End of Skype for Business: 5 steps for a seamless transition to Teams

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Organizations moving from Skype for Business Online to Microsoft Teams have until July 31, 2021 to make the full transition. Since Microsoft announced that Skype for Business Online would be retiring nearly two years ago, SHI has been successfully migrating our customers over to Microsoft Teams using our structured 5-step approach.

If you haven’t yet begun the transition, there’s no need to panic. Skype for Business will remain fully functional until the end-of-life date, so there’s still time to switch to Teams (or to an instance of Skype for Business Server, if you’re choosing to keep it and host it separately).

But we know that any transition from one technology to another is challenging. And for organizations with a long history with Skype for Business, the move can be even more difficult.

That’s why we recommend beginning the switch to Microsoft Teams as soon as possible, as there’s a lot of important work that shouldn’t be overlooked.

Follow these five steps to make the transition as seamless as possible.

1. Understand end-user requirements

The most important thing you can to do be successful with your Microsoft Teams deployment is to understand your end-user requirements. For example, how would a marketing professional in your organization use Teams versus someone in Human Resources? Building personas will also help you gain employee support and drive faster adoption.

2. Lay the foundation of your Teams deployment

Focus on strategy and design

Focus on the one thing that makes all the difference: your end users. Once you develop a clear picture of their needs and how they align to the business, you can create a prioritized roadmap and start putting shape to your Teams solutions. The foundation laid here will ensure that whatever we build next will support your broad vision for the workplace and the future of your business.

Build and migrate

Next, consider the major questions and complexities needed to make your Teams plans come to life — from licensing and cost-takeout, to networking, infrastructure, configuration, and compliance.

Deploy and optimize

Finally, consider the right governance, change management, and end-user adoption solutions. Combat sprawl, compliance risk, and poor adoption to ensure your investments in Teams pays off now and into the future.

3. Consider adoption and change management strategies

They key to success in this part of the process is communication.

Think about your end users, internal customers, and other stakeholders within your organization who are going to benefit from the deployment of Teams. The best place to start is by taking a ‘what’s in it for me?’ position and thinking very critically about what these people care about, what they want to hear about this process, and what they’ll receive. Then craft your adoption and change management process around these needs.

4. Prioritize rollout based on logical groups of stakeholders

Once you’ve identified the individual stakeholders and likely use case scenarios, looks for synergies and similarities that enable you to bring them together into more manageable groups. For instance,

  • Group 1: Individuals within the organization who will benefit directly. These are the people whose day-to-day productivity will be drastically improved by the work that you’re doing to implement Teams. Group 1 likely includes your critical core persona; the people you need to reach out to directly and immediately; and sales, customer service, finance, IT.
  • Group 2: The people who are going to drive change. This includes sponsors, managers, ambassadors, and change champions.
  • Group 3: Support organizations. They’re often overlooked, but are critical teams that will support and sync your efforts by word of mouth – for example, IT operations and HR.

Once you have all teams identified, you can craft a specific message tailored for each user group.

5. Implement customizable and scalable training across your organization

When you talk about deployment, strategy, planning, adoption and change management, ultimately the icing on the cake to truly drive adoption and to make sure your users are consuming Teams is to put together a comprehensive training plan that’s customizable and scalable.

One of the mistakes many organizations make with Teams is to just roll it out because they were told to – or in this instance, because they’re on Skype for Business Online and need to make the transition. But the reality is, training really helps to align the projected outcomes to the actual users, focusing on the appropriate tools and capabilities that they have at their disposal within Teams.

To deliver training that really resonates, consider these four steps:

  1. What do the users need to know and do? Think about the different users and use cases within your organization. Truly understand digital competency, languages, and location to help you plan the training accordingly.
  2. Utilize everything you discover in the assessment phase and customize the content so it’s not just a one size fits all. You might need more than just a Teams 101 training. With different competencies and skill sets within your organization, you need to make sure your users have the right amount of training and that the content will resonate with them.
  3. Once you get a good understanding of your users, make sure you have the right teams of trainers and champions involved to drive the company message. Officially let your end users know what’s coming down the pipe, what’s in it for them, and what types of resources will be available to them — be it training, champion network, or different events throughout the organization.
  4. Lastly, offering your users different tools is going to make for a blended approach to a successful deployment. You need to make sure you can truly crawl before you can walk and walk before you can run. This is really important when you consider the speed at which a particular user is going to move through a Teams deployment. So really think about the different types of training that are available, whether that’s eLearning or live instruction.

Training, like IT projects isn’t one size fits all. You need to be flexible and give a blended approach to drive the highest impact.

You don’t have to go it alone

SHI’s Microsoft Teams Deployment, Training and Adoption Services integrate best practices for deployment, governance, and user adoption to ensure your rollout is optimized and secure for a modern collaboration experience.

If you have questions about moving to Teams or want to understand more about how SHI can help, contact your Account Executive.