In many ways Office 365 is a digital workplace. It enables employees to improve productivity and job satisfaction by removing the dependency on a centralized office, desk and device. With a focus on enabling collaboration without boundaries, Microsoft's cloud productivity suite is continuously being updated with tools that allow employees to engage with each other and share enterprise content using any device from anywhere at any time.
The challenge facing enterprise IT administrators’ lies in the ability to control and manage this digital workspace with its broad feature set and frequent updates, not to mention managing the digital worker’s expectations. Microsoft knows this. As a result, there are various ways that the company is helping to ensure that the control of Office 365 environments for organizations lies in the hands of the IT admin.
Office 365 Components
Office 365 is made of several components bundled together to provide collaboration, social, content and access capabilities for organizations. However, the task lies with the organization to develop an effective strategy for implementing the capabilities relevant to each individual organizational context, culture or environment.
Some of the components include OneDrive for Business, Delve, Yammer, Exchange, Skype for Business and SharePoint, all of which are tightly integrated with the Office platform. Microsoft’s integration approach ensures that social collaboration becomes a fabric of the organization’s business processes, with enterprise mobility delivering a seamless and consistent experience for all workers across different device platforms.
Given the daunting task of delivering a consistently great user experience, Microsoft has proactively introduced learning and support tools for Office 365 administrators. For instance, the process of assigning service licenses to specific users can become a repetitive process required each time a user is added.
For each new user, a number of settings will need configuring, which often requires a substantial amount of time and effort often from multiple administrators. But with the Office 365 Admin Dashboard, users can be added in bulk using the bulk add users wizard which only manages user configuration and not service settings.
Also the iOS Office 365 Admin app, available via the Apple App Store, allows the IT admin to manage users on the go and keep up to date on Office 365 communications via an iPhone or iPad.
Support Option to control Office 365
Admins looking for help and advice, can gain access to a number of useful articles from a list on the Office 365 for business – Admin help website. The learning center category of content is useful for both business and education, and provides learning for admins on installing Office, setting up mobile devices and navigating Office 365 for business.
The Office 365 admin center is also another component in Office 365 which enables the administrator to add users, manage domains, licenses, etc., by making use of a number of features and settings for managing the organization. It's also possible to open separate admin centers for various services which can be used for managing the available settings for the individual services, although this largely depends on the plan and region the organization fall into.
TechNet also provides helpful articles for IT admins, covering topics such as service descriptions, onboarding benefit, security and compliance, exchange online, windows PowerShell, and SharePoint Online. These can provide a helpful source for creating user training manuals and support materials which enable the IT administrator to easily support end users and stakeholders.
Microsoft works hard on iteratively improving Office 365, which obviously means that administrators will need to be up to speed on subsequent releases and ongoing change. The Message center is another tool that ensures that any changes and updates to the organization's environment or services are communicated effectively to the Office 365 administrator. It also provides quick access to the latest product innovations before they become publicly available.
Staying in control of your environment
In a bid to help IT admins adopt a cloud change management model, Microsoft is rapidly improving ways of managing the communication of new updates. Their strategy is to provide new services or capabilities to Admins first, who can then test and provide feedback before general release to the public.
Since the introduction of this service, called First Release, feedback can be shared with Microsoft via the Office 365 Admin Centre or other channels like Yammer Office 365 Network and UserVoice. The feedback generated has enabled Microsoft to deliver improvements to Office 365 Video, the Office 365 for business roadmap, and the Office 365 Admin app, giving control back to admins through involvement in shaping the future of Office 365.
Office 365 is a complex beast, and arguably getting more so for Admins as features are added. Hopefully the tips and tricks in this post will help you stay one step ahead! As an IT admin, have you had any trouble staying in control of Office 365?
Want to learn how to keep your Office 365 environment tidy and secure? Download our curated guide, Office 365 Groups Governance, for practical tips on achieving a balanced approach to Office 365.