S1 E6: Managing MSFT Teams at ISS Sweden with Christine Poulsen

Post Date: 02/19/2020
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When Christine first took on her Office 365 migration project, she realized that she was going to oversee a complete shift in how her organization was working. Being a global multi-billion-dollar organization with nearly half a million employees around the world, she knew this would be no easy task. 

In today’s episode, hear about how Christine Poulsen, Business Solution Project Manager for the IT Department at ISS Sweden, shuts the door on the old ways and opens the door to the modern workplace. 

In this episode: 

Christine’s career  

I started working within ISS in 1994. I’ve had different roles then in operations—from being a first-line manager, district manager—and then switched over to commercial side and worked with sales and business development.  

I first got involved in IT projects back in 2010 when we developed a Nordic CRM together with our minority colleagues around the Nordics. From then on, I got quite keen on these projects and ended up in IT in 2017. I started off with smaller projects, and then when my boss was looking for the next project, he said, “I think the Office 365 project would be a great thing for you to work with.” 

Making a change: choosing Office 365 

I think the fact that we didn’t come from a good IT environment, where we were using old, outdated solutions going through end-of-life, we knew we weren’t getting the value we needed from these solutions. And so, we wanted to provide a change that will help our community create more value in their day-to-day work.  

We investigated, “What type of change do we want to go ahead for?”, and choosing Office 365 was an easy decision to make because we were already paying for the storage there. So, we had all these features right in our hands that we weren’t using. From a business case point of view, it was actually an easy sell as we could reduce costs by using platforms that we were already paying for.  

At first glance of the project, I thought it was an easy one. But looking deeper into what it actually means to work with all the different applications, going into the cloud, and realizing that this is a complete shift for us, leaving the old ways of working and actually doing a complete transformation over how we communicate and store information, I knew there was a lot of work to be done. 

Initial Pushbacks 

Initially, there were objections with the change, and we know change is scary for many. We’re used to doing what we’ve always done and the ways we’ve always been working. There were fears around, “Is it safe to store things in the cloud? How do I find things in the cloud?” So, those were the main concerns from our end users. 

Another huge setback we had was when Global IT turned down our request on having a Governance Automation Online. We have a global tenant, and Governance Automation Online needs to be connected to the Azure AD to be able to work. At first, I didn’t understand why they’d turn us down. We can’t launch this without Governance Automation Online, because I knew that the business will be in need of something to hold on to in the new world to create things in the right way.  

So, what we did was look at it in their point of view. Why do we need to sell it? What’s the value? Why is he turning it down? What are the concerns behind it? We thought about the answers to these and looked at the areas we needed to address. With the team effort between our project people and you guys at AvePoint, we were able to switch the ‘no’ to a ‘yes’. 

Managing the complex migration 

Starting out, we knew that we wouldn’t be migrating everything, because historical data only has value to a certain point. We needed to make sure that we could identify what is relevant for our end users, and those are what we needed to migrate to Office 365 so that we could create the value for them by having the relevant data in place in the new world. 

Using the Compliance Guardian, we did a deep scan—investigating, searching for sensitive data that we knew should be managed in a specific way. We used the scanning tools to read timestamps—when was the document created, who modified it, has anyone read it. And that gave us a definite answer on what are the relevant data to move and not.  

Another thing we had to think of was control. It’s extremely easy to create new teams or sites to use and to store information, and we know the kind of scenario that we don’t want in the new world. With Governance Automation Online, we get to control naming conventions, and it’s an extremely powerful tool. So being able to have a system that actually checks if something goes inactive, monitors inactivity thresholds, and looks at lifecycle management, that gives us the possibility to have more structure and a neat new world.  

The Pilot 

We used almost the entire 2018 for pilot phases. We had three pilots, IT went first, then commercial was added in the middle of the year, and by fall last year, we also added people from one corporate function to gauge service excellence and see things from a customer point of view.  

To help us succeed, we had our front runners and promoters to talk positively about the Office 365 launch. We also had trainings for our end-users. We had e-learning partnerships and online trainings for the new applications. We also decided that we should only push basics first, and that would be OneDrive, Teams, the new ways of working, and introduction to Office 365. All the rest of the applications like Planner, To Do, and so on, were things that we can just tip them off after all the others, because we knew we had to start with the basics.  

We also had created a communication site called, ‘Know-how Place for Office 365’. That’s the go-to platform that we use like an intranet for Office 365 to point out things that the end users need to know to be able to get the full value of the Office 365 environment.  

A success story: a shift in providing support 

Apart from our training sessions, we created Support Teams for Office 365. We have added all 1600 users in Sweden, and we communicate everything when it comes to highlights and tip of the week, “Hey guys, have you seen the new feature that Microsoft recently launched with private channels?” It’s where our community asks questions and be addressed about anything related to the new ways of working or Office 365. 

And I think that’s a shift when it comes to getting support. In the old way, you call the service desk. With Support Teams, you can do the same thing, but the good thing is, when one asked a question, some other colleagues probably have the same question, and so everyone gets value from that one response. 

So, how do we get people to be in that platform? In the beginning of the project, I allowed the service desk to still take in questions from end users. Through time, I implemented the rule that all information must be asked in the Support Teams. I’ve decided that we don’t respond to emails. Instead, I redirect them to Support Teams, and I don’t respond to those internal emails at all. 

Monitoring the adoption 

I don’t have any admin rights within the tenant because we have a global environment, but I communicate a lot with the global IT team regarding the monitoring. 

So, we have different KPIs and real-time data in there that I look at, and we saw upgoing trends in Teams group messages and individual chats. And that’s great because it means we’re having reduced emails. I can also monitor if they are sharing links, and that tells me that they’re not emailing attachments anymore. I could monitor processes in the exit activities and what the end users were doing, because I could see them uploading files to OneDrive.  

How to make #ShiftHappen 

What we’ve learned through this experience is, you need to do your homework prior to presenting something to your top management. Build a strong business case where you show facts, like the benefits you can get from the change, from server costs to license support agreements. Also, show how you can create value for your community and your customers. It’s important to rush slowly. By that, I mean investigate. What do you need from the platform? And then enable that.  

In addition, you have to have courage to actually be strong when people come and say, “I don’t want to change. I want to work the old way”. You have to have the courage to say, “No, you don’t get to stay in the old world just because you don’t want to change” 

Challenge the old ways of working and use the word ‘No’, because if we close the gates to the past, you only provide a future. Yes, people may feel afraid of the future, of the new world. They are scared of change. So, establish structure. Help them, communicate with them. That’s where Support Teams, our front-line runners and promoters became very effective.  

Today’s takeaway from Christine: 

“To lead the change, you have to live the change.” 

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With over 20 years of business and technology experience, Dux has driven organizational transformations worldwide with his ability to simplify complex ideas and deliver relevant solutions. He serves as the Chief Brand Officer of AvePoint who has authored the LinkedIn Learning course How to Build Your Personal Brand, the book SharePoint for Project Management, as well as numerous whitepapers and articles. As a public speaker, Dux has delivered engaging, interactive presentations to more than 25,000 people at leading industry events around the world. He also hosts the modern workplace podcast #shifthappens that focuses on how leading organizations navigated their business transformation journey. Dux advocates tirelessly for inclusion, using technology for good, and philanthropic initiatives. Connect with him: http://dux.sy

View all posts by Dux Raymond Sy

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