We periodically get this question, especially when consulting larger organizations who have multiple administrators handling Active Directory, Exchange, and/or SharePoint. Some ask as they are just getting started, others when they experience issues operationalizing this cloud service.
Defining the Solution Owner
There is a growing rise of an IT role entitled “Solution Owner.” Organizationally, IT work in the cloud is less technical in nature, since much of infrastructure and operational complexity is handled by Microsoft. Solution owners take a more active role in the end to end solution delivery, not just on the “front-end” or “back-end” infrastructure. This shift in work starts during the migration, where the non-technical work of discovering, clean up, and organizing users into workgroups for migration encompasses the most intense work.
The term Solution Owner is carefully chosen. More than a Service Owner and more than a System Administrator, the Solution Owner shares traits of technologist, trainer, and business analyst. They not only have to administer the configurations of their solution, but listen for the needs of the user base and cultivate solutions, and then train the end users on the respect and capabilities that they need.
Role and Responsibilities of the Solution Owner
Office 365 should have an owner and a backup. Their role should be to:
- Facilitate a smooth migration to Office 365, co-developing the project plan and leveraging other resources
- Collaborate with the adoption / change team to ensure users are ready for the change
- Manage the day to day service level agreements of the service, escalating to MSFT or other internal teams as needed
- Partner with their Service Desk liaison to create Standard Operating Procedures for triaging and troubleshooting
- Manage technical aspects that span across the service
- Group management
- Admin privileges
- Analyze Statistics, Trends, Delve
- Handle change requests from the business, analyze them, and if sensible, shepherd changes through the existing IT change management process
- Ensure users are adapting and maximizing the ROI of their new technology, by crafting ongoing training and feeding updates to the adoption/change management team for public distribution
Keeping up with Microsoft
the Solution Owner must understand the important changes (both positive and negative) that Microsoft is making to Office 365, then communicate that to those that need to know in the IT and end-user organization.
So, other elements of an O365 Solution Owner job description often include:
- Disseminate weekly and roadmap updates to stakeholders (other technical teams, and to corporate comms/users)
- Lead cross-functional planning of pilots and rollouts
- Oversight of User Moves, Adds, Changes of operations (push left after developing SOP)
- Ownership of non-core apps (i.e. Planner, Stream, To-Do)
- Ensure compliance
- Transfer knowledge to users
As SaaS becomes the new normal, systems administrators can remain relevant by shifting focus toward the end-user, proactively solving business problems with technology. Embracing the Solution Owner model is a solid first step in that direction.