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Topics: Information Technology
Office 365 roll-out strategy
As a PM on an Office 365 deployment project, I need to define the Roll-out strategy. Part of that is the Roll-out schedule and I am wondering what would be the important factors to consider while diving the users into manageable batches for the roll-out. Any thoughts, please?
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If I'm not mistaken, it is possible to toggle features within the 0365 instance to support the staggered rollout in alignment with organizational strategy and/or preparedness.
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1 reply by Nandita Saxena
Nov 12, 2018 1:45 PM
Nandita Saxena
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Hi Andrew - thanks for your response here, and for the question. Yes, the features can be toggled to suit organization's priorities and ability to manage the ability to provide appropriate support to the users, post roll-out. In my organization, we have decided to roll-out only Teams, OneDrive & Outlook for now (seeing the demographics and the learning curve involved for many). We will be releasing rest of the Applications in a phased manner.
Nandita -

There are a number of different inputs to be considered when developing a roll-out strategy including:

- Change appetite. You may want to hit early adopters and identified change advocates first.
- Level of risk. As there might be potential of downtime, especially for the first few batches, you might want to focus on groups which can afford "some" downtime vs. those that need to have no downtime
- Diversity of usage. Regardless of how much testing might have been done, you are likely to hit some unique boundary conditions with some of your users. It might be a good idea to identify those edge cases and tackle them earlier rather than later.
- Geographic logistics. If the deployment involves on site work, then you'd want to take location into consideration to optimize work for your deployment teams.

Kiron
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1 reply by Nandita Saxena
Nov 12, 2018 1:53 PM
Nandita Saxena
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Many thanks Kiron. These are some great pointers and I look forward to using them.
In my opinion these look like technical deployment details, your technical experts should have all the answers to these questions. You probably need a technical lead to sort out the technical details and to lead the deployment team.

Normally the IT departments have policies and strategies set up for these kind of deployments, you probably just have to identify and engage the right people to do the work. They will write all the documents that you need.
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1 reply by Nandita Saxena
Nov 12, 2018 1:53 PM
Nandita Saxena
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Thanks Adrian!
I believe the question from Nandita is more strategic than technical .

If you are the Project Manager on the project, you are ultimately responsible for the successful delivery of the project .

Therefore you are responsible for driving the overall strategy of the rollout. Without doubt the technical resources and technical leads are keys to delivering the technical component but Project Management as we all know , encompasses things way beyond writing a few technical documents.

Would you run it as waterfall or agile? which components and best practices will you use? You may look at some case studies of other organisations which have successfully implemented an office 365 rollout.

You will need a procurement strategy. Are you going to outsource or in-source the delivery teams?

Kiron's suggestions are excellent from a Strategic perspective and definitely are points that must be the key focus of a PM.

Change Management and Risk are big ticket items.

Understanding your stakeholders and the impacts your project is likely to have on them is another big ticket item.

Big bang approach may not be suitable . A Pilot approach with few users or groups of users representative of all parts of the company may be advisable.
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2 replies by Judy Nyokabi and Nandita Saxena
Nov 12, 2018 1:56 PM
Nandita Saxena
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Thanks Deepesh. Indeed my question was more strategic as I am formulating the Roll-out strategy for the roll-out to have the least impact on the end users. I really appreciate your input.
Aug 04, 2020 7:05 PM
Judy Nyokabi
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Hi Nandita, I am in the exact position as you and looking for a rollout plan sample as this will be my very first project to run solo. Would you be able to share what you ended up using if you dont mind? thank you

Regards,
Judy
Nov 09, 2018 9:54 PM
Replying to Andrew Craig
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If I'm not mistaken, it is possible to toggle features within the 0365 instance to support the staggered rollout in alignment with organizational strategy and/or preparedness.
Hi Andrew - thanks for your response here, and for the question. Yes, the features can be toggled to suit organization's priorities and ability to manage the ability to provide appropriate support to the users, post roll-out. In my organization, we have decided to roll-out only Teams, OneDrive & Outlook for now (seeing the demographics and the learning curve involved for many). We will be releasing rest of the Applications in a phased manner.
Nov 10, 2018 10:12 AM
Replying to Kiron Bondale
...
Nandita -

There are a number of different inputs to be considered when developing a roll-out strategy including:

- Change appetite. You may want to hit early adopters and identified change advocates first.
- Level of risk. As there might be potential of downtime, especially for the first few batches, you might want to focus on groups which can afford "some" downtime vs. those that need to have no downtime
- Diversity of usage. Regardless of how much testing might have been done, you are likely to hit some unique boundary conditions with some of your users. It might be a good idea to identify those edge cases and tackle them earlier rather than later.
- Geographic logistics. If the deployment involves on site work, then you'd want to take location into consideration to optimize work for your deployment teams.

