train tracks crossing over
PHOTO: Zane Lee

Microsoft Teams has amazing adoption rates in part because it offers much more than just calls and chats.

The Teams application provides new ways to integrate file and document management, task management and all of the applications of Office 365 into one simple interface. Essentially, it pairs the traditional collaboration capabilities of applications like SharePoint with an easy-to-use, easy-to-organize and persistent chat interface.

To those integrations, Microsoft has added new meeting and chat features, like background blurring, larger video displays, the ability to save meeting recordings with Stream and improved access to meeting conversations after they happen.

To reduce redundancy of features and avoid confusion, Microsoft is planning to decommission Skype for Business within Office 365 in the not-too-distant future — Skype for Business is already unavailable for new Office 365 subscribers. As a result, it’s critical for organizations to plan and implement their transitions from Skype to Microsoft Teams.

Here are five tips for making that transition as smooth as possible.


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1. Start Right Away — The Transition Is Coming

Though Microsoft is indicating that it intends to maintain Skype on Premises because some organizations have network and security requirements that necessitate such a move, the company is strongly recommending co-usage of Skype with Teams, if possible, in those scenarios.

For everyone else, there has yet to be a set date for the end of Skype, but we know it will happen soon. To best prepare, organizations should start planning for the transition now. Among other things, they should set up and test the Teams application and understand the new features that Microsoft Teams brings to the table.

2. Plan for More Than Just Calls and Communication

Teams brings a number of collaboration tools to the table. For example, Teams has the capability to host live events for large audiences (streaming to mass audiences via Yammer or the internet) and it can save any recorded meetings to Stream. On top of that, Teams supports superior chat and collaboration capabilities.

It is extremely important for organizations to understand how to control the applications that integrate with Teams. They should create plans for administrators and set up timelines for the deployment of each feature.

Related Article: Microsoft Teams: The Good, The Bad, The 'Is it Ready'?

3. Prepare Your Users and Stakeholders

As with most rollouts of new systems, the more organizations prepare, the smoother things are likely to go. One important step is to identify which owners, champions and stakeholders are for best suited for the transition and then empower those people to help other users.

Additionally, offering as many contextual training scenarios as possible will help ensure that employees understand how to use all of the new features that are available in Teams.

Teams has the potential to help workers be more productive. The closer organizations get to showing all users how they can do their jobs better with Teams, the greater increase in productivity they will see.

4. Understand, and Make Deliberate Governance Choices for, Collaboration.

Microsoft has declared that Teams is the fastest growing business application in the company’s history, so it’s important for organizations to have governance plans in place as they roll out the capability to share files and integrate the applications of Office 365 and other apps.

It’s critical to understand distinctions, such as differences in the ways public and private Teams expose information or how the structure of the SharePoint site behind Teams can enable explicit sharing to documents and other features. Once they understand things like that, organizations must make deliberate choices in creating a plan to control sprawl and continue the management of Teams.

Related Article: 10 Keys to Microsoft Teams Governance Success

5. Incorporate Both Technical and Personal Aspects of Change Management

We’ve covered a lot in a short period of time, and creating a plan that incorporates everything we’ve touched on is the best way to ensure success.

Plan for the technical setup and testing of Teams, and understand the specific features and security capabilities of the application. Ensure that you have a phased rollout strategy to prepare owners and users for maintaining and managing teams and, most importantly, getting the most productivity at every level using the many features the application has to offer.