Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy: a new way of working

We partnered with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to deliver the change and engagement workstream for its Cirrus programme. Designed to transform the IT workplace experience, the Cirrus programme deployed new laptops, Smartphones, Microsoft Office 365, SharePoint, Jabber and WebEx to 6,000 employees on a radical internet-only architecture.

Our engagement team – made up of nearly 50 change, business relationship, communications and training consultants – worked with key stakeholders across the department. Together, we devised the technology adoption strategy, and identified organisational goals, new ways of working and potential benefits. During the process we also helped stakeholders to understand how disruptive this change would be and that it was much more than a technical refresh.

Mitchell Leimon, Programme Director at BEIS for the Cirrus programme explains: “As natural extroverts, The Inform Team took the time to learn our organisation’s language and culture and build strong relationships with all sorts of stakeholders to bridge the gap between our IT team and the business. They astutely assessed what needed to be done to connect the technology to our people. I backed their way of thinking because I could see they had the skills, drive and credentials.”

The Cirrus programme change and engagement workstream was underpinned by our Excite, Equip, Embed™ approach to technology adoption.


To excite employees, we developed a programme brand and worked with the department to roll out an OASIS communications plan, to prepare employees for a positive experience.  All materials that we produced, from training content, user guides and videos to news bulletins, case studies and visual displays were housed on an easy-to-find intranet hub that we helped to develop.

“When the scale of change involved became clear – and we realised how little buy-in there was – The Inform Team’s communication experts stepped up strongly and creatively. They got the programme back on track and made the key relationships with the corporate centre work well,” commented Leimon.  


To equip employees with the skills to embrace the technology and new ways of working, we mobilised, onboarded and trained a community of 500 Knowledge Information Managers and digital champions to help with end-user adoption. We also ran three-phase ‘look, select, collect…’ device events for employees – in dedicated Cirrus spaces we designed and built – where over 12,000 face-to-face ‘select and collect’ device appointments were managed.

Classroom training sessions were held for all users on the day they received their device, with 12 employees attending per session and 140 users being trained each day. End-users were then supported by technical and Office 365 floor-walkers for 10 days, who also provided 15-minute clubs on ‘how to…’ tips. After 10 days, employees could then sign up to elective classroom sessions. Leimon noted,

“From the start, The Inform Team pushed for a radical and intense training model compared to what we and other departments were used to.  They made the case and the benefit to the Department has been dramatic compared to any other similar programme I have seen.”

BEIS has a diverse workforce with a wide range of skills, ages and challenges.  We ensured each of these communities was successfully nurtured. In particular, we provided a specialised change work-stream for the ‘adaptive technology’ community, so their individual technology needs were supported and BEIS acted as a truly inclusive organisation.

“With the Adaptive Technology community, The Inform Team deployed real subject knowledge experts whose experience and empathy ensured inclusivity was wired into the programme from the start. The BEIS Adaptive Technology community has repeatedly said that no programme has ever engaged with them as well as Cirrus,” said Leimon.


Post deployment, our partnership was extended to embed cultural change across the department. This included working with HR & IT to develop the on-boarding process for new starters; producing e-learning courses and videos; packaging learning content by profession; and, upskilling the change agent community through technical immersion courses.

Our communications team helped to identify and develop the messaging for five key ways of working, so employees could better understand how the new technology aids their work. The team also supported the promotion of key benefits to employees, which are saving time, improving efficiency, increasing security and delivering inclusivity.

Business benefits

The Cirrus programme is delivering massive savings for the department and has provided civil servants with an IT infrastructure, kit and experience second to none. It has put the department at an advantage in the war for talent and employees have received the change positively. How we communicated the Cirrus programme resulted in 86% of users knowing what to expect, when the change was happening and what they needed to do.

It has also provided the platform for continuing business transformation over the coming years and in how the department works. Leimon comments:

“By having an outward facing set of IT tools, it’s enabled us to engage and communicate with British and global businesses to share information and knowledge. The Cirrus programme has been a massive leap forward in how we collaborate and work as a modern department.”   

