Priority notifications in Microsoft Teams

Skype Says Goodbye, Teams Says Hello: 3 Ways to Prepare Employees for the Eventual Switch

This year is shaping up to be a good one for Microsoft Teams. In March, Microsoft celebrated the app’s second anniversary by announcing impressive new and soon-to-be-released features like customized backgrounds, live events, live captions, and an updated whiteboard feature.

By itself, the learning curve will be a challenge—but when you consider how fundamental Teams will be to organizational collaboration and communication, quick and successful adoption takes on a new urgency.

In July, Microsoft announced that the collaboration app had reached more than 13 million daily users, putting it ahead of Slack, its closest competitor, by a few million. The company also introduced more new features—priority notifications, channel cross-posting, announcements, and channel moderation.

And just last week, Microsoft finally revealed the date Teams will replace Skype for Business Online—July 31, 2021.[1]

That leaves organizations that haven’t yet implemented Teams with just two years to plan and execute a migration. Although it may seem like ages, migrations require considerable time and effort, especially when companies are implementing an entirely new application like Teams.

By itself, the learning curve will be a challenge—but when you consider how fundamental Teams will be to organizational collaboration and communication, quick and successful adoption takes on a new urgency.

For companies that haven’t prioritized user adoption of Teams, consider the following findings from a recent study conducted by Forrester Research and commissioned by Microsoft:

  • Teams can reduce the total number and duration of meetings. Forrester found that meetings conducted via Teams were more reliable and had high audio-video quality, which resulted in less time spent tinkering with setup and call quality. For a company with 5,000 users, Forrester estimated the total time savings over three years would be nearly $7 million.
  • Knowledge workers can save 4 hours per week from improved collaboration and information sharing with Teams. Having capabilities like coauthoring, version control, document and conversation search, and access to contacts can enable employees to collaborate more effectively and efficiently. Forrester estimated that a 5,000-employee organization would save more than $14 million over three years.
  • With Teams, employees can reduce the amount of time spent switching between applications and re-engaging with tasks. According to the Forrester report, knowledge workers can save 15 minutes per day by having features and information sources available in one place. The total time savings over three years would be nearly $5 million.

The time to act is now. Here are three tips for business leaders who are just getting started:

  1. Communicate early and often: Ensure everyone in the company knows that Microsoft is replacing Skype for Business with Teams. Explain what that means for your organization—what you aim to achieve by implementing it, the potential benefits and challenges to both the company and to employees, when you plan to begin implementation or intensive training and adoption efforts, and how and where employees can get help using the application.
  2. Train, and keep training: Provide thorough, ongoing training to prevent employee frustration and downtime—and to build a culture of continuous learning. Reinforce and develop knowledge with customized, continuous training and support.
  3. Assess user adoption levels continuously and tweak approaches often. Don’t wait too long to assess Teams’ usage—analyze it on a regular basis and shift focus when needed. Continue to offer training and support to strengthen employees’ new skills and work approaches.

By using these suggestions as the foundation for a more detailed Teams implementation plan, organizations can better achieve the potential that the app promises. The countdown has begun—it’s time to get started.

Stay tuned: In next week’s post, we’ll look at specific ways companies can ensure greater user adoption of Teams and increase return on investment.

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1. 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.

Image: Priority notifications in Teams, via Microsoft.

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