Prepare for take-off: Your Copilot pre-launch checklist

Richard Kempsey Brennan Content Writer Linkedin Profile
Prepare for take-off: Your Copilot pre-launch checklist

Copilot has the potential to lift efficiency and productivity to a higher plane for organisations of all sizes. But it pays to work through a pre-launch checklist to make the flight smoother.

Unless you’ve been cloistered in a remote mountain-top retreat, you’ll be keenly aware of AI’s everywhere, all-at-once ubiquity.

On the upside, AI has been loudly heralded for its awesome power and game changing potential to unlock productivity and turbocharge efficiency.

On the downside, AI comes with a large side dish of unanticipated risk. Data permissions and data integrity, to name just two. All of which makes it entirely understandable as to why companies short on in-house AI expertise (and, for now, that’s a lot of organisations) are hesitant on where or how to begin.

But starting carefully and strategically, using proven solutions from leading AI builders, like Copilot for Microsoft 365, and the guidance of a trusted IT partner, can be a canny way to board the plane of progress.

These are the steps you’ll want to consider to get your organisation Copilot ready.

Who is Copilot for?

With Microsoft nesting their AI offering across their application ecosystem—Teams, Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and more—one of Microsoft Copilot’s drawcards is how their AI solution has been seamlessly and securely integrated into the already familiar user experiences most of us use daily.

And organisations that stand to benefit most from Microsoft Copilot most include:

Organisations looking to leverage AI in any capacity.
Whether analysing trends, enhancing decision making, supporting creativity, and coaching, or streamlining communication and collaboration, the applications for AI are endless. And here to stay. Like the introduction of PCs, email, and the internet, it makes business sense to master new and fundamentally transformative technology as it emerges.

Organisations with workloads already in Microsoft 365.
Because Copilot out-of-the-box can’t access or return data sitting outside of 365 tenants, it only comes into its own for organisations that have already migrated workloads into Microsoft 365.

Organisations looking to streamline functions.
One of the promises of Copilot is its ability to action common, repeatable tasks with far greater accuracy and speed than its human counterpart, making it ideal for organisations looking to streamline costs and resources associated with onerous administrative functions.

Who can fly Copilot?

Like private jet ownership, Microsoft initially launched Copilot to a select few, before extending its availability to any organisation willing to purchase 300+ licenses through a Microsoft Enterprise Agreement.

Then, in early 2024, Microsoft scrapped that limit entirely, opening the door for organisations of any size to buy and assign Copilot licences, either directly through Microsoft or via a credentialed service provider.

But those licences are not standalone. As of writing, Copilot is only available as an add-on, which means you’ll need one of the following active Microsoft licenses to use it:

Microsoft E3 & A3

  • Microsoft 365 E3
  • Office 365 E3
  • Microsoft 365 A3 for faculty
  • Office 365 A3 for faculty
  • Microsoft E5 & A5

  • Microsoft 365 E5
  • Office E5
  • Microsoft 365 A5 for faculty
  • Office 365 A5 for faculty
  • Microsoft Business

  • Microsoft 365 Business Standard
  • Microsoft 365 Business Premium
  • If you have one of these licenses, you’ll already have seen Microsoft flagging Copilot availability inside most Office 365 apps, including Teams, Outlook, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.

    And for apps outside of the Office 365 bundle? They enjoy their own dedicated Copilot, like Microsoft Copilot for Security, or Microsoft Fabric.

    As of writing, there’s no floor on the number of licenses you’ll need. Which means you can kickstart your organisation’s Copilot experience with as few as one or two licenses.

    Yes, there is an upfront cost (currently $44.90 per licence, per month). And yes, you’ll be expected to commit to at least one year upfront. But that should be ample time to trial Copilot with your company’s structure, workflows, and teams, without an onerous financial burden.

    Taking to the air

    Microsoft have put plenty of thought into making the experience of turning Copilot on as simple and as streamlined as possible, with dedicated controls within their admin centres and applications. But ensuring Copilot seamlessly slots into your organisation hinges on actioning some key fundamentals prior to launch, as well as organisational steps to aid its successful adoption and continued use.

    1. Get your information ‘search-ready’.
    Much of the magic behind Copilot is the orchestration of its Large Language Models (LLM), Microsoft Graph, and the Microsoft 365 apps. Although a users’ overall Copilot access is controlled by Entra ID, Microsoft Graph acts as data gatekeeper, working with Copilot’s Semantic Index to orchestrate information retrieval during search.

    By design, Copilot only returns information users have explicit, Graph-reviewed permission to access. Which is why getting your data search-ready is so crucial. If your organisation has robust access policies and controls in place (or ‘just-enough-access’), users will only be able to retrieve data they’ve permission for, and nothing else. Even if you don’t plan on adopting Copilot, implementing ‘just-enough-access’ will improve your organisations’ overall information protection.

    Helpful guide: Get started with Microsoft Copilot | Microsoft Learn

    2. Switching Copilot on.
    Housed within the Microsoft 365 administration centre is a Copilot set-up guide, a helpful wizard-based experience that will step you through the necessary prerequisites to leverage the full Copilot experience. These include the enterprise apps, services, and licenses you’ll need in place, as well as the assignation of available Copilot licenses.

    Helpful video: How to get ready for Copilot | Microsoft Mechanics

    3. Devote time to training.
    Input equals output. Knowing how to create and structure strong prompts (aka ‘prompt engineering’) will improve the odds of tighter, stronger, and more relevant responses. Dedicated user training, especially for those unfamiliar with AI’s capabilities, will be invaluable. And as AI evolves (and it will), so too will Copilot, meaning users across the board will benefit from regular refresher training.

    Helpful video: Tips for writing effective prompts in Copilot | Microsoft

    4. Establish a centre of excellence.

    Running in parallel with training, creating groups or channels for users and teams to share their experiences and ask questions is a potent way to identify and work with Copilot champions. Giving your people a platform to share what’s working for them (think prompts, personas, shortcuts), as well as what isn’t, creates a virtuous circle for adoption and improvement.

    Helpful tools: Copilot adoption | Microsoft

    Of course, AI is evolving rapidly. Almost daily. Microsoft Copilot is no exception. New updates, naming conventions, and integrations are rolling out all the time, so it’s worth working with a trusted and experienced Microsoft Partner, like us, to confirm you’re working with the right version and integrating it across your organisation properly.

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