Benefits of a change and engagement partner

We became a vital delivery partner for BEIS and were able to innovate at pace whenever the programme needed new thinking or skills:

“This was a challenging project where you needed to know you had a change team who were creative ‘outside the box’ thinkers, confident enough to question the way things were done, and come back with a plan of attack of how to do things differently. The Inform Team did this. As a partner they shared our commitment, were able to respond to the unforeseen, and above all, always did the right thing for the project. They were a partner we could learn and laugh with,” said Leimon.

What did we learn about Microsoft in December?

We don’t talk the talk…we walk the walk!

Our learning inspiration this month is Mother Teresa who said, “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples”. How true is this in relation to technology adoption?! It takes more than one person to make change happen, but a few people can create a ripple effect through a cascade model, like a champions’ network.

As Microsoft swots we always have our ears to the ground – or rather the web! – to find out what’s new with Microsoft, so we can cascade our findings to our clients’ employees and you. So, what did we learn about Microsoft in December?

  • Probably the biggest news this month – Microsoft is overhauling its Windows 10 visual icons and they will be known as new-look Office 365 icons. So far, 10 icons have been developed and more are being created in 2019.
  • From January 2019, Microsoft is adding live captions/ subtitles to PowerPoint thanks to a real-time, AI-powered voice translation feature. What a great way to include the Adaptive Technology community.
  • From this month to March 2019, Microsoft will be rolling out a feature where new files posted in Yammer Groups within Office 365 will be stored in SharePoint, in the area associated with that Group. This won’t impact existing files, or files in unconnected groups or private messages.
  • You can now have an organisation-wide team within Microsoft Teams for up to 1,000 users. Up to 1,000 active users will be added as team members automatically. Loving the thought of one organisation collaboration!
  • Many organisations are using both Microsoft Teams and Skype for Business but previously presence wasn’t fully aligned. It now is for small Office 365 tenants, where users have a ‘coexistence’ mode.

And that’s a wrap for December. We hope you’ve enjoyed reading our Microsoft updates this year as much as we’ve enjoyed researching all the latest news. It wouldn’t be an ‘end of year’ post though if we didn’t round up our top Microsoft updates of 2018! So, here’s our favourites…

  1. Any feature that has been added to Microsoft Teams has had a thumbs’ up from us. Without a doubt, Teams has been our hero app in 2018. It’s now where we start, spend and finish our working day. Who would have thought that a year ago?!
  2. New features that have made our lives easier and got our jobs done quicker, have been a winner. We can now create emails and presentations through dictation. Documents autosave in OneDrive and SharePoint. And, you can get threaded comments in Excel. Most impressively, Office 365 Usage Analytics tells us how we spend the day, so we can be smarter about how we spend our time.
  3. The mastery of AI-powered features has blown our minds. You have facial detection, speech-to-text transcription and speaker time-code capabilities in Live Events, in Teams and Stream. And now you can add sub-titling to PowerPoint. What next in 2019?

Thank you, Microsoft! In 2018 you’ve given us so many new features to make our working lives easier and we can’t wait to find out what you’re going to do in 2019…

What did we learn about Microsoft in November?

We don’t talk the talk…we walk the walk!

‘Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn’ – Benjamin Franklin. What wise words? And, words The Inform Team live by! We believe the only way to get people to truly adopt new technology is to train and get them involved. After all, if you don’t use your knowledge you lose it…

We eat our own dog food and always learn about everything that’s going on with Microsoft, so we can help our clients’ employees to work the Microsoft way too. So, what did we learn about Microsoft in November?

