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March 28, 2023

How to Increase Microsoft 365 Adoption in Your Organization

The usage of Microsoft Teams and the M365 productivity suite has more than doubled over the past couple of years. Now, that the dust of rapid digitization has settled, many organizations are asking themselves – what does our adoption actually look like, and are we getting the return on our investment in the collaboration tools? 

Microsoft 365 Admin Centre offers mountains of data, some of which can help you craft a story around the usage and adoption of M365 tools across your organization. There is one tool that many are still not aware of – Microsoft 365 Adoption Score. 

What is Microsoft 365 Adoption Score

Microsoft 365 Adoption Score was launched as a feature in late 2022 and replaced the previous Office 365 Productivity Score.

In a nutshell, it measures how people are using the Microsoft 365 tools across your entire organization and shows how your usage stacks up against other organizations of similar size.

On top of it, it makes a high-level recommendation on how to improve your score over time to ensure users are leveraging M365 tools more effectively.

If you haven’t implemented the Microsoft 365 Adoption Score (it doesn’t come by default OOTB and has to be activated), we will take you through the simple steps.

How to activate Microsoft 365 Adoption Score

The Adoption Score can only be accessed in the Microsoft 365 Admin Centre and only the following roles can access it and enable it:

  • Global Administrator
  • Exchange Administrator
  • SharePoint Administrator
  • Skype for Business Administrator
  • Teams Service Administrator
  • Teams Communications Administrator
  • Global Reader
  • Reports Reader
  • Usage Summary Reports Reader
  • User Experience Success Manager
  • Organizational Messages Writer Role

If you hold one of those roles, you can sign into Microsoft 365 Admin Centre as a Global Administrator and go to Reports > Adoption Score and select “enable Adoption Score”. 

It can take up to 24 hours for insights to become available.

What are the insights and how are they calculated?

The score is measured across 2 main categories:

  • People experiences: measures how effectively users leverage Microsoft 365 tools for content collaboration, mobility, communication, meetings, and teamwork.
  • Technology experiences: measures how effectively your software, hardware, and network are performing.

The Adoption Score you receive is determined by adding up the scores from both the people and technology experience categories, which are equally important and each category has a maximum score of 100 points. The highest possible score you can achieve is 800.

The scoring categories are:

  • Communication (100 points)
  • Meetings (100 points)
  • Content collaboration (100 points)
  • Teamwork (100 points)
  • Mobility (100 points)
  • Endpoint analytics (100 points)
  • Network connectivity (100 points)
  • Microsoft 365 Apps Health (100 points)
  • Total possible = 800 points

This is what the score looks like:

Microsoft adoption score dashboard

You can read more about the score and how it’s measured in this article by Microsoft Support. 

Once you’ve enabled the Microsoft 365 Adoption Score, after 24 hours you should be able to access it. But in the meantime, let’s take a closer look at what we’ve seen affect the score, especially when it comes to the People Experiences category which is related to how people are using collaboration tools within your organization.

Also, we want to take a deep dive into some gaps in the way the score is measured, as well as some blind spots.

What are the gaps and blind spots in the M365 Adoption score?

The Adoption Score includes data from Exchange, SharePoint, OneDrive, Teams, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Yammer, and Skype. Of those, 5 are used for communication, 2 are used for meetings, 10 are used for content collaboration, and 6 are used for teamwork.

So on the surface, it may appear that your organization had aced the communication, meetings, teamwork, and content collaboration, but without context, these numbers are vanity metrics.

If there isn’t consistency in how your users are leveraging the various tools, or if they are not using them correctly, or to their full potential, it’s irrelevant whether they are using them at all.

Looking at the way various organizations leverage M365, we’ve seen some pretty extreme use cases, one of which we’ve listed below. Although this is definitely not the case for every organization out there, most experience the following scenario to some degree:

ms teams remediation - duplicate teams

Image: Duplicated Teams

Imagine a tenant with 6 MS Teams created for the HR department, along with 6 SharePoint sites with duplicates of documents within each one of them. 

