The Office 365 Know-it-all

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Did the title grab your attention? It was meant to. 🙂 The Office 365 know-it-all is a myth. Let me explain…

Now that I’ve been working for a couple of years as an IT Pro within Office 365, I’ve come to realize something. That is, many of the things I’m asked to do assume I’ve got the whole spectrum covered, that I’m an IT generalist of sorts. I need to understand the feature, configure it, bring in the appropriate supporting IT teams as required, know the end-user impact, know how to ensure it is being adopted across the organization, know how to troubleshoot, and the list goes on… a veritable one-stop shop of Office 365 get-it-doneness!

… and I don’t think I’m alone.

Perhaps this expectation comes from some of the marketing material that talks about how easy it is to deploy Office 365 in your organization. Yes, although it’s relatively easy to get up-and-running, as many of you know there’s a lot of moving parts behind the scenes that come into play if you want to leverage some of the features.

Example: Deploy Azure Information Protection in your tenant

Includes tasks: understanding the feature, meeting with your organization’s Information Management and Security teams to train them on what AIP is, provide guidance for coming up with AIP labels that will make sense for your organization, configure labels in the Azure Portal, possibly convert legacy Rights Management Services (RMS) templates, work with the desktop team to push out the client, set up a SharePoint site to assist end-users in the adoption, understand the end-user experience in the Office client programs, troubleshoot any issues that may arise, etc.

As an IT Pro, you often have a part to play in each of these tasks.

I’m not complaining, in fact far from it. I do believe, however, that the move from a traditional IT Pro role in an on-premises environment (where I came from) to a generalist (flatter) IT Pro role in Office 365 is a mindshift. Rather than being deeply knowledgeable about any one specific technology, many IT Pros in Office 365 find themselves treading on new ground, dabbling in technologies and disciplines they’ve never ventured into before – an IT Pro generalist.

This has turned out to be challenging at times, but ironically one of the reasons why I love my role in the Office 365 world. I suspect many others feel the same way – lots to learn, lots to share and lots of opportunity to help organizations in their own Office 365 “journey”. At the end of the day, we can’t lose sight of the important role we play in helping information workers use the Office 365 services in their day-to-day work lives regardless of which technologies are at play.

Parting thoughts

Do I know it all? No! Far from it. Do I think anybody else actually knows it all? Well, I don’t know everybody else, but I suspect no one really knows it all. There’s simply too much to know in the wide and ever-changing landscape of Office 365.

We need to lean on each other.

Although I have “specialties” in Office 365 like most others do, I often find myself needing to venture outside of them to implement an entire solution. In this way, I’m much more of a generalist than I ever was back in an on-premises world. To that end, I have taken the approach to at least be aware of most things in Office 365 at a high level and pull in appropriate resources if there are knowledge gaps, to never stop learning and every once in awhile to stop, take a deep breath and feel safe in the knowledge that I’m willing to park my ego, dig in and learn something new when I need to. 🙂

Thanks for reading.



  1. Thank you for your blog post Joanne! So true, I have exactly the same feeling about the Office 365 world! 🙂

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