Maturity Model for Microsoft 365 - Staff & Training Competency


This is an open-source article with the community providing support for it. For official Microsoft content, see Microsoft 365 documentation.

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Overview of the Concepts [tl;dr]

Implementing new technology solutions requires enabling the business to use and support them. Involving end users in development conversations and training them on usage of the solutions ensures an organizational understanding of why and how these solutions advance their own needs as well as the needs of the business. Structuring the system support staff to take a consultative approach with the business through repeatable business processes enables long-term collaboration to identify and focus on the most impactful solutions for the business. Creating a steering committee ensures a high-level strategic approach to developing solutions that can prioritize requests from across the business to better align with company goals. This steering committee will also be the primary audience for sharing success stories and knowledge to showcase the returns on investment.

Definition of this competency

The Staff and Training competency focuses on who will be sustaining the system and how they will engage the business and empower the end users to use the solutions. The organization is focused on developing its people, processes, and therefore its capabilities by implementing quality practices. Note: In this article, we refer to IT as the primarily responsible department for the solutions. In your organization this might be a different group, so feel free to mentally substitute, as appropriate. Not all Microsoft 365 roll outs are IT-driven.

Evolution of this competency

See the Maturity Model for Microsoft 365 - Introduction for definitions of the Maturity Model levels.

Level 100 - Initial

Organizations at the 100 level give more precedence to launching the solution than focusing on why the solution is launched. Typically there is a bottom-line problem to be solved (e.g. platform migration due to a merger) which takes top priority. User and training needs have not been defined, evaluated, or documented. This leaves end users to develop their own methods for working with the new solutions. As a result, they may miss out on core benefits of the solution. We often refer to this level as the “Wild West Adoption Model.”

Initial level characteristics include:

100 User Experience

  • System is launched without training or guidance.
  • No information is available on who to reach out to for help or support with the system.

100 Impacts

Due to a lack of training or assistance, end users begin using the system as they interpret it should be used. This can create new change management challenges down the road as the use cases and better practices need to be communicated against new patterns of behavior. This is often a replication of old business processes in a new environment (for example, using SharePoint for file storage only).

The solution was launched without consultation with the business for needs or challenges they are facing so these new solutions are viewed as unnecessary or redundant to existing applications. It can actually seem as though work gets harder, not easier.

Short and long-term system support was not considered so no formal business processes exist to support issues or requests. End users are left to problem solve with internet searches or by sending emails around the organization seeking assistance.

Level 200 - Managed

At this level, the focus is on improving the break/fix (tier 1) support by documenting processes and ensuring the support staff has repeatable solutions to common problems in the organization. There is a business process in place for reaching out to the support staff to receive help for issues though there is not a consistent resource for strategic guidance.

As the system is growing in usage, some of the end users who are responsible for their own content have received one-off training. Training is focused on power users using the solutions and has not been launched to the entire organization yet. Some level of departmental or functional expertise begins to develop, and people start to know who the experts are to turn to.

Managed level characteristics include:

200 User Experience

  • Support and build mainly done by individual or small group.
  • IT Help Desk is available for break/fix support only.

200 Process

  • Content owners from some functional areas are trained and using the system.

200 Impacts

The wait time for system support may be incredibly long due to limited support staff and limited knowledge requiring longer periods of time to troubleshoot end user problems. No support exists for a consultative approach to solve business problems leaving end users to silo solution, often with competing products from a lack of knowledge for what exists already at the organization.

Content owners may begin to share the message of positive impacts of the solution across the organization, raising interest, as they are empowered to work independently with the solution.

Level 300 - Defined

The organization is actively using the solution(s) with a training plan in place for all new and existing employees. The training is focused on how to use the system specific to interacting with the interface and accomplishing basic tasks. This training helps raise the technical literacy of the organization as users begin consistently using the solution as intended. The established training also reduces silo solutioning with unsupported products, or misuse of the solution.

Defined level characteristics include:

300 User Experience

  • An IT resource is knowledgeable on the system and available for strategic guidance.

300 Process

  • An end-user training plan is in place.
  • Onboarding and off-boarding is addressed in the training plans.
  • Training is focused on interaction with specific systems.
  • Roles and responsibilities for support and training are clearly delineated and funded.

300 Impacts

New hires use the system properly from the outset because they attend training focused on how to interact with the new system as it has become commonly used across the organization.

As comfort with the system increases, end users are interested in increasing their usage of the system to solve other business problems.

An IT resource is available to have these discussions, though it is not enough staff to support all needs so only high priority requests are taken into consideration at this time.

Level 400 - Predictable

The training plan for Microsoft 365 and the related solutions is viewed as a suite of training courses that better enable learning of the entire system and build off each other to support the organization’s understanding of the platform capabilities as a whole. The training is developed and lead by individual business process owners who may sit outside the IT department. All training is also linked in a central repository, like Learning Pathways or other Learning Management Systems, supporting a centralized approach to the training plan and allowing easy access for end users to find all training related to Microsoft 365.

Now that the IT support staff has expanded, there are opportunities for the business to receive coaching, guidance, and innovation on their existing business processes in partnership with the IT department. The IT support staff have begun to proactively share updates and changes coming in the system to better involve business need in their strategic decisions. This involvement with the business reflects increased understanding in the platform and the organizational importance of developing business processes with the available enterprise solutions.

Predictable level characteristics include:

400 Process

  • IT has more than one resource knowledgeable on the system.
  • Requests for new functionality are tracked and prioritized.
  • Communication strategy in place for sharing system changes and improvements.
  • Training viewed as a program, not just string of individual system training.
  • Positive outcomes are collected and measured to share with the organization and cross-pollination in training.
  • Usage of the solutions becomes less IT-driven and more business encouraged due to clear benefit demonstration in ongoing training.

