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Welcome everyone to the HSO Dynamics matters podcast.

Your regular sonic dive into the world of Microsoft technology related matters and much more besides.

I’m your host Michael Lonnon, and today I’m joined by HSOs resident expert when it comes to all things Modern Workplace, Microsoft 365, and Power Platform, Sergio Giusti.

Now, most organisations investing in Microsoft’s workplace tools don’t know what they’re getting. They might think it’s just Outlook, some SharePoint, Teams, and a few other bits. What they don’t realise is they’ve now got access to a whole host of other value adding tools.

And so, in this podcast, I got Sergio to give his 3 top tips for getting the most value from the Microsoft tools and your investment.

So, grab a brew, sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.

Michael Lonnon: 00:54

I wanted to talk to you today about Microsoft’s modern workplace that we’ve talked about before. You’ve had some interesting, useful tips for organisations to get better use out of the tools they likely already have, but perhaps don’t know they have, or they’re not getting the best use out of it. So, Sergio, if you advise an organisation how best to get the most out of the tools, they got within Microsoft 365 where might they start?

Sergio Giusti: 01:36

I would say, and I know you were asking me to give you my top three tips, so I’m just gonna list them off, and then I’ll expand on that a little. So the first one is, is you need to learn what you’ve actually got what you’ve already bought, essentially, if you are unaware of the things you bought, because maybe you bought the Office 365 or Microsoft 365 license, just for Outlook, for a particular feature, maybe you wanted teams because you needed remote working enabled for your users, etc. You’ve bought a license that comes with a whole suite of applications, you need to go and figure out what those applications are. Self-learning or get a get a professional to give you a small session to show you what they are. And give you an overview of each application, then the second would be review what you’ve already got in your business. So, what processes you have, what applications you’re using. Then armed with that knowledge and the knowledge from what you’ve bought, as part of your license package, you could make decisions, which is that as to what you could use from the set of applications you’ve purchased to fix, enhance, resolve, add to your existing processes and business applications. That then takes us into then the third tip, which would be plan how to implement those pieces of software, these new applications that you’ve already purchased into your existing system, because the worst thing you can do is just jump in. If you just jump into, say using SharePoint, for instance, to do document management, you may miss a trick in terms of the integration between SharePoint and teams. If you’re doing SharePoint just for an intranet, you might miss a trick in terms of again, the integration of SharePoint, Microsoft viva, in teams. If you’re doing document management with SharePoint, or OneDrive, or you’re doing external sharing through SharePoint and OneDrive through Microsoft Teams, you might not know about the governance features within Office 365. They’ll allow you to do things like blocking sensitive information from leaving your business or managing your document retention or security for you. Using the security and compliance.

Michael Lonnon: 03:56

Three top tips there, the first one is learn what you have what you have bought into the business, the first question for me is, is that a common problem that people don’t know exactly what they have?

Sergio Giusti: 04:11

Absolutely, if I asked you, as we are a business who have office 365. Do you know what the applications are? Do you use them all regularly? You use Office, you use SharePoint, you use teams, we use the power platform pieces that come with our office 365 license, Power Apps power automate, do you know of the other applications? If I said to you, what Delve, do you know what I’m talking about? Stream, do you know what stream is? Yammer? If you got abreast of what these what these different tools are, what they can do, and most importantly, what they can do in conjunction with each other. Because a lot of these tools work well together. A lot of them have been designed because they sit on top of another application or work well in parallel with another application. So, tasks planner etc works well with Outlook and they work well with teams. Everything works well with SharePoint.

Michael Lonnon: 05:13

Is that something that most people don’t know about? Most organisations don’t understand that relationships?

Sergio Giusti: 05:19

So historically, a lot of businesses bought what was office 365 and became Microsoft 365 initially, to move their Microsoft Exchange on premise to cloud services so that they could have email in the cloud, because it fixed several issues in terms of mailbox sizes, security, etc. However, buying your license got you SharePoint, which if you aren’t using it, and you will be using it, you might not know you’re using it, but you will be using it if you’re using Office 365. If you’re using Microsoft Teams, for instance, you’re using SharePoint because SharePoint sits as the background for all of the file storage area, as it does for most things. Microsoft OneDrive as an example, is a personal use version of a SharePoint system.

Michael Lonnon: 06:07

I bet most people don’t know that.

Sergio Giusti: 06:09

No, but if you once you understand that, then you can start to apply the same logic that you apply to SharePoint to OneDrive in terms of your thinking about how I can structure it, how I can permission manage it, what I can do in terms of sharing what I can do in terms of governance, what I can do in terms of security.

