Authored by Magnus Eldevik, NTT Communications and John Faria, Arkadin

Are you ready for an upgrade to Microsoft Teams?

At NTT we’ve been taking customers on the journey to Microsoft Teams since it launched, and we’ve learned a few things along the way. We typically recommend a four-stage approach of:

  1. Developing a business case
  2. Assessing your readiness for Microsoft Teams
  3. Planning your upgrade to Microsoft Teams
  4. Delivering your upgrade to your end users

In this blog series we’re taking a deep dive into each of these stages, introducing the key points you need to consider. In this second article we’ll be looking at how to assess your organization’s readiness for Microsoft Teams.

Most people agree that UC projects will fail if you simply put your solution out there and hope that everyone adopts it just because it’s fantastic. If you want UC to become a success, you’ll want to achieve full adoption and user satisfaction. And to achieve that, you need to make sure your technical environment AND your people are ready for the change.

5 factors to assess if your business is technically ready to upgrade to Microsoft Teams

1. The Network

Assessing the technical readiness of your environment should ideally start with your network. If you’re going to be consuming important workloads in the cloud, including synchronous traffic like voice and video, you’ll want to spend time with your network team and get to know what your topology is. You might need some tools or a partner to help with this, but you must not skip this step. Ask yourself:

  • How are your users going to access Microsoft Teams when they are in the office?
  • Do users need a VPN when connecting remotely?
  • Does your network support Quality of Service?
  • Do all your offices have an internet link or is it centralized?
  • Do you provide wireless hubs in your offices and do you have good wireless coverage everywhere you need it?

2. Office365 Licenses

Are you an Office365 customer today? If so, what licenses do you have and which Office365 applications are you using? There are several options open to customers when it comes to choosing the right Microsoft licenses and it can be confusing to the uninitiated. You’ll need to be clear on exactly what features of Office365 you need and for which users. Your Microsoft Partner can help you choose the right plan.

3. Coexistence with Skype for Business

Many customers already have some form of Skype for Business in their organization, either on-premises or Skype Online. Whichever version you have, you’ll need to assess how it is working today and how you want to handle co-existence with Microsoft Teams.

  • Are all your users already using Skype for Instant Messaging?
  • Are you using Skype for Voice calls today?
  • Do you have a hybrid configuration?
  • Are you enabled for Federation?

These questions and others will determine your plan for upgrading to Microsoft Teams. You’ll need to consider whether you want to replace Skype with Microsoft Teams entirely or give users access to both applications for a time, or a combination of both.

4. Voice on Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams offers many telephony capabilities and is a great option for replacing your legacy PBX. But will it meet the needs of your business? You’ll need to assess how you use telephony today.

  • Do you have older PBX systems or newer IP PBX’s? How many and where are they?
  • What complementary services such as voice mail and call center services do you need?
  • What other voice requirements do you have including E-911, Call Park, Auto Attendant, Group Pickup, etc.?
  • How much are you paying for your call charges today and are you taking advantage of SIP services?

You may want to keep some of your legacy equipment for a while and integrate it with Microsoft Teams. Whatever your voice needs may be, this is a topic that needs real expertise to make sure you cover all the bases.

5. Meetings and Meeting Rooms

You probably attend lots of meetings daily, whether online or in meeting rooms. There are lots of aspects to consider around this:

  • Are you using third party platforms for online meetings and do you want Microsoft Teams to replace these?
  • What kinds of online meeting capabilities do you need – audio, video, web?
  • Do you need local dial-in numbers?
  • What kind of meeting rooms do you have and are there video or audio room conferencing systems that you need to keep working?

It is critical that you don’t disable your business as a consequence of an upgrade to Microsoft Teams, so make sure you evaluate all your meeting needs thoroughly.

3 aspects to assess whether your employees are ready to upgrade to Microsoft Teams

Of equal importance when assessing your readiness for an upgrade to Microsoft Teams are your people. If you’re moving towards a digital workplace and you want to transform the way your user community works, you need to take your employees on an adoption journey. It’s the difference between deploying an application and changing a way of working. If you don’t give this equal weight with your technical readiness, you run the risk of deploying a solution that no one will use.

1. Organizational Change Management

It is common for users to resist new technology, or any change for that matter. How many IT projects fail because their managers forget to consider this very human characteristic? The positive impact of new technology on a business is not always immediately obvious and your stakeholders may hold the view that they don’t need ‘yet another new tool to learn’. This can present problems when it comes to encouraging positive user adoption. That’s why Organizational Change Management is so valuable in achieving a successful transformation.

You could consider appointing someone in your company as the change manager or find a partner who already has these skills. Whichever option you choose, make sure your change manager has the right expertise to cover the most important bases:

  • Ensure that all employees have a clear understanding of why Unified Communications would be an improvement on what they currently have. Good communication is key.
  • Speak to stakeholders to identify what they like about your existing communications systems and find out whether they use any external non-IT approved applications. This will help you to pre-empt any problems that stakeholders may have with the new platform.
  • Based on these findings, plan the best way to respond to expected problems through workshops and training.

Getting your users excited and motivated to start using the new service right after launch is paramount, so that you start to leverage the business and workstyle benefits quickly.

2. Training

It’s imperative that you educate and train non-tech savvy stakeholders without using jargon-heavy explanations as this will only alienate them, causing further disengagement. You need to give comprehensive training to all and adapt it to suit different levels of tech-savviness.A ‘one size fits all’ approach is not enough. Whether it’s a question of a simple change of dial-in details to a conference call, or a more pronounced change, such as abandoning the traditional desk phone in favour of a headset – or starting to use video for the first time – there are specific tools and expertise needed to fast track this transition.

3. Persona Analysis

Your users are not all the same. A sales person has a very different way of working than an HR person and the way they use Microsoft Teams will also not be the same. You need to know how work currently gets done so that you can provide relevant changes with technology, plan for readiness, and drive adoption through specific behaviour changes. Using personas helps to characterize sets of users. It’s a way to capture and share details about what a typical day looks like and what sorts of pains, needs, and desired outcomes your users have.

In this article we’ve explored a handful of the technical and people factors you need to think about when assessing your readiness for Microsoft Teams. There are many more: What will you do with your SharePoint content? Do you have specific compliance needs? What devices are you thinking of deploying to your end users? By exploring these questions and more you can be confident that you have addressed the key risks in advance. You’ll then be ready to start the detailed planning for your upgrade to Microsoft Teams. That’s exactly what we will be exploring in my next article.