Bob leads the ThreeWill Client Success practice focused on increasing value clients realize from technology initiatives. He is a senior management professional with 28+ years of experience in successful domestic and international technology initiatives across multiple industries.
Anyone who has worked with the Microsoft 365 (M365) understands that developing an expert understanding across the entire M365 ecosystem of apps and services is beyond the practical abilities of any single person. This is where Microsoft 365 Learning Pathways comes into play.
I recently heard a Microsoft MVP (MVPs are recognized by Microsoft as technology experts) formally state in a webinar that no single person can know all of the capabilities of Microsoft 365. In addition to the breadth of M365 apps & services, users have to contend with an ever-changing (improving) feature set that literally seems to change daily and, oh yes, doesn’t change at the same time for everyone.
It’s a journey, not a destination
In this context, how can technology and business professionals hope to understand which M365 apps and services can best be leveraged for their specific needs? Also, just as important, how can organizations empower even experienced users to develop awareness and proficiency with new features as they become available? The answer, to paraphrase a famous saying, is “learning Microsoft 365 is a journey, not a destination”!
How well is your organization faring on this journey? One measuring stick you can use to answer this question is the “Maturity Model for Microsoft 365” provided in Microsoft 365 Community Docs. If you haven’t heard of Microsoft 365 Community Docs, it is a relatively new effort by some really talented folks in the M365 community to build an open-source set of best practices content for Microsoft 365. I’d highly recommend anyone attempting to leverage M365 business solutions to look at this resource. This maturity model describes varying levels of competency for organizational use of M365.
Staff and Training Competency
One area of this model is “Staff & Training Competency” and, in this area, the model indicates that organizations with high competency levels view M365 training as an ongoing program rather than a single string of system-specific training. Training is provided on a just-in-time basis via a centralized system as user’s needs arise to solve business problems…
“The training plan for Microsoft 365 and the related solutions is viewed as a suite of training courses that better enable learning of the entire system and build off each other to support the organization’s understanding of the platform capabilities as a whole. The training is developed and lead by individual business process owners who may sit outside the IT department. All training is also linked in a central repository, like Learning Pathways or other Learning Management Systems, supporting a centralized approach to the training plan and allowing easy access for end users to find all training related to Microsoft 365.”
Learning Management Systems
Learning Management Systems (LMS) are applications that typically include a suite of functions to support the delivery, documentation, administration, assessment, tracking, and reporting for learning programs in commercial and governmental organizations. There are a ton (that’s a lot) of competing LMS systems on the market – both commercial and open source. In fact, many enterprise-level HR systems offer an LMS capability. Like any technology solution, there are pluses and minuses that may recommend one system over another. However, if you don’t have the budget (or need) for all of the features of large/complex commercial LMS offerings, Microsoft’s “Learning Pathways” solution, mentioned in the quote above, might be an attractive alternative for you if your focus is on leveraging M365 technologies. Oh yes, did I mention that Microsoft 365 Learning Pathways is free to install, and Microsoft-provided training content updates are also free!
What is Microsoft 365 Learning Pathways?
Microsoft’s own short definition of Learning Pathways is: “Microsoft 365 learning pathways is a customizable, on-demand learning solution designed to increase usage and adoption of Microsoft 365 services in your organization” (Microsoft Learning Pathways documentation – Get Started). While Microsoft 365 Learning Pathways (M365 LP) doesn’t provide all of the features of a true LMS, it does provide a core set of capabilities that can be used out-of-the-box or extended to serve the needs of many organizations at a lower cost than full-blown LMSs. In the remaining portion of this blog post, I’m going to provide a high-level example of a cyclical process that leverages M365 LP as part of an ongoing M365 training management program that attempts to promote core competencies recommended in the M365 maturity model mentioned earlier.
Building a Learning Program Using Microsoft 365 Learning Pathways
The essential elements of this process are indicated in the figure below and include the following steps. Download your guide to learn about each step:
- Install: Deploy the M365 LP solution into your M365 environment.
- Envision: Develop an initial vision of how M365 LP will be used and actively involve both technology and business stakeholders along with senior leadership in successive iterations where M365 LP capabilities are reviewed and improved to maintain strategic alignment with evolving organization priorities and exploit transformation opportunities within the organization.
- Configure: Configure the M365 LP solution to support your vision.
- Extend: If necessary, extend the M365 LP solution using other M365 apps & services or third-party apps to support your vision.
- Maintain: Monitor and maintain your M365 LP deployment to ensure that content remains current and relevant and that issues are resolved quickly.
For a step-by-step walkthrough of the above process, along with recommended best practices and useful references please download the “Building a Learning Program Using Microsoft 365 Learning Pathways” guide using the link below.
I hope this blog has piqued your interest in leveraging the tremendous value that having a learning program based on Microsoft 365 Learning Pathways can provide. While I’ve focused on M365 LP in this blog, there are certainly other resources to help with M365 learning in your organization. I’ve included a partial list below for anyone interested.
Our ThreeWill Client Success Practice Team is ready to help If you would like a partner to help in your “learning journey”. Regardless of the path you choose in your journey, I wish you good luck!