  • From 29th November 2018, Microsoft Office 365 subscribers will get helpful product training and tips via email. This feature will be on by default. Microsoft’s aim is to help us to increase our productivity through better utilisation of the functionality available to us. We can’t wait to get swotting!
  • Stream just keeps getting smarter. Moving forwards, we’ll have more AI functionality, such as speaker timelines that use face detection to show where a person appears in a video; and, transcript search and timecode capability so you can quickly search for the content you’re looking for. Our favourite is the new speech-to-text and closed captions feature, which means spoken dialogue will be made readable for greater accessibility.
  • There was the Windows 10 update, which was the first major release since April this year. Watch this video to learn more. Our favourite feature is the Windows 10 Cloud Clipboard, which stores the history of the content you’ve copied.
  • At Ignite, Microsoft announced it was collaborating with Citrix, so you can buy Citrix Workspace cloud solutions using Microsoft Office 365 licences. We now know that together the software providers will be delivering a Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS).
  • You can use the @MeekanWorld App for Microsoft Teams to help schedule meetings and sync people’s calendars to work out when everyone is free to meet. Here’s how
  • There’s a growing demand to be able to connect and analyse disparate pieces of data for a holistic view and Microsoft has listened. Power BI is more powerful than ever with its Power BI Custom Connectors now being general available. Meaning, there’s hundreds of connectors to hook up to, making Power BI’s data analysis capability even greater.
  • Microsoft has launched a web version of its Sticky Notes app, which syncs between devices. This means we can make and manage short notes more efficiently, yay!
  • Microsoft Teams Live Events is a brilliant new way to engage employees online at a low-cost, and we’re always excited to hear about further developments with this platform. This recently launched short guide provides best-practice recommendations on how to manage your event from scheduling through to production, streaming and ensuring an excellent employee experience.
  • We’re so on the Teams bandwagon and to get everyone up to speed, Microsoft has created a hub full of guidance documents, videos and tips. We particularly like the ‘Get your team up and running…’ video, because that’s what we’re currently helping lots of our clients to do!

And, that’s a wrap for November. Get in touch if you’d like us to feature specific Microsoft news in our monthly Microsoft blog posts.

What did we learn about Microsoft in October?

We don’t talk the talk…we walk the walk!

The talented musician and actor John Legend was our learning inspiration this month. We really like his motivational quote: ‘Keep learning, listening, growing and experimenting’. We did just that by swotting up on everything that is new about Microsoft, which is a company that doesn’t shy away from experimenting.

Microsoft has launched some seriously hot stuff recently, which really takes collaboration and the virtual world to the next level. Here’s what we learned about Microsoft this month:

  • If you have Microsoft Office 365 and store your documents on OneDrive and SharePoint, they will now AutoSave. Meaning your documents will be automatically saved every few seconds. Good-bye Ctrl + S!
  • Microsoft Office 365 and LinkedIn is beginning to integrate. So, in an Outlook Calendar Meeting Invite you can learn more about an attendee as some of their LinkedIn profile will show in the invite. What a conversation ice-breaker! Did you know if you’re using Microsoft Office 365 and are on LinkedIn you can co-author Office 365 documents with your LinkedIn connections? Taking collaboration to a whole new level! Find out more.
  • You can now record your meetings in Microsoft Teams, so people who miss out can playback the recorded content anytime. To save time you can pull up the transcript and search keywords according to what you want to hear about.
  • If you’re on a video call in Microsoft Teams you can now blur your background. Click on the fourth icon along called ‘my options’ with the three dots (…) then click on ‘Blur my background’. Simple!
  • You now have greater control over who attends your meetings in your Microsoft Office 365 Outlook Calendar. If you’re organising the meeting you can choose whether to allow attendees to forward the meeting invite to other people.
  • The main news coming out of Microsoft Ignite was that users are being shifted from Skype for Business online to Teams, confirming Microsoft’s commitment to Teams as the collaboration platform. If you want to hear the round-up of the news at Ignite listen to this podcast.
  • Are you an Excel and Word feature geek? Then you’ll enjoy reading these reviews by TechRadar on the latest versions of Excel and Word.

And, that’s a wrap for October. Get in touch if you’d like us to feature specific Microsoft news in our monthly Microsoft blog posts.

What did we learn about Microsoft in September?

We don’t talk the talk…we walk the walk!

September is a time that wafts of a fresh start filled with promise, as we wave goodbye to the beach and sunbeds and go back to school. This month we lived by Dr. Seuss’ ‘back to school’ advice: The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll GO! 

