Why should I move from Skype for Business to Microsoft Teams?

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During Microsoft Ignite | The Tour, Microsoft employees collected feedback and questions around Microsoft Teams from end users all over the world. As an outcome, they published on Microsoft Teams Blog an interesting post that group together the Top 10 Microsoft Teams questions from customers around the world.

Among the 10 frequently asked qiestions, one in particular got my attention: “Why should I move from Skype for Business to Teams? How do I make this transition? “

Not that this question comes as unexpected. I was curious to read the content of the blog around this question. The reason is simple: Silverside has an entire eBook dedicated to this topic. And the importance of the topic is confirmed by Microsoft. A topic that needs to be urgently addressed, in order to help customers with the reasons behind the need of a migration (and the migration itself). 

Microsoft’s answer to this question recites:

“As people are collaborating more, we see the opportunity to more seamlessly integrate our communication capabilities into Teams so users can have a single place for their conversations, contacts, and content. With Teams, we can also leverage the modern cloud infrastructure, and create new experiences for meetings and calling, including preparation, delivery, and follow-up.”

From this quote is pretty clear that Microsoft is strongly encouraging Skype for Business customers to migrate to Teams. And in order to incetivate this behaviour, Microsoft is triyng to help with the migration and user adoption of Teams. Indeed, there are many official resources available to support customers in this journey. The following references and resources were listed under the quote in the blog previosuly cited:

  • A success framework to help optimize your transition to Teams
  • A tutorial to guide you to the recommended upgrade paths and resources available to support you in your journey
  • Why Microsoft think you should move to Teams

These are only some of the resources that Microsoft offers to help you (and guide you) through the migration from Skype for Business to Microsoft Teams. But if you still feel confused or you need a more structured guide, Silverside created a full eBook that you can downlaod for free: “Your Journey from Skype for Business to Microsoft Teams“.

Wherefore Art Thou Romeo?

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We have been using Microsoft Teams at Silverside for an increasing share of our collaboration and coordination over the past year, and at least in terms of my usage, it’s the first place I check each day rather than Outlook. I still check Outlook each day, though, because some activities and notifications flow there rather than Teams, and some private conversations are better as an email rather than a private chat. As I go back-and-forth across various team workspaces and channels within a given team workspace, there are several capabilities that I find myself looking for – but that aren’t available yet in Microsoft Teams. Like Juliet’s search for Romeo, here’s the top three capabilities I’m still searching for in Teams.

Closing a Conversation Topic.

As our channels gain more and more conversations, the ongoing presence of conversation topics that have been completed and finished is both visually distracting and cognitively annoying to me. I like an information space that is cleared of inactive and outdated material, not one that has everything that was ever written. It would still be essential to be able to access older conversation topics, but when I’m in work mode—rather than reflect-and-seek mode—I don’t want to see that which is no longer current. If it has been dealt with, I should be able to mark it as closed and have it disappear from the main conversation channel.

Clearly, how to do this effectively in a shared conversation space is nuanced; here’s my point-of-view.

  • As an individual contributor, I should be able to silence or hide the conversation threads I don’t want to see again, but this should not remove the same from the conversation channel of others. If they want to keep seeing a given thread, then great; my action should not dictate their action.
  • If I have hidden a conversation thread and it becomes active again by new comments or contributions by other contributors – or perhaps more specifically if I am @mentioned again – then the thread should re-emerge from its hidden state in my channel.
  • If I am the owner of the team, I should have the added ability to hide the conversation thread from everyone in the team. It’s done / dealt with for everyone; it’s time to move on to new topics.

Moving a Conversation to Another Channel

There are times when a conversation is created in the wrong channel and it would be helpful to be able to move it completely to the correct channel. Sometimes this is when a team member offers something quickly in an established channel, but actually, it should be in its own channel (because of the scope of work and interaction that it will generate over time), or sometimes a conversation topic is initially right in one channel but over time morphs into being more aligned with another channel. Being able to pick the whole thing up – the conversation, the linked documents, everything – and shift it to a new place would be helpful in managing the information space over time.

