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Drive Ongoing Adoption With an M365 Center of Excellence

Accelerate business processes change and get more value from your subscription by building and sharing, thanks to an effective Centre of Excellence.

There are roadblocks common to all CoEs: lack of in-house expertise, lack of resources (time, budget, etc.), and employee perception that this is just another burdensome administrative layer. These are exacerbated when building an M365 CoE.

  • Constant vendor-initiated change in M365 means expertise always needs updating.
  • The self-service architecture of M365 is at odds with centralized limits and controls.
  • M365 has a multitude of services that can be adopted across a huge swath of the organization compared to the specific capabilities and limited audience of traditional CoEs.

Our Advice

Critical Insight

The M365 CoE should be somewhat decentralized to avoid an “us versus them” mentality. Having clear KPIs at the center of the program makes it easier to demonstrate improvements and competencies. COMMUNICATE these early successes! They are vital in gaining widespread credibility and momentum.

Impact and Result

Having a clear vision of what you want business outcomes you want your Microsoft 365 CoE to accomplish is key. This vision helps select the core competencies and deliverables of the CoE.

  • Ongoing measurement and reporting of business value generated from M365 adoption.
  • Servant leadership allows the CoE to work closely and deeply with end users, which builds them up to share knowledge with others
  • Focus and clear lines of accountability ensure that everyone involved feels part of the compromise when decisions are to be made.

Drive Ongoing Adoption With an M365 Center of Excellence Research & Tools

Build out your M365 CoE competencies, membership, and roles; create success metrics and build your M365 adoption, then communicate

Understand who needs to be in your M365 CoE and the roles they play. Identify SMEs in M365 and utilize their expertise to train and mentor others in the CoE.

In this CAD we explain why your M365 CoE needs to be distributed and how it should be organized. Using a roadmap will assist you in building competency and maturity through training, certifications, and building governance.


Drive Ongoing Adoption With an M365 Center of Excellence

Accelerate business processes change and get more value from your subscription by building and sharing thanks to an effective Centre of Excellence.

CLIENT ADVISORY DECK

Drive Ongoing Adoption With an M365 Centre of Excellence

Accelerate business processes change and get more value from your subscription by building and sharing thanks to an effective Centre of Excellence

Research Team:
John Donovan
John Annand
Principal Research Directors I&O Practice

41 builds released in 2021!
IT can no longer be expected to provide training to all users on all features

  • Traditional classroom training (online and self-paced) is time consuming and overly generic
  • Users tend to hold onto old familiar tools even as new ones roll out
  • Citizen Programming comes with a lot of promise but also the spectre of reliving the era of Access ‘97 databases
  • Seemingly small decisions around configuration have outsized impacts
  • Every enterprises’ journey through adoption is unique

▲20% $ spent in 2021

148% more meetings
66% more users collaborating on documents
40.6B more emails

2021 vs. 2022 Source: Microsoft The Work Trend Index

  • Who needs to be in a CoE? What daily tasks do they undertake?
  • How do you turn artifacts like best practice documents into actual behavioral change?
  • How does CoE differ from governance? And why is it going to be any more successful?
  • How does the CoE evolve over time as enterprises become more mature?

CoE Competencies, Membership and Roles
Communication, Standards Templates
Adoption, and Business Success Metrics

this image depicts the key CoE Competencies: Goals; Controls; Tools; Training; and Support

Using these deliverables, Info-Tech will help you drive consistency in your enterprise collaboration, increase end-user satisfaction in the tools they are provided, optimize your license spending, fill the gaps between implementation of a technology and realization of business value, and empower end-users to innovate in ways that senior leadership had not imagined.

Executive Summary

Insight

User adoption is the primary focus of the efforts in the CoE

User adoption and setting up guardrails in governance are the focuses of the CoE in its early stages. Purging obsolete data from legacy share servers, and exchange, and rationalize legacy applications that are comparable to Microsoft offerings. The primary goal is M365 excellence, but that needs to be primed with a Roadmap, and laying down clear milestones to show progress, along with setting up quick wins to get buy in from the organization.