We did our reading, so we know more about Microsoft and what they’ve been up to. And, we can’t wait to tell you what we learned…

  1. As avid users, we’re delighted that Teams is now a complete meeting and calling solution, and the primary communications client in Microsoft Office 365. With messaging, meetings, calling, and file sharing all in one, how can you go wrong?!
  2.  MeetNow functionally in Teams is now also better. It offers an enhanced lobby experience, holds meetings for up to 250 attendees, plus offers intelligent alerts, mobile sharing and whiteboarding.
  3. Microsoft MyAnalytics is great for giving you a picture of how you spend your time at work; and, now it includes your chat and call activity from Skype for Business to give you a better insight. Learn more.
  4. The Office 365 Roadmap, which lists updates that are planned for various subscribers, has become the Microsoft 365 Roadmap. Despite a new name and virtual location, it will retain current information and functionality for the existing Office 365 Roadmap. The Microsoft Office Roadmap will provide information on new features with their release status – targeted release, preview, specialised cloud, or worldwide.
  5. Microsoft Office 365 is winning the battle of office software in Europe. According to Bitglass’s second cloud adoption report, European cloud adoption has increased 27% since 2016. Microsoft Office 365 is being used by 65% of European respondents; up 22% in two years. Whereas, G Suite market share is down 3% (19% in 2018 versus 22% in 2016). But, AWS’s share has grown from 13% (2016) to 22% (2018).
  6. We love how Microsoft is applying machine learning to its file storage services OneDrive and SharePoint. Soon you’ll be able to automatically transcribe video and audio files, with the transcript being displayed on the screen. Think how much easier it will be to find the information you’re looking for in a video?

And, that’s a wrap for September! Get in touch if you’d like us to feature specific Microsoft news in our monthly Microsoft blog posts.

Six ways we eat the Microsoft and technology adoption diet!

We don’t eat but indulge in our own dog food…

Did you know that the expression ‘eat your own dog food’ originated from Microsoft in the 1980s? What they were saying was, if you expect customers to pay and use your products and services, then as a company so should you and your employees.

The Inform Team loves to eat its own dog food😊 We passionately campaign for technology adoption on behalf of our clients, showing them the way to get their employees to embrace new technology and experience a better way of working. Many of our clients want their employees to adopt Microsoft products, and lucky for them we walk the Microsoft path! In fact, we indulge in their dog food and our own!

Here’s six ways we eat the Microsoft and technology adoption diet…

It’s our heart as we have no office

Many of our consultants are based in our clients’ offices, but the core team all work from home if they don’t have client meetings; and we are spread out across the whole country. So, we rely on the full Office 365 suite to do our jobs – we chat and call each other in both Teams and Skype for Business; manage and share our documents across our SharePoint, OneDrive, and Teams platforms; and quickly gather who we need in an online meeting to make urgent decisions.

We’re not The Inform Team without Teams

If you took the Teams app away from us we would cry and crumble – quite literally – as it’s what makes our heart beat. We house our Internal and Customer channels in there, and within each channel we chat, plus store and share our intel. A customer channel includes: a OneNote tab where we centrally keep meeting notes and can add stuff to at the same time; a files tab for all client documents so they’re safely saved in the cloud and accessible; a conversation tab where we chat and determine actions; and, sometimes we have a wiki tab to document facts and next steps.

We love a huddle on Teams but we’re a little bit shy…

Every Friday the core team gathers on the weekly huddle via a Teams meeting to discuss the week – client work, prospects, internal projects that we’re working on, our social media posts for the following week, and so on. We take a note of actions and keep them in our Teams Internal Huddle channel. Our founders also check in with each core team member for a weekly 1:1 huddle, via a Teams Meeting, to discuss individual work. However, we can all be a little bit shy and tend to turn our video off!

Sam, one of our founders, is Mrs Mobile

Sam’s our strategist, so she’s often out and about meeting clients and prospects trying to solve their technology adoption woes. She lives on her mobile phone and Surface Pro tablet, which have the Office 365 apps on them. Great for us as we can always contact her via Teams and Skype, and great for her as she’s always able to quickly join in conversations, edit documents and give her recommendations at very short notice.

