Microsoft in Office 365 platform offers products which are in the constant improvement process. New features and fixes of the bugs are delivered monthly. It is neverending change process.

How to manage a situation like that? Decide which release model will fit the best to your organization

Why should I set the Target Release model for my tenant?

I already suggested in the article title that you should set the Target Release model for your organization. Why you should do that and is it a safe scenario?

New world …

Office 365 development process switched from 3 years long waterfall delivery model of on-premise editions of SharePoint, Exchange and Skype to agile-based delivery model with a huge backlog and monthly releases. As a result, one-time massive change of system connected with huge upgrade projects changed to a constant process of harmless changes. The world looks totally different today ­čÖé

This huge change totally turns upside down the way how we work with these tools.

In conclusion being Office 365 productivity leader today requires to be constantly informed upfront about the progress path for Microsoft products. Moreover it something highly recommended to test new features as a first person in an organization or team

In short, you need to be in the first line of using Office 365 products. You should also promote your colleagues in similar role. Thanks to it you can build group Office 365 Champions in the organization.

Set Target Release and be the Champion

You can set your Office 365 tenant environment to two models of Release Management:

  • Standard Release
  • Target Release

Standard Release is default setting for all new tenants. In this model, your Office 365 platform will receive all new features and changes in 2-3 months delay. None of your users will have earlier access to the new functionalities. The adoption process in the organization will be delayed.

In reality I accept that polices in organizations requires using Standard Release model and there’s no much space for change. In general consider alternatives like Target Release model for selected user┬áor organize TEST/DEV tenant for your Office 365 Champions and let them be prepared ahead of whole organization.

Target Release is the mode I highly recommend to use in organizations. In this model, you get all new features without additional delay. You can set it in the organization in tow variants:

  • Target Release for all users – whole organization get all changes without additional delay. I recommend this model for the organizations which does not have Office 365 Champions group and do not prepare additional training or materials about changes for the users. Delaying new stuff will not deliver any benefit to the organization.
  • Target Release for selected user – only limited group of users will get all changes without delay. Rest of people will work in Standard Release mode. In other words if your Governance Plan requires to prepare Office 365 Champions or training for the user this mode will give you 2-3 months to do that. Plan wisely which changes should be included in the training to do not overwhelm your business.

Where to look for information

Finally, it is worth to be up to date with Microsoft plans. I highly recommend following below resources. These are the key places where you can find information about changes and new features for the Office 365 platform.

Office 365 Blog

Global Office 365 blog build by Microsoft. You will find here all key information related to changes in Office 365 products. Key Microsoft managers and engineers describe in details what and when will be published to new edition of SharePoint, Team etc.

Microsoft 365 Roadmap

Microsoft 365 Roadmap is a public website that present evolution roadmap for key products which are part of Microsoft cloud solutions, like Office 365, Enterprise Mobility + Security and Windows 10. You find here detailed information about all changes that will be implemented in Office 365 platform.

Intrazone Podcast

As a person who loves to listen to podcasts, in my opinion, this one of the best communication initiatives implemented by Microsoft in years. Bi-weekly audition produced by SharePoint Senior Managers: Mark Kashman & Chris McNulty offers great insight view for the Office 365 platform.

My LinkedIn Profile ­čÖé

I do my best to follow the above resources and publish most valuable information on my LinkedIn profile. If you looking for summary information it could be a good starting point

How to manage Release preferences for Office 365 tenant

In the first step, you will need to is log in to Office 365

1. Open Office 365

Open Office 365 site using https://office.com address. In Office site choose Admin button.

2. Open Organization Profile

When you will open Admin site choose Settings (1) and then Organization profile (2).

3. Open Release preferences

In the Organization profile setting choose Release preferences and choose Edit button (1).

3. Set the Release track

Finally, you will be able to choose the release model for your organization:

  • Standard release (1) – Default option which I highly recommend to change.
  • Target release for everyone (2) – In this model, all new features and changes will be immediately available to all employees.
  • Target release for selected users (3) – This is a similar mode to the previous one. You just limit the number of users with instant access to new features and changes.

I’m big fan of using Teaget release for everyone Release model, but this model will not work for everyone. I can imagine this kind of choice could be challenging to many organizations.

To limit risks that you can see you can always use Target release to selected users mode. Build Office 365 Champions group and promote this users to use Target release. Keep this list updated at list quarteraly ­čśë

 

F.A.Q.

When the change will appear for the users?

Changes could be visible for the users up to 24-48 hours.

Is it possible to make an exception for this setting?

Use mode: “Target release for selected users” to do that.

What will happen when I will switch from Target to Standard release?

In next days users will lose features that are not globally available.

 

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