Breakdown your CoE into distinct areas for improvement

Due to the size and complexity of Microsoft 365, breaking it into clearly defined divisions makes sense. The parts that need to be fragmented into are, Collaboration, Power Apps, Office tools, Learning, Professional Training and Certifications, Governance and Support. Subject Matter experts needs to keep pace with the ever-changing M365 environment with enhancements continuously being rolled out. (There were 41 build releases in 2021 alone! )

Set up your M365 CoE in a decentralized design

Define how your CoE will be set up. It will either be centralized, distributed, or a combination of both. They all have their strengths and weaknesses; however a distributed CoE can ensure there is buy-in from the various departments across the CoE, as they participate in the decision making and therefore the direction the CoE goes. Additionally, it ensures that each segment of the CoE is accountable for the success of the M365 adoption, its usage, and delivering value to the organization.

Summary

Your Challenge

You have purchased Microsoft 365 for your business, and you have determined that you are not realizing the full value and potential of the product, neither adoption nor usage – for example, you have legacy applications that the user base is reluctant to move away from, whether it be Skype, Jabber, or other collaboration tools available to them. You have released Teams to the organization but may have not shown how useful it is and you have not communicated to the business that it is your new collaboration tool, along with SharePoint Online and OneDrive. How do you fix this problem?

Common Obstacles

There are roadblocks common to all CoEs: lack of in-house expertise, lack of resources (time, budget, etc.) and employee perception of just another burdensome administrative layer. These are exacerbated when building an M365 CoE.

  • Constant vendor-initiated change in M365 means expertise always needs updating
  • The self-service architecture of M365 is at odds with centralized limits and controls
  • M365 is a multitude of services, adopted across a huge swath of the organization compared to the specific capabilities and limited audience of traditional CoEs

Info-Tech’s Approach

Having a clear vision of what business outcomes you want your Microsoft 365 CoE to accomplish is key. This vision helps select the core competencies and deliverables of the CoE.

  1. Ongoing measurement and reporting of business value generated from M365 adoption
  2. Servant leadership allows the CoE to work closely and deeply with end-users, which builds them up to share knowledge with others
  3. Focus and clear lines of accountability ensure that everyone involved feels part of the compromise when decisions are to be made

Info-Tech Insight

The M365 CoE should be somewhat decentralized to avoid an “us versus them” mentality. Having clear KPIs at the center of the program makes it easier to demonstrate improvements and competencies. COMMUNICATE these early successes! They are vital in gaining widespread credibility and momentum.

Charter Mandate Authority to Operate

Mission : To accelerate the value that M365 brings to the organization by using the M365 CoE to increase adoption, build competency through training and best practices, and deliver on end user innovation throughout the business.

Vision Statement: To transform the organization’s efficiencies and performance through an optimized world-class M365 CoE by meeting all KPIs set out in the Charter.

Info-Tech Insights

A mission and vision for your M365 CoE are a necessary step to kick the program off. Not aving clear goals and a roadmap to get there will hinder your progress. It may even stall the whole objective if you cannot agree or measure what you are trying to accomplish

  • The scope of the M365 CoE is to build the adoption rate that can meet milestone goals to advance user competency, as well as the maturation of the SMEs in each segment of the CoE leadership and contributors.
  • Maturity will be measured through 100% adoption, specifically around collaboration tools and Office apps across the organization that utilize M365. Strategic value will be measured by core competencies within the CoE.
  • SMEs are developed and educated with certifications and other training throughout the course of the CoE development to bring “bench strength” to the vision of optimizing a world-class M365 CoE.
  • SMEs will all be certified Microsoft professionals. They will set the standard to be met within the CoE. The SMEs can either be internal candidates or external hires, depending on the current IT department competency.
  • Additional resources required will be tech savvy department leads that understand and can help in the training of staff, who also are willing to spend a certain amount of their work time in coaching colleagues.
  • They will be assisted by the training through the SMEs providing relevant material and various M365 courses both in class and self-paced online learning using M365 VIVA tools.

