8/29/2019 0 Comments
Wrapping My Head Around the Word “Platform”
My company is a bit late to the game when it comes to Office 365. It has its reasons. It’s an older company in terms of how long companies have been around in my state capitol and older companies often operate under the auspices of “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.” Over the years, technology eventually forced itself into every aspect of the company’s business, beginning with typewriters being replaced with word processors, and then later, computers. Secretarial staff adapted and learned the new tools, and the company blended the old philosophy with a new one: “We should be at the cutting edge, but not on the bleeding edge.”
Infrastructure and updates were rolled out slowly on a 5 year replacement schedule, then a 3 year schedule, and then along came service apps, and now here we are today facing down Office 365 and Windows 10. Like I said, we are a bit late to the game, the year being almost 2020. My company’s small IT department has trudged through the last twenty years replacing and patching hardware and software as needed, playing a waiting game to keep costs down, coasting along on the old technology; knowing the new was coming, but taking few steps to investigate it.
Here’s the thing. Microsoft has been synonymous in many of our minds as “software suites.” That is, Microsoft Office was Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. If you were a power user you might throw in Access, Project, and/or Visio. But Microsoft is a platform now, not a suite, and IT Support staff from companies like mine are going to need to wrap their heads around all the ways the apps are now hosted from the cloud with tighter integrations and more interdependent relationships. Yes, the primary office production apps can still be used as stand-alone apps, but the richness of a platform is lost in that environment. The ability to collaborate with coworkers, which is something the millennials seem to have an innate grasp of, with require the implementation of the full platform and apps that extend the capabilities of the software we’ve been used to.
If you are one of the many IT Pros who have worked for a company that’s suddenly faced with preparing for the Office 365 migration, you’re going to be looking for some first steps and ways to get started. I know I was.
I started digging into the wealth of information eight weeks ago, and the more I started learning, the more I discovered I had only scratched the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Each time I explored one area of the platform, I was led down a rabbit hole of three or six or twelve other areas. For instance, I found I couldn’t just learn how to add a new user to Azure Active Directory, I also needed to be able to understand how security works. And adding a new group in Groups does some things on the back-end like creating connections in OneDrive and OneNote. In fact, it’s been almost impossible to focus on a single area of Office 365 at any one point because the platform overlaps in so many areas.
My notes were becoming a jumbled mess. When I wanted to share information with coworkers, I was spending too much time looking for it. I finally took an hour out of my day to get myself organized. It didn’t take too long because I was already dumping bits of info into pages in a Microsoft OneNote notebook. The bits were all related to content about apps, installation, security, training (for me as a Software Trainer and for material for what I’d need to convey to end users), and roll-out. In my role, my responsibilities overlap in every area of the platform. I had collected a lot of notes in two months. Now I needed some organization.
With application training topmost in mind, I started by creating sections by classification. I created three classifications. The first section is applications that my end users are already traditionally using in their business space. It includes the standard Microsoft Office applications like Word, Excel, OneNote, Outlook, and PowerPoint. The second section is for the new tools I think my end users may be interested in. They are the “extras” which they haven’t been using yet like Delve, Lens, OneDrive, Planner, Sway, and Yammer. The third section includes applications that I see primarily being used by my power users, developers, and back-end software administrators. The Power User Apps section includes Azure, Flow, Kaizala, PowerApps, and SharePoint.
At the top of the notebook, I created an index listing the names of the apps and then linked those back to each section in the notebook. This way, I always had a starting point to jump to whichever pages might be buried in a collapsed section of the notebook.
Download A Copy of My Notebook
I’m now about two weeks in with my improved organization and have added more sections for Installations, Troubleshooting, and Roll-out. If you are in my boat and looking for a place to start storing your notes, you can download a OneNote package of the file I started with and modify it to your hearts content! Good luck with your Microsoft Office suite to Office 365 platform transition!
DOWNLOAD: Office 365 Project Notes template
Find more templates: Table of Contents