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

Adding Interactional Types to Structure Conversations

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Developing a digital workplace – a digital place of work – requires a bit of upfront thinking about how to support the likely behaviours and conversational/interactional dynamics between people. We aim to give as much capability as necessary, without creating cognitive overload by intertwining current work with unrelated noise. At a structural level, for example, we differentiate between focus areas using membership-based groups – a Microsoft Teams workspace for Project Alpha, a different one for Project Beta, and a third for Project Gamma. People are invited to participate and work within each workspace as required. And obviously, Microsoft Teams is just an example here; we could equally be talking about Yammer Groups, SharePoint sites, or even a more general Office 365 Groups construct. Dividing work across the different workspaces supports focus when needed, with some degree of meta-narrative about all the current work an individual has on their plate across all current and active workspaces.

But the division of work into separate workspaces is only one of the design constructs necessary for optimally structuring interactional dynamics. Each team or group also have in-team and in-group interactional types, which their tool of choice should support. Differential types have been in Outlook for a long time – for example, an email message, an appointment, a meeting, a group and a task. These top-level types force each user to pre-select the specific type they want to create and share. With the adoption of new team- and group-based workspaces, in-space types force the same pre-selection. In Yammer, it’s conversations and files. In Microsoft Teams, it’s channels and different types of tabs. Before posting or sharing anything, each user needs to ensure they select the right workspace and the right channel, and then within the channel – depending on what tool tabs have been added (or that you can add, assuming group owner rights) – post and share away. A conversation here, a file shared there, and a page of meeting notes there. Yet even those types are often lacking in sufficient granularity, and hence Microsoft is adding differential conversation types into both Yammer and Microsoft Teams.

The new option in Yammer is the ability to create a conversation type of “question,” an addition to the existing options of creating an update, sharing a poll, or giving praise.

The question type has affordances not available in a standard update post, with the ability to mark an answer as the “best answer” key among the differences. Microsoft’s intent is to streamline the discovery of the “best” answer to a question the next time the question is read by someone. Explicitly signalling that one answer is better than all the others gives subsequent readers higher confidence that they can stop their knowledge search unless of course, the best answer has been superseded by later developments. While that often won’t be signalled in the “best answer” statement, at least the new reader can ask if the answer is still the best one.

Microsoft is also creating a new interactional type in Microsoft Teams, with the announcement the new kid on the block.

Since an announcement can have a background image in addition to a header, the intent is to create a visual distinction for fast identification of notification of news versus invitation for conversation and interaction. Team members scanning the conversation tab in a channel will be able to quickly identify the news-centric updates, and either filter them out of current focus when it’s time to dive into the work or give specific focus when wanting to catch up with what’s going on.

While it’s good to see Microsoft adding new sensible interactional types to its tools like Yammer and Microsoft Teams, the first challenge is to carefully balance adding too much with not adding enough, and the second is to maintain sufficient differentiation between the different tools so the right type of workspace for a team or group can be selected up front. When all tools offer all capabilities, it’s time for a tool cull.

Yammer, Teams… the collaboration possibilities in Office 365 are endless! But have you thought about how to get your Return on Investment for your Office 365 Investment? Download our eBook User adoption for Office 365: How to Lock-in a Return-on-Investment.

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.

Strategic Allocation of Minutes Saved

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The week before I presented on ROI for Office 365 at the Digital Workplace Conference in Auckland, I did a trial run of the slide deck with my team at Silverside. They provided several helpful points of feedback, such as slow down (yup, I definitely raced through the trial run), offer better signposting in the slides (yes, good call), and add a section on strategically allocating freed up minutes in advance. I heard the last one in passing during the trial run, but it was only afterwards that the a-ha moment hit.

The new section – which I inserted as Value Pattern 4. Strategic allocation of minutes saved – is now one of my favourite sections of the slide deck (and our new ebook) because it actually offers a way of seeing an uplift in effectiveness, productivity and business value. The idea is very simple: rather than trying to sweep up as many 1-2 minutes of saved time at the end of the day to create enough time quantum to do something with, invest the totality of them upfront in a key strategic project, opportunity or client.

