Getting the Lay of the Land

A Boston area commercial real estate broker modernized its IT operations in a two-phase project. The first phase moved all of the company’s operations from  existing onsite terminal services to Office 365. Files that had previously been stored at multiple locations were consolidated onto a single SharePoint Online site. The migration created  bit of an internal culture shock, especially for many of the company’s less-than tech-savvy workers. It was an issue that reached all the way into the executive suite. So Wellington Street Consulting was engaged to help the company learn how to get the most out of its new capabilities.

WSC employs a customized Agile methodology to ensure relevance, buy-in and increase user adoption rates. The methodology is useful during nearly every stage of a project, from initial architecture and design through follow-up checkpoints and training sessions. So the first step was to conduct a series of interviews with employees who interact with the technology at every level — from senior executives to clerical staff. The discovery interviews explored how people used the system, what their issues and frustrations were, and how they thought things could be improved. The process not only informed the design of the training curriculum by revealing the most commonly encountered issues, it unearthed a few glitches in the new system and some tweaks that could be made to ease usability right away.

With those results in hand, a day-long curriculum was designed. The resulting session focused on Outlook and its features, including calendaring, a session on the features of Office 365, and a segment that focused on file management within SharePoint Online, where all of the company’s files were consolidated.  Based on day-to-day issues uncovered during the discovery process, the education plan included not just features of the newly installed technology, but several basic tips and tricks for things like file operations and management and Outlook calendaring designed to improve productivity for everyone.

Special handouts covered startup and use tips for Office 365, SharePoint and Skype for Business. The handouts alone received rave reviews. Plenty of time was included for questions and answers. WSC’s “Mike (Dixon) make it comfortable to ask questions,” one participant wrote.

WSC conducted the session twice, in this instance in two separate locations, to provide ample opportunity for employees to attend.  A recording of the training was posted.  In a survey conducted afterward, slightly more than 82% of respondents said the curriculum was helpful. “I liked the demos … I think it helps people to understand the ‘nuts and bolts’ of things,” Denise R. wrote afterward. The follow-up survey was designed to provide valuable data to inform future training needs.

WSC recommends that training be incorporated as a routine part of every company’s IT programs, whether, it’s conducted internally or by external providers. Software programs and how you use them change constantly. Office 365 is updated monthly, and new features and tweak are often added even more frequently. People in your organization change jobs, and there are new hires. Ongoing training is necessary to keep everyone in your organization operating at peak efficiency.