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Improve employee productivity with a great Microsoft 365 management strategy

M365managementstrategy Featured

Workplace productivity is top of mind for IT leaders as organizations contemplate the future of work. Learn how you can improve employee productivity with a rock-solid Microsoft 365 management strategy. 

Microsoft 365 is one of the biggest drivers of productivity in the modern workplace. But the changing role of IT in business and the impact IT can have on productivity cannot be understated. 

IT teams that embrace self-service, particularly with Microsoft 365, can unleash enormous productivity potential within their organizations; it encourages collaboration, adoption, and agility. It also helps mitigate shadow IT and reduce the amount of end-user tickets resulting from a locked-down system and controlled environment.

Fortunately, today’s workers have more digital dexterity than ever before, which means that IT can now spend less time trying to convince people to use new tools and focus instead on helping them make the most of them.

While Microsoft 365 provides the tools IT needs to implement self-service, it can be challenging if you don’t have a strategy for managing it. This article will help you develop one.  

Achieve business success with careful goal planning

Every good strategy starts with goals. If your overarching goal is to help employees be more productive through the technologies you provide, it makes sense to take a look at some of the underlying factors that influence productivity in the workplace.

Understanding these factors will help you better plan for and facilitate greater productivity.

You might aim to: 

  • Help improve employee moraleStudies have shown a positive correlation between employee morale and productivity. When morale is high, people are more productive. Also, the more a business can help its employees increase their effectiveness, the stronger the influence morale has on productivity.   ​​​​​​​
  • Increase efficiency—Every employee wants to achieve things in less time and with less effort. But while workers are more comfortable with technology than ever before and expect a good user experience, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re using the technology to its full potential.   

Creating an enabling environment is key to boosting productivity. That’s why it’s a good idea to adopt a self-service mindset that focuses on giving employees the freedom to use Microsoft 365 in ways that best fit their work styles.

But how can you give users the freedom and autonomy they seek while ensuring security compliance? A Microsoft 365 management strategy is crucial to help keep your environment running like a well-oiled machine. Maintain an organized, secure, and efficient environment while allowing employees to become more self-reliant and productive.  

Additionally, Microsoft’s modern workplace is scalable for remote teams and creates a mutually beneficial strategy for IT admins and employees.

Streamline communication and collaboration with self-service IT

Adopting a self-service mindset has a lot of benefits for IT teams and the users they support.

For one thing, self-service can free up a lot of IT’s time that they can use to focus more of their attention on value-add projects. Also self-service enhances end-user productivity by removing barriers, allowing them to customize their workflows for better productivity, streamline their communications, and facilitate more effective collaboration. Finally, self-service creates collaboration between IT and the teams they support. 

Self-service can be difficult for some IT leaders to fully embrace because it can lead to sprawl or even security risks. We recommend a middle ground via self-service, wherein users can access the tools they need, in the ways they want, with IT’s guidance and security guardrails in place.

We sat down with 3 Microsoft MVPs to discuss the changing role of IT in business and how to enable self-service to empower end users while keeping your tenant secure. Here’s what Microsoft MVP Marc D. Anderson had to say about the need for IT to evolve from gatekeepers to facilitators.

IT learning to give people the power that they need to get their jobs done with the kind of tools that you’re offering now, is better for everyone.

Marc D. Anderson, Microsoft MVP

Microsoft 365 provides the ability to adopt self-service while still ensuring security. For example, setting up security guardrails in Microsoft 365 can go a long way to preventing many of the most common cloud security issues and help alleviate IT concerns. And, when employees are able to save time by using their applications effectively, they’re far less likely to turn to other, unapproved tools (the dreaded shadow IT). 

To make self-service work, you need to keep the lines of communication open with your end users. The top-down strict control of your Microsoft 365 environment without a good understanding of all the different business needs in your organization not only guarantees friction with your users but also hampers their productivity. 

When IT fully understands its users’ needs, it becomes easier to develop effective guardrails that strike the right balance between self-service and security. Some of the things an IT team should seek to understand include the following:

  • Who needs access to different applications across their organization
  • The types of data different business units need and their associated compliance requirements
  • How different teams need to collaborate internally (e.g. their preferred communication channels)
  • How much access to grant when collaborating with external users

Establishing better communication will help you develop this understanding and promote collaborative governance—IT working together with different business units to ensure they have access to the tools and data they need while keeping their Microsoft 365 environment safe and secure.

Also, streamlining those communications will enable you to revise your guardrails as business needs change and make it easier to communicate any changes you need to make as a result of updates to Microsoft 365. 

Optimize workforce productivity or workflow

Your strategy should also seek to identify usage patterns for the different Microsoft 365 applications you have implemented, so you can understand your end users’ needs.

  • Identify opportunities to streamline their business processes further
  • Identify areas where more training may be needed to boost the adoption of different applications 
  • Spot emerging usage trends that indicate a need for new or revised guardrails  

In our roundtable, Microsoft MVP Maarten Eekels discussed the obstacles that are holding IT teams back from being more efficient and how to help their organization move forward.

There are a number of different Microsoft 365 admin tools that can provide the visibility you need. For example, with usage reports in Microsoft 365, you can see how users are engaging with different applications across your organization.

You can use Microsoft’s Adoption Score to gain insights that will help you identify opportunities to increase productivity and user satisfaction as well as recommended actions you can take to help employees use their applications more efficiently.   

You can also create your own PowerShell scripts, though this can be time-consuming and require certain skills not all IT admins have.  

A more efficient way is to use a simple tool like ShareGate, a Microsoft 365 management solution, to get complete visibility into your Microsoft 365 environment. 

It’s very important for IT teams to delegate self-service to the business. Most IT teams are extinguishing fires instead of really helping the business to move forward and to make it more efficient.

Maarten Eekels, Microsoft MVP

Drive employee productivity with training

If you want to make your strategy truly effective in boosting productivity, you need to include ongoing training. That way, your end users can get the most value from Microsoft 365. Not only will training help make them more proficient, but also create a positive employee experience

In our roundtable, Marc summed it up perfectly:

Here are just some of the ways you can use training to boost productivity: 

  • Educate your team owners  
  • Teach users how to navigate Teams and create groups
  • Show them how to leverage the rules and filters in Outlook to help them more effectively manage their inboxes 
  • Teach them how to use Microsoft OneNote to be more productive in meetings

Microsoft Teams is a particularly useful tool for providing end-user training. Here are a couple of pro tips to get you started: ​​​​​​​

  1. Create a learning channel—Record training sessions and use Microsoft Stream to make them available on demand. This way, users can watch (and rewatch) them at their own convenience. ​​​​​​​
  2. Create virtual “office hours” —Offer sessions using Microsoft Bookings in Teams to discuss user pain points and understand their needs. Establishing office hours makes it easier for them to reach you when they have questions about how they might be able to use an application for a specific use case.  

We don’t take away the steering wheel. We still let them drive, we just make sure it’s safer and we teach them that the guardrails are there to help them not go over the cliff.

Marc D. Anderson, Microsoft MVP

You have the power to increase productivity across your organization

With IT acting as a guide—not a guard—you can gain all the productivity benefits that self-service offers for your IT team and your entire organization without worrying that you’re compromising security.

Want to take your Microsoft 365 management strategy to the next level?

ShareGate can help! With our easy-to-use tools, you can boost end-user productivity, close gaps between your IT team and your end users, and save time while keeping your environment secure and organized.

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