needs to become like a genius bar where you can get help, a discussion level of support rather than tickets and processes. Otherwise you’ll get a hammering on your support desk with 1000’s of tickets. This is more in line with the kind of support required for the Cloud. An organisation I worked at, we had a desk where people could come in and have a chat. It was an incredibly empowering way of doing it.

An audience member addressing a real world situation. We’re in [SharePoint] 2010, 2013, now we’re in hybrid and going to Office 365. Turn it all on? We’ve had this tenant for 3 years. Somebody turned it all on and nobody took governance over it. I’m in the application side of it. The side of our team is IT and security. I can’t even get them to turn on Groups right now. They won’t let me turn on OneDrive. They keep telling me we are going to get into naming conflicts. We need to figure out how to move them forward.

Loryan. A lot of IT departments are afraid of what they don’t know, and their response is to shut it all down. They need to make an effort to find out, get an external consultant to help them understand if needed.

Sue. It’s not a case of turn it all on or off. It’s planning. You need to have thought about governance issues before you turn it on.

It’s not “which service I should turn”, it should be “which scenario.” I think we need to enable business solutions by describing how do I solve this business problem. Understand and implement governance, then turn it on and launch it from a scenario perspective and let those 1000 flowers bloom.

Audience member’s example about turning it all on without governance. We pushed Office 365 out after being challenged by our boss to make it live in 90 days. We turned it all on, got it all out there and realised “we have no governance.” It was a disaster. We have group names… 5000 SharePoint sites that nobody is using, it’s out of control. Once you get all the governance in place, turn it all on and let people innovate. But make sure you’re there before you turn it on.

Audience member’s thought about what Microsoft is enabling. There are granular controls, but it always seem to be an after thought. 1 out of 3 releases get it right. Most of their products aren’t ready to be turned on for a whole organisation before it goes through some cycles and enables a governance model.

Daniel. Microsoft are a publicly traiding company and in it for their shareholders. The do roll out technology with missing pieces, that’s going to be that way from now on. We are in the Cloud now, we’re innovating so quickly, they’re not going to cover every scenario.

Audience member from a University that invented the steam engine and television. I work in an organisation with 30,000 millenials. If I turn it all on, will the “Yes” team pay for my Flow bill?

[There was some discussion about whether or not Flow will limit the number of runs based on the license you have and therefore prevent your Office 365 bill from blowing out. Steve Collier later confirmed that Flow runs will be limited, if the service is simply turned on.]

Audience member commenting about restoring trust between business and IT. There needs to be trust rstored and until that happens, there’s always going to be a debate about whether proper governance is in place. If you don’t make the decision and get IT and business to talk to each other before they turn something on, there’s always going to be that disconnect about what we should do.

Steve. There’s always a danger the keep thinking “is there a reason why I shouldn’t turn this on?” It can become quite a negative thing. We become fixated on what will the worst person it the organisation feel. It’s generally not like that.

Phil Worrell. Do your due dilligence. Know what you’ve got. The IT department don’t know what they’ve got. They’re not keeping up with it. There is too much. There isn’t enough governance. Products come out as minium viable product. They don’t do what everybody wants. The governance model comes afterwards. More options and changes come to the tenants. You need a whole staff to continually monitor and audit these things.

There are a range of users out there. Maybe most users don’t understand how to use the software.

You need an awareness of Office 365. Have a portal that shows what capabilties are available in Office 365. If you lock it all down, they will go somewhere else.

Liz. We keep talking about governance. But if we turn it off, what are we going to do when they go outside the organisation and create that black hole of 100’s of solutions with information stored outside of the organisation.

Loryan. Sometimes people go outside of IT because they don’t know what they have available to them inside of the organisations offering. They also go outside because they go to what they know. They used Survey Monkey in the last job, I’ll use it again here.

If you turn things off and for too long, they will go outside the organisation.

Audience member. In the end, the workforce will decide what should be turned on and what is actually being used.

Daniel. One thing we haven’t mentioned is organisations that are heavily regulated. For them, there isn’t an option to turn it all on. It is something you have to pay attention to.

In closing

Darrell in closing. Most of debates end in “It depends.” It is a conversation. You have to discuss, it’s different for each of your organisations. Some of you can turn it all on. Others are bound by regulation. We have to form governance. But we also need to rethink how we do support. We also need to think about how we engage the business in the decision making process.

Thank you to the audience and to Microsoft for the opportunity to have this open discussion. I encourage you to keep talking about this topic and sharing your opinions and stories, within your organisation and the Microsoft Tech Community.

Follow REgarding 365 to learn of our next debate. Share your stories with us and if you’re keen, let’s meet online and help you tell your story to the the technical community.

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