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Dorset HealthCare: Supporting our Office 365 Rollout with Training and Comms

By Sarah Johnstone (Dorset HealthCare), Jayne Hillier (Dorset HealthCare) and Giulia Melchiorre (CoE)

In October 2020, the Dorset HealthCare University NHS Foundation Trust started rolling out Office 365 (O365) for adoption across the whole Trust. As part of the rollout, a training and communications team was set up to help staff enroll, install, and start using the Office business applications. We asked Sarah and Jayne, the Comms and Training leads for O365 at Dorset HealthCare, to share their experience. Here is our conversation with them:

How big was your team?

The team was made up of one communications officer and three training officers who were responsible for overseeing and helping over 300 people make the transition to O365 during the pilot phase. The team will then support the wider trust (over 7,500 people) transition over the coming months.

How did the sign-up process for the pilot work?

We asked people to sign up to the pilot via a form. Once they signed up, we sent them an email with step-by-step instructions for what to do before, during and after installation. The email included a pre-installation questionnaire, tips for what to do during installation (e.g. don’t switch of your computer, don’t install the software during a big meeting) and instructions for what to do after the installation. We also included links to the O365 training materials that we developed.

What we were finding is that people sign up, but they then don’t take the step to install the software. To overcome this problem when we roll out to the wider trust, we will install a pop-up that reminds people to install O365/ upgrade. If they don’t do it, then the installation will happen automatically after 7 days.

What activities was the comms team involved in?

As the comms officer, Sarah’s role is to send out comms to people to inform them about the rollout, help them onboard, and minimise any calls to the service desk. Having a comms team member embedded in the technical team meant that they could hear things first-hand, translate the information for staff, and reduce catch-up meetings.

Initially, the comms that were sent out included introductory information on why we are moving to O365, and then we developed more targeted comms for people in the pilot. This included step-by-step instructions for installing and using the new software. Feedback from health and care stuff at the trust showed that they appreciated the step-by-step instructions.

“We held their hands without going completely overboard.”

For the pilot, we onboarded 300 people from different teams. We communicated with the team leaders to ensure that they were happy for their team to take part in the pilot, and asked people to complete a sign-up form if they were interested. We found that rolling out the software in stages works well, because it’s important to not have everyone install the new software at the same time.

The pilot has been successful, and we are now inviting people to come forward to upgrade to O365.

What training did the team develop?

Comprehensive documentation

We developed detailed guidance materials for the various O365 products that staff have access to. This includes a set of step-by-step instructions for using O365, as well as Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for using O365 in a clinical setting.

Hands-on training

We offer hands-on training sessions for up to four people via Microsoft Teams. Staff can sign up if they wish. We keep the groups small so everyone can actually try out what we teach them during the session. In some cases, we also offer in-person training. For example, there was a team of 90 people, where some staff see patients while others are in the office, so we offered for a trainer to go in and see the team, and support them in person.

Live events

The team held live walkthroughs on the different applications of O365, covering specific uses, tips and tricks, and functions within the different apps. We recorded and published the sessions afterwards. Our series of live Teams events, presenting information in light, easily digestible bites, worked really well. We covered tips and tricks, such as how to use breakout rooms, and included a Q&A slot.

How did you develop training materials?

It’s important to adapt your training offering for different groups of people. For example, IT literate people only require minimum guidance, and so we made sure that self-learning is available for those who want it. There are some people that just want to touch base every now and then when they have a question and others that need a more hands-on approach.

To develop the materials, we had three people from the training team do the very first installation of O365 themselves. We did a screen recording and then developed the installation guide from there.

We developed our own in-house guides and videos to make sure the terminology was suitable, and information was relevant for staff at Dorset HealthCare. We made sure to include a list of apps that staff cannot use as they are currently under review. We also asked staff that were taking part in the pilot for feedback on the materials.

We also set up pages about training on the intranet site. These are living pages, so they are updated regularly, and more materials are added as more apps become available (e.g. Microsoft Bookings or Whiteboard).

What technical support do staff have access to?

We set up a an O365 intranet landing page, which has a range of materials including:

  • An FAQ page
  • Information on the pilot
  • Links to light bite training
  • Links to more extensive training materials
  • SOPs for how we use O365 in a clinical setting (including mini case studies)
  • A list of apps available in O365 and where we are with them to manage people’s expectations
  • Links to pages that cover specific parts of O365, e.g. MS Teams, Outlook, Word etc.

The Trust also set up a dedicated service desk and phone number, separate to the general IT service desk, although run by the same people.

Staff can also reach out to us for 1-1 training sessions that we run via Microsoft Teams and attend events, such as our Light Bites training series.

What went well?

The team excelled at managing expectations on what people should do through clear and frequent communication. We used a range of ways to communicate with staff, including using the weekly all-staff email, intranet, and service desk outreach. We really tried to keep the communication human, and be humorous where we could, which seemed to work well.

Regular hands-on training was made available to staff, to help them get used to the applications, and speed up adoption and proficiency. We also took a friendly and empathetic approach, which made staff feel supported and confident in using the applications.

What key benefits has the trust seen in the O365 rollout?

A major benefit has been saving time and helping staff become more productive. Using tools like MS Teams improves collaboration on documents and making use of emojis and gifs in chats has also broadened the ways staff communicate. Having online meetings removes travel costs and increased the ability to reach out to people.

“Teams has been a complete game changer. I have really pushed email down the list in my ways of communicating”

What were the challenges?

As the rollout was not mandatory, the team relied on people remembering to install the software – which was easily forgotten with people’s busy work schedules. To get around this, we sent email reminders and changed the user’s desktop background when their system updated overnight, with a link to the service desk in case the user needed additional support.

At times it was difficult to be able to cut through the noise with our comms. We are now looking to build a Digital Champions Community to make use of word of mouth on the ground – we already have a list of interested people!

The team also had to navigate through what materials to design and include in their support materials. To get around this, the team tried to think about the baseline for what someone needed to know about an application and synthesized inputs from a range of sources (Microsoft, NHS support site as starting point, YouTube) to build the most relevant material. Designing training sessions for a range of skill levels also allowed them to curate and help teams get the most out of the apps

What are your top tips for other organisations?

  1. Be human: Communications materials should speak to users and staff in an empathetic voice and be liberal with injecting humour and a lively tone to your communications. Use a natural tone of voice, make it quirky and colourful. Live events are often more personable!
  2. Stagger your communications: Plan the different types of reach-outs and reminders you will have for people, and stagger them so that they feel well-prepared and are aware of the roll-out. Make sure instructions are clear and include step-by-step guidance.
  3. Tailor your training – don’t assume everyone needs the same thing Plan for different levels of IT proficiency by baselining the IT skills people currently have, and consider what users want to gain from each tool.
  4. Launch with some materials ready to go: When you launch, make sure you have material available to the user that is easily accessible for reference and immediate help. Don’t forget to disclose your material with ‘Note that MS Teams is an ever-evolving tool and you might experience slight changes in the experience to set expectations’, to set expectations and pre-caution that the experience may change from time to time.

“Remember that things take time and do not always go to plan, so plan what you can and be ready to adapt!”


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Updated on 26/03/2024

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