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Working with the Office 365 Toolbox

Lately, I have been involving my 15-year-old son in our house projects, trying to prep him for the day when he has his own house (kids move out eventually, don’t they?). One of my first lessons was understanding the toolbox and always using the proper tool for the job… the saw cuts the wood, the hammer bangs the nail, the screwdriver drives the screw. Easy, right? The challenge is the fact that while the hammer can smash the wood or embed the screw it is not really the right tool for every job. It doesn’t say that on the handle; that is the guidance I offer my son.

Transition to the topic of my day job (Office 365 consultant) and the messaging is just as strong. Sure, you can use OneDrive for all your collaboration needs… but you shouldn’t. You can’t stop a user from doing this but you can advise him/her on proper tool selection… before they bang in a bunch of screws with the hammer. Here are a couple of pictures that I draw to help articulate the messaging…

The first is what I call the “Office 365 Pillars of Collaboration”. It shows that collaboration in your organization is set on a solid foundation of tools that work together to drive effective knowledge sharing. As an organization, you may have all of these in place or you could be early in our stage of the roadmap (i.e. let’s say you have not deployed SharePoint yet and folks are just using OneDrive for Business). The important thing is to clearly explain the tools and identify when best to use each. Because, the simple truth is that the hammer does what the hammer does, independent of what the other tools are in the toolbox.

My second picture is a table that explain when best to use each of the tools. I focus less on technology and features and more on audience (because this is all about collaboration). See the differences?

Remember, these are guidelines and not steadfast rules. The primary goal is to help employees understand the collaboration landscape and to be aware of the tools in the toolbox. Once we get the basics down (i.e. Hammer/Saw/Screwdriver >> OneDrive/SharePoint) then we can move more seamlessly into power tools (i.e. Yammer/Planner/Delve) that offer more capabilities but increase the chances of hurting yourself.

Know what’s in your toolbox, understand the purpose of each tool, and never be afraid to ask for help…

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