Again, there’s nuances in how to do this:

  • The ability to move a conversation topic should only be available to an owner of a team. They have primary responsibility for making the workspace a productive place of work, and this involves “gardening” the content. A member can suggest that the thread is moved, but moving it is an owner’s task.
  • There should be a pointer left in the channel indicating where the conversation topic has gone. Team members may come looking for a topic in its usual place and therefore not find it. Creating an easy link to its new home is essential—otherwise they’ll believe that Teams “gobbles up content” and is unreliable. At some point in time, per #1 above, this could be closed and removed from sight.

Moving a Channel to Another Team

The ability to reshape a team workspace to align with the ebb and flow of a changing roster of project and business-as-usual responsibilities would be helpful. What starts as a single team workspace will atrophy over time as the surrounding context changes. New responsibilities are added. Initial responsibilities are completed or given to another group. Picking up channels and conversations from the initial workspace and shifting them into a newly-scoped second workspace would allow what happens in the real world to be mirrored with the tools that we use to complete that work. Otherwise the initial team workspace becomes a domain of small transgressions that balloon over time into a wreaked space. The ability to re-organise, re-factor, re-scope and re-design the interactional space across team workspaces by moving channels would mitigate this inevitable slide to a single workspace attempting to do too much.

Wherefore Art Thou?

Do you find yourself also seeking the above capabilities? Or are there capabilities that are top-of-mind in your “wherefore art thou” search?

Download our eBook User Adoption for Office 365: How to Lock-in a Return-On-Investment

When Shifting Desks Doesn’t Work: Pair-Ups

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I wrote recently about Tony’s Chocolonely’s cultural practice of shifting desks every few months, in order to spark the conditions for new human connections and new opportunities for team collaboration. It resonated with me as a beneficial cultural practice for encouraging the growth of a collaboration mindset. For organisations where everyone works in the same location, re-shuffling the desk layout can be an effective method for creating new pair-wise connections. But for organisations where employee proximity is measured in kilometres rather than feet, something more will be required. Several years ago, Fog Creek Software developed an app called CoffeeTime, for randomly pairing people across the firm, with a particular focus on creating connections between people who would not normally interact. At the time, Fog Creek said the intent was to “encourage the cross-team communication and serendipitous learning which otherwise happens naturally when co-workers share an office” (hat tip, Stuart McIntyre). The result of a CoffeeTime pair-up was a scheduled 30-minute chat between the two individuals.

Microsoft Teams Icebreaker Bot 

The Microsoft Teams team at Microsoft sees the value in such pair-ups too. After developing an app for internal use to do the same thing as Fog Creek CoffeeTime, the app has been released to the wider world under the moniker of the Icebreaker Bot.

 

The core idea seeks to create the same conditions for growing a collaboration mindset: pair-up team members for a weekly meet up, to increase the velocity of meeting new team members, fostering camaraderie, and driving stronger connections across a worldwide community. The Icebreaker Bot is available as an App Template for Microsoft Teams. This enables customisation and tailoring for each organisation. It is available immediately.

To know more about collaboration practices with Office 365, download our eBook Collaboration Framework. 

Productivity Growth and Tech Investment: Ouch

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After years of telling clients that investments in new technology can improve productivity (through its Total Economic Impact consulting service), Forrester has recently run the numbers on productivity growth and tech investment in the US and concluded the link isn’t working. The new Forrester report concludes that productivity growth in the US has “stagnated across virtually all industries despite increases in tech spending.” As per the chart from the Forrester report, while productivity growth has plateaued at 1% over the past decade, growth in tech investment over the same time frame has averaged 5%.

Ouch.

productivity growth and tech investment in US

Source: Forrester

The past decade (and a bit) has seen the market introduction of:

  • (2008) Apple introduces the App Store for iOS
  • (2010) Twitter users sent 50 million tweets per day in February, up from 100 million per quarter in 2008 (about 1.1 million per day)
  • (2011) Microsoft introduced Office 365 in June
  • (2012) Facebook‘s went public with its IPO
  • (2013) Slack’s team messaging service was released
  • (2015) Workplace by Facebook was introduced in pilot mode
  • (2018) Microsoft released Microsoft Teams in March, after announcing it late the previous year

Something isn’t working, and it appears that it’s us. Despite all the investment in software and tech equipment, we aren’t delivering the more that’s being sought.