Emma, our other founder, is Mrs Operational Hub

Emma loves an Excel spreadsheet and she is the glue that keeps us together running ship-shape operations. Yet, this wouldn’t be possible without Staff Hub. As a remote, flexible bunch whose working patterns change week-by-week, Staff Hub helps Emma to keep track of our whereabouts, availability, and time we’ve spent with clients. Emma also put our Teams infrastructure and processes in place, and as one of our leaders we follow her style. A tip for technology adoption: To be successful, you need someone at the top who is passionate about the change to lead it.

Our mantra is ‘COLLABORATE’

Why? Because Office 365 really helps us to do this. If we need to review and edit a document with a tight deadline, we can all access it via OneDrive, Teams or SharePoint (as they all synch). We can all make our changes simultaneously in real-time, so there’s no waiting in line to take your turn, making our lives much easier. Or, if we need to discuss a document we all hop onto a Teams meeting where we can share a screen and handover control to each other, to amend content as we need to.

We’re so on the Microsoft diet and our bellies are full of all its software goodness!  That’s how we’re able to help our clients get their employees onboard the Microsoft technology adoption train…

What did we learn about Microsoft in August?

We don’t talk the talk…we walk the walk! 

August is the perfect month for downing tools, taking a holiday and stepping away from work. But, that’s not how we spent the month! We used our time to scan the web and social media, so we could stay on top of our game and keep learning about the latest from Microsoft. We discovered plenty and are delighted to share our findings with you.   

What we learned about Microsoft in August: 

  1. Teams is at a ‘feature parity’ with Skype for Business. Last year, Microsoft announced that it would replace Skype for Business online with the Teams group chat platform, to support messaging, meetings and calling in the cloud. New features in Teams would include call parking, group call pickup, location-based routing and shared-line appearance. Microsoft has said it’s on track with these developments but attendees at its partner conference questioned this, commenting that phone support in Teams isn’t ready. Read more. 
  2. Microsoft Office 365 now has some new capabilities for us all to benefit from. Planner has been integrated with SharePoint, so you can do task management directly in Teams. Threaded comments have been introduced in Excel for better collaboration and so the experience is consistent across Excel, PowerPoint and Word. We especially like that you can now create Teams usage reports using Microsoft 365 usage analytics. As remote workers, it will help us to see how our organisation works together in Teams using chat, channels and meetings. Take a look. 
  3. Teams goes from strength to strength. In August, Microsoft announced that you can get important notifications whilst in ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode and that you can share just a PowerPoint file in a meeting to save on video bandwidth. We’re cheering that you can now take private notes in the new Wiki app, making it much easier to keep all your notes in once place and nicely filed! Find out how to use the private notes Wiki app.  
  4. Last month we mentioned that you can now hold Live Events in Teams and since this announcement Microsoft has shared further detail. In short, Live Events enable users to broadcast video and content to large online audiences; and, that it’s really like an extension of a Teams Meeting. This great snapshot tells you all you need to know, giving you an introduction to how Live Events works and the components involved from scheduling and production to streaming. 
  5. Microsoft is all about the cloud, but it has acknowledged that some companies – for justifiable reasons – are committed to keeping their data on premise. So, they’ve announced a bunch of new features in its 2019 release for Office, SharePoint and Skype for Business that will give on-premise users similar features to users of 365. Learn what’s on offer 

And, that’s a wrap for August! Get in touch if you believe we’ve missed out any vital Microsoft news that you would like us to feature in our next Microsoft blog post.  

What did we learn about Microsoft in July?

We don’t talk the talk…we walk the walk

Octogenarian Jane Fonda wisely says: ‘Stay curious, keep learning and keep growing. And always strive to be more interested than interesting.’ And, we couldn’t agree more. To keep current on all things Microsoft we take this approach; it’s about seeking out and sucking up as much information as we can!

