We’re getting ready to launch ShareGate Apricot, a new tool designed to address Office 365 management challenges faced by IT admins and group owners. I recently sat down with fellow MVP Marc Anderson (@sympmarc) to discuss those challenges and pick his brain about the kind of solutions our upcoming product should deliver.
Benjamin Niaulin: Thanks, Marc, for visiting us in Montreal at the ShareGate offices. It's always fun to have you here to talk Office 365.
Marc Anderson: It's always fun to do it. I wish I could visit more often. Montreal isn’t very far from Boston, but somehow it's far enough!
BN: What I wanted to talk to you about is something coming up at ShareGate—a new product. What we want to focus on with this upcoming tool is something we’ve been hearing from our customers who’ve already used ShareGate Desktop for migration, reorganizing and restructuring. It’s that once they're in this modern workplace, wanting to adopt these new ways of working and allow their users to do certain things, there things they have to look into—things like security and compliance issues.
[On one hand,] we want self-service; we want people to be able to share freely and use these new tools. We want Teams. We want Planner. But there are certain rules, certain challenges that come with that, and [the ShareGate product team] found that perhaps bridging the gap, collaborating with group owners more, would be something that would be interesting.
I want to know what you think the main challenges are once the initial migration is over and businesses are at the step where they want to adopt this modern way of working that Microsoft offers. I want to make sure that we tackle them in the new tool!
MA: Of course, and you've got some great ideas there—and you just spilled a few of them, but people are going to have to parse that out.
Now, I think that one of the common problems we have is—OK, we’re in Office 365. We know that people are doing things, we know that probably some good stuff is happening, but we don't necessarily know enough about it. And that can be from the IT perspective, or it can be from the group owner perspective.
We don't always have a good handle on what people are doing in those environments, those experiences that we're exposing them to. So while I see ShareGate Desktop as a great day-to-day tool, there are some opportunities for other capabilities designed to help both of those two audiences, the IT department and the Office 365 group owners, know more about how that garden’s growing.
BN: 100% agreed.
MA: What are the IT people worried about? What do they feel that they have to manage? And then, what are the group owners thinking about—how can they [keep track of] what the people [within their collaboration environment] are working on? How is it going? What might they need help with? What might they need to manage or sign off on?
BN: Ultimately, we want the group owners to be able to do the best work they can do. But they need some help, because they don’t know what all these tools do; they don’t know how they work. And, of course, that relates to IT, who’s responsible for ensuring security while providing a good environment.
So we have two different groups of people to consider, and we definitely want to find ways to bridge the gap between them to allow both to have the best Office 365 experience possible. We want to help you, IT, to reduce sprawl in your environment, to validate permissions, to reduce chaos, to ensure proper end-of-lifecycle management… And that starts with collaborating with your group owners quite a bit more.
MA: You know, I think Microsoft is giving us much better tools to manage all of that than they have in the past—
MA: —but it’s not necessarily all-inclusive or at the pace that a lot of organizations are changing. That pace is a good thing, you know, the fact that we're moving. I keep crossing my fingers—I've been waiting 35 years for this to really happen, you know, where IT lets the people who own these systems—the businesses—use these technologies in the way they want to get their jobs done.
We want to both give people more freedom to manage their content and their technical environment as well as make sure that we’re fulfilling corporate compliance and regulatory needs and all that. I’m not ever saying we shouldn't do that stuff—we should always look at [security and compliance] as a base, just like you can't buy a house unless you have a job—you have to have a little money before you can do that.
So we have to have that base where IT is responsible for the security, the compliance, the regulatory adherence, all that sort of thing. But then we also want to make sure that we give the tools to the people who actually use the technologies, so that they can do their jobs as well as possible. It's a little bit of a dichotomy. I described it earlier as trying to balance on the blade of a sword—if you move the wrong way, you can hurt yourself badly.
But you want to give both of those audiences some real power and some great tools so that they can collaborate, and I think that's exactly what you said before. It’s exactly the way to do it: help those folks work better together; remove some of the barriers between them working well together. Because traditionally there have been some barriers there: technological barriers, cultural barriers, incentive barriers. I don’t think all of that can possibly be addressed with software alone, but by providing better tools, you're at least laying some groundwork for that effective collaboration to be possible.
BN: Well then, let's check it out. I hope you'll join us in the private preview of ShareGate Apricot, where we’ll be helping you collaborate with your group owners so that you’re able to better deal with those challenges of sprawl, of permissions, of sharing everywhere.
MA: Can’t wait!
BN: Check it out! And thanks again for coming Marc, always thrilled to have you here.
TL;DR: Top 4 Office 365 management challenges
- Lack of visibility on what users are doing in Office 365
- Group owners need guidance
- Balancing user freedom with corporate governance requirements
- Transitioning to a new accountability model
Did we miss anything? What challenges do you face when it comes to managing your organization's Office 365 environment? Let us know in the comments, or tweet us @sharegatetools.