Office 365 Public Roadmap is a key service delivery tool

Being an Office 365 administrator is challenging. Simply being on top of the changes in Office365 would be difficult in the extreme, simply because you may need to feed into more than one client, and trying to pass information directly to them in their form may be challenging. The key focus of service delivery is repeatability; the attempt to apply one solution for all as a generic standpoint. One of the key tools for Office 365 is the Public Roadmap, which I use to show clients and customers what is happening in the world of Office 365 and how quickly the information can be obtained.

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Office 365 Support Information Available

For anyone working with software systems will know that there is nothing on the planet that is so completely frustrating, as a solution that does not work. Downtime leads to increased overhead costs, lost productivity, lost customer satisfaction and lost revenue. This hits business users of course, but also those who are there to support the business.
Small business users are especially hit by this since they are completely dependent upon the technology. Take into consideration therefore that if businesses do not understand the provisions of support for a cloud service that they will particularly suffer, especially since they will not, in the main have direct access to IT staff to aid them.
Office 365 carries with it solutions (SharePoint, Lync, Mail, Yammer, Office) within a significant number of feature such as Identity, Exchange, Rights Management, etc. Just think of what a small business will need to go through to start to raise a call concerning an issue if there is a problem with one or more of those solutions. And those with internal IT teams to help will fair no better. Having an IT team to turn to, without understanding that self service is available, that tools, troubleshooting techniques, videos, forums that are available, does not warrant a successful support structure. Additionally, the support level in Office 365 needs to marry with expectations from the client. You can only do that by understanding the provision of support provided.
So, here’s a call to action. For those utilising Office 365, or even providing Office365 to clients, I would strongly suggest that the following article is read and understood. And, before you start saying ‘this will not apply to me because I am using SharePoint 2013 on-prem, and I might be using an Office 365 tenant’ – it does!

The article describes:

  •  Community and self-service support options – describes the various resources that can be used to provide self-help.
  •  Pre-sales support – describes the various assistance provisions for understanding features, benefits, plan comparisons, pricing, licensing, etc.
  •  Billing and subscription management support – describes the kind of assistance for signing up, renewing subscriptions, paying bills, etc.
  •  Technical Support – describes what areas of support will be covered and how.
  •  Shared Support Responsibilities – very important for those who will need multiple roles in their Office 365 administration and support management scenarios.
  •  Additional support options – describes three other levels of support like Microsoft Cloud Vantage, Premier and Professional Direct Support, including partners, developers and volume licensing.
  •  Features – describes the support options, like phone support, technical, billing, pre-sales, etc. against the differing licencing options available for Office 365.

So check out the article on this link: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/office-365-support.aspx

Office365 for Business Public Roadmap released

Microsoft has today released the Office 365 for business public roadmap. The Office 365 for business public roadmap provides customers with a way to learn more about upcoming change and updates before the change impacts their service.

Go here to see the Office365 for Business Public Roadmap

The public roadmap will be closely coupled with the larger Office 365 Change Management strategy, including integration with Message Centre and the Office 365 direct to admin communication channel.

This is an extremely important and very useful service delivery mechanism to ensure you know what services will affect Office 365 customers – the roadmap page is split into sections allowing you to see what features are launched, rolling out, in development and cancelled.

Another very important read is the Improving visibility to service updates blog which gives more information concerning the concepts behind the Office 365 for business public roadmap.

So what is the public roadmap?

The Office 365 for business public roadmap is a web page on Office.com that provides customers with a list of new and updated features being released to the Office 365 service. The website will list recently launched features, features still rolling out, and features that are still in development. The website will launch with a monthly update cadence.

Note that the public roadmap does NOT commit Microsoft to specific timelines for delivering service updates. It follows a set of policies for what should and should not be included based on when an update is expected to being rolling out and previous disclosure of a particular update. The content goes through a quality assurance pass bi-monthly as part of previous NDA roadmap activities.

Why is the public view of the Office 365 roadmap being created?

As both engineering and marketing move to a services operating model, Microsoft are changing the way they approach customer communications. Part of this transformation is going directly to customers and scaling communications to every Office 365 customer from the individual business owner with 1 employee to the largest enterprise or governmental organization with hundreds of thousands of users.

From examining customer data it has been seen that customers expect a “service” to behave like other services in their life, such as cable or mobile phone subscriptions. They expect notification and communication about any changes to their service. PSAT data, focus groups, and OneList items all show the high cost in the old operating model that erodes customers’ trust and confidence in Office 365.

So what’s next?

Microsoft will be listening closely to customer, partner, and field feedback for improvements that fit within policy guidelines. Improvements currently being evaluated include localization into tier 1 languages, notification or tracking capabilities for the site change log, and expanding to include out-of-scope Office 365 instances. They will continue to refine the update tracking process and use the Office Release Roadmap as the single source for data related to service updates.

Microsoft® SharePoint® 2013: Planning for Adoption and Governance

Microsoft® SharePoint® 2013: Planning for Adoption and Governance

Take control of user adoption and governance processes in your next SharePoint 2013 deployment—whether it’s a specific site or complete farm solution. In this book, you’ll learn proven techniques and methods that will help you better manage the entire project lifecycle concerning SharePoint implementation from a practical standpoint.

Discover how to:

  • Align organizational goals and requirements
  • Define the full scope of the project
  • Set up a team to deliver a SharePoint solution
  • Effectively communicate with and include your stakeholders
  • Prepare for user feedback and adoption
  • Establish and maintain governance through the entire project
  • Use web analytics to provide substance to governance
  • Confirm readiness for delivery to the organization

Check out this review on the book:

http://www.bcs.org/content/conWebDoc/51817

Go here to get the book and find out more information.

What is the status of cloud among UK businesses?

Got a great read today I thought I should share with you all. Got to read a thought leadership piece from Forrester focusing on Cloud Change Agents. This report is the result of a study Microsoft commissioned with Forrester to explore the status of cloud as a business transformation driver among a selection of UK businesses.

The Cloud Change Agents report is a new study conducted by Forrester Consulting and commissioned by Microsoft Ltd to show how cloud computing is acting as a ‘big switch’ to drive transformation in businesses. The study shows how a certain set of individuals in UK businesses – change agents – working with IT leaders are leading the way, seizing on the cloud to accelerate projects with minimal risk, low cost, little administration overhead and providing the ability to trial and then quickly scale up.

The research shows that these change agents are coming from everywhere in the business. They spot business opportunities and then team up with IT and use the cloud to make their visions reality. Often they might not even be aware that their new project sits ‘in the cloud’, only that they have discovered a fast, convenient way of working.

Of course, change agents have always existed but the cloud provides a way of delivering IT services that suits them very well, enabling new dimensions and the chance to change radically the way businesses operate, add new services, open additional sales channels, market in new ways and provide greater transparency all round. For people with the vision, strength of conviction, passion and drive to lead change, the cloud is a gift.

Read the foreword from Rob Fraser, Cloud Services CTO, Microsoft Ltd here and to download a copy of the report go here.

VmLimited – Dont Get Stuck in the IT Past

Hi there, just had to make a mention to this one, very funny! A good advert for the cloud from Microsoft. Here’s the description from the Youtube vid: “Some IT providers claim they have a cloud solution but they really offer something less.

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