Charter Metrics

Areas in Scope:

  • Ensure Mission is aligned to the business objectives.
  • Form core team for M365 CoE, including steering committee.
  • Create document for signoff from business sponsors.
  • Build training plans for users, engineers, and admins.
  • Document best practices and build standard templates for organizational uniformity.
  • Build governance charter and priorities, setting up guardrails early to ensure compliance and security.
  • Transition away and retire all legacy on-Prem apps to M365 Cloud apps.
  • Build a RACI model for roles and responsibility.

Info-Tech Insights

If meaningful metrics are set up correctly, the CoE can produce results early in the one- or two-year process, demonstrating business value and increasing production amongst staff and demonstrating SME development.

this image contains example metrics, spread across three phases.

CoE

What are the reason to build an M365 CoE, and what is it expected to deliver?

What It IS NOT

It does not design or build applications, migrate applications, or create migration plans. It does not deploy applications nor does it operate and monitor applications. While a steering committee is a key part of the M365 CoE, its real function is to set the standards to be achieved though metrics that can measure a successful, efficient, and best-in-class M365 operation. It does not set business goals but does align M365 goals to the business drivers. SMEs in the CoE give guidance on M365 best practices and assist in its adoption and users’ competency.

What It IS

M365 CoE means investing in and developing usage growth and adoption while maintaining governance and control. A CoE is designed to drive innovation and improvement, and as a business-wide functional unit, it can break down geographical and organizational silos that utilize their own tools and collaboration platforms. It builds a training and artifacts database of relevant and up-to-date materials.

Why Build It

Benefits that can be realized are:

  • Building efficiencies, delivering quality training and knowledge transfer, and reducing risk from an organized and effective governance.
  • Consistency in document and information management.
  • Reusable templates and blueprints that standardize the business processes.
  • Standardized and communicated business policies around security and best practices.
  • Overcoming the challenges that comes with the titan of a platform that is M365.

Expected Goals and Benefits With Risk

Demonstrated impact for sustainability
Ensuring value is delivered
Ability to escalate to executive branch

The What?

What does the M365 CoE solve?

  • M365 Adoption
  • M365 tools templates
  • SME in tools deployment and delivery
  • Training and education – create artifacts and organize training sessions and certifications
  • Empower users into super users
  • Build analytics around usage, adoption, and ROI from license optimization

And the How?

How does the M365 CoE do it?

  • By defining clear adoption goals and best practices
  • By building a dedicated team with the confidence to improve the user experience
  • By creating a collection of reusable artifacts.
  • By establishing a stable, tested environment ensures users are not hindered in execution of the tools
  • By continuously improving M365 processes

What are the Risks?

  • All goals must be achievable
  • Timeline phases are based on core SME competency of the IT department and the training quality of end users
  • Current state of SMEs in house or hired to execute the mandate of the M365 CoE
  • Business success – if business is struggling to make profits and grow, its usually the CoE that will get chopped – mainly due to layoffs
  • Inability to find SMEs or train SMEs
  • Turnover in CoE due to job function changes or attrition
  • Overload of day-to-day responsibilities preventing SMEs from executing work for the CoE – Need to align SMEs and CoE steering chair to establish and enable shared responsibilities.

Who needs to be in a CoE for M365

Design the CoE – What model to be used?

What are their daily tasks? Is the CoE centralized, decentralized, or a combination?

a flow chart is depicted, starting with the executive steering committee, describing governance 365, and VP applications.

Info-Tech Insights

Due to the size and complexity of Microsoft 365, a decentralized model works best. Each segment of the group could in themselves be a CoE, as in governance, training, or collaboration CoE. Maintaining SME in each group will drive the success of the M365 CoE.

