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Avoid 5 Skype for Business deployment pitfalls and successfully transform your business

 

Avoid 5 Skype for Business deployment pitfalls and successfully transform your business 

 

Tom Arbuthnot, Principal Solutions Architect at Modality Systems, is guest posting to the Skype for Business blog this month to discuss5 common Skype for Business deployment pitfalls.  

 

Skype for Business can positively impact your business and help enable both a digital transformation and a modern workplace, but in the real world how do you realize these benefits and what are the pitfalls to avoid? This week, I join Delanda Coleman live to discuss this and answer any of your questions on the bi-weekly Skype for Business Broadcast.

 

I've had lots of experience supporting customers from thousands to hundreds of thousands of users on their Office 365 and Skype for Business journeys. From hands on PSTN gateway deployments to now having a more strategic role in architecting solutions.  No matter how big the deployment, I’ve seen quite a few scenarios where, with a little planning, things could have gone better.  I’ve narrowed them down to 5 common pitfalls I typically see and I want to share my learnings in hopes it helps you plan for a great experience with Skype in your organization!

 

#1 – Gain the business engagement and sponsorship first. This is key. Success with Skype for Business is much more than just avoiding technical challenges. I've worked on projects that have been IT lead and slowly adopted by the business users, and projects where it's a business decision from the start and users got on board instantaneously. Both can work, but having business leadership’s sponsorship and engagement from the start is a far easier path to a successful adoption. The business choosing to change the way the collaborate is very different than IT trying to drive a change on its own.

 

#2 – Start with "easy wins". In deploying Skype for Business, we’re often keen to get everything implemented as soon as possible.  Indeed, there is magic in having everything including IM to meetings to Phone calls all in one client with a consistent experience, but don't overlook the possibility of incremental wins. I've seen entire projects ROI just based on a replacing legacy conferencing solutions with Skype for Business.  Now with PSTN Conferencing, toll dial-in numbers can be automatically provisioned and added to a meeting -  this is easier than ever. Skype Meeting Broadcast can also be a great tool for the business to improve org communications and stream live content to the masses. Neither of these has the same level of complexity as replacing a phone system. Sometimes Skype for Business adoption is a multi-step journey.

 

#3 – Don’t underestimate network requirement. The networks is a big topic. At Modality Systems, we have done many network assessments, the typical issues will surprise you. It's often not just about raw bandwidth - things link proxies, firewall port exhaustion, and everyone watching YouTube at lunch can really impact other users’ experience with Skype.

 

#4 – Don’t forget about "client devices".  In most cases, I’m talking about the PCs, USB devices and phones. Very often the team managing Skype for Business is different to the desktop team, and keeping the Skype clients patched is "someone else’s problem". This can be quite challenging. In one customer, there were complaints of Mac client issues, we found 14 different versions of the Mac client running globally. Unsurprisingly when we worked with the team to get them all patched to current a lot of the noise and issues went away. Also, we must not forget that IP Phones need some love and maintenance from time to time, who's job is that and how do you manage it?

 

 #5 – Plan for user adoption and review the reporting. This is critical in two ways.  First, to understand how your environment is performing and how your users are using (or not using) Skype for Business, what their experience is and where you may have issues to fix.  Secondly, make sure you're giving the good news back to the business. For example: “Do they know you are now doing X thousand minutes of VoIP conferencing on Skype saving Y on PSTN Calls?” or “Do they know that X thousand IM's are being sent every day allowing people to collaborate faster than ever before” It's important to promote wins from IT back into the business.

 

This is just a sneak peek at some of the areas Delanda and I will discuss live.  If you want to hear more or have any questions, don’t forget to join us August 4th 9 AM PST for with live Q&A at http://aka.ms/sfbcast.   I'm excited to answer your questions and hear your thoughts, so please come and ask away!

 

Hope to see you soon!

 

Tom

 

 

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About Tom Arbuthnot

 

Tom Arbuthnot is Principal Solutions Architect from Modality Systems. Modality Systems were Global Microsoft Communications partner of the year 2016 and Global Microsoft Cloud Productivity Partner 2017. They have deployed Skype for Business Server and Skype for Business Online/Cloud PBX globally for many customers from a thousand to tens of thousands of seats.

 

If you want to find out more about Tom, check out this Tech Community interview with him. You can check out his blog at tomtalks.uk and his regular "TomTalks" YouTube videos at tom.qa/tomtalksvideos