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We Just Got Microsoft 365. What Now?

I’ve heard this question many times since leaving the corporate world and working with businesses that are hundreds of times smaller than my former mega-corporation. I’ll try to quickly answer that question.

Oftentimes, a Managed Service Provider upgrades a small business to Microsoft 365 but provides little guidance because they themselves know little about its potential.

Even if an MSP understands 365’s potential for transforming business, they usually don’t have the experience necessary to apply that potential to a small company’s unique business needs.

Their language is usually tech-speak that doesn't resound, so the company continues using only the apps they’re familiar with: Outlook, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.

The new-generation apps like Teams, SharePoint, Bookings, Planner, and many more sit unused somewhere unbeknownst to the business owner.

Most small business owners don’t realize there are other apps in 365, even though they're paying monthly for those apps as a part of their license. In today’s inflationary economy, paying for something monthly and not using it is not on any business owner's list!

Once an MSP puts 365 and Teams on company computers, one of the following three scenarios almost always happens:

The most common scenario is the small business does nothing differently than before getting 365.

They continue using only the apps they’re familiar with and miss out on 365’s transformative potential. That's like having Michael Jordan on their team and keeping him on the bench!

The second common scenario is they see the chat and video meeting potential of Teams and use only that.

To continue the Michael Jordan analogy, that’s like putting him in the game, but only allowing him to play defense. There's so much unused potential there and it can mean the difference between losing and winning.

The third - and most costly scenario - is someone gets excited about the potential and builds a complete mess because he/she has no experience applying the apps to work processes.

Such an employee then builds solutions in the wrong manner or with the wrong apps and creates a sprawling mess that overwhelms other employees and hurts efficiency.

That’s the equivalent of giving every player on the court a ball, but some have basketballs, some have footballs, and some have baseballs.

It doesn’t matter if your team is full of Michael Jordans, such a scenario is a fiasco!

To cite a recent example of such a mistake, a small business called me after they had lost thousands in revenue.

An otherwise tech-savvy company employee had moved all shared files to the business owner’s OneDrive. Since OneDrive is not designed to house shared group files, only the business owner could access those files unless he shared each file individually.

Because of this single misunderstanding of 365, the business suffered for weeks. Worse yet, this error was with the full advice and support of their MSP!

After the business owner called me, we spent about 30 minutes discussing the proper way to store shared files in 365. The business owner moved the files himself and they were back to operating within a few hours!

While that is a near worst-case scenario, all three situations above are the result of business owners not knowing what they don’t know.

Unfortunately, there are very few MSPs who understand 365 either. Their job is to keep computers and computer systems running securely. They rarely have experience optimizing business processes with 365.

The power of the integrated suite of Microsoft 365 apps is enormous. Businesses can save thousands of dollars in resources overnight with proper implementation and adoption.

Like fire, Microsoft 365 is an awesome servant but a terrible master. Learn how to use 365 properly and you’ll have a business that is head and shoulders above the competition. Use it poorly, and you can seriously hurt your business.

I’ll describe several scenarios in my next few posts where small businesses, local governments, and non-profits can quickly transform their business processes. Learning those possibilities will make you want to master 365!

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