We’ve heard about all the benefits of SharePoint Online and Office 365: No more servers or hardware, no more on premise maintenance time and licensing costs, no more lengthy upgrade and patching schedules. Collaboration is improved and external user access is simplified, with the benefit of access to email, contacts and intranet from any browser and any device on any network.

You may already have a well-structured and well-controlled Document Management Solution (DMS) in SharePoint 2013 or 2016 and you’re now ready to make the move to SharePoint Online and Office 365 to justify Enterprise Agreement (EA) licenses changes or support your Cloud first IT strategy.

SharePoint is SharePoint, right? Wrong.

The moment you look at migrating to SharePoint Online, your current ways of working could go right out the window. Shifting to SharePoint Online and Office 365 isn’t normally as simple as a technical refresh – it could significantly impact your users’ experience and will require the organisation to seriously consider its planned adoption strategy.

Yes, SharePoint Online includes all the document management functionality featured in SharePoint 2013 and SharePoint 2016 that you know and love. You still have your Term Store, Managed Metadata, Content Types and the Hub, Site Columns, Version Control, Document Libraries and Lists.

But, SharePoint Online and Office 365 includes some new, game changing features to assist users in collaborating both with colleagues and users outside of the organisation from a core central solution. Typically, this was achieved via a classic SharePoint Team site, a network drive or a users My Documents and of course email. SharePoint Online and Office 365 includes a collection of cloud and web-based technologies that make it easy to share, store and manage digital information within your organisation, such as Skype for Business, Yammer, OneDrive for Business, Office 365 Groups and Teams in addition to the traditional SharePoint Team sites.

SharePoint Online and Office 365 can effectively change the way your users complete their daily tasks, the documents lifecycle and the underlying business process, which in turn changes the ways of working.

The good old days – The problem with users & SharePoint on premise

Even if you have invested heavily both financially and from a user perspective in a SharePoint DMS, from our experience, organisations typically only use SharePoint for their document’s final destination. They actually collaborate on the documents via a very simple process:

  1. You create a document, on your Desktop, on local My Documents or even a network drive.
  2. You email the document to a list of people that you want to collaborate with
  3. You then call the people and talk through the document, or these users read, modify then email back their version of your document
  4. You then spend the best part of your day consolidating the changes, ignoring them or understanding what they actually meant by the comments they have made
  5. Once you have completed your document, you upload it to your DMS in SharePoint

Ensure your users are prepared for the new ways of working and Microsofts “Modern Workplace”

With Office 365, the processes from the good old days are gone. SharePoint Online and Office 365 is a modern way of working that fits perfectly in line with the drive for Cloud First environments. With theoretically unlimited personal storage and a significant about of tenant storage, users can easily share documents and seamlessly collaborate with colleagues and customers without the time consuming manual processes and email-based communications.

Yet there is always a reluctance to change. Organisations will need plan the deployment carefully, consider the roll out strategy and implement governance and controls, they need to engage users upfront, demonstrating the clear benefits of SharePoint Online and Office 365 and helping them understand how to use it effectively and of course, make their daily activities easier.

If implemented correctly you’ll have a faster, more reliable, more secure and user friendly system, and the hours and money saved on maintenance and hardware can be put to use in other IT areas, such as training and business process improvements.

But remember, for a successful SharePoint Online and Office 365 deployment has to be a business lead project, not an IT project, and the end product is amazing.

Trustmarque can help you with your SharePoint Online and Office 365 plans, including design and implementation, to adoption and communication plans and training, to ensure you get the most out of your investment, drive collaboration and maximise the value of this powerful suite of software.

About Andrew Wyatt

Andrew is one of the senior Solution Architects in our Business Productivity team and has over 14 years’ experience of SharePoint and Office 365.  Having been the Technical Lead and Enterprise Architect on one of the largest deployments of Office 365 in the UK to date, he is ideally placed to assist and discuss the merits of migrating from traditional on premise SharePoint platforms to the ever-changing Office 365 estate.

Andrew works with our extensive client base across multiple sectors from central and local government and NHS to areas in the private sectors, providing planning and design services to assist the organisations to achieve their goals of a cloud first strategy or to benefit from recent license changes.

“Having worked with SharePoint from version 2003, the recently rolled out functionality within Office 365 for collaboration, document management and process automation opens up opportunities to the organisations that were only possible with typically expensive custom development in previous versions.  It means that companies and users can start to increase their expectations of a platform they thought they knew and see how Office 365 can really increase efficiency in the daily tasks.”