Key Competencies for CoE

  • Build a team of experts in M365 with sub teams in Products.
  • Manage the business processes around M365.
  • Train and optimize technical teams.
  • Share best practices and create a knowledge base.
  • Build processes that are repeatable and self-provisioned.
This image depicts the core Coe Competencies, Strategy; Technology; Governance; and Skills/Capabilities.

CoE for M365

What is the Structure? Is it centralized, decentralized, or combination? What are the pros and cons?

Thought Model

This image depicts a thought model describing CoE for M365.

How does the CoE differ from governance?

Why is it going to be any more successful?

“These problems already exist and haven't been successfully addressed by governance – how is the CoE going to be any different?”

  • Leadership
  • Empower end users
  • Automation of processes
  • Retention policies
  • Governance priorities
  • Risk management
  • Standard procedures
  • Set metrics
  • Self service
  • Training
  • SMEs
  • Automation
  • Innovation

CoE

While M365 governance is an integral part of the M365 CoE, the CoE is a more strategic program aimed at providing guidance, experienced leadership, and training.

The CoE is designed to drive innovation and improvements throughout the organization’s M365 deployment. It will build best practices, create artifacts, and mentor members to become SMEs.

Governance

CoE is a form of collaborative governance. Those responsible for making the rules are the same ones who are working through how the rules are implemented in practice.

The word most associated with CoE is "nurture." The word most associated with governance is "prevent."

The CoE is experimental and innovative and constantly revising its guidance compared to governance, which is opaque and static.

RACI chart for CoE define activities and ownership

The Work

Build artifacts

Templates

Scripts

Reference architecture

Policies definition

Blueprints

Version control

Measure usage and ROI

Quality assurance

Baseline creation and integrity

ActivitiesSupport Steering CTraining TeamM365 Tools Admin M365 Security AdminDoc Mgt
Monitor M365 ChangeAIRR
CommunicationsIR
TrainingAR
Support – Microsoft + HelpdeskRI
Monitor UsageR
Security and ComplianceAR
Decom On-PremAR
Eliminate Shadow ITR
Identity and AccessAR
Automate Policies in TennantAR
Audit MonitorAR
Data and Information ProtectionARR
Build TemplatesAAR
Manage ArtifactsARA

Steering Committee

This image contains a screenshot of the organization of the CoE Steering Committee

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Set the goals and metrics for the CoE charter
  • Ensure the CoE is aligned to the business objectives
  • Clear any roadblocks that may hinder progress for the team leads
  • Provide guidance on best practices
  • Set expectations for training and certifications
  • Build SME strength through mentoring
  • Promote and facilitate research into M365 developments and releases
  • Ensure knowledge transfer is documented
  • Create roadmap to ensure phase KPIs are met and drive toward excellence

Info-Tech Insight

Executive sponsorship is an element of the CoE that cannot be overlooked. If this occurs, the funding and longevity of the CoE will be limited. Additionally, ensure you determine if the CoE will have an end of life and what that looks like.

M365 Governance CoE Team

Governance and Management

After you’ve developed and implemented your data classification framework, ongoing governance and maintenance will be critical to your success. In addition to tracking how sensitivity labels are used in practice, you’ll need to update your control requirements based on changes in regulations, cybersecurity leading practices, and the nature of the content you manage. Governance and maintenance efforts can include:

  • Establishing a governance body dedicated to data classification or adding a data classification responsibility to the charter of an existing information security body.
  • Defining roles and responsibilities for those overseeing Data Classification
  • Establishing KPIs to monitor and measure progress
  • Tracking cybersecurity leading practices and regulatory changes
  • Developing Standard Operating Procedures that support and enforce a data classification framework

Governance CoE

Tools Used in the Governance CoE Identity – MFA, SSO, Identity Manager, Conditional Access, AD , Microsoft Defender, Compliance Assessments Templates

Security and Compliance - Azure Purview, Microsoft Defender Threat Analytics, Rules-Based Classification (AIP Client & Scanner), Endpoint DLP, Insider Risk Management

Information Management – Audit Log Retention, Information Protection and Governance, Trainable Classifiers

Licenses – Entitlement Management, Risk-Based Conditional Access.

