With the rate of change in Office 365, everyone is struggling with staying up to date on what’s available, what’s coming, what’s possible, what’s not working yet, and more. There’s the cognitive-only staying up to date, which can be done by some disciplined (but rather relentless) reading each day. But there’s also the more formalised artifacts that are produced that cause the major problems: the help videos, user guides, screenshots, scenario explorations, and much more that need to be kept up-to-date.
But since even Microsoft struggles with its own relentless cadence of change, don’t take a too hard line on yourself.
Here’s an example: Microsoft released a new approver role for the Customer Lockbox feature in Office 365 E5 (also accessible through the Advanced Compliance add-on). It’s a good addition to the service, because weighing down global admins with every small detail on running the service isn’t a good design or operational principle. And just because you are a global admin of a tenant does not equate with you having the right business knowledge to be able to judge between valid and invalid requests by Microsoft engineers during support incidents. Someone else might be better placed to do that – providing a better chain of authority and approval. So the new role is a good nuance to add, and is in line with the general proliferation of feature-specific roles in Office 365.
Anyway, in making the above announcement, Microsoft includes a video from November 2015 that explains Customer Lockbox. The talking at the beginning is fine, the animations of how the support request work are also fine, but the live demo and click through of the interface … are now old. The Office 365 admin center in the video is no more; now it’s the Microsoft 365 admin center. The way the app launcher works in the video is no more; now it’s done differently. The layout of the admin center interface is also different. So while the video was correct and proper in late 2015, it’s no longer reflective of the interface and its capabilities. For people new to Office 365, seeing the video with one interface and then experiencing a different name, layout and more is confusing.
And hence this begs the question: what should Microsoft do with these older artifacts when something changes? If they were constantly recording old videos to bring them up-to-date I’m sure the cadence of change would decrease! By implication – what do you do? One of my friends in the adoption and effective use space takes the view that prepared artifacts become outdated so quickly that doing live explorations with a new business group is the only way to proceed. Don’t bother with preparing documentation; just learn in the moment, and go with the flow.