June 20, 2014

Microsoft has today released the Office 365 for business public roadmap. The Office 365 for business public roadmap provides customers with a way to learn more about upcoming change and updates before the change impacts their service.

Go here to see the Office365 for Business Public Roadmap

The public roadmap will be closely coupled with the larger Office 365 Change Management strategy, including integration with Message Centre and the Office 365 direct to admin communication channel.

This is an extremely important and very useful service delivery mechanism to ensure you know what services will affect Office 365 customers – the roadmap page is split into sections allowing you to see what features are launched, rolling out, in development and cancelled.

Another very important read is the Improving visibility to service updates blog which gives more information concerning the concepts behind the Office 365 for business public roadmap.

So what is the public roadmap?

The Office 365 for business public roadmap is a web page on Office.com that provides customers with a list of new and updated features being released to the Office 365 service. The website will list recently launched features, features still rolling out, and features that are still in development. The website will launch with a monthly update cadence.

Note that the public roadmap does NOT commit Microsoft to specific timelines for delivering service updates. It follows a set of policies for what should and should not be included based on when an update is expected to being rolling out and previous disclosure of a particular update. The content goes through a quality assurance pass bi-monthly as part of previous NDA roadmap activities.

Why is the public view of the Office 365 roadmap being created?

As both engineering and marketing move to a services operating model, Microsoft are changing the way they approach customer communications. Part of this transformation is going directly to customers and scaling communications to every Office 365 customer from the individual business owner with 1 employee to the largest enterprise or governmental organization with hundreds of thousands of users.

From examining customer data it has been seen that customers expect a “service” to behave like other services in their life, such as cable or mobile phone subscriptions. They expect notification and communication about any changes to their service. PSAT data, focus groups, and OneList items all show the high cost in the old operating model that erodes customers’ trust and confidence in Office 365.

So what’s next?

Microsoft will be listening closely to customer, partner, and field feedback for improvements that fit within policy guidelines. Improvements currently being evaluated include localization into tier 1 languages, notification or tracking capabilities for the site change log, and expanding to include out-of-scope Office 365 instances. They will continue to refine the update tracking process and use the Office Release Roadmap as the single source for data related to service updates.

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