This July, we explored and digested Microsoft news so we can share the best with you. We hope what we found and learned about will be of interest to you – and if there’s anything we missed let us know. We’re always interested😊

What we learned about Microsoft in July:

  1. If you have Microsoft Office 365 you’ll soon be able to translate inline messages, into the language you work in, in Microsoft Teams. Simply click the Translate button (in the overflow menu for any message). Learn more. (Two things to note: 1) This setting needs to be switched on in your Microsoft Teams and Skype for Business Admin Center 2) This feature isn’t available to anyone in the Office 365 Government Community Cloud).
  2. Last month we mentioned that Microsoft Whiteboard will soon be exiting ‘Preview’. However, Microsoft isn’t holding back with its ongoing development. This month it announced there is a new ‘welcome experience’ when you open the app. Now you’ll see a splash screen with a ‘get started’ button, which gives you a quick overview of what the app can do along with ‘inking experiences’. Take a look.
  3. Our technology adoption projects often include a workstream that focuses on assistive technology and accessibility. So, we were super pleased to find out that Microsoft is updating its Accessibility Checker for Office 365. The new version will alert you in real time when it detects that your content may be difficult for people with disabilities to access. TechRepublic has written some insightful top tips on how to make your documents more accessible. Read more.
  4. You can now more easily use your Office apps on the go with the launch of Surface Go – Microsoft’s smallest and lightest Surface device.
  5. The latest release of Microsoft Office for Android has some nifty new features, such as, being able to see the word count in Word whilst scrolling, being able to delete contacts directly in Outlook, and a ‘do not disturb feature’ to block messages/notifications.
  6. Did you know that more than 200,000 businesses are using Teams, up from 125,000 in September 2017? Microsoft wants everyone to get on the collaboration train as it’s announced that its launching a free Teams app, which you don’t need an Office 365 subscription for. The app will include basic features and will support up to 300 people. Find out how this move will take on Slack and open Teams up to an audience of small businesses, students and freelancers.
  7. AI powered services in Live Events, in Teams is fostering employee engagement with its facial detection, speech-to-text transcription, and speaker timeline capabilities. Learn how Microsoft is using the technology for its own employee engagement.

And that’s all until next month!


Microsoft – what did we learn in June 2018?

We don’t talk the talk…we walk the walk!

At The Inform Team we love to learn and passionately share our knowledge with one another so we can be the masters of everything Microsoft, and keep pleasing our clients. After all, we can’t talk about the importance of continuous learning if we’re not prepared to stay on top of the latest developments in Microsoft technology ourselves! Throughout June, we’ve been walking the Microsoft path so we can gather the latest facts and share them with you.

Here’s what we learned about Microsoft in June:

  1. Microsoft Whiteboard Windows 10 app – a digital canvas where ideas, content and people come together – will exit preview and become generally available to download from the Microsoft Store in the next few months. We think this app has great collaboration potential as it enables you to work in person and virtually across multiple devices. Unfortunately, it won’t be available to government organisations using Office 365. Check out this one-minute video.
  2. Computerworld has pulled together this nifty FAQ about Microsoft 365, which provides a ‘starter for ten’ on what you need to know – from what’s included in the bundle, to how many versions there are, how it fits into Microsoft’s strategy and some of the cool features available. We’re pleased Windows AutoPilot, which lets workers enrol a new device, got a call out as it saves so much time for the IT team!
  3. Adobe and Microsoft have strengthened their partnership by further integrating what you can do with Adobe PDF technologies within Office 365. Last year, Adobe Sign (an e-signature service) became the preferred e-signature offering in Office 365. Now within Office 365, you can create, manipulate, and view PDFs in the online versions of, and from the toolbar in Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneDrive and SharePoint. Find out more.
  4. What you can do in Microsoft Teams keeps growing and growing and we’re so on this train! You can now add SharePoint pages as tabs in Microsoft Teams, so you have everything in one place. And, when creating a new team in Microsoft Teams you can take an existing team and easily duplicate the settings.
  5. We saved the best for last…Microsoft has announced some whizzy new features down the line for Office 365 and Office 2019. In future, we’ll be experiencing a simplified ribbon, new colours and icons, improved search functionality and better collaboration. All this stuff will make our working lives easier. Here’s the Wall Street Journal’s take on it – watch this short, engaging video.

And, that’s a wrap for June…well, almost. We’re all over FIFA World Cup 2018 and are jumping up and down for joy that although Bing is clever, it’s not always 100% correct as it had predicted that England would get knocked out of the cup in the quarter finals to Germany! We’re so happy Bing was wrong… 😊