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What is the problem you are trying to solve?

The latest trend that I notice by those who start using Office 365 is an immediate desire to start using all the tools available in Office 365 all at once. Why??? Way too often I see my clients start using Teams, Planner, Yammer, Office 365 Groups all at once, without having a clear strategy. When you go to Starbucks®, and see 20 different choices for coffees, lattes, and cappuccinos – do you start drinking them all at once? I hope not!

Just because the choices are there, does not mean you need to use them! Nobody is twisting your arms and forcing you to use any of them. If, on another hand, you have a hard time choosing the right tools, ask yourself a simple question:

What is the problem or pain point you are trying to solve?

Once you respond to the above question, choose the minimum number of tools and options that will solve it! Do not implement everything at once, just because you can. This will lead to governance disaster. Here are some common problems faced by organizations and proposed tools from the Office 365 suite.

Problem 1: Our folder structure is a mess

Forget about all the “other” tools. Just use SharePoint and metadata. The combination of both will allow you to organize and streamline on categories and naming convention.

problem you are trying to solve

Problem 2: We need to manage projects and organize our project info better

Once again, SharePoint to the rescue. For simple project management, you can utilize team sites and use out of the box web parts. Read this post to learn how you can use SharePoint to set up a simple PMO.

problem you are trying to solve problem you are trying to solve

Problem 3: We need to manage Agile projects

If setting up SharePoint sites is not your thing, go with Office 365 Groups. An Office 365 Group gives you access to other tools like Planner, Teams and a fully-functional SharePoint site. By the way, if you want to learn more about how Planner can be used for Agile/Scrum projects – this post is for you.

problem you are trying to solve

Problem 4: We need to improve project communication between dispersed teams

The newly released Teams might be the communication vehicle you are looking for. You can read more about Teams here.

problem you are trying to solve

Problem 5: We need to improve company-wide communication

Once again, Teams is one of the communication channels you can use. Another alternative would be to use Yammer, which is also part of your Office 365 suite. Teams might be more of a project-centric type of venue, while Yammer can be used for company-wide communications.

problem you are trying to solve

Problem 6: We need to automate some of our business processes

No problem, have you looked at SharePoint Designer, Microsoft Flow, and PowerApps? While you need some know-how to customize each to your specific needs, simple document or vacation approvals can happen using Out of the Box functionality. Check out this post on Content Approval feature to learn more.

The bottom line

So the list above is not meant to be a comprehensive list of all the possible problems you have in your organization. It is quite possible, SharePoint and Office 365 will not solve all of them either. However, it is very important to only pick and choose the Office 365 tools you absolutely need. Using all of the above, all at once, especially without proper governance and training, is a sure way to fail an implementation and user adoption.

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