Do end users need formal training on Office 365 apps?

Iron Contributor

Hi All,


I have a couple of questions regarding Office 365 user adoption:


  1. Do you think end users should receive formal training -- instructor/champion-led sessions -- to be taught how to use Office 365 apps like Teams or PowerApps, for example?
  2. Is there an expectation that end users will just learn as they go, without any formal training, and do their own research to learn more about how to use the Office 365 apps if necessary?

Personally, I think end users should be provided with initial training sessions on apps that are new to them, and periodic sessions on specific features, updates, etc, so that they can make the most of all that Office 365 has to offer.


What is your experience with these?


Thanks in advance for your thoughts.



29 Replies
I'd suggest at least a 'show and tell' as without that users probably won't even be aware what is possible. For example, I've run many sessions with users that say they use OneNote but are blown away when you show them what they can achieve with things like tagging, web clipper, Office Lens, etc.

As for what form that training takes, that will depend largely on the audience and resources available.

I agree with you there, Geoff -- without some kind of training, folks don't know what they don't know.

I have similar dilemas.


When we started to push OneDrive to replace old personal network drives and to sync desktop & my docs, less than 60% of people turned up to sessions, despite them being practical short sessions.


Teams has been an organic adoption with a lot of people wanting to use it without guidance, this has issues too with limited understanding of it capabilities and lots of duplicate teams.  We ran an internal email campaign with a Tops Tips Sharepoint page and got just 12% of people clicking through to the page.  


It feels some days like we are forcing people to use new tools, we have to progress and would love to understand how other people get staff engagement 

I hear you. I think there is probably a need for mandatory training -- at least to help users understand how the different apps fit into their organization's big IT picture, and to be shown examples of how the apps can be used successfully. I also think planning before diving in is essential -- otherwise things could potentially spiral out of control -- with duplication of efforts, not using the best app for the job, etc.

From my experiences - bitesize coaching style sessions (usually do a maximum of about 6x 30mins sessions on MS Teams) with 'homework' works well. These sessions are short but shows the users what to do whilst empowering them to go away and try it out on their own and come back for a review in the follow up sessions whilst learning more. Once the sessions are completed, you could then have a coach/evanglised champion for other people to go to if they have the time to spare.
I have also found collaborating with other departments such as People and Culture (HR) during workshops on flexible working for example helpful. Get some time within those workshops or team meetings to train users on what's relevant to them at that time (in my case - being able to work from different locations). I usually do a 15-20mins show and tell at the team meetings which then leads onto the coaching method mentioned above. I have found its all about developing a knowledge sharing/learning culture by finding new ways to grab people's attention than the usual advertise and run full blown training if required. 

best response confirmed by Jaime Araya (Copper Contributor)

HI @Graham McHugh - This is a great question.  I'd encourage you to redefine what "training" means in our current environment. What we find is that many people are unlikely to attend an actual class but the demand for short videos that are task or scenario based is high.  Think "playlists" like on Spotify or on your music library.  People need to know something exactly when they need to know it so we're going that direction overall. 


That being said there is always some demand for virtual or instructor based training that helps people "get" the basics of what the new experience is.  45 minutes seems to be a sweet spot for these trainings.  The virtual version is good because we find people stop and start the trainings to try things in the product.  Also it's a best practice to establish internal Champions and these folks usually are highly engaged in more in depth training.  


Remember all training needs to be in the context of what's in it for the users themselves. What I think is super cool may not help someone else in a particular role.  This is why we're so fond of the playlist model and integrated this into our Custom Learning for Office 365 training site template which will be broadly available in Q1/CY19.  This SharePoint Online site template with a custom Webpart will allow you to customize the playlists, included products and look/feel of the experience and it's easily pinned in Teams.  We'll announce its availability here and in the Driving Adoption community as well. 


At the end of the day this is our chance to increase the digital literacy of our workforce and (as I always say) get people to STOP emailing that spreadsheet around!  Hope this helps.  

That's very useful, @Karuana Gatimu, thanks for sharing!


I am particularly interested in the Custom Learning for Office 365 training site template -- I'll look forward to learning more about it.


Thanks again!

I'd like to echo a couple of the other answers here. I love training classes - both as a student and as a teacher. However, I must acknowledge that the traditional instructor-led training scenario is only effective for a small section of users - the ones that have the basic skills, aptitude, interest, and daily hands-on justification for it. That means it just doesn't work well for most end users. It's too much investment in time, and it's too much material for them to remember.

That being said, you have to find a way to let users know what their missing and grow their skills as they need them. I used to lead a team at Visa that did a bunch of things to build interest and skills in the overall user population.

We did 45-minute live webinars on a monthly basis, and we recorded them to make them available on-demand later. They needed to be short, simple, hands-on, and focused on a business problem / use case - not a feature. Most users don't care about features. They care about pain points and how to ease them. 

We purchased a contextual help system that provided a self-serve help tab that served little help items that were always relevant to what the user was currently working on. We bought one that had a variety of built-in help content in different formats- quick reference cards, videos, walk-throughs... We also found it very powerful to create some of our own help items to address governance, common tickets, and customizations. Because these are consumed while the user is in the middle of something else, they have to be bite-sized (< 2 minutes / 1 page) and focused on one thing each. 

These kinds of things are most impactful if the support team is aware of them and invested in them. Every time we interact with a user is an opportunity to offer them some help. Questions that come through emails, phone calls, tickets... all of them are opportunities to direct someone to one of these resources that might actually help them. It all increases exposure and builds momentum.

