The Microsoft 365 platform transforms how every member of an organization chats, emails, shares files and performs the essential tasks inherent to all corporate roles. A comprehensive approach to Microsoft 365 deployment planning will ensure the efficiency, cost saving and employee satisfaction that the Microsoft 365 investment has the potential to deliver.
Widely available guidance for Microsoft 365 deployments focuses on tactical matters and tasks related to the mechanics of application delivery. But because Microsoft 365 implementation touches every function of the organization and changes the working life of every user, and because Microsoft 365 moves sensitive data to the cloud, Microsoft 365 deployment planning should be considered more deeply, broadly and strategically than mere tactical application installation approaches.
The focus of this paper is on considerations for the planning phase of large or complex Microsoft 365 implementations that ensure security and compliance matters are addressed, that the organization’s users are prepared, and that technical considerations ranging from license management to application coexistence are addressed early enough to ensure full value for the Microsoft 365 investment.
Critical success factors for Microsoft 365 deployment planning
Embodied in all considerations are these critical success factors for Microsoft 365 implementation:
- Communicate. Identify Microsoft 365 deployment stakeholders, engage them and keep them aligned and updated throughout the implementation and afterward.
- Clarify objectives. Define and understand not only business objectives, but also compliance obligations, security requirements and legal responsibilities. Articulate through design exactly how the Microsoft 365 implementation will address compliance, security, and legal considerations.
- Analyze the technical environment. Create a complete and detailed picture of how Microsoft 365 will interact with other solutions in the existing technical landscape, including current infrastructure, mobile devices, and hosted and cloud-based business applications.
- Anticipate and counter resistance to change. Embark on a program of organizational change management (OCM) in parallel with the Microsoft 365 deployment effort, commencing with Microsoft 365 deployment planning. Ensure end users and all other stakeholders not only are informed, but also are educated, confident and enthusiastic about coming changes.
- Enlist dedicated program management and rely on a repeatable, predictable approach to implementation. An implementation effort of the complexity of Microsoft 365 is best managed by an experienced project leader who is undistracted by other responsibilities. Having a structured approach with proven success defined and communicated at the time of initiation is ideal for managing expectations of stakeholders.