• Shawn Vest

Skype for Business is going away, now what?

Skype’s end-of-life is upon us, and many of us are facing a last minute dash to get our new systems in order. For many workplaces, this means making the switch over to Microsoft Teams. Has your company done it yet?


While the end-of life announcement was made back in 2019, the human tendency to leave things until the final moment has taken over in many offices. At least we have an excuse this time, given how frantic the last year of pandemic-related changes has been.


Despite the complicated times we’ve been through, at least COVID-19 has made people more familiar with multifaceted video conferencing applications. This silver lining should help to make the rollout much easier.


The other good news is that we still have until July 31st, 2021 to get things organized. If you don’t already have plans to make the switch in place, you need to start on them now, because your company can’t prosper without an effective communication platform.


WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF CHANGING?

The major reason for changing is that Skype will no longer be supported or available after the end of life date, so you either have to switch to another tool or go back to using smoke signals.


You may be rusted-on to Skype and bitter about having to make the change, but there are some advantages. Microsoft Teams is a far more versatile replacement, so after the initial teething period, you may find that the new tool helps to improve your company’s collaboration efforts, even boosting efficiency and productivity.


Some of the benefits of Teams include:

  • Users can access group and private chats and view their entire histories. The entire chat is available, even if a person was added late or left early. This makes it great for when employees need to check old conversation records.

  • Guests that have been granted access can create channels, participate in private chats, post, edit and more.

  • Integration with a wide range of third-party applications. These are excellent for streaming workflows and boosting productivity.

  • Enriched communication features such as more effective group conversations. There are also features that are reminiscent of social media, such as comments, notifications, GIFs and emojis.

  • Simple document collaboration through Teams’ integration with Office 365. This allows employees to work simultaneously on the same documents.

If you continue to put off adopting Microsoft Teams because you are worried that your staff won’t adapt to the new tool, you will be left in an even worse situation. A brief learning period, followed by the enhanced collaboration that comes from more versatile software is far preferable to the alternative–ending up with no communication tool because Skype has bitten the dust.


When you consider things this way, it would be crazy to delay your transition much longer. But what’s the best way to do it?


A PHASED ROLLOUT OF MICROSOFT TEAMS

Even though implementing Microsoft Teams isn’t particularly complex, at VTS, we still recommend a phased rollout:

  • Phase 1 – Rip the Band-Aid off and start by replacing Skype’s video and messaging with the equivalent tools in Teams. The Microsoft Teams versions are very straightforward to use, and there shouldn’t be much of a learning curve. In fact, due to the benefits of Teams, your staff may even be happier after the switch.

  • Phase 2 – Move on to rolling out the more advanced features in Teams. It’s best to do this slowly and with smaller pilot groups to make sure that the transition goes smoothly. If you start soon, you will still have plenty of time to get these groups adjusted to the new software. Don’t worry if planning the roll-out seems like a hassle, because VTS can take care of it for you, and we’ll make sure you make it on time.

  • Phase 3 – Give employees training sessions throughout the implementation to make sure that not only are they comfortable with Teams, but that they learn how they can get the most out of it. Responsive support is critical for making sure that the transition goes off without a hitch.


IS TEAMS RIGHT FOR YOUR ORGANIZATION?

We have been a little presumptuous because most companies will probably choose to go with Teams for it’s versatile set of features, because it’s part of their Office 365 package and because it integrates well with many other tools that they use.


However, Teams may not be the ideal choice for all organizations. If the features of Zoom or Google Meet are more suitable for your workflows, we can help you get set up with these options instead.


Zoom is a standalone product that has taken the world by storm, while many businesses are finding alternative suites of tools like Google Workspace to be incredibly useful. Even if you rely on these tools, it doesn’t mean that you can’t take advantage of the Team features as well.


If your organization uses a range of apps for messaging and video conferencing, VTS can help you unify and streamline your solution. Our approach to integration can help to remove headaches and facilitate easier collaboration.

Most important of all is having a setup that works for your organization and its employees. Many companies have a haphazard system where employees use the tools they want, rather than those approved by the IT department. This is known as shadow IT, and it comes with significant security risks. When this is the case, companies lack the appropriate oversight of how these tools are being used, and how the data is being protected.


Instead of employees using their own tools and personal accounts, they need to be using company sanctioned solutions. If you are confused about the best way to combat these dangers, talk to us and we will help you come up with the most effective and secure approach for your organization’s unique needs. If you need to make the move from Skype for Business to MS Teams, we can help you manage the transition and make good use of the entire suite of Microsoft 365 solutions.


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