Key Customer Learnings from Piloting Microsoft Teams
If you are getting ready to deploy a new workstream collaboration tool and are considering piloting Microsoft Teams as your unified communications system, you might be feeling overwhelmed with questions. In our Teams-focused work with a wide range of organizations to date we have been able to speak with companies who have already been (or are currently still going) through the process to learn what their biggest hurdles, questions, fears and uncertainties have been.
Here are some common questions you might find yourself struggling with, and answers with insight from real learnings during and after deployment:
Q: Microsoft has done an extremely good job documenting their roadmap for when Skype for Business voice features will appear in Teams, but we’re feeling lost regarding when certain collab features will show up in Teams – what’s the story?
A: This is a common theme/question. Given the number of feature gaps in Teams, coupled with the fact that workstream collaboration is a new feature space for Microsoft, it’s clear that specific questions and needs are surfacing. What’s equally clear is that Microsoft has, to date, not been quick to publish a roadmap similar to the voice roadmap because they don’t want to be locked into implementing certain features at a certain time.
Q: When we start standardizing on Teams, how do we move users off of other workstream collaboration apps like Slack or Stride?
A: The simple answer is that you don’t. Obviously the ideal is that over time your organization will standardize, but these collab apps are VERY personalized and in the short term co-existence is the name of the game. Also, don’t make the mistake of “profiling” your end-users when it comes to collab. The conventional wisdom is that Slack is for developers, but we’ve run into some customers where the majority of their Slack users are non-developers, while the developers have cozied up to Teams.
Q: I’m slowly beginning to understand co-existence from an IT architecture standpoint, but it still feels messy from an end-user standpoint – are there any best practices?
A: We’ve published a few previous blog posts on deployment and coexistence, but the point that some of our users bring up here is attacking the simple day to day reality. For example, during a hybrid/coexistence period, how can IT communicate to its users whether to IM in Skype for Business, or chat in Teams, or even to chat in Workplace from Facebook, etc. The process of creating the “secret decoder ring” that informs users and departments which tool to use to “talk” to other users and groups is a formidable task.
Q: I’m confused if Teams is supposed to be a workstream collaboration app or the Office365 Hub (and the un-official front-end for everything)?
A: You’re correct that the Microsoft marketing machine is creating a potentially chaotic situation for IT here. Editing a PowerPoint file from within Teams, for example, is still a sporadically successful venture. We’ve run into generally happy organizations piloting Microsoft Teams, who have, so far told all of their users NOT to try to edit any Office apps within Teams, and to only edit natively.
Q: How do you get the entire company onboard with Teams in a coordinated way?
A: Many companies have struggled with new apps and solutions “leaking” out to their end-user groups without a roadmap. This frequently leads to end-user (or even worse, executive) backlash that takes a long time to recover from. Having a roadmap in place prior to piloting Microsoft Teams, and getting support for the journey is critical when it comes to having happy end-users. It’s also important to keep the end-user experience in mind when building out this roadmap. Avoid dumping the entire Microsoft Office 365 stack on your team and hope they can drink from the firehose – they’ll feel overwhelmed and start looking for alternatives. Instead, have a plan that rolls out these features as users get more comfortable with after moving beyond piloting Microsoft Teams.
Q: To what extent should IT focus on user adoption over and above technical architecture?
A: When it comes to user adoption – we have seen a number of different approaches. One common finding is that user adoption is something companies regret not focusing more of their attention on. Having an influencer network while piloting Microsoft Teams can help identify where users will need education early on, as well as identify that the business’s use will be more valuable, regardless of cost. These initial power-users will also be able to share tips and help encourage user adoption. Get the end-users to be the champions of adoption, while placing IT to facilitate the process. Avoiding this top-down approach helps remove the perception that IT is a bottleneck, and encourages user adoption.
Q: How should IT teams best handle apps that are introduced by end-users without direct IT buy-in from Day 1?
A: It might be hard to decide whether to welcome apps, ignore them, or implement them, but it’s important to have a plan in place to work through governance issues. When IT ignores these new apps, end-users build systems, processes and solutions that should have been prevented. As one of our customers so cleverly put it, it’s all about “embrace, then control.” The learning here is to get ahead of any potential problem by endorsing a specific platform. After that IT can then slowly put standards, security and governance procedures in place that prevent data leakage. Further, by getting involved early, IT can also work with end-users to develop adoption and training programs which can further benefit all employees and help to standardize usage and smooth the deployment.
Q: How should I think about the Teams governance, compliance and security model….or does it even have one?
A: Microsoft will tell you that a model exists, but as is the case with most new apps, the model is still forming and norming. There are parts of the model which Microsoft has on the roadmap, but still hasn’t rolled out. There are other parts of the model which Microsoft is still learning it needs to add as they hear about more customer (and partner) needs and scenarios they need to service. Some of the most pressing issues which customers are currently struggling with include data residency, eDiscovery, data lifecycle management, connector management, app store management, permissions modeling, teams and channel creation/naming, and hierarchical vs. flat groups. We’ll deep dive into each of these regions in an upcoming post.