Empowering Your Microsoft 365 Champions
This is an open-source article with the community providing support for it. For official Microsoft content, see Microsoft 365 documentation.
What is so different about a Microsoft 365 champions group from a site owner's group? It depends on your organization. Some companies may expect their site owners to only focus on content management to keep the intranet up to date with valuable information supporting the governance plan. Microsoft 365 champions can also be site owners though their support of the platform extends past content ownership. Champions are dedicated to contributing to the roadmap of Office 365 at your organization. They are interested in providing feedback, testing beta releases for new solutions, and sharing their knowledge with the company to drive engagement in the platform.
Get feedback on what they need to achieve
While you may be able to spot trends on what the organization needs through company goals, your ticket queue, and project requests there is a wealth of information your end users are not telling you. Microsoft 365 is a very expansive suite of solutions that most people are unaware of. Your end users may not think to ask for help with business process automation or tracking action items as they view SharePoint as document collaboration and communication solutions only. SharePoint and the other Microsoft 365 solutions can offer much more.
Host monthly gatherings
A great way to get this dialogue started for what challenges your Microsoft 365 champions are seeing in the organization is to host monthly meetups. These sessions can be a freeform place to exchange ideas and talk through common challenges.
Have you ever needed to talk through something out loud to identify the best path forward? Your Microsoft 365 champions may not have colleagues in their department who are as familiar with the technology. Creating a place to have these discussions will give you the opportunity to learn more of the "why" for what they are trying to accomplish and guide them in the right direction. The best solutions come from collaborative development with the people using them.
Additionally, hosting these meetups will ensure you are part of the conversation which gives you the opportunity to guide the Microsoft 365 champions within the organization's roadmap and governance. I am sure your Microsoft 365 champions can search for some great InfoPath stuff on the internet, but do you really want them building that? It is much easier to course correct in the initial stages of a solution rather than discovering it after it has been released to end users.
Bonus points for making this event casual and rewarding. Offer food or drinks and focus on fostering a community.
Solutioning, change management, and adoption can be really challenging. Give your Microsoft 365 champions a place to share frustrations so they can receive support and guidance. You are a team working together regardless of your reporting structure and departmental business goals. It is a great feeling to be included, supported, and recognized for your work.
Celebrate your site owners' efforts
Celebrate your Microsoft 365 champions' involvement and initiative to learn the platform better and build collaboration tools for their teams. Everyone has a long list of action items, deliverables, and goals for their "day job" already. These end users are going above and beyond to be more involved. Feature their solution as a case study in a company newsletter or create custom swag. Providing public recognition will showcase the efforts of your Microsoft 365 champions and highlight them as a resource in the company who understands how to effectively implement these solutions for their departments.
Elevate their voices and involve them in the community
Some of my favorite presentations involve an IT Professional co-presenting with their business owner. It puts a focus on how important collaborative development is in solutioning and implementation. The narrative of the problem statement through adoption puts Office 365 into context of what can be accomplished with these solutions. This will help guide other users as well as introduce your Microsoft 365 champions to the big, beautiful world of the Office 365 community. There are countless blogs, articles, webinars, and other helpful resources to support them on their journey not to mention an incredible group of people. Who knows, maybe your Microsoft 365 champion will make a career change to IT thanks to your support and introductions.
Provide long-term support
Microsoft is continually releasing new features, your governance plan is changing as the company grows, and you have new initiatives for the intranet on the horizon. Include your Microsoft 365 champions in quarterly meetings to highlight the changes that are coming and continue getting their feedback on their experiences. These meetings can overlap with the support you provide for your site owners, should you choose to treat these groups as separate initiatives.
Resources to learn more
- The Microsoft 365 Maturity Model – Introduction
- Why SharePoint Training is Important
- Identifying Your Microsoft 365 Champions
Principal author: Emily Mancini, MVP, UXMC