Why is this?

  • Many of the above tools are designed as interruption factories, not places of productive, sustained and focused work.
  • More generally, the embrace of open plan offices has created a chatty, noisy and unproductive environment for work.
  • Many workers feel disengaged – passively or actively – and where there’s a lack of engagement, the true fruits of productivity are hard to grow and flourish.

Productivity growth is a good thing for an economy, an organisation, and for people too. It means you are creating greater value – becoming better, becoming more valuable, and helping more people. But perhaps we need to reshape the pursuit away from a direct goal to productivity to an indirect outcome of many other triggers, starting with purpose, creating the conditions for productive and creative work, and a re-emphasis and re-empowering of people, not machines.

Have you seen our new eBook on Office 365 and ROI?

From Skype for Business to Microsoft Teams: Not only a migration!

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In August 2018 Microsoft announced that Microsoft Teams was a complete calling and meeting solution. Skype for Business Online features were included in Teams and Microsoft started to encourage Skype for Business customers to migrate to Teams. 

But upgrading to Microsoft Teams, a completely new technology for a Skype for Business user, is not an easy task. Indeed, it is not just a change of application or a technical migration. It is about a full business transformation. 

Your “Upgrade Journey” from Skype for Business to Microsoft Teams

The migration from Skype for Business to Microsoft Teams is called by Microsoft “Upgrade Journey”. If you are looking at the possibilities for this change, you need to know that there is no “one size fits all” approach. Many variables influence this journey. However, there are a few main migration modes.  These are more or less gradual, depending on your needs and on your position in the migration process. 

 

  • You can start by using Skype for Business for chatting, calling, meeting and start integrating Teams into your organization as the main collaboration platform.
  • Alternatively, you could use Skype during the migration for chatting and calling, while Teams will be your app for meetings and collaboration.
  • Another option is to have all workloads on both products or going for a “Teams only” approach, where chats, calls, meetings and collaboration are done exclusively in Teams.

Despite the approach you will use, the central issue here regards the change management and user adoption process of Microsoft Teams, coming from Skype for Business. How to plan this change? How to deal with the implementation? How to help users to get used to the new functionalities in Microsoft Teams? 

Guidance and planning are needed, as well as the right support. Training can help, but it won’t be enough to ensure a productive use of Teams among your employees. Microsoft provides some helpful resources that can support your upgrade journey. But there is not enough focus on change management and user adoption. 

Silverside knows that this upgrade journey is not easy. That is why we wrote a complete eBook focused on the migration from Skype for Business to Teams and the user adoption process of the new technology for your employees. You can download the eBook for free here below.

After our PACE Workshop, attendees said...

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On 7th June 2019, we organized the workshop: “Learn how to create the best Office 365 User Adoption Plan”. In this blog, we want to tell you something more about how the workshop went, from the perspective of our participants! We hope to transmit the feeling and the positive vibe of the PACE Experience so that you would want to join next time! 

You can read more about the workshop’s agenda here.

Top 3 ingredients of the workshop:

  1. Attendees with superpowers: This PACE experience has been so nice thanks to all of you. We especially admired your energy, expectations, will to learn, actively participate and debate. We couldn’t ask better than this!
  2. Quality of content and collaboration: During the workshop, there were many moments to collaborate, discuss, criticise, share experiences and opinions. We loved this! And the quality of the conversations was impressive. Well done!
  3. We had so much fun! On Friday we had time for learning, discussing, playing and having fun! Gamification worked perfectly to generate fruitful discussions and inspiration for real-life scenarios. The cocktail of games and serious stuff was just perfect!

Participants said they liked the most…

“The mix between theory and practice and discuss different topics with attendees”

“Concrete methods and samples, materials provided, understandable explanations”

“Combination of lecture and activities: Sasja is an excellent teacher. Like the digging into scenarios and working as a team through the day”

This PACE Experience has been a great success! Thanks to all the participants. But we don’t stop here! This is just the beginning!

So, what’s next? Will you be there at the next PACE Experience? Work in progress…

In the meantime, you can download our eBooks or PACE whitepaper to know more.