Within the same tenant, 12 Teams for marketing, serve the collaboration needs of a single marketing department.

Each one of the marketing Teams only has a general channel where people post messages, but most of the department members have no idea which one of the Teams to use to communicate about different marketing projects. Most of the communication about specific projects happens in 1:1 Teams chats, or sometimes group conversations, and other times via Outlook Groups, so there is zero transparency on what anyone was actually working on.

Looking for files is like looking for a needle in a haystack – across 12 SharePoint communication sites and document libraries and 12 document versions, and some files were living in personal OneDrives, completely unbeknown to the rest of the department. 

If this scenario makes you cringe and think about your own experiences with Microsoft 365 tools, you’re not alone! 

On the surface, in an organization like this, the usage of tools is there, however, we can assure you, the satisfaction level of users is very low, along with the level of productivity, whereas the level of frustration is sky-high.

So, let’s dig deep and try to understand why people are not using the Microsoft 365 tools, or if they are, why are they not using them more effectively?

Why are people not using M365?

Don't know when to use what

Microsoft 365 offers a huge variety of tools, many of which serve the same purpose. Did you know that there are dozens of ways you can create a Microsoft 365 Group? How are your end users figure out which way is the right way?

Without proper training, documentation, and processes, most of your team members are left to fend for themselves and through the process of trial and error attempt to figure out what works for them.

That said, the process of trial and error leads to a massive M365 sprawl – your tenant is likely suffering from duplicate and abandoned Teams, Groups, distribution lists, and versions of SharePoint sites which were created with the purpose of testing the waters and are now no longer needing to be used.

When to use what

No standardization in how people are using tools

When looking at MS Teams, and SharePoint specifically, there isn’t a one-size fits all approach to using them. Every department, team, and project has its own requirements, therefore the MS Team or SharePoint site structure would be very different for them.

That said, across the same types of collaboration, there should be some standardization, including some common elements:

  • Naming conventions for Teams, channels, SharePoint sites and folders, planner plans, etc.
  • A similar structure of folders in SharePoint site’s document libraries
  • Document templates relevant to the collaboration activity stored in Teams or SharePoint site
  • Apps and tools that are relevant to the collaboration activity, so users have access to them from the start and can leverage them consistently

Too much reliance on IT

In some organizations, the creation of new Teams, SharePoint sites, and Groups is a prerogative of the IT department.

On one hand, it’s a great solution to reduce potential sprawl caused by end users freely creating what they what, when they want, without any regard for the organization’s governance policies or standards.

On the other hand, it creates a massive reliance on the IT team, where end users have to request the creation and configuration of collaboration tools, then wait for them to complete the request to begin collaborating and getting their work done. 

Even in situations where provisioning of new Teams, SharePoint sites, and Groups is open to the end users, they often need support or recommendations from the IT teams to configure them correctly, select which apps or integrations to add, and so on.

Lack of governance

Without proper governance controls in place, end users lack clarity on who’s in charge of what. The accountability and responsibility for the creation and content management are diffused, and more often than not that leads to non-action. If it’s everyone’s responsibility, then it’s no one’s. 

Without controls around creating and sharing content, naming conventions, and expiry, and retention policies, deleting groups, everyone works with M365 tools in a way that makes sense to them, which is not always the way it works for the good of the organization.

Scared of making a mistake

The flip side of not having governance controls in place is having them and placing the responsibility for adhering to them on the end users.

You may have created a robust M365 governance plan, placed it into a SharePoint site, and called it “Microsoft 365 Adoption Center”, yet apart from ‘maybe’ reading the document once, end users are for the most part not familiar with its contents.

They do, however, likely know that in theory, there are controls and expectations for how they are supposed to leverage the tools. But a decision to avoid making decisions is a lot easier to make, so because of this analysis paralysis, they choose non-action. 

What are the consequences of low Microsoft adoption?

When talking about the consequences of low Microsoft adoption, we are not only referring to people across your organization not using the Microsoft 365 tools at all – we are also considering that people may be using them, but either incorrectly, inconsistently, or not to the full capacity.  

