In last week’s blog post, we explained why your organization should focus on user adoption of Microsoft Teams. This week, we look at specific ways you can get the process started.
As we noted, Microsoft finally has revealed the date Teams will replace Skype for Business Online—July 31, 2021—which leaves organizations a scant two years to successfully implement an entirely new way of working.
Considering that studies show only about 34 percent of users are willing to use new technology rollouts within an organization, it’s critical for companies to begin implementing Teams now. Here are 5 ways to get started:
1 Ask questions, find answers, and create business scenarios. Before you can begin to focus on user adoption of Teams, your organization needs to create business scenarios to understand where to focus your efforts first. To do so, you need to answer a handful of questions: What is your organization’s current process for creating and sharing information?
- What is your organization’s current process for creating and sharing information?
- What challenges do you currently face regarding communication and collaboration?
- Which areas need improvement?
- What are some specific initiatives or projects that could benefit from an application like Teams?
2 Practice broad and deep communication. Inform everyone in the company about the change from Skype for Business to Teams. Explain what will change, how it might affect employees, and what your company aims to achieve with the new technology. Be sure to communicate your implementation plan—explain how the pilot process will minimize disruption and downtime.
3 Be honest—tell it like it is. Implementing an entirely new way of communicating and collaborating will be an uphill battle. It will require everyone involved to form new habits and break old ones. Acknowledge the frustration that’s inherent in change, and provide employees with specific ways to minimize it:
- Have them create their own business scenarios, which will enable them to see how Teams can benefit them individually and departmentally.
- Provide a range of learning opportunities—instructor-led, self-help, on-demand—and ensure training is accessible anywhere and on any device.
- Offer learning that’s tailored to departments and job functions.
- Give employees an outlet for feedback, and be sure to promptly address their suggestions, problems, and questions.
4 Provide targeted training and make continuous learning the norm. Provide targeted training that employees can use immediately. For example:
- Create department-specific scenarios based on regular tasks and build training tracks around them. For example, outline a typical day for an HR department employee—include regular meetings, working with colleagues on files, assigning tasks, and other items. Create learning that demonstrates how HR employees can use Teams to complete all of those tasks more efficiently..
- Build even more targeted learning resources from the business scenarios you created early on.
- Create training that focuses on specific ways Teams can be used—for example, focus on what employees can do within chat—share files, use @mentions, and more.
5 Follow the roadmap. Because technology changes constantly today, learning must be ongoing, not one-and-done. Keep an eye on the Microsoft 365 Roadmap to stay on top of new features and functionality, and any other changes that could impact your employees’ productivity.
Implementation of Teams will be a challenge, for sure, but the benefits it can bring to your organization are significant—more effective meetings, improved collaboration and productivity, and increased employee satisfaction and engagement. Now is the time to get started.
 Microsoft will not retire the on-premises server version of Skype for Business in 2021—mainstream support for Skype for Business Server 2019 ends on Jan. 9, 2024, and extended support ends on Oct. 14, 2025.
 Source: CEB, now a subsidiary of Gartner Research, www.gartner.com.
Jen is an award-winning journalist who writes about workplace productivity and technology for Vitalyst. She believes in the power of using plain language, especially when writing about technology, and lists “achieving and enabling clarity” among her life goals.