We also did 1-hour Ask-Me-Anything sessions we called 'Office Hours'. We put a member or two from our team in a conf rm / Skype bridge at a consistent time every week, and then we evangelized it to death. We found that users LOVED this one. Started a lot of power users just by answering questions about 'what do I use for this' or 'how do I do this'. It also wound up saving our team time. We found that the daily barrage of email and phone calls dropped noticeably, because people knew there was a way they could talk to us on a regular basis.



Lots of good ideas there, Eric -- thanks. Would you mind sharing which contextual help system you purchased? And would you recommend it? I think it's important to make it easy for users to learn about the various apps. To that end, this site makes it easy to access the major Office 365 resources from one central location.

End users should receive a training (show and tell) in our opinion - since ways of doing changed in Online/365, it will be helpful for end users if a formal training (show and tell) conducted. Of course all the features and functionality cannot be shown in a training, but it will be a boost for them to learn more by themselves later.

if some tech-savvy end users wants to know more nuts and bolts (technical) details, I suggest direct them to good online course - for example It will be more than enough for tech-savvy.

For my company, I am doing Teams training's at least four times per month.  


True, we have low attendance at times unless I email the invites to the HR Managers in various parts of the company, and they forward the invites to their employees.  


I have found, so far, that this works best.  Adoption is going up steadily.  The trend over the past six months has been encouraging.  


I post articles and "reasons why" to the employees, and this helps greatly.


So far, so good.  But I do believe in formal training's of an hour long.  


Without training, then employees will think they know it by using only 10% of the program.

I think Microsoft offers some great resources to help users. The problem is that it's scattered around lots of places. At least in my experience, a lot of times when I find something good, it's when I'm looking for something else.

The site you linked is an improvement - it aggregates some of their help content. A lot of the official one-off articles / videos that you find when Googling aren't in there, though. It also requires that the users have enough interest to go to that site and look for an answer. The new help panel that MS is providing with the '?' button within the O365 UI is nice too - but it's search driven rather than being truly contextual. The user has to know what something's called and then manually scan through a long list of possibilities to find basic answers. That's fine for the kind of user that is personally invested in the platform, but for the average end user who only cares about what they're trying to accomplish right now - I think it's less than optimal.

The contextual system we chose at Visa was VisualSP, but there are a few out there to choose from. (Full disclosure, I joined the VisualSP team when I left Visa. I respect the neutral nature of forums like this, so I'm only mentioning it by name because you asked.) The advantage of a context-driven system is that the user doesn't have to go look for help in a separate site or filter through a bunch of unrelated tutorials to find the one they want. It delivers only relevant help items directly to the user while they're working in the platform. I think it's super powerful when you start to create custom help items, too. Custom solutions you build, governance details, common questions your users ask... You can publish them to users when and where they're likely to need them. If you start directing people there when they have questions, then they start to find answers on their own, too.

Great points. I've seen that work well if you can get management to encourage people into those events. I like the thought of highlighting the reasons why. That's super helpful because it attaches the feature you're highlighting to something in real life. It's also important when communicating governance. Users are frequently more accepting of guidelines if they understand it's not just an arbitrary preference of the admin team.

VisualSP looks like a useful product -- obviously a lot of work has gone into it. I think one of the biggest challenges with developing training/support content for Office 365 is how rapidly it is changing -- for example, the architecture and functionality of modern SharePoint sites is drastically different from classic SharePoint, and requires a whole new way of planning/implementing (hub sites and flat structure, to name a couple of big changes).


Keeping up with the changes is challenge enough for tech-types, for non-techie end users it's a very confusing time, with multiple apps that do similar things (for example, Yammer, Teams, Skype). Which is why I think it's important to provide end users with quality training (a combination of the many suggestions in this thread), resources, direction, and, perhaps most importantly, the time to learn.

Hi @Graham McHugh,


For the specific case of Microsoft Teams, I drove the adoption in my company and I found that the tool could be easy to understand through videos or tutorials. What is not so easy is to organize a team in a way that it really makes people lives' easier in regards to collaboration and communication.

The concept of channels and tabs is a bit complex to understand for all end users at the beginning.


I found that understanding the business, building some use cases on how Teams can give value for them and spend time directly with leaders and their groups to guide them, it's a good way of doing it.


Hope this helps,


Thanks for that, @MaR_6h. I agree with everything you said - particularly the last paragraph.
I feel that some introductory training is helpful, but one of the most beneficial approaches in my opinion is to use Microsoft Teams to help people learn teams. What better way to learn something than to use it.
I deliver two courses at our workplace - a "Getting Started with Office 365" course which covers the basics of what O365 is, Cloud Computing, Security, and then looking at OneDrive for Business, sharing and collaboration using Office (both desktop and online) and depending on course attendees and pace we may look briefly at working in groups / teams. The second course is "Collaborating with Teams and Yammer" and assumes some knowledge or attendance on the first course. The second course is delivered throughout using a "Training" team set up for that course cohort and left in place for 3 to 4 months after the course as a "play pen" for people to try things out without disturbing or affecting their real workiplace teams. We deliver through a hands on practical based course running for c3 hours and find it gives people a really good grounding and they go away enthused and ready to use teams in their day to day work.


A good training and communication plan is key.
A classic classroom training, lunch & learn session, … is always a good idea.

When u have experienced power users in place, they can help your end-users on a daily basis.

On top you can provide a good eLearning tool, ea Oase (link below), so end users can train themselves continuously. (specially for O365)

check out also this approach from Microsoft:


eLearning link: