Skype for Business to Teams: A Compelling Journey

October 25, 2017 Varol Saatcioglu

In response to our recent post on Intelligent Communication: The Evolution of Microsoft Teams where we announced Microsoft’s vision to shift from Skype for Business to Teams as a one-stop experience, many customers have asked for guidance on ensuring their journey leads to a successful outcome. We are well aware change takes time; as such, the recommended path to ensuring successful user adoption of Teams is one that introduces Teams alongside existing communication and collaboration solutions (such as Skype for Business) rather than one that immediately supplants them.

I. Optimize your current Skype for Business environment for Teams

As part of introducing any new technology into an organization, proper preparation is of utmost importance. To ensure your business is prepped for a successful implementation of Teams, environmental readiness and dependencies should be reviewed. Typical activities in this phase may include an assessment of network readiness, usage monitoring and identification of call quality trends, and varying dependencies on Office 365 services like SharePoint Online, Exchange Online, and OneDrive for Business. In addition, ‘quality champions’ inside and outside the organization should be identified and tasked with translating vision into reality as well as collaborating with the respective teams to drive implementation.

II. Pilot Teams alongside Skype for Business

The outcome of your Teams journey is largely based on the outcome of your organization’s pilot, which is a small-scale deployment to validate Teams interoperability with Skype for Business and understand how end users can maximize productivity. To achieve the most realistic results, a pilot should mimic the way users communicate and collaborate using existing solutions today. Although pilots may consist of many phases, every pilot should be customized to meet the operational and technical requirements of an organization.

III. Enable Teams side-by-side with Skype for Business

Generally speaking, there are two options when it comes to managing Teams side-by-side with Skype for Business:

  1. Unmanaged, where IT does not control the experience, and users are empowered to choose their preferred app.
  2. Managed, where IT leads users through a journey of introducing Teams functionality incrementally.
Path Unmanaged Managed
Organization • Small with no dedicated IT
• Primary Skype for Business usage is IM/P and meetings
• Mid to large
• Deeper adoption of Skype for Business
• Multiple locations/increased complexity
Benefits • Leverage non-Skype capabilities
• Increased user flexibility
• Faster availability of features
• Leverage non-Skype capabilities
• Minimize impact to productivity
• Streamline UC tool choice
• Control the pace of change
Considerations • Multiple apps with overlapping features
• Potential for user confusion
• Interoperability limitations
• Overhead due to IT’s granular control
• Change management and user education required to disable select Teams capabilities
• Interoperability limitations

It is up to every organization to evaluate the benefits and considerations of each approach in selecting the optimal path for management.

IV. Drive value through user adoption

At the end of the day, implementation of a new solution like Teams cannot truly be considered a success unless major user adoption has been achieved. It’s important to execute ongoing engagement activity to continuously drive adoption beyond the initial ‘buzz’. A culture of sharing usability tips and successes should be promoted, and adoption should be measured both quantitatively (usage reports) and qualitatively (user surveys) to identify patterns and areas for growth. In addition, we recommend visiting the Teams product roadmap regularly to stay abreast of upcoming developments.

Reach out to us today to begin a conversation around how best to introduce Teams to your organization. Our in-house Teams subject matter experts can assist anywhere from envisioning and planning to enablement and adoption, so call us today, and let us serve as your quality champion!

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