Low productivity & morale

It’s a no-brainer. If you purchased the M365 licenses with the intent of facilitating effective cross-organizational collaboration, but the end users are not 100% comfortable and confident using the tools, you are bound to see a decrease in productivity, along with other, more dire consequences, including missed deadlines, opportunities, revenue.

A recent study by Freshworks surveyed 9000 workers around the world and the results are quite concerning. 

Statistics around frustrations caused by tech stack

Stagnant growth & innovation

With your IT teams tied up in constantly serving the needs of end users, with your end users fumbling with the tools, there isn’t much time left for innovation and growth. Technology is meant to facilitate innovation and productivity, but unfortunately, that’s not the case when it comes to situations where the technology stack isn’t being used to its full potential.

Microsoft 365 tools when used effectively have the power to streamline, automate and standardize many business functions and processes, freeing up your teams to focus on what they do best.

Wasted money on license costs – Shelfware

One of the most feared words by CFOs across the world is “Shelfware”. We can hardly call Microsoft suite of tools shelfware, as at a minimum, it offers tools people likely use on a daily basis, including Outlook, Word, Excel, Teams chat, etc.

That said, your organization likely invested in M365 licenses which were promising a much higher return than sending a few emails and creating Word documents. 

Organizations across the world are investing hundreds of thousands of dollars annually in their subscriptions, but are they getting hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of productivity and bottom-line results?

Shadow IT

If people across your organization are struggling to use Microsoft 365 tools effectively, but are committed to getting their job done, they will likely turn to Shadow IT – unsanctioned or unauthorized software.

A popular software comparison website G2 shares some interesting statistics about Shadow IT:

  • 80% of workers admit to using SaaS applications at work without getting approval from IT.
  • Shadow IT cloud usage is estimated to be 10x the size of known cloud usage (knowing how much your M365 licenses cost annually, this stat is likely to horrify you).
  • The average company has 975 unknown cloud services, whereas most companies have over 108 known cloud services.
  • 35% of employees say they need to work around their company’s security policy to get their job done.
  • Roughly 21% of organizations do not have a policy around the use of new technology.
  • 67% of teams have introduced their own collaboration tools into an organization.
  • 82% of teams have pushed back on IT or management about which collaboration tools should be used.
  • 8% of software licenses are only used once a month.

How to increase Microsoft Teams user adoption?

It’s not all doom and gloom – the path towards increasing the adoption AND IMPROVING the collaboration with the help of Microsoft 365 tools is clear, so follow along as we take you through 5 simple, yet extremely effective steps. 

Start with a governance plan

Governance is the process of defining the people, processes, rules, and structure within Microsoft Teams and across M365. Traditionally, it has been a very IT-driven process that is often associated with locking things down. However, it’s important to find the balance between IT being satisfied while still ensuring that end users have the freedom to collaborate. 

In this remote/hybrid work environment, it’s essential to help users through the plethora of choices available when creating Microsoft Teams, SharePoint Sites, and Groups. When you take a user-focused approach, good governance will drive lasting Microsoft adoption. 

Parts of pragmatic governance

Read our blog that shares some basics of creating a pragmatic governance plan and the ingredients which will make it destined for success. 

Start from day one

Providing employees with the required training and tools to be successful with M365 should start from day 1 of their joining your organization. Joining a new organization is nerve-racking enough, let alone having to learn to operate a new tech stack according to the organization’s standards.

Now imagine an alternative: 

A new member of the organization joins and is invited to an “onboarding” MS Team, which they share with their hiring manager, and perhaps, an HR manager.

The Team comes with top-of-the-line onboarding tools, including a SharePoint site with a Planner plan full of their onboarding tasks, a document library with organizational policies, adoption and training materials, their personal calendar, questionnaires or surveys, as well as the knowledge base related directly to their department and their new set of responsibilities within it.

The Team is equipped with a channel, where they can discuss any job-related questions with their hiring manager or supervisor to get up to speed swiftly, and a separate channel where they can engage with the HR manager on different topics. 