Here’s the thought flow:

  1. You can see logically how using the new tools in Office 365 can save time – eliminating waste, making things faster, streamlining tasks, etc.
  2. Add up how many minutes you could expect to save out of your regular workday – given what you actually do and the new tools that you could actually use. That number could be 30 minutes, 45 minutes, 60 minutes or more.
  3. Brainstorm a list of key strategic activities that you could be doing but haven’t found the time to get started on. Perhaps it is being more intentional about coaching members on your team. Or calling one important client every day that you’re not currently working with to check in. Or writing a blog or a book in your area. Or reading a book a week. Or working on a new idea for a product or service.
  4. Select one or two of these activities and invest the number of minutes you calculated at step 2 directly into this activity – and do it first or early every day, before the demands of the day derail your plans.

Investing 30 to 60 to 90 minutes every day in a key strategic activity holds the potential for opening up brand new client opportunities, new lines of business, new products and services, and new career opportunities for yourself. What will you create?

Taking this approach is also a key idea in the time management area: identify your priorities and intentionally order your day around those. Don’t get caught out by trying to finish all the little and often low-value tasks at the expense of the major one or two initiatives that would make a transformative difference in your work and career. The Harvard Business Review has a nice article on this – see Make Time for the Work That Matters (September 2013).

It’s also similar to the idea in creativity and innovation, where a firm empowers employees to spend 15% to 20% of their time on tinkering, inventing and attempting new things. For 3M, the Post-It Note line is the most famous result of its 15% Culture which was introduced in 1948. For Google, the number is 20%, or one day a week for projects that employees “think will most benefit Google” (although whether this policy is still in force, or is actually “120% time” is a matter of debate).

The Post-It Notes market globally was over $2 billion last year, and even has its own market supply and analysis report and forecast. That’s got to be a whole lot better for business than attempting to do email 2 minutes faster a day.

There are of course many ways in which you can measure your ROI. But it is quite clear that measuring it in terms of minutes saved, might not be so useful.

Download our eBook User Adoption for Office 365: How to Lock-in a Return-on-Investment and find out the possibilities of getting your ROI with Office 365.

SharePoint Saturday Netherlands: Vianen and User Adoption for Office 365

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Saturday, 29th June 2019 do something different. No shopping, city trips or other “summertime activities”. SharePoint Saturday Netherlands is coming to Vianen! And it’s going to be an appointment you really cannot miss. From 9:00 am to 5:00 PM there is a full programme already set to inspire you. You can choose to attend all kinds of sessions around Office 365, SharePoint and much more! 
 
We will be there and our Senior Consultant Sasja Beerendonk will present an interesting session: “Facebook never needed adoption, why does Office 365?”
 

About SharePoint Saturday Netherlands

SharePoint administrators, end users, architects, developers, and other professionals that work with Microsoft SharePoint Technologies combined with Office365 will meet for the 9th SPS Netherlands event on June 29th at the Hotel Van der Valk located at Vianen. Will you be part of the group? 
 Registration is free, but space is limited, so please secure your seat and register here
 

About Silverside at SPS Vianen

 9:30-10:30  Sasja Beerendonk’s session “Facebook never needed adoption, why does Office 365?” 

Resistance to change is what you’ll get without a proper change strategy for your collaboration platform. Unlike IT people, business users are not necessarily thrilled about new technology, features and functionalities.
Build it and they will come does not work. Most employees will need to be motivated differently to start a new way of working. 
What are the reasons employees do not simply embrace new technology? And most importantly: how can we bend resistance to change readiness? How do we find your Champions and activate them? How do employees understand when to use what app? Learn what makes the change for technology so difficult and how to motivate your employees.

See you there!

Cannot attend? No problem! You can access the slides used during the conference in this SlideShare.