When rolling out Microsoft Teams to their organizations, IT departments usually face some challenges that are different from those of a typical deployment of any software. But why is that? Obviously, Microsoft Teams provides a range of features and capabilities that users might not be familiar with, but more importantly, it’s a shift from all the tools that they use and how they actually work for it to be successful. In this article, we are going to share some some first-hand experiences of how IT teams can make their Microsoft Teams roll-out as smooth and successful as possible.
What to do for a Successful Microsoft Teams Roll-Out:
Run an Internal Pilot
Microsoft Teams is so multi-faceted; the best way to understand the tool is to run an internal pilot with the IT team. This would help your internal support people understand the tool better and be more equipped to support the rest of the organization during roll-out. Remember, with Microsoft Teams there are a number of ways to allow only specific users to create Teams or even use the client application itself, so you can limit your pilot effectively.
Get Executive Sponsorship
Introducing a new productivity tool like Microsoft Teams requires a new way of working in many organizations. It makes work much more open and collaborative than before. Because of this, having an executive sponsor that can communicate the need for change, reason behind it, some of the challenges during the transition and the desirable outcome can be a godsend. No one likes to have specific tools forced on them, particularly when it’s IT who’s forcing, so a non-IT executive sponsor can really help and should be considered essential.
Don’t Treat Microsoft Teams Adoption as a Project but as a Product
Adopting Microsoft Teams involves both a technological change and a behavioral change, and hence Microsoft Teams should be treated not as a project but as a product. Let me explain..
A project has a start and end date, whereas a product undergoes constant iterations of new features and capabilities based on user feedback. Thinking of Microsoft Teams in this way could be helpful during deployment as you might decide to deploy some of the many capabilities and features on a staggered basis. Introducing some product thinking into your Microsoft Teams roll-out, you smoothen the transition which always proves to be more successful.
Find Tangible Use Cases for Microsoft Teams Within the Business
Typically, IT teams roll-out software with a features-focused mindset like “here are some useful features that you can use”.
From our experiecne, however, a better approach is to defer talking about features and rather focus on providing a solution to a business need.
In the case of Microsoft Teams, instead of rolling out Collaborative Teams with real-time chat, use those features to create a tangible solution to offer your users. For example, “Here is how you manage projects in Teams”.
By involving your business in this approach, you do the following:
- Build trust with the business and get a set of sponsors/champions from the very beginning
- Create a solution to a tangible business need, compelling your teams to adopt Microsoft Teams and making them think less of it as a “new tool with features.”
So make sure that you engage your business and come up with some use cases. Microsoft Teams has many different features, and you can come up with small solutions, for example, how to schedule meetings using Microsoft Teams, to large and complex solutions such as how to plan organization-wide initiatives.
What Not To Do With Microsoft Teams Adoption
Just like there are things you should be doing, there are things that you shouldn’t:
Make Microsoft Teams Magically Appear One Day
Making Microsoft Teams suddenly appear one day when users log into their machine is a really bad way to deploy it. This may seem obvious, but we have seen it over and over again with countless organizations rolling it out this way. This might work for a small and targeted piece of software but for something as complex and powerful as Microsoft Teams, it doesn’t.
Not Provide Customized Training to your Organization
Like with all new tools, your Microsoft Teams users need training. It’s even more more effective to have customized training for your organization.
Now, this may be a bit too cumbersome and/or expensive, so a combination of generic training for Microsoft Teams features as well as custom training for for some fo the specific capabilities that you have deployed can be a good way to go.
A great thing about Microsoft Teams is that you can use it to help people train, reinforcing the power of the tool. Having an organization-wide Team that is dedicated to training can be incredibly useful if you set up different channels where users can ask questions and get quick answers.
Not Providing Any Options During Your Microsoft Teams Roll-Out
Your organization isn’t going to magically just start using Microsoft Teams one day. Every organization, regardless of industry, size or culture, will follow the technology adoption life cycle. Don’t think that you are different, because you aren’t (unless you are an organization of one).
Be sure that you can cater to the different categories:
- Innovators: Provide access to Microsoft Teams early on and let them make mistakes. They won’t really mind as long as they can use the tool, and they typically try to work out any kinks themselves.
- Early Adopters: Let them use Microsoft Teams but probably need a little more support in terms of training and understanding what the tool should be used for. You want to get the early adopters on board since you can use them to help promote Microsoft Teams to the early majority and late majority. Everyone knows that the innovators in the company will use any tool, but if you can show value with the early adopters you have a greater chance for success.
- Early Majority: Requires most of your effort. This is where you need to have a plan and stay organized. Training, as well as support from both IT and your champions from the early adopters and innovators, will help to provide stories and show how Microsoft Teams can be used. Getting your executives involved to explain the ‘why’ of Microsoft Teams is also incredibly useful. Basically, if you can get the early majority on board then you are looking good, but this group will need some convincing around the new ways of working that Microsoft Teams provides.
- Late Majority: Typically the largest and most challenging group of users in your organization. You can reuse a lot of content developed in the early majority group, but this group will need the most in terms of training, guidance and executive support. We’ve figured that if the velocity of the early majority is high in terms of adoption, then you can get the late majority on by simply encouraging and driving usage across the organization. This group can be a challenge and bear in mind that it might take more time to get them on board.
- Laggards: You have two ways to approach this and which you choose depends on your strategy. In some organizations you simply mandate that Microsoft Teams to be used and force the laggards to switch tools. It’s not the best way, but it is effective. A better approach, however, is to offer a path from the current work tools into Microsoft Teams and provide some time for the laggards to switch. Frequently with Microsoft Teams, laggards will eventually start using the tool if the majority of people are, but keep in mind that there will always be people in every organization that don’t want to change their work tools or style regardless of what happens.
Work Smarter in Microsoft Teams with Orchestry
We hope these tips are useful and help you and your IT department successfully roll out Microsoft Teams for your organization. While the roll-out process can be challenging, Microsoft Teams is one of the most powerful collaboration tools out there, and the productivity and collaboration benefits will make it all worth it.
Orchestry makes work simple in Office 365, Microsoft Teams and SharePoint Online by empowering your IT Administrators and employees to define a winning Microsoft 365 adoption and change management strategy, with a roadmap of what to use when, for what purpose.
Orchestry empowers organizations to define a winning Microsoft 365 adoption and change management strategy. Built by SharePoint MVPs and Microsoft 365 experts, Orchestry helps organizations formulate the roadmap of ‘what to use when’, increasing technology adoption, empowering through governance, and simplifying through intelligent provisioning organization-wide.