Such a process will not only impress any new hire, but also get them up to speed in half the time, and will give them the opportunity to get to know the technology tools before being thrown into the deep end of the pool (being added to dozens of Teams they likely know nothing about).

The great thing about this seemingly magical imaginary scenario is that it is absolutely plausible with the help of advanced templates – but more of these in the next section.

Make tools make sense

One of the biggest challenges for end users is not knowing what tool to use for what business use case. Let’s say one of your staff is a project manager, and they are looking to create a workspace where members of various teams can come together and collaborate on a client project. 

Technically, they could create an Outlook group for the project members. Or, alternatively, they could create a new Microsoft 365 Group, or even a new MS Team, which will create a group for the same users who were invited to the Team.

They may even start by creating a Planner Plan, which will automatically create a new Group for the users on that Plan. 

You can see how your project manager could accidentally end up creating multiple duplicated resources in your tenant.

But imagine your instructions to the PMs were always to use templates for any new project, and you went one step further by providing them with a template Project Management team which is already embedded with all the collaboration tools their Project Management heart desires, including channels for project status, cost & risk tracking, weekly meetings, updates, etc.

What if this Team had a SharePoint site associated with it which was already fully pre-configured for the project – along with document templates, a ready-to-go Planner plan with all the tasks already pre-loaded, a OneNote notebook with weekly meeting minute trackers, and so on?

Example of project Team created using Orchestry's project Microsoft Teams template

Once again, this perfect scenario is absolutely plausible, should you opt-in to leverage Microsoft Teams’ advanced templates.

We’ve put together a comprehensive blog that covers the OOTB functionality of templates, so make sure to check it out.

A Microsoft 365 management tool like Orchestry already comes with a library of fully built-out Microsoft Teams, SharePoint communication, and team sites, which in the long term would save you hundreds of thousands of dollars in custom development.

Check out what Orchestry's Microsoft Teams and SharePoint project management template looks like and all the custom functionality it offers!

See Project Management Template in Action

Orchestry’s library of templates includes common business cases like an employee on and off-boarding, project management, department intranet site and collaboration team and so many more. 

Give users more autonomy

To reduce the reliance on IT teams and introduce more autonomy to the end users, we recommend implementing a controlled self-service provisioning process, where users can easily request new Teams and SharePoint sites being created for them.

Unfortunately, OOTB Microsoft 365 provisioning options are rather limited – it’s pretty much between being open to all (people can create what they want and when they want to) or closed for all (they have to put in tickets every time they need a new workspace created). 

But with a hefty lift by your IT team, or with the help of an MSP, you can implement provisioning & approval workflows using Power Automate. You can read more about these options in our blog.

Alternatively, you can look to Microsoft 365 Management software to automate and improve the provisioning process for you. 

A scenario where your end users get to select a fully built-out SharePoint or Teams template, customize it to meet their unique needs, and then hit a button to request the creation of the new workspace is one of the many functionalities Orchestry offers.

Every request can be reviewed and approved by specific members of the organization, be it the PMO, or the IT team, and the creation of the requested workspace can be 100% automated as well.

Workspace customization using Orchestry

Automate your governance

We talked about the importance of having a clear governance plan, but what about enforcing the policies that are part of your newly created governance plan? 

The fear of making a mistake affects how comfortable users feel when creating and managing new collaboration workspaces in Microsoft 365. If only there was a way to automate governance policy enforcement, including default permissions, sharing, retention and archival, naming conventions, and such…

Well, with a tool like Orchestry, there is. 

With Orchestry you can embed every workspace with the governance controls which will take effect from the moment a new workspace is created, so users can rest assured they are being compliant and adhering to your organizational standards and expectations, without ever having to read a single governance document. 


Increasing the adoption of Microsoft tools may seem like a never-ending uphill battle, but it doesn’t have to be. 

Users feeling overwhelmed with M365 boils down to having too many options presented to them, causing a paradox of choice. Giving them just the tools they need to be productive along with the option to leverage those tools independently without second-guessing themselves will empower them, taking their collaboration using M365 to new heights.

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