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PHOTO: Saad Salim

As more organizations adopt Office 365, identifying and implementing a provisioning tool that helps govern all of its applications is key. While there isn't a one-size-fits-all approach for IT admins looking to build or buy their own tool, they should consider a few questions to choose the right option for their organization.

1. How much time and effort will building a tool cost?

Compiling the resources to perfect a script and then enabling a form input for the desired variables is not a very difficult task in and of itself. When your teams start implementing the desired functionality as an application, however, they need to consider the challenges of developing and hosting an actual SaaS application.

Even the most experienced developers will encounter anticipated hurdles. Timing should also be discussed. Developing the user interface for an application and perfecting how this will tie into existing services can take even large teams months to complete.

2. How much experience do your teams have integrating SaaS applications?

Experienced developers accomplish amazing things, but very few have experience in building hosted SaaS solutions from scratch. A few questions to consider: Do you have the resources to ensure all the challenges of SaaS hosting are outlined from the start? Is the solution design stable and dynamic enough to be modified for future changes? Can your teams ensure this with confidence? How many feature integrations will you have?

After provisioning a workspace in Office 365, it becomes difficult to ensure continuity and maintain connections between applications and Office 365. Each feature and option linked to a new capability requires further testing and development against the APIs and features of Office 365.

Think about the long-term benefits. What will your tenant look like six months after your in-house tool is rolled out? Two years after? Over time, will it reduce the burden for IT teams or just create a simplified bottleneck for maintenance on existing Office 365 features?

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3. How many people do you have who can maintain such an application?

If you shift an operational business process to an in-house solution, you must maintain a staff capable of supporting the solution. How deep is your bench of developers? Does the team building the tool understand how to improve it over time or do they all have the same level of competency?

It's also important to consider the human factors involved in planning such an implementation. If you build a tool and everyone on the team retires or leaves within a short period of time, you may find yourself right back in the same place before you see any improvement in productivity.

4. How will you support your users after implementation?

Another human factor to consider is the ability of your IT team to train users to take full advantage of  the new tool and to ensure that it’s actually making their lives easier. In addition, you'll need to secure a large enough  team to continue maintaining and providing break-fix support as well as day-to-day support for the tool’s features.

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5. Do tools exist that can provide a greater ROI?

Before building a tool in-house, examine the anticipated ROI and whether or not it’s greater than buying an existing tool that can do more. As you analyze your business processes and need for more governance and control over Office 365, it's best practice to see what products are already available to streamline governance and reduce IT operational burden. The right tool could aid you with sustained adoption of Office 365 services and allow your organization to realize the increased productivity promised by digital transformation.