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Journey from Skype for Business to Teams: Part 2 – Pilot

Welcome back! Last time we talked about the first phase in your journey to Microsoft Teams from Skype for Business. This included optimizing and assessing your environment prior to implementing Teams. In this blog article we will discuss the second phase of your journey, which includes piloting Microsoft Teams alongside Skype for Business. The pilot phase is a realistic validation of the resources and procedures needed on a larger scale prior to your organization-wide rollout. You will want your pilot group to closely mimic how users communicate and collaborate today, and also verify the ideal deployment scenario with Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams. There are six different steps within the pilot phase:

Diagram of the process steps for a pilot project.

Following all of these steps during the pilot phase will ensure your organizational readiness to deploy Microsoft Teams. With all that said, let’s dive in to step 1!

Step 1: Define your Pilot Logistics

When defining a formal pilot it should show a clear path forward and include a project team SMART goals, a set timeline, an articulated test plan, and feedback mechanisms. Some of the things that must be defined for your pilot logistics may include:

  • Defining project stakeholders
    • Stakeholders for this step will include any representatives with accountability for pilot success. Some examples of this would be:
      • Executive Sponsor – Overall accountability for collaboration and communications solutions’ success in your organization.
      • Project (Pilot) Lead – Manages logistics for the pilot, coordinating stakeholders.
      • IT Pro – Ensures network readiness for your Teams client
      • Support Lead – Accountable for readying the helpdesk for Teams
      • Marketing/Communications lead – Responsible for all awareness and training communications
  • Define business scenarios for Teams and Skype for Business
    • Usage and use cases will help inform your test plan. Take a look at your current usage reports for Skype for Business and/or conduct a focus group with your top Skype for Business users to better understand their current collaboration and communication scenarios.
  • Look at the Teams roadmap
    • You can find it here.
  • Define goals and success criteria
    • Setting clear goals will provide a mechanism from which to measure success and define your best path forward. Sample goals and success criteria are provided in the Pilot Essentials Resources.
  • Define a pilot timeline
    • Choose a start and end date for your pilot. The recommended timeline for a pilot is a minimum of 30 days. For optimal results you should conduct your pilot in a production environment.

Step 2: Select your Pilot Participants

Now that we have defined our pilot logistics, we can now select our users that will belong in the pilot group. The ideal pilot group will include users of all usage scenarios in order to validate the organization’s requirements and intended use of feature sets. Some examples of this may include:

  • Executive admins
  • Management
  • Project Manager
  • Conferencing power users

In addition, this would include different departments/business units, and even multiple regions. Make sure to also extend the pilot to key people in IT, training and helpdesk. To ensure optimal validation, you’ll want to include 2-5% of your user base, or a minimum of 50 users, whichever is most representative of your organization. As we have seen with previous customers, they typically like to start small and then gradually increase the amount of pilot users over time.

There are 3 types of core attributes for optimal user selection:

  • Personas (the “who”): The categorization of users who benefit from the collaboration scenarios that Teams supports. By using a persona assessment, you can enlist a good cross-section of the different roles in your organization to represent users in your pilot deployment.
  • Use cases and scenarios (the “how”): Using features during day-to-day activities. You can use relevant scenarios to build your pilot test plans.
  • Functionality (the “what”): Individual features in Teams. You can assess the Teams roadmap to define your pilot phases based on the availability of features that are already included in Teams or will be introduced later.

For more information on this, such as conducting a user persona assessment, please refer to the link here.

Step 3: Design your Test Plan and Feedback Survey

So now that we know whom will belong to our pilot group, lets design a test plan and feedback survey which will include clearly defined tasks to complete and gain valuable feedback. Test plans can vary, so there is one specific “right” way to do things when it comes to test plans and feedback. However, it is crucial to group tasks together so as to present real-world scenarios for your pilot users. You may also choose to pilot all functionality at once or you can gradually add functionality (for example, first pilot collaboration, followed by meetings, and then finally chat and calling). After the pilot is complete, providing users with a pre-defined survey can be an easy way to capture assess pilot results.

Step 4: Create your Communications

Educating your pilot users on the WHO,WHAT,WHEN,WHY, and HOW is crucial to the success of your pilot. Without explaining whom is participating in the pilot, what the pilot is for, when the pilot will start/end, why the pilot is taking place, and how the pilot will be carried out, it could be very frustrating for the pilot users. You want to use the pilot to drive excitement and participation, not cause frustration and confusion. That said, it is important to include end-user value messaging when communicating with your pilot users. Is is also extremely helpful for pilot users if they have links and training and support material to reference. This will allow them to get additional information as they progress through the pilot phase. According to Microsoft, a good help topic to include is Switch to Teams from Skype for Business, which shows some familar features, as well as some new features that are only available in Microsoft Teams.

Step 5: Conduct your Pilot

Now with all of the logistics in place, comes the fun part. Conducting the pilot! This includes communicating with your pilot group, monitoring your network/usage to ensure healthy call quality and network bandwidth, gathering feedback, and reviewing help desk tickets for questions related to Teams.

Note: Teams is enabled by default, so before you pilot, check to be sure all pilot users are enabled for Teams. For help doing this please refer to Manage user access to Teams

Below is a suggested timeline for a 30-day pilot:

Step 6: Assess Learnings and Evaluate Go-Forward Plan

Now that your pilot is complete it is time to gather feedback, final network stats, support tickets for analysis, and determine your go-forward plan. Based on your outcomes, Microsoft has provided some recommended paths for your organization to take for their journey from Skype for Business to Teams:

Go Forward Recommendations
IF your pilot results indicateTHEN you might consider
80% or higher agree that Teams can be easily utilized alongside Skype for Business
Less than 80% user agreement that Teams can replace Skype for Business based on current use cases and scenarios
Satisfactory network health
Deploying Teams and Skype for Business side-by-side for some/all available scenarios. To facilitate the learning curve, we strongly encourage rolling out features over time, in lieu of an all-at-once approach.

Learn more about the Upgrade journey and coexistence of Skype for Business and Teams.

Download user readiness templates to facilitate communication with your end-users about their new side-by-side experience.
80% or higher user agreement that Teams can replace Skype for Business based on current use cases and scenarios
Satisfactory network health
Deploying Teams and Skype for Business side-by-side for all scenarios, encouraging users to lead with Teams where feasible. In addition, reach out to your account team or Microsoft Support to let them know your organization may be ready to go to Teams.

Learn more about the Upgrade journey and coexistence of Skype for Business and Teams.

Download user readiness templates to facilitate communication with your users about their new side-by-side experience.
Less than 80% agree that Teams can be easily utilized alongside Skype for Business
Less than 80% user agreement that Teams can replace Skype for Business based on current use cases and scenarios
Continuing with Skype for Business for communication (e.g. IM, Meetings, Calling) while utilizing the modern collaboration functionality (e.g., Teams/Channels) of Teams. Revisit a Teams pilot to verify communications functionality as new features are released per roadmap.

This concludes the second phase of your journey from Skype for Business to Microsoft Teams. Check back shortly, as we will be discussing phase 3 in the journey which includes coexistence and upgrade journey scenarios.

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Brian Siefferman

Brian is a Technical Consultant for Perficient’s Unified Communications practice focusing primarily on Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams workloads. He has been in this role since December 2017 and has an active presence blogging about all things Teams related. Currently, Brian resides in the suburbs of Chicago and enjoys running, swimming, weight lifting, and playing soccer in his free time.

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