400 Impacts

Once training is viewed as a program, this allows for strategic planning on how to advance the technical literacy of the organization. The training is no longer focused on which buttons to click within a system and instead focuses on changes in behavior or business processes to work more efficiently. For example, a OneNote training would not focus solely on making sections and pages. The training would include productivity tips for how to use OneNote to increase efficiency in meeting note taking.

As technical literacy increases, so does the interest from employees outside of IT. Content Owners are taking active roles working with their teams and the system to gather feedback, share with IT, and collaborate on solutions. Training attendees who are not content owners may begin to show a greater interest in the system and seek to be more involved. There still may be some challenges in leadership supporting time spent working with the system for non-IT roles.

Now that the entire company is actively using the system for common business processes, there are regular updates shared with the entire company for changes and improvements on a regular cadence. There is a process in place to receive feedback from the organization which influences future enhancements and continuous improvement. The system support staff has increased enabling the business to shift support from reactionary to proactive and decreases wait times for help.

Level 500 - Optimizing

Business involvement in the Microsoft 365 platform and solutions has grown well outside of the IT department. Senior leadership is actively involved in proactively evaluating platform improvements and provides feedback on the strategic plan ensuring it aligns with the company priorities. Senior leadership’s involvement and support cascades down through the organization which formally supports embedding platform roles and responsibilities into job descriptions of IT, content owners, citizen developers, and power users. Expanding organizational involvement well past the IT department to include senior leaders and a SharePoint Community of Practice invites new opportunities to improve business processes, drive innovation, and seek opportunities where advancing technology can be a competitive advantage.

The most common support scripts and training content are developed with Chatbot and AI technology, allowing IT staff to focus on escalations, proactive initiatives, and reducing the amount of time spent on break/fix. Support ticket analytics are reviewed on a scheduled cadence to identify and prioritize closure of training gaps, minimizing employee downtime, and increasing organizational productivity.

Optimizing level characteristics include:

500 User Experience

  • Centers of Excellence or Communities of Practice exist around effective digital workplace implementations and transformation opportunities.
  • Empowered user community (self-service governance in place).

500 Process

  • Dedicated system support includes strategic guidance, business analysis, training staff, and help desk support from IT. System support also includes members outside of IT, typically key stakeholders from other departments to inform strategy and road map.
  • Training is integrated into the organization’s learning strategy.

500 Impacts

Clear business processes for system requests, feedback, break/fix help, and guidance build confidence across the organization that this system is useful and will have a long lifespan in the organization. This increased confidence leads to more transparent conversations around needs and employees are more willing to invest time to fully understand the system. Department leads and senior leadership understand the system is solving large business problems aligned with company goals and are willing to invest their time discussing the strategic road map.

System changes and improvements are first discussed within Centers of Excellence or Communities of Practice which comprises of content owners, key stakeholders, and other system owners. These groups provide feedback on a continual basis and are often used for pilots before launching new solutions to the entire organization. Having these communities enables IT to complete better user research, align system changes with departmental-level goals, and receive more transparent feedback. If the business explores self-service options, empowering end users to manage their own solutions (with IT guidance) enables IT professionals to focus on a higher strategic level and reduces friction with end users.

Training is viewed as an integral part of the learning road map and no longer only run by members of IT; training isn’t just technical, it’s transformational, often using “what if” scenarios. Content owners or Center of Excellence members offer training specific to tasks and business processes, replacing generic system-based training that was previously offered. Skill advancement is widely recognized and rewarded.


Human Resources content owner shifts recognition process to automated solution within system after seeing increased engagement with a Communication Site for their department.

A cross-functional leadership team discusses business process automation for action item tracking as the organization struggles with bandwidth challenges across departments.

Training is focused on productivity and capturing institutional knowledge in repeatable ways to increase transparency across the business.

The IT team measures system capabilities against other enterprise applications to provide business with clear guidance on what-to-use-when and where the system fits into the enterprise portfolio.

Cost & Benefit

Socializing the system and its benefits across the organization will take considerable time focused on education and change management. As the business understands the value, it will become easier to identify use cases where shifting to the new solution shortens time to complete a task. After the solution is implemented and staff is trained on how to use it, the time spend to complete this task can be measured to show ROI for the process improvements.

Anecdotes are still very valuable as some processes may not be possible to directly measure or might be new given expanded capabilities. New processes will not have the same opportunity to measure ROI so anecdotes of added value are critical to showcase business enablement.


Launching a system without full support or training risks a lost investment in the technology as employees use the system incorrectly or don’t take advantage of features that could help them. When planning, ensure there is time and adequate resources to engage the business early on in discussions around their needs and challenge areas. Focus your solutions on existing issues.

Providing solutions to existing problems will generate higher interest across the organization and justification for employees’ time spent learning how to use them. Having a clear business process for feedback and transparency in the decision-making process will build trust with the organization, supporting the time and effort they are spending to understand the new systems. Developing these deep, trusted relationships with the business changes the focus of the conversations from specific technical requests to open dialogue around challenges or opportunities for innovation.



Join the Maturity Model Practitioners: Every month we host sessions exploring the value and use of the Microsoft 365 Maturity Model and how you can successfully develop your organization using Microsoft 365. Each of these sessions focus on building a community of practitioners in a safe space to hone your pitch, test your thoughts, or decide how to promote your use of the Maturity Model. Sessions may also include a brief presentation about the Maturity Model including recent updates.

Common Microsoft 365 Tool Sets

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The MM4M365 core team has evolved over time. These are the people who have been a part of it.

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