 This image depicts the M365 Governance CoE Team organization.

M365 Tools CoE Team

  • Collaboration tools are at the center of the product portfolio for M365.
  • Need to get users empowered to manage and operate Teams, OneDrive, and SharePoint Online and promote uniform communications and collaborate with document building, sharing, and storing.

This image depicts a screenshot of the Tools CoE Team organization

Collaboration SME – Teams admin, Exchange admin, SharePoint, One Drive admin, Viva Learning (Premium), and Viva Insights (Premium)

Application SME – Covers all updates and new features related to Office programs

Power BI SME – Covers Power Automate for Office 365, Power Apps for Office 365, and Power BI Pro

Voice and Video – Tools-Calling Plan, Audio Conference (Full), Teams Phone, Mobility

PMO – Manages all M365 products online and in production. Also coordinates enhancements, writes up documentation for updates, and releases them to the training CoE for publication.

Microsoft 365 tools used to support business

M365 Training CoE Team

Training and certifications for both end users and technical staff managing the M365 platform. Ensure that you set goals and objectives with your training schedule.

this image depicts the framework for the training CoE team.

Training for SMEs can be broken into two categories:

First line training is internal training for users, in the collaboration space. Teams, One Drive, SharePoint Online, Exchange, and specialty training on Office tools – Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and Microsoft Forms.

Second line training is professional development for the SMEs including certifications in M365 admin, Global admin, Teams admin, and SharePoint administrator.

Additional training and certification can be obtained in governance, information management, and in the admin center for licencing optimization and compliance.

Tools used

  • Viva topics – Integrated knowledge and expert discovery
  • Viva Insight
  • Viva Learning
  • Viva Connections
  • Dynamics 365
  • Voice of the customer surveys

Support M365 CoE Team

This image depicts the framework for m365 CoE team support.

Support CoE:

In charge of creating a knowledge base for M365. Manages incidents with access, usage, and administering apps to desktop. Manages change issues related to updates in patching.

Help Desk Admin:

Resets passwords when self service fails, force sign out, manages service requests.

Works with learning CoE to populate knowledge base with articles and templates.

Manages end user issues with changes and enhancements for M365.

Supporting Metrics

  • Number of calls for M365 support
  • Recurring M365 incidents
  • Number of unresolved Platform issues
  • First call resolution
  • Knowledge sharing of M365
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Turnaround time of tickets created

Roadmap

How does the CoE evolve over time as enterprises become more mature?

  • Depending on the complexity and regulatory requirements of the business, baseline governance and rules around external partners sharing internal documents will need to be set up.
  • Identifying your SMEs in the organization is a perquisite at the beginning stages of setting up the M365 working group.
  • Build a roadmap to get to maturity and competency that brings strategic business value.
  • Meet milestone goals through a two-year, three-phase process. Begin with setting up governance guardrails.
  • Set up foundational baselines against which metrics will be measured.
  • Set up the M365 CoE, at first with target easy wins through group training and policy communications throughout the organization.
this image depicts the CoE Roadmap, from Foundational Baseline, to Standardize Process, to Optimization

How do you turn artifacts like best practice documents into actual behavior change?

this image depicts the process of turning M365 ARtifacts into actual behavioural change within a company

Info-Tech Insights

Building Blocks
The building blocks for a change in end user behavior are based on four criteria which must be clearly communicated. Knowledge transfer from SMEs to the training team is key. That in turn leads to effective knowledge transfer, allowing end users to develop skills quickly that can be shared with their teams. Sharing practices leads to best practices and maintaining these in a repository that can be quickly accessed will build on the efficiencies and effectiveness of the employees.

How Do You Empower End Users to Innovate?

Info-Tech Insights

Understand the Vision

Empowering End users starts with understanding the business vision that is embedded into the M365 CoE charter.

Ensure that the business innovation goals are aligned to the organizational strategies.

