Microsoft IT Helps Users Embrace Office 365 ProPlus


Published: July 2013

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Microsoft IT uses new and innovative channels to help Microsoft users prepare for and embrace the new Office, resulting in a successful deployment with increased user productivity and reduced support costs.


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  • Technical Decision Makers
  • Business Decision Makers
  • Microsoft Office 365 ProPlus
  • Microsoft Lync 2013
  • Microsoft SharePoint Online
  • Microsoft Exchange Online and Microsoft Exchange 2013


As the group responsible for supporting the technology infrastructure across the Microsoft enterprise, Microsoft Information Technology (Microsoft IT) must constantly refine their processes as new software and applications are deployed to clients worldwide. With the release of the new Office, Microsoft IT built on their existing processes using new forms of communication to drive user adoption—helping users to embrace the new Office and to be productive from day one. This article describes how Microsoft IT prepared both their user community and their support channels for the new Office.

User Readiness

As a part of the effort to ready their end users for the new Office, Microsoft IT created an Office specific communications framework and user education content with a goal to help ensure a seamless transition to Office 365 ProPlus.

Communications Framework

Communication is a key factor to a successful deployment. Within Microsoft IT, the Modern Marketing and Creative Communications (MC2) team is tasked with creating and implementing a communications plan to drive product awareness, excitement, and adoption across the Microsoft user community. MC2 saw the deployment of the new Office as an opportunity to change their approach and test out new communication channels, focusing on email and digital signage.

  • Email is an important part of the culture at Microsoft, making it the primary channel to announce the release of the new Office. When planning for the deployment, MC2 realized that with all the emails that users received, they needed to find a way to make every email count. They designed a new email campaign with:
    • An Office brand identity that included an email template and images used only for communications around the Office deployment program.
    • Streamlined communications, using concise emails written in language based on the target audience.
    • A transaction survey in each email that enabled Microsoft IT to track the user’s rating against relevance and usefulness of the content, which enabled them to constantly streamline their communications.
  • Digital signage was another area of change, adapting the new Office communications campaign for the digital age. Digital signage replaced posters enabling Microsoft IT to remain very agile when they needed to change or localize their message.

Global Readiness

When Microsoft IT plans for a deployment, the plan needs to ensure that the corporate site as well as all the remote sites are prepared for the deployment. Microsoft IT leverages the local, field-based IT managers at Microsoft sites around the world to test, support, and promote deployment at a local level. The MC2 team attributes the project's success, in part, to the relationship they have built over the years with the field, using monthly calls to help keep the field informed and to build the relationship and partnership critical for success.

During the deployment of the new Office, MC2 provided an IT Readiness Kit, making marketing materials and email templates available to sites, enabling each site to reuse or to localize the content and incorporate it into their local promotional and messaging channels. Training materials were also provided as part of the IT Readiness Kit allowing sites to deliver local training, classroom-based or virtual via Lync sessions, to their user community.

Coordinating the marketing materials with the local IT managers was especially important as local IT managers perform local messaging. Communications are more likely read at the local level, especially in some countries, if they are in the local language and comes from someone locally or someone the user knows. It also increased local visibility by allowing local IT managers to personally send email invitations to install to users at their own sites.

Work Smart Program

The Microsoft IT Work Smart program creates productivity content to help bridge the gap between technology and users. The goal of the content is to minimize the disruption on the user that occurs with the deployment of new technology and to reduce the associated support costs.

Microsoft IT evaluates the typical tasks that a user may need to perform during the course of their typical day to create scenario-based, best-use productivity aids (Work Smart guides and videos) on Microsoft products and technologies. The Work Smart materials are made available to Microsoft internal users, and many are available to external Microsoft customers.

With the deployment of the new Office, a customizable version of the Work Smart materials were made available to local IT managers as part of their IT Readiness Kit, enabling them to create local, customized versions that they could use as part of the local training effort, thus having a positive impact on the training and on user productivity.

The Work Smart materials were also made available to support personnel as part of the training effort to help them ramp up for the release of the new Office.

Note: For more information on Microsoft IT Showcase Work Smart productivity guides, see

Self-help Website

Microsoft IT provides users with an internal resource, ITWeb, to promote self-help. With the deployment of the new Office, this dynamic, always up-to-date resource was redesigned and became the single, trusted source for all information about the new Office. Having a single source for information enabled MC2 to keep email communications succinct and impactful. The site was accessible through a friendly, easy-to-remember URL and provided easy-to-find, easy-to-navigate access to a wealth of user education and self-help resources, including:

  • Installation instructions and guidance. The installation page was the number one most visited page during the deployment of the new Office.
  • Work Smart productivity resources. The Work Smart page provides a variety of learning and productivity tools to help users get up to speed on the new Office, quickly and efficiently.
    • Office Work Smart guides provide easily digestible, step-by-step instructions. The What's new in Office 365 ProPlus was the top download during deployment.
    • Bite-size videos, three minutes or less, packed with great “how to” tips from the Office Product Group on the new functions and features.
  • FAQs and Known Issues. The pages provide answers to commonly asked questions and a list of issues and scenarios to ensure users can continue to be productive while reducing unnecessary helpdesk calls.
  • Internal Line-of-Business (LOB) compatibility information. Users were encouraged to review the information to learn if the applications that they use had any issues with the new Office.
    Note: For more information on how Microsoft IT Tests LOB Compatibility with Office 365 ProPlus, see
  • Support page links to:
    • Self-help resources for most issues and fixes.
    • Assisted support resources, including Microsoft IT Helpdesk support and Tech Link, local kiosks that provide face-to-face, no-appointment-necessary hardware help.
  • Feedback page with information about how to provide feedback and requesting that users provide "the good, the bad, and the ugly" to the Office teams to help them find bugs, address usability issues, and to inform future design decisions.
  • Cross-links from the Office page to other related product pages on ITWeb such as Lync 2013, SharePoint Online, Exchange Online, and Exchange Server 2013.

Note: For more information on Office learning resources, see TechNet User Readiness at and Office training at

Support Readiness

Microsoft IT regularly deploys new software to its user community, resulting in a mature process for preparing helpdesk and support personnel. During deployments, such as the one for the new Office, Microsoft IT establishes a regular rhythm of meetings to keep the project in sync. For the first month after the product deployment, the team held a daily triage call to verify that the incident rate remained within the expected threshold and to discuss any unusual issues reported by support personnel. Trends or specific areas of concern were fed back to the relevant product team to enable them to address any bug-related issues in the product.

Preparing support personnel for the deployment of the new Office involved preparing the helpdesk (both helpdesk and desk-side support personnel) and ensuring that a process was in place to capture and analyze helpdesk data to improve support documentation and process.

Helpdesk Awareness

Microsoft IT's approach to helpdesk awareness included:

  • Readiness training. Microsoft IT teamed with the Office product group to develop training materials for helpdesk technicians that contained the key differences between the new Office and previous versions of Office. They also leveraged Work Smart content that was developed for the new Office, which provides a twofold benefit—first that it expedites support personnel training. The second benefit is that support personnel are aware of the available content, enabling them to redirect users back to the self-help Work Smart content on ITWeb.
  • Structured support model. A well-defined structure enabled Microsoft IT to handle any end user support issue.
    • Self-help and community resources provide the starting point for users. ITWeb provides answers to the most common questions and issues experienced by users.
    • Microsoft IT Helpdesk support is available when self-help and community help resources did not provide the answers. To accommodate diverse cultural needs of their user community, some regions provide desk-side support. The helpdesk focuses on installation and technical issues and not on application features and functionality where support is easily addressed through self-help channels. The helpdesk is structured so that Tier 1 support handles general support issues, and Tier 2 and Tier 3 handle issues specific to products (Microsoft Outlook® and messaging, SharePoint and core Office products, and Lync).
  • Notification. To keep technicians aware of the deployment, a single support awareness communication is sent by the Microsoft IT Service Delivery lead to communicate the kickoff of support for the product. To make the communication as agile as possible, the communication is sent out just in time/day of the deployment and provides a roll-up of all the changes that impact support.

All these components worked together to prepare for supporting Microsoft users. A strong support model was critical to the success of the deployment of the new Office.


Microsoft IT uses the supportability process to determine end user pain points, to improve the support experience, and to advocate directly with the product group for improvements to the product itself.

Microsoft IT uses the Supportability Program Manager and the Product Feedback Analysis (PFA) roles to analyze the data generated from incoming support calls, at a deeper level than the technician would, to identify trends that may not appear in standard reports. These insights are then provided to the project team in the form of a dynamic Top 10 Issues list. Actions are taken based on the source of the issue, and resulted in:

  • Feedback to the product group
  • Tailoring the installation to address issues
  • Improving the information provided to users through self-help channels such as updating a Work Smart guide and other training materials, updating FAQs, or creating or updating Knowledge Base (KB) content

This support feedback loop enables Microsoft IT to increase self-support, to improve processes and products, and to reduce overall support costs.


The success of the deployment of the new Office can be attributed to many factors, including:

  • An innovative communications framework that streamlined communications and that helped drive user participation and acceptance, making it easier for users to find the information they needed and to provide feedback.
  • Dynamic and agile content that increased user awareness and promoted self-help as Microsoft users had a single source that provided up-to-date information.
  • Partnering with local IT managers and providing them with the ability to localize and to customize promotional and training materials to help drive worldwide adoption of the new Office at Microsoft. The local approach removed the feeling that the corporate office was dictating policy and allowed the local office to tailor the experience for their users.
  • Training materials such as the Work Smart guides that minimized the impact on the business by providing a fast, effective way for users to adopt the new Office and quickly become productive.
  • A support model that enabled Microsoft IT to use information gained through support calls to identify common issues and to improve products, processes, training, and the user experience, resulting in a reduction in support costs.

For More Information

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To learn more about the deployment of the new Office at Microsoft, review the two companion articles:

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