Are Change Management / Managers still relevant in Office 365?

As is always the case with technology implementations, the last thing on most people’s minds is training and change management. The more modern the technology gets, the worse this gets. People think that technology is intuitive and easy to use. “If you build it, they will come”.

No, they won’t.

In a world living at not only breakneck speed and untold turmoil, we are also engulfed by platforms like Office 365 that are monstorously huge and complex. Now we add weekly changes to that platform. Add complex businesses, (and no, your business is not “simple”, there is no such thing). Add decades of content. Add hundreds of people – 99% of whom are afraid of everything, never mind technology. Add compliance, legislation and auditing rules.

Now answer the question as to whether or not change management and managers are still relevant.

They are needed now more so than ever before in the history of the world. We are writing cheques that our bodies can’t cash. People are used to emails and documents and folders. Now, with sometimes little to no warning, they are told that everything will change, they will now have 20 new technology tools to use, and they must use them. They are bombarded with fear from every angle in the media and the office – you will die or lose your job. People are overworked, pushed to breaking point, losing everything. But technology gets steamrolled into businesses without another thought as to the impact on the human beings working there. How productive do you think your staff are under these conditions? Sure, there are good technical reasons for rushing an implementation, but they shouldn’t be considered at the expense of the human costs. It all needs to be taken into consideration at the same time.

A small fortune is spent on sneaky licensing – funding Microsoft very nicely thank you very much. Why is no significant money ever allocated to engaging people and giving them the help they so desperately need?

If you are lucky enough to have an inhouse change management team, now is the time to make full use of their skills, because there’s never budget to get that externally. Rolling out Office 365 is a quantum leap in the way people work, they are going to be overwhelmed and not have a clue what to use when, why and how. It takes specialist skills and specific personalities to change the mindset of someone. Good change managers are rare, great change managers are pure gold!

Remember too that Microsoft changed it’s fundamental strategy from business management to citizen developers. It’s all about the individual now – but this has been at the expense of companies. Information is more scattered and silo’d that ever before thanks to Teams because traditional intranet managers (if there even is one at all), simply cannot keep up with the technology and the change in approach to managing SharePoint / Office 365 intranets. If you are only using Teams and Outlook, how is your company getting the reporting they need to function?

We need centralised business management of certain content – and people need to be guided and coached on what to do, when and how. But skip the intranet planning and change management aspect and it will cost a fortune in consulting fees later on to fix the mess.

If you don’t address change management (and training) as part of your Office 365 rollout, you are not going to affect any significant change in behaviour of people. “The more things change, the more things stay the same”. If people aren’t encouraged to adapt and learn, the company will forever be held back and slowed down. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

Don’t let technology be the reason you do things – it needs to serve you, not the other way around. Technology shouldn’t be our measure of success. Happy, content, people that embrace change should be.

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