Digital Transformation Today

Why A ‘Solution Engineer’ Is Key To Getting More Value From Office 365

For some organizations, moving to Microsoft’s cloud-based Office 365 platform promises a number of new features while also reducing the amount of on-premises IT support needed to run these applications. Since Office 365 operates on the cloud’s software-as-a-service (SaaS) model, much of the maintenance and administration chores fall to Microsoft.

But your organization still needs someone to protect your technology investment and manage your access to it on a day-to-day basis. That means it’s time for a new type of IT role: “solution engineers.”

Let’s say that, by moving to Office 365, you gain access to a new functionality that offers a real advantage to your organization. To gain value from it, someone needs to know that this functionality exists and serve as a go-between for the organization and the SaaS provider, facilitating communication and support.

That’s where solution engineers come in. They don’t have to be quite as technically focused as some IT staff, meaning they don’t need to understand every single layer in your computer system’s networking and hardware. Instead, these people are responsible for the Office 365 administration, which means knowing how the individual pieces work together, how to troubleshoot the system in a different paradigm and how to follow up with Microsoft support.

Where an IT professional might have taken the time to troubleshoot an on-premises system themselves, with a SaaS platform like Office 365, the solution engineers might start by looking for answers online and checking out Microsoft blogs to find out if there’s a general problem going on before contacting Microsoft support. They’re still going to have the effort it takes to troubleshoot, but it’s a different type of troubleshooting and it requires a different skillset to maintain your Office 365 environment.

These solution engineers should still be coming from an IT perspective in that they would be concerned with user profiles and secure access to other people’s information. You still need someone who’s trained and knows those protocols. On the other hand, now you’ve invested in technology that is more user-friendly for business people, so you also need solution engineers to understand the business needs and strategy they’re supporting, and take on an element of technology advocate, evangelist and community manager.

Ideally, they would communicate through your information governance strategy team, keeping them up to date on what’s coming in something like Office 365, what’s possible and the risks and opportunities for the organization. You might still have IT professionals who specialize in SharePoint or Exchange, for instance, but the solution engineer would ideally have a somewhat more general overall understanding.

In a SharePoint context, for example, they would work at what was the site collection level, and be able to assist with the overall governance of the site, its general structure and technical capabilities. They could then pass on any specific details to power users, business advocates and other key users for a specific technology.

That way you’ll have a layer of expertise, but at the same time, someone who has been trained on some of the basic functions to keep everything running and interact with Microsoft on behalf of your organization.

Learn more about helping your organization leverage Office 365 and today’s digital workplace capabilities by contacting Portal Solutions.

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