I see a lot of different reactions when it comes to Office 365 groups. But there is one thing that unites close from every IT department I know : deactivate it, hide it ! (and pray for users to not get aware of its existence). Caricature ? Maybe
- We are not ready
- We can’t control everything yet
- We have difficulties matching every tool with a use case
- We only want users to have the tools we decided they needed
Here is why those arguments are irrelevant in my opinion.
Everything is built upon groups
This is SaaS. Microsoft is deciding (with feedback from users of course) what the future is. And Microsoft decided the future will be built upon groups.
Lots of features have rolled out, some others are rolling out right now. And not only for first release customers. The only way to go back to good old SharePoint Sites : stop Office 365.
We are building technical debt
Technical debt is something we fight a lot as developers. Every problem, every bug that we just hide will come back one day. And it will be far more difficult to fix. We all know what happens when we shut down some work because we have other priorities. We will always have other priorities.
One day we will have to activate it, whether there is no more ability to stop it or because no tool works without. And it is going to hurt. A lot.
This is the perfect moment to prepare
Features are rolling out, one by one. It is easy to stay tuned, news after news. We still have time. The perfect moment to try it. To get feedback from users. To check which tools we prefer for our usages. To build our adoption strategy. We may be surprised, as users may prefer groups to the big SharePoint template we spent months building.
All the time we spend creating SharePoint branding that will be obsolete in 6 months. All the energy we spend trying to hide O365 features. We could be monitoring usages, communicating, building adoption strategies, building tools to do what groups don’t do.
What’s wrong with giving tools to users ?
Everything that is rolling out now is just a set of extra tools users can have. Why so much hate ? It’s like IT departments want to tell people a list of scenarios with a tool attached to each one. We want to control everything. We are control freaks. There are reasons we build procedures, of course. But sometimes we should let go.
Maybe users know better than us what they need. Maybe they are used to massive tooling in there private life. Maybe they are now using Slack + Dropbox + Trello and have the same features but without you monitoring it. Maybe they just need a go and will be delighted to use those tools. Maybe not. The best way to know is to go for it, and get feedback. Feedback, iterative or lean strategies are not only for startups !
What is the worst case scenario ?
Users creating an important amount of groups, and information is not well organized ? Users creating groups they shouldn’t create ? Users uploading top secret documents in external groups ?
We can have power users with a global vision of the team and responsible for organizing work and data. Those people are already organizing other content in their team.
We can classify groups to remind users about what content should be in each group. We will soon be able to apply policies with each classification.
Users are adults with responsibility on their actions. We don’t block every action that could be possibility dangerous if maybe someone was doing something very stupid. Or it is not yet the case in my country. We should stop doing that in IT every day, treating users as brainless children.
If you really need to ensure some documents will never ever possibly get out of your company, there are true solutions.
So what now ?
We don’t have to use everything now. We don’t have to love every feature. We don’t have to stop everything we had and migrate to groups. But we have to get used to them. And I think we will finally love using them.