Michael Lonnon: 06:26

which kind of takes us into the second thing, which is about reviewing the processes and applications are in place. I know we’ve talked about this before, but it’s almost as important to understand how the things are in place

Sergio Giusti: 06:39

This is the most important piece and often I find that this is the longest part for a business on their journey of doing this, because when they come to review what they have, that’s not an easy thing to do. For a start, different software applications might be owned by different departments, they’re not all owned and managed by IT, then you’ve got to work out who owns them, what do they do, why are we doing them? That might raise uncomfortable questions such as why we are doing things this way, we should be doing things that way. Or we want to be doing things this way that can then lead to a delay in the whole process because you might need to resolve issues that you’ve realised that you’ve got that you didn’t know you had before.

Michael Lonnon: 07:25

Because of that lack of understanding of who has what, are organisations often paying additional cost for this?

Sergio Giusti: 07:41

You could absolutely be paying additional costs, as an example, I’ve got a customer recently who came and said they were looking at doing a like a desk booking system. But they also wanted to do a meeting room booking system and they wanted to do a carpark space booking system, essentially all as one package. They were looking at off the shelf software products but the licenses for the ones they’d had demoed to them were very expensive, they were coming in at about £15,000 to £30,000 per year in licenses for their office staff. There’s about 200 300 staff, they have already got an office 365 license for all of their staff, which I think they were using E3, which gives them SharePoint it gives them Teams, it gives them the Power Apps and the power automate for office 365, which means that they can build a solution, it might take a bit more planning because now you’ve got to think about your requirements for the system and plan it the way you want but you can also make it more bespoke. Although you’ve got maybe some initial cost to create the thing, there’s no ongoing £15,000 to £30,000 per year in license costs for buying this product. If you find that your business is littered with small little programmes that are doing niche jobs for you, travel management, lots of HR stuff, lots of IT stuff, quite often these things can be built in the existing suite of tools you’ve already got.

Michael Lonnon: 09:10

Where those organisations might be thinking, we need to go get some more licenses to do X, Y and Z there is a significant chance they’ve already got the tools and they’re already paying for the things to solve their problems anyway.

Sergio Giusti: 09:22

Correct. All they need to do is learn that they’ve got those tools and then how to use them. Or if they don’t have the time to learn how to use them or they don’t have the staff with the skills to use them, they can get in a consultancy firm to create the initial thing and then that’s a one time cost right?

Michael Lonnon: 09:41

Do you have any advice for those companies trying to work out what they have is there an easy way to do that?

Sergio Giusti: 09:48

Unfortunately, there is not an easy way to do that. It also depends on the size of the business unit and the maturity of their technical capability.

Michael Lonnon: 10:00

Where should they start?

Sergio Giusti: 10:04

Most businesses will already know what pain points they have in their business, they’ll have a sense of this process we do, or this piece of software we’re using. It’s just painful to use, it’s slow, it’s causing me an issue, I wish it did that, I wish it didn’t do this. Where you’ll be able to quickly go right, that is something we could try and target straight away for a quick win. My advice would be think of something that hits as many touch points as possible. So as many people as possible if you’re going to start, and you’ve got options of let’s say, a system that’s hitting 10 users versus a system that’s hitting everyone in the company, choose the system that everyone in the company. If you’re doing something like a meeting room booking system, everybody in the company might need to use that. If they’re doing something like, a sales demo system, only the sales team need to use that so it’s impacting less people so is going to have less of an impact on the business. You’ve got to manage that though because you don’t want to create a new system and everyone says wow, that’s really good but can I have the following 10 things changed to use this because it’s much simpler, and it’s much easier, and I want to be able to do it on a mobile, and I need to be able to do it out of office, I like the fact that it has all the approvals, I can see it in teams, I can see it in SharePoint, and I can get outlook notifications, etc, etc, then all of a sudden, you’ve got another problem, we’re not ready for these 10,000 requests we just received from all of our users.

Michael Lonnon: 12:19

That ties into your third point, which is about planning about how you’re going to put these things in place to make sure that the right things they solve the right problems and their used in the right way.

Sergio Giusti: 12:30

Correct. It’s my experience that, as I just described, once you put in a system that touches a lot of users, you will start getting requests generated from those users to solve the business problems, which again, is a good thing. We’re identifying places within the business; we can make a change to give a benefit. Now you need to assess those changes, order them in how are we going to do it, who’s going to do it? How long will it take, how much will it cost, what is the benefit we’re going to get and then make decisions based on that.

Michael Lonnon:

Understand what you have, plan for what you want, and deploy in a way that makes these tools easy to manage and support.

Sergio’s tips albeit simple, are crucial for getting value from your investments. For increasing the productivity of people in your organisation. And for expanding what is possible. I’ve said it before but advances in the workplace tools that encompass Microsoft 365 means you are now only limited by your imagination.

If you enjoyed that episode, please check out for more episodes. So until next time, take care of yourselves.