Office 365 Adoption at Z Energy in New Zealand

by | Jan 28, 2019 | Office 365 news, PACE approach

Microsoft New Zealand published a case study last month on how Z Energy, one of the transportation energy firms in New Zealand, adopted Office 365. I liked the case study, the approach, the detail, and the insights into how Z Energy went about its transformation. 

Three Approaches

The case study highlighted many of the principles and approaches we practice in our consulting work at Silverside and advocate through the PACE methodology for change and user adoption. For example:

The value of scenarios in exploring what’s possible through Office 365. Scenarios provide a way of focusing on what the technology could mean for the people in a firm, rather than what the technology does (what are its features and functions). Scenarios are built on what’s possible within the technology and what’s needed within the firm, and combines the two to guide focus and direction. Z Energy held eight workshops with 65 people to explore what the technology could mean for Z employees, and defined 13 scenarios, of which four would be the initial targets. The use of scenarios is something we advocate, and have done so for a long time. For our most recent strategic guidance on scenarios, check out the Silverside Shop.

The need for a cross-functional team to oversee and manage the rollout (which Z Energy called the “Central Project Team”), combined with what Z Energy called “people leaders” and “change champions” in each business area. Both groups went through a training program to prepare them for the tasks they would need to perform. These two groups of people (or “user adoption strategies”) are commonly used across the industry, although they may carry other names like executive support, aligned executive action, embedded champions, or a champions network. The people leaders (executives and managers in the business unit) set the context for why a new way of working is required, and are supported by / enabled by change champions who can help with the practical how matters of making the change.

The value in keeping an eye on usage metrics, and using these strategically to guide next steps, course correct, and provide one level of assessment in how things are progressing. Z Energy used the Office 365 adoption pack in Power BI and saw a downwards trend in the usage of email (nice) combined with an upwards trend in the usage of other new workloads in Office 365, such as Microsoft Teams (nice as well). Having real data available, in the case of Z Energy, meant that the project team added a fifth scenario in mid-flight. Since the initial four scenarios were being well-adopted (per the numbers), a fifth was added to complement the original four. The numbers enabled Z Energy to pick up the pace in its Office 365 adoption plan, an idea we like very much.

Return-User Rate

The one item I’d like more insight into is what the “98% return-user rate after 4 months” metric actually measures. There’s no definition provided in the case study of what the metric is actually looking at, and both a Google and Bing search don’t reveal all that much (seems to indicate the percentage of overall web traffic that is due to a return visitor as opposed to a new visitor). In terms of Office 365 at Z Energy, what exactly were Z Energy employees returning to? As a point of comparison, Microsoft’s term “active user per month” means that a given user has done one or more tasks in a workload in Office 365 during a month, such as sending or reading one email in Exchange Online, liking one message in Yammer, or activating Office 365 Pro Plus on at least one device; a count of one is the trigger, but clearly more than one is better). In addition to Active Users, Microsoft has an adoption metric called “month-on-month returning users (percentage)” (which is defined as “Percent of users, rounded to the nearest tenth, active in the month that were also active in the preceding month compared to the number of active users.”) Maybe that’s the same thing as the “return-user rate” above … but given how infrequently the metric is cited, it would be good to be clearer about both the definition and what specific workload was being assessed. 

As I said at the beginning, notwithstanding my desire for more information about the quoted metric, it’s a great case study. I’d encourage you to read it and learn from it. Well done to Z Energy and Microsoft New Zealand.