Avoid Application Sprawl by Taking a Strategic Approach to Office 365

Dan Hickey | 11.25.19
Topics: Cloud Computing
Many organizations are moving to Office 365 so they can shift from a premise-based Exchange server to a cloud-based option. They usually start this transition with the proverbial “lift and shift” migration of the existing application (Exchange/Outlook and sometimes a network drive) and its associated data and files to the cloud with little or no changes.

Lifting and shifting isn’t a bad first step for organizations that feel constrained by budget, time, and resources. But, here’s the problem with this approach: after the lift and shift, they consider the project complete and miss the opportunity to take advantage of the other applications in the Office 365 portfolio.

Avoid application sprawl

I’m not here to promote Microsoft and its Office 365 offerings, but I am here to urge you to take a strategic approach to these tools. Application sprawl is a real problem that will continue to intensify over time. As staff gain access to file management and collaboration applications (Box, Dropbox, Google Drive), project management tools (Asana, Smartsheet, Jira, Airtable), and instant messaging tools (Slack, Google+ Hangouts), your organization needs to think seriously about application consolidation and governance.


To avoid application sprawl, you must first understand Office 365’s application portfolio. Determine how the 365 ecosystem, including core applications such as Teams, OneDrive, SharePoint, and Planner, compare to the solutions you have in place. Recent improvements in Microsoft's suite of offerings has resulted in tighter competition with popular one-off solutions. For most associations (especially small to mid-sized), it makes more business sense to have a fully functional, tightly integrated, single priced and managed suite rather than a variety of one-off solutions. 

Lighten the administrative burden

Trying to manage anti-virus, anti-malware, security, archiving policies, content retention policies, GDPR policies, and staff permissions across multiple apps is challenging and time consuming. Managing those responsibilities through a single console is more efficient.  

Like all SaaS-based tools, Office 365 updates and new features are available on a regular basis. Assign someone the responsibility for monitoring the updates to determine which are applicable and which new features need to be communicated throughout the organization.   

To get the most out of your Office 365 investment, dedicate time to determining how you can consolidate your association's application footprint and, more importantly, ensure your staff knows how to use these new tools.


Read how one association determined that a managed private cloud was right for them. Download our free white paper, Out of the Server Closet, Into the Cloud, to learn how Enterprise Wireless Alliance’s move to DelCor’s private cloud began with a network assessment and how they turned IT from a cost center to a mission-enabler.

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