Shadow IT and the regulations in the Government Community Cloud posed some serious challenges for the Millenium Challenge Corporation. Despite this, Director of Policy and Planning Jeremy Wood was able to spearhead Microsoft Teams adoption in his organization.
Listen and learn what it takes to roll out Teams adoption in the GCC environment and how it can lead to better collaboration!
In this episode:
Millenium Challenge Corporation
MCC was created in 2004. Government wanted to do something in a bold new direction around how we do international development; they wanted to look at something a little more innovative that looks at data and analysis. And wherever that went is what our agency does. It’s not politics driven. So, we were in aid, we’re fighting poverty, that’s our direct mission. We try to transform lives through creating economic opportunity while partnering with the world’s best governed countries to specifically reduce poverty through economic growth.
The countries we do work for are completely outside the United States. We’re looking for partners who already are wanting ways to improve the situation in their countries. They’re looking for economic freedom, they’re ruling justly, eliminating corruption, which is a big problem across the world. And we try to look for ways to invest in these countries that will then boost self-sufficiency through these models we call grants.
MCC and Office 365
I’ve been at the agency about six years, and they’ve been on Office 365 since I joined. As I said in the beginning, our agency is young, so we don’t have the legacy systems and infrastructure. We had SharePoint, but we had it in a way where it was easy to move into the cloud. So, unlike a larger agency that’s got a huge infrastructure burden to move into the cloud, we’re already in the cloud. So Office 365 has been a great partner for us both in terms of getting our work done and the values they bring.
Microsoft Teams and Shadow IT
Our journey started before Teams was released to the government community cloud, so we got to hear about it coming. We knew what it was and we knew that it would solve a very specific shadow IT challenge. Before, we had to work with organizations who reach out to us for free versions of the tools they offer and other consumer tools like Slack or Trello.
And I know they’re just trying to solve business problems, but as a government agency, we have very specific compliance rules around how we capture and do data retention and ensure that we’re not sharing data we should share. We had to worry about records management as well. So, those shadow IT problems drove for us a desire for Teams because it eliminated a lot of challenges people were having and how they were accomplishing their business.
Teams coming onboard gave us a chance to convince our users that it was better to keep that data within the infrastructure we already had. It also helped us take a new look at an innovative way and a complete mindset change of how we interact with our people.
The adoption process at MCC
Day one for us was convincing our community. It’s a new tool and we’re a small agency, so our concern always is, “How are we going to teach people to use this?” We don’t have many staff and they’re very busy. We can’t hold our services just to figure out how we will roll this out.
So the easiest way for us to do this was to look at key people who are already trying to innovate new approaches to how they do business and invite them in to a pilot. Pilot’s the easy way to introduce it to some people, and we were really looking for partners who would be honest in their feedback to us about what’s working and what is not. We have also heavily leveraged the adoption and training material Microsoft produces, like the government version of the Teams adoption flip book, which has been extremely helpful.
And since we’re IT, our teams are always trying to innovate, build solutions and solve problems, so they easily adopted. We were able to then say, “Hey, would you like a tool to collaborate more effectively, to capture how you’re interacting with each other? And then, give us feedback on how that interaction collaboration’s working.”
Opportunities created with Teams
Before Teams, we have heavily leveraged Office groups because it gave us an easy way to create a quick working group. We do a lot of matrix stuff for our functional teams and create a workspace for them that’s fast and efficient.
So, this has really sped up the opportunities. We’re seeing our business partners just jumping and leaping at this opportunity not only because of how quickly they can do it themselves, but also because it’s now available on every device. Wherever you are, you can quickly access the content you need to access. Teams provides a communications channel to go along with where you were storing all your files in communications that’s compliant of our records management.
The value of leadership support
We knew leadership support was going to be key in making sure this rolls out. If you look at any of Microsoft’s adoption materials, they’re going to tell you, “Find those leaders, get them to like it.” Because if they like it, everybody’s going to like it. Or actually, find their executive assistant, get the executive assistant to like it, and then everybody else will like it.
And so right now, we are putting together briefing materials to bring to our leaders, and say, “Hey, here’s what the benefits are.” We wanted to drive that value first, then we could present it to them rather than going to them with just our hypothesis. So, we’re just looking for ways that we can formulate that story in a way that’s going to make sense to them. They’re going to see that the value’s already proven itself.
As we finish up this pilot and collect lessons learned, it’s a great opportunity for us to retool our thoughts, look at the results and then formulate a plan. Then as people get back to business after the new year, we have an opportunity to introduce to them some concepts and things that we have, some tools that we have already invested in, and show them how the other teams used these tools.
We also want to innovatively think about how these solutions would then work within their area. And so, we’re going to continue to gather user stories. We’re going to continue to expand our pilots. We want to make sure we get to the point where we’ve chopped it off and created some of that formalized communication and training.
And along with that, we’re going to work on our governance and how we do records retention. All those things are going to be put together hopefully through the next few months, and then we’ll be able to take a look at a broader launch.
How to make #ShiftHappen
Looking back, here’s what we think are important: talk to the influencers in your organization—that may be your leadership or that may be people who are directly within their circle of influence. Get them on board. Look for the people who are constantly pushing the boundaries for what you can do in an innovative environment. Show them the stuff, get them into your pilot, get their feedback. They’re going to love it, and they’re going to get your leaders to love it. And then, we all go out for drinks after.
Today’s takeaway from Jeremy:
“We want to be innovative partners with our business staff. We could just go buy technology or we could roll out laptops and make sure all that stuff works, but if we don’t truly interact with them and understand what their business challenges are, then we wouldn’t be able to say that we have a tool that fixes their problems.”
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