The innovative strategies need to be clearly communicated to the employees and the tools to achieve this needs to be mapped out and trained. Clearly lay out the goals, outcomes, and expectations.

End users need to understand how the M365 CoE will assist them in their day-to-day operations, whether in the collaboration space with their colleagues, or with power BI that assists them in their decision making though analytics.

The Right Resources

Arm your team with the resources they need to be successful. Building use cases as part of the training program will give the employees insight into how the M365 tools can be used in their daily work environment. It will also address the pervasive use of nonstandard tools as is seen throughout organizations that are operated in a vacuum.

Empowering your user base though the knowledge transfer borne through the building of artifacts that deal with real life examples that join the dots for employees.

By painting a picture of how the innovative use of the M365 platform can be achieved, users will feel empowered and use those use cases to build out their own innovative ideas.

Hybrid Work

Digital fabric

Collaboration – Communication – Creation

Cloud Services – Innovative Apps – Security

Productivity anywhere any place

Shared working documents in secure cloud

Mesh for Microsoft Teams/Viva

Power apps and dataverse for Teams

Self Service M365

My Apps

My Sign-Ins

My Groups

My Staff

My Access

My Account

Password reset

Sample Best Practices
Tools and Standards Templates

Then communicate them

Collaboration Best Practices

Sharing documents

Real time co-authoring

Comment

Meet

Mobile

Version History

Security Best Practices

This is a screenshot of the Security Best Practices

Default Security Settings

Microsoft Security Score

Enable Alert Policies

Assign RBAC for Admins

Enable Continuous Access Evaluation

Admin Roles Best Practices in M365

This is a screenshot of the admin roles best ractices in M365.

Business Success Metrics for M365 CoE

What does success look like?

  • Are you aligning the M365 metrics to business goals?
  • Are your decisions data driven?
  • Are you able to determine opportunities to improve with your metrics – continuous process improvement?
  • Are you seeing productivity gains, and are they being measured?
This image contains a screenshot of the Business Success Metrics for M365-CoE: SMC Training; Content published and tagged; Usage Metrics; Cost Metrics; Adoption Metrics; New Product Introduction

Activity Output

Start building your M365 CoE and considering the steps for the Phase 1 checklist

BUILD A FOUNDATIONAL BASELINE

Step 1

  1. Select Resources to create a CoE working group
  2. Define your goals and objectives
  3. Identify SMEs within the business and do a gap analysis
  4. Build the M365 charter, mission, and vision
  5. Build consensus and sponsorship from C suite
  6. Create an organizational M365 framework that provides best coverage for all touch points to the platform, from support to training to controls.
  7. Determine the type of CoE you want to create that fits your business (centralized, distributed, or a combination).

Step 2

  1. Build training plans for SMEs and M365 teams
  2. Populate company intranet with artifacts, knowledge articles, and user training portal with all things M365
  3. Build out best practice workbooks, tools, and templates that encompass all departments
  4. Create roles and responsibilities matrix
  5. Identify “super users” in departments to assist with promoting learning and knowledge sharing.
  6. Develop Metrics scorecards on success criteria ensuring they align to business goals

Step 3

  1. Rational M365 licensing
  2. Create communication plan promoting CoE and M365 advantages
  3. Align your governance posture and building guardrails
  4. Identify legacy apps that can be retired and replaced
  5. Train support team and analysts with metrics supporting M365 CoE goals
  6. Create baseline metrics with clear alignment to business KPIs

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Build a Data Classification MVP for M365

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Bibliography

“Five Guiding Principles of a successful Center of Excellence” Perficient, n.d. Web.

“Self Service in Microsoft 365.” Janbakker.tech, n.d. Web.

My Apps portal overview.” Microsoft, June 2, 2022. Web.

Collaboration Best Practices Microsoft365.” Microsoft, n.d. Web.

“Security Best Practices Microsoft 365” Microsoft, July 1, 2022. Web.

About Info-Tech

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John Annand

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