While I know the end, goal is to improve meaningful adoption of Office 365, answering the question “when to use what” is not an easy thing to do. While researching this subject, and based on my experience, I knew there were a few reasons why this question would be challenging to answer.
- Multiple Levels: You need to answer this question in different ways, for different organizations, and at different levels within an organization. In other words, this is multifaceted. So, you need to create approaches that fit these distinct levels.
- Better Together: While this may sound surprising, thinking about this question from a “versus” perspective is the wrong approach. The goal is to maximize usage of the tool in the right ways and often that means using the tools in a holistic or complementary manner, especially in a suite of technologies like Office 365.
- Knowing Choices In The Product Matter: Even if you have decided on the technology, there are often choices within the product, based on certain features, which can be just as important. Do you know the right answer to questions like “whether a user should create a site, a site collection, or a library in SharePoint?” Often that kind of further understanding improves the positive outcomes of great user choices.
- It’s Not a One-Time Question: I often think in terms of specific instances or very clear situations. However, in daily practice users don’t have this same luxury. Often they are discovering what they are trying to do as they work through a process, rather than knowing what technologies might map best to what they want to do from the start.
- You Need Sustained Commitment: Remember this statement: “When your users cannot decide what technology or feature to use, they use what they know or what’s easy; even if better options exist.” When the technology changes, understanding the needs change as well. You need to be aware of what new methods and approaches can be used, what you can do better, and how you can get more value at the individual, group and organizational level from the technology you leverage. All of this requires continual and sustainable commitment from the users.
- Intranet Platform (SharePoint)
- Social Collaboration Platform (Yammer)
- Messaging & Calendaring Platform (Outlook & Exchange)
- Communications Platform (Lync/Skype For Business)
- Document Collaboration Platform (SharePoint & OneDrive for Business)
- Digital Note-Taking Solution (OneNote)
One of the things you commonly hear when people bring up “when to use what” is that the organization or user needs to make a decision on the technology they will leverage to accomplish a set of tasks or to match a set of needs. When using this approach often the term versus or vs. comes up; for example, “SharePoint vs. Yammer = Decision”.
The reality is that in Office 365 you use many technologies and not just one. It’s not a ‘versus’ discussion but an ‘and’ discussion. In other words, “SharePoint and Yammer = Maximum Value”. In fact, when this approach is taken you quickly realize it should be worded more like: “SharePoint and Yammer and OneDrive for Business and Outlook and Skype for Business and OneNote and… = Maximum Value”. This is something we recognized again and again as we partnered with many organizations and customers. Whether we were tracking usage patterns and behavior or interviewing users, the ‘and’ approach won every time. The best results were achieved from both an adoption and impact perspective when we took an approach that embraced the ‘and’ benefits of how Office 365 capabilities and technology work best together, instead of the ‘versus’ approach of trying to select one technology over another.
Adapted from rharbridge.com