When the Technology Gets in the Way

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At the local Office 365 and SharePoint User Group meeting this week, the first speaker provided a case study on how his organisation was navigating the migration to OneDrive for Business. The firm has a history of the IT department rolling out new technology without any user engagement and change management processes in place, and the speaker – who is new to the organisation – wanted to take a different approach. In advance of the OneDrive migration, the speaker did an admirable job of visiting almost half the offices around the country, engaging with users on how they store and share files, and looking for the personal business benefits of being part of the migration. Three benefits quickly rose to the top: version history across all file types, access to your files across multiple devices, and no need to use a VPN to get access to your documents. A migration tool was acquired to assist with the migration process, current personal home drives were scanned for naming and file type inconsistencies, and a plan was made to move people across to OneDrive for Business in a phased approach.

Easy, right? Not so much.

While OneDrive is supposed to be one of the easier tools to implement, the reality he portrayed was much more complex. Many things got in the way that undermined the project plan, including current infrastructure limitations, unforeseen consequences of previously great decisions, and even the inability of the best available external tech specialists to provide a way through the problems. For example:

  • Some of the first line users accessed computing resources through Citrix, which offers a secure and scalable way of making corporate information available. But OneDrive as a sync client isn’t supported under this scenario.
  • Other business applications across the organisation were saving files into the user’s current personal home drives, but the OneDrive project team had no control over where those other applications saved their files. This made it more difficult to turn off the home drives after the migration of current content into OneDrive for Business.
  • In the face of many technical difficulties, the best available/premier technical professional resources were brought in to help. Even they, unfortunately, were unable to resolve all of the issues and provide a workable solution to pursue in the migration.
  • With the lack of earlier governance around storing documents of shared interest/importance in a shared drive, some users had many GBs of corporate data in their personal home drives. One long-term employee in particular – who had been with the organisation for over 40 years – had almost 70 GB of data in his personal home drive, much of it of corporate relevance. Firstly, this didn’t easily migrate across to OneDrive for Business, and secondly, much of this data should never have been stored there in the first place. While the data is now in OneDrive, at some point there’s a much larger tidying up task ahead to get the corporate information moved into the right places.

It’s pretty hard to help people on the adoption journey to new ways of working when the current infrastructure and new technology keep on getting in the way. But getting the technology and infrastructure to the point of adoption readiness is part of the overall journey, and it has to be done right to lay the foundation for building new and smarter work practices. Hopefully, once these initial issues related to OneDrive are resolved, bringing the next wave of improvements – such as smarter teamwork and better ways of managing meetings – will flow with greater ease.

In the meantime, be prepared to start your adoption journey: Download our eBook How to create your User Adoption Strategy for Office 365.

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