It should come as no surprise that many organizations are packing up their virtual bags and making the move to Microsoft Office 365.
Before you click away, don’t worry. This isn’t yet another blog being written for the purpose of telling you how great Office 365 is. Instead, I’m here today to help you answer the inevitable follow-up question after making the decision to move to Office 365:
“Should I hire an Office 365 consultant?”
Working with a consultant sounds great. But putting all of our sterling qualities to the side, hiring an Office 365 consultant isn’t for everyone. So before I tell you when you should hire a consultant, let’s explore when you shouldn’t.
1. You’re a Large Organization with Resources and Knowledge In-House
If you’re a large organization, do me one favor before you look for a third-party partner. Check to see if you have the requisite resources and knowledge available in-house – there’s a good chance you do. Afterward, if you’re still feeling that pull toward hiring one, a better idea might be to appoint a project manager or bring in a change management consultant to ensure that the move goes smoothly.
There is one caveat. If you work for a large organization that has those resources, but they are “hands-off” for your project, bringing in an Office 365 consultant to handle the move could benefit you in the long-term. Similarly, if your core competencies aren’t well suited to this kind of project, an Office 365 consultant could help make sure that your best laid plans don’t go horribly wrong in implementation.
2. You’ve Got Some Time to Spare
As a general rule of thumb, you can get the most out of a consultant when you’re managing a project with clear objectives, and that includes a timeline for completion. Or at the very least, some sense of urgency around when things are supposed to get done.
So while I’d love to selfishly tell you to hire an Office 365 consultant without a timeline, it would be a lie that would ultimately result in a waste of your money. Instead, you should take advantage of the gift that has been given to you: the ever-elusive gift of time. Without the dark cloud of a project end-date looming over your head, you can develop the skills you need to handle the transition. Think of it as a pilot project and an opportunity to learn.
3. You Cannot Bear the Risk
One of the best things an Office 365 consultant can bring to the table is their ability to mitigate risk. This is particularly true if you don’t have the specialized skills required to handle the upgrade in-house. That means if your risk tolerance is low, you’ll likely want to bring in a consultant to reduce the risk of unexpected problems during the upgrade.
Have you made it to the end of this with the knowledge that yes, you do need a consultant? Great! But before you pick up the phone, I have one last piece of advice to share:
Set clear expectations.
If you want to have a successful working relationship with your Office 365 consultant, the scope of his or her responsibilities should be clearly defined in advance. For example, are there parts of the project you plan to handle? Start your partnership off on the right foot by dispelling any confusion or ambiguity around who is handling what, and how you’ll be working together.