I was particularly interested in hearing what the M365 Voice crew had to say in their latest episode as the topic is near and dear: Keeping up with the latest news, updates, changes, etc. in the technology platforms we use… more later on why I’m so interested.
The question asked is one many folks ask – both from an individual’s perspective and from an organization’s perspective. I’ll extend the question from the show a bit more broadly: “How do we keep up with *any* of these technical platforms that move so quickly?” Now, the M365 crew was focused on the perspective of the org – an extremely important perspective. From a slightly different angle, I think the personal perspective is also relevant and overlaps with the needs of organizations.
Why is this important?
SO many reasons.
From the organization’s perspective, it’s important to keep up:
- to understand any risks to the org introduced by changes
- to know when changes may require communication and training for users
- to be aware of ways to increase ROI on platforms – using capabilities that are available and applicable to the org
From an individual’s perspective, they’ll want to:
- keep up with changes in order to maintain skill sets (marketability, etc.)
- know their tool set in order to be the best resource they can be for their org
And many more…
My 2 cents
- So first of all, I find Microsoft does a pretty good job with documentation and communication around many of its products, better than most companies in my experience. For context, my experience has been primarily in the areas of SharePoint, O365, and now Power Platform, so keep that in mind. Do they cover everything to everyone’s satisfaction on the timeline everyone expects? No. Set your expectations realistically and provide feedback where you can – they do listen and act on it.
- The ideas, examples, and summary the M365 Voice crew gave are right on – great places to be if you’re in the know, deep in the technology. As was mentioned several times, it’s also important to keep everyone else (beyond IT – hence the reason for governance boards, etc.) in the loop as well, which is somewhat more challenging.
- The Message Center and feeds from it are an excellent place to start. While I personally don’t go to the Admin area and check Message Center directly right now, I do get regular emails with updates from the Message Center that provide me enough info to get an overview of changes and find what I need by digging in when I want to know more.The “digging in” part is where things start to go sideways a bit.
As the crew touched on – if you’re invested in the technology and community, finding additional info is doable. You’ve built a list of channels to follow and are familiar with the terms that get you the search results you need. If you’re not dug in yet or are coming from more of the business side of the organization than the IT side, then there are challenges in going deeper:
- Who do you follow on social media?
- How do you know which channels produces reliable content, opinions, experience, or conclusions which don’t?
- What is your preferred content? Video, podcasts, documentation, etc.? Folks learn in different way
- I LOVE the Message Center syncing with Planner. Thanks for the heads-up on that Sarah – I hadn’t caught wind of that capability before now. From a governance perspective, this feature is huge. Not only giving us a source of information, but enabling administrators a way to facilitate a process of review and communication. A few links below but I’m shocked there isn’t more out there (yet?) about this feature.
Bottom line for me is that Message Center is a great starting point but it would be nice to have more “where to go now” direction when needed.
Why do I care? What am I working on?
Well, the reason I care about this topic is because of a project I’m working on – a potential service and resource for bringing technical platform capabilities together with an approach to tracking individuals’ technical skills as well as collections of resources to learn about these capabilities. The subject matter covered today touches on all of these.
- What roles do you recognize in your organization when it comes to tech tools?
More than ever, this is different than job titles. You might have traditional IT roles like IT Pros/admins, Developers, etc. You might also have someone on a business team that’s also a Microsoft Teams owner, or a channel owner. You might have a power user that’s building Power Apps or flows in Microsoft Automate. These are all legit use cases, both traditional roles and newer ones.
- What pain points are each of those roles finding when it comes to keeping up to date with today’s tech platforms?
- Do those folks have challenges or are they getting what they need with the processes you have in place?
- How does your organization facilitate or help folks skill up and/or keep up? How do individuals or teams do what they need on their own?
- On-boarding new folks, rolling out new products and capabilities – use-cases that in an ideal world will come with training for all the relevant roles. But training often is a one-time shot. How do folks at your organization keep up with these products *after* the initial training?
I’d love to chat if you’re willing – to hear about your specific pain points. Send me an email, respond to this post, whatever you’re comfortable with.
I know what I’ve seen, but I’m just a single data point.