Driving Office 365 User Adoption: 5 Steps to Building a Champions Program
In my last blog (8 Steps to Increase User Adoption of Office 365), I outlined the steps involved in succeeding in taking end users on the Office 365 journey. In this blog, I would like to focus specifically on one of those 8 steps: building a Champion Program.
Microsoft outline their methodology for driving user adoption in their Office 365 Adoption Guide, with building a champions program listed as one of the best ways to ensure Office 365 is implemented smoothly and seamlessly in to your business. In my experience at Ergo, this step is proving again and again to be one of the key success factors in our Office 365 and CRM deployments over the last couple of years.
The benefits of Office 365 can only be fully unlocked once all users know and understand how to use it properly. Therefore, the need for champion users within an organisation is vital. An overall user adoption strategy can be developed quickly and clearly with introducing a structured champions program into a business, but what other benefits are there? What are the key points to consider when creating and implementing your champions program?
But first, what exactly is a 'Champions Program'?
This is a group made up of enthusiastic volunteers who will help drive adoption of Office 365 from the front line. These volunteers are modern day “evangelists”, people who will help to introduce the new way of working that Office 365 brings to the organisation. They will become experts and points of contact, so they can provide guidance and share best practices to all.
If executed correctly, your champions can also play a key role in other areas of your overall user adoption plan, like training, communications & awareness, and feedback & evaluation.
What are the benefits of this?
- Champions will help reduce the strain on the resources of the core project team and help drive engagement throughout the community
- They will help train their teams in new ways of working. They build awareness and understanding throughout the community
- Research has found that learning via co-workers is among the most effective and most used methods
- They provide valuable feedback to the project team regarding user engagement and adoption
How do you motivate the Champions? What's in it for them?
- Your champions will be passionate about what they do, and by nature excited to help their peers to learn new and improved ways of working
- For champions who love technology, they will get the benefit of experiencing and possibly piloting Office 365 before it hits all other end users of the organisation
- Champions will get focused attention in terms of getting trained up and increasing their knowledge. They will have direct access to the experts on the Office 365 project team
- Some champions will see their role as an opportunity to make life easier for them by ensuring others around them know how to use the solution properly
- Champions will receive recognition from their peers and higher management for their expertise and efforts
- In some cases, it’s possible that champions may receive some minor compensation or prize (project and company dependant)
How will the Champions drive adoption?
- Champions will help to create the hype and enthusiasm that’s necessary for growing adoption of improved ways of working
- They will build a circle of influence amongst their teams
- They will bring the new ways of working to life across teams by putting practice into action
- They will help train their teams on the new world of collaboration and communication that Office 365 brings
- They will build awareness of tools and solutions through informal communication channels
- They will identify business challenges and possible solutions using Office 365
- They will assist in engaging new users, providing guidance, and sharing best practices
How do you build a sustainable Champion community?
- Choose enthusiastic staff members who can commit time and effor
- Provide dedicated training in order to increase Champion depth and breadth of knowledge so they can effectively teach their peer
- Provide materials to support their work on the ground with teams and individual
- Create a clear plan. Champions are more successful if they are following a clear execution pla
- Provide a regular rhythm for discussions with the champions on what’s working and what’s no
- Create communications to the organisation about the Champion’s role
- Ensure that all employees are aware of who the Champions are and how to engage with them
What to remember
In concluding, a point to remember is that it is important to enable your champions to not only be a point of contact to employees, but to directly approach employees about best-practices and appropriate uses of the technology. It’s their job to be on the lookout for Office 365 opportunities in their day to day activities and encounters. Office 365 has the power to transform completely how companies collaborate, develop and deliver on work. It solves a wide array of complex business challenges, but its benefits can only truly be reaped once its users are in tune and adept in its workings. Make the decision to align the right people who will promote and develop the tool throughout your business. In doing this, you have subconsciously propelled your organisation into the next level of competitive advantage.