Kiron
Many thanks Kiron. These are some great pointers and I look forward to using them.
Nov 10, 2018 11:23 AM
Replying to Adrian Carlogea
...
In my opinion these look like technical deployment details, your technical experts should have all the answers to these questions. You probably need a technical lead to sort out the technical details and to lead the deployment team.

Normally the IT departments have policies and strategies set up for these kind of deployments, you probably just have to identify and engage the right people to do the work. They will write all the documents that you need.
Thanks Adrian!
Nov 11, 2018 7:10 PM
Replying to Deepesh Rammoorthy
...
I believe the question from Nandita is more strategic than technical .

If you are the Project Manager on the project, you are ultimately responsible for the successful delivery of the project .

Therefore you are responsible for driving the overall strategy of the rollout. Without doubt the technical resources and technical leads are keys to delivering the technical component but Project Management as we all know , encompasses things way beyond writing a few technical documents.

Would you run it as waterfall or agile? which components and best practices will you use? You may look at some case studies of other organisations which have successfully implemented an office 365 rollout.

You will need a procurement strategy. Are you going to outsource or in-source the delivery teams?

Kiron's suggestions are excellent from a Strategic perspective and definitely are points that must be the key focus of a PM.

Change Management and Risk are big ticket items.

Understanding your stakeholders and the impacts your project is likely to have on them is another big ticket item.

Big bang approach may not be suitable . A Pilot approach with few users or groups of users representative of all parts of the company may be advisable.
Thanks Deepesh. Indeed my question was more strategic as I am formulating the Roll-out strategy for the roll-out to have the least impact on the end users. I really appreciate your input.
Nandita,

One of the key factors to keep in mind in planning an O365 deployment is user adoption. The technical part is "almost" straightforward, but if you don't get the users on board, it will fail.

The best approach is to define adoption groups, for example, by department. Each department will have different needs and pain points, and thus, possibly, different priorities. Get champions engaged from each department to help understand a unit.

Technically, you can turn on a number of things at once, but others, you should do in a more structured fashion.

In my last organization, we did turn on licenses for everyone early on, to encourage grass-roots adoption, while running deployment streams in parallel. We also ensured we, as a project team, used as many of the features of Office 365 as possible. For example, we provided updates through Yammer, collected feedback using Forms, and automated ad-hoc requests through Flow. We also created a knowledge portal using SharePoint Online.

Technically, you have a couple of main migration items to look at:
- Mailbox migration: this can be phased, however, while Microsoft has been improving the technical capabilities, shared mailboxes can prove to be a complication. It is best to migrate users as a group, including their shared mailboxes and shared calendars.
- OneDrive: the best is to try to get users to migrate their data
- SPO: beware of trying as-is migrations of network data or existing SharePoint sites. Many organisations, in my experience, are not good at housekeeping, and you could be migrating a lot of old data that could be archived instead.

In terms of getting users engaged, focus on the products that are differentiators:
- Teams for collaboration
- Flow for workflow processing
- Forms for surveys and feedback
- PowerApps for your customized application needs

For me, the bigger mailbox, the big "network drive" and plenty of SPO space are now background items, not the selling points of O365

Ivo
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1 reply by Michael Delaney
Aug 05, 2020 9:55 PM
Michael Delaney
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You are spot on, the change to the user is the most difficult to accommodate and a roll out plan will need to adapt to the various user types The phased approach is almost essential to allow the various user groups to absorb the new features
Anyone have a sample project plan used for implementing Teams, SPO, Exchange Online or any of the Microsoft O365 products? There is so much to think about data management, security, compliance, user roles, etc wondering if anyone has a good strategy or template started. Thanks
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