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Upgrading from Skype for Business to Microsoft Teams

By Communication Square | Communication

Jan 18

Skype for Business is an efficient tool of Microsoft. It allows you to connect with your team at any time, from anywhere! Skype for business is not going anywhere but Microsoft strongly encourages migration of all its cloud users to Microsoft Teams. It’s called the smart move to “Intelligent Communications” and integration with office 365.

What is Microsoft Teams?

It is a digital hub that brings conversations, content, and apps together in one place all from a single experience in Office 365. The Skype for business application allows you to create and manage teams in virtual space as if it all were happening in your own office. It brings context to the work experience of organizations by assimilating all components of work force i.e. people, conversations, and shared content into a single space. 

The aim is to bring voice, video, and chat communications into a single environment that minimizes the need to switch contexts. Calling and conferencing became new features. Microsoft Teams will replace Skype for business in a more efficient and productive way, let us tell you how?

Who needs an upgrade?

Microsoft provides a comprehensive framework to help you plan and execute the upgrade. The framework comes in two different flavors: Upgrade Basic for less complex environments and smaller deployments, and Upgrade Pro for larger companies with heavy usage of Microsoft Skype for Business features.

Organizations that are making full use of Microsoft’s cloud applications are in the best position to migrate. Many of them are likely using Teams already. Teams is a distinct product from Skype, not a re-branding, so users will need to learn new ways of using familiar capabilities. The curve won’t be a difficult one for people experienced in Microsoft Office 365, though. Skype to team’s road-map is not as difficult as it seems

5 steps for upgrading

1. Project stakeholder

First, start with getting all project stakeholders in one room. Yes, I know this isn't the easiest thing to do, especially in larger organizations. You can start by inviting representatives per stakeholder and take it from there. But it is crucial to align all potential parties on the upcoming change.

2. Project Definition

Start defining the project scope together with the project stakeholders. The rule of thumb here is: Start SMALL and build up from the base iteratively. The primary goal needs to be a 'simple' upgrade. Get employees acquainted with the application and its numerous possibilities. Once 80% of your employees have adopted Teams successfully you can start adding new functionalities and build custom workflows for outdated processes.

3. Technical Readiness and User Readiness

The goal for this phase is to make sure your entire organization is ready for the upgrade. For example, what steps need to be taken to update the current (legacy) Cloud Video Interop (CVI) hardware in conference rooms? Which new skills and/or knowledge is needed to make use of Teams more effectively.

4. Team Pilot

Always start with a Teams-pilot in a smaller group before upgrading all your employees to Teams. During multiple Teams-pilots we've done at clients, the pilot gave project stakeholders valuable information. Without this information the roll-out to the rest of the organization could have never be as successful as they were. After the pilot is completed you can start by upgrading the rest of the employees in groups/batches/phases, however you want to do it. It's not best-practice to upgrade at once for larger organizations.

5. Operational Excellence

This phase is the one where it gets interesting. I previously made some comments about starting small with the upgrade to make sure Teams is adopted by your employees. Only when the adoption rate is at the desired level you can start adding more functionalities and digitize current workflows or processes. If you start earlier, it can have a negative impact on the rate of adoption and overall success of the project. So again, start with the basics.

The change won’t be difficult for users, if they get sufficient notice of it. Administrators will need to learn how to manage a more powerful piece of software from the Admin Center. Teams lets them configure policies at the global, group, or individual level.

Smooth Transition

The keys to a smooth software transition are planning, preparation, training, and monitoring. There are always issues but taking these steps will minimize their impact. Start with a pilot group and deal with any problems it encounters. Keep all users informed of the transition schedule. Allow enough time for people to familiarize themselves with the new system.

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Communication Square

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