The 3 phases to fuel Microsoft Teams adoption in your organization

Published Mar 10 2020 09:00 AM 11.3K Views

Go beyond the traditional “Plan > Build > Deploy” process

If you have deployed or upgraded end user experiences in the past, you’ll probably recognize many of the steps from other roll-outs. For the best adoption results, we recommend an incremental and measured approach across three phases: Start, Experiment, and Scale.


  1. Start: As we’ve covered on previous episodes, once you have the technical prerequisites for Teams in place and your users licensed, it’s time to establish a multi-disciplined team to assess your organizational readiness at both a technical and user level, as you roll out Teams. It’s not enough to pilot Teams in IT before you roll it out broadly.


In working with thousands of organizations of all sizes, we’ve seen that recruiting a number of critical roles can help accelerate progress. These include:

  • An executive sponsor to get others on board and excited about using Teams,
  • Someone on point to make sure that your user and business stakeholders are happy, and that works with you to set deployment goals and oversee the rollout, and
  • Multiple “Champions” across departments to help evangelize and help others build their skills in Teams.

Depending on the scale of your roll-out or the size of your organization, the same person on your roll-out team may serve multiple roles. What’s more important is that you plan for these specific functions, as well as for formal training based on your assessment of organizational readiness. To help with your planning, we’ve created a number of training and communication assets, available at


How ready your organization is to move to Teams can be evaluated by meeting with the leaders in your organization and by conducting surveys leveraging tools like the questionnaire template in the free Advisor for Teams tool. This is also an area where your help desk can assist by tracking the most common user issues and questions recorded during the pilot or test phase.


Taking your time to get this feedback is worth it, as it will help you understand if different levels of effort are required for different user profiles, departments, or groups. In addition, this feedback will help you craft the right content timelines, and online and in-person strategies for training. You’ll also be able to identify which groups of people are more suited to be part of the first phase of your roll-out. The free Advisor for Teams tool can also help you select the workloads that you want to deploy from Chat, Teams, Channels, Apps, Meetings and Conferencing, along with your specific project teams for each. It also helps you track against milestones with an integrated step-by-step project plan.


  1. Experiment: With your core team in place and baseline information about your organization’s readiness, you can move on to building the foundation for piloting Teams services to specific groups or business units. This is where you’ll want to make sure that you have the right policies and governance models in place. As we covered on our very first Microsoft Teams for IT episode, you’ll want to think about how you plan to manage Teams over time. Some things to consider include:
    • Who has permissions to create teams? You may for example, want to limit team creation of teams to managers or project leaders to avoid over-provisioning teams
    • How long should teams last? Set expiration policies to manage teams overflow
    • Should teams be standardized? Setting standard naming conventions for new teams may allow for more consistency and easier discoverability
    • Which apps do you want approved for use within Teams? Consider the many apps already integrated with Teams and how they would add value to your users
    • Do you need any controls for information protection and retention? Check out my Teams Essentials episode on Security and Compliance for more on this topic.
    • Do you need overlapping capabilities across Skype and Teams? For broader guidance on this topic please watch my Skype to Teams Upgrade episode.
    • Are you enabling desktop and mobile Teams apps? To drive the best adoption results, we recommend that the desktop and mobile versions of Teams are made available to users, and that you configure them to AutoStart to help users discover them.

As you set pilot and go/no-go decision goals, remember to incorporate measurable business outcomes that you can rally your project team around. The best way to derive these goals is to ask stakeholders about what business processes are critical for them, and where they have opportunities for improvement. You should have gone through this in the Start phase.


Communication is also a critical part of your pilot phase. Try to start with an email from your executive sponsor to explain why Teams is being deployed, how it opens up remote work opportunities, the advantages to improve productivity,  and how users can start to get familiar with it. It’s a good idea to include links to self-training resources and frequently asked questions. You could combine this with a kick-off call or short group event over breakfast or lunch to increase excitement, get direct feedback, and share the details of your early adopter program.


  1. Scale: With the early adopter program running during the Experiment phase, you gathered the experiences and skills to broaden your deployment of Microsoft Teams. When expanding to a broad roll-out, you’ll also need to expand your stakeholder groups and implementation team. Consider thinking about potential updates to your governance policies as you add more departments or regions to your roll-out. You’ll also want to set organization-wide goals by working with your roll-out team and your executive sponsor to identify the right metrics to measure success at a company level. Example metrics include driving outcomes tied to your work culture as the basis for teamwork, for example: how often do employees work remotely, as well as tangible or measurable improvements like: reducing time spent joining meetings, or optimizing travel budget.

While usage goals are one thing, in parallel make sure to set realistic milestones to get your IT environment ready. For example, adding PSTN calling to Teams as you phase out Skype may extend your deployment timeline and require specific end-user training.


The feedback and reporting channels established at the Experiment phase, along with your Champions, will continue to play an important role as you scale your deployment. Here you can also continue to take advantage of the built-in reporting in Microsoft 365 and the Teams admin center to help you to track end user adoption.


As you scale, it’s also important to plan for driving broader internal awareness campaigns with materials like posters, digital signage and events, which you can download from here. You can also provision Microsoft 365 learning pathway templates into your Intranet, and you can learn more at


These three phases and additional guidance for getting your organization on board with Microsoft Teams are covered in more detail in today’s essentials episode.


I hope that you’ve enjoyed the guidance and tips from our Microsoft Teams for IT series so far. We’re always ready and willing to support you on your journey with Teams, so please continue to share your feedback and questions here and on Microsoft Mechanics, or stay in touch with my Teams updates via LinkedIn.


Until next time!

Nydia (connect on LinkedIn at:



Occasional Contributor

My experience is that the biggest single obstacle to adoption of Teams in a technical environment is the UI.


Technical users are used to having focussed tools that they can configure to use alongside the work that they are discussing with colleagues. The UI in Teams is large, and takes up a huge proportion of the screen real estate compared to other chat clients, and offers virtually no meaningful customisation.


A Skype conversation could be pulled out, shrunk down, and sit unobtrusively in the corner of the screen - at least until version 6.21 when the comically overlarge speech bubbles first made their appearance. You could choose your font, you had reasonable granularity on the notifications, and by pulling out a conversation you could hide everything that was not currently of interest to you. Focus and control.


The UI in Teams is the exact opposite. It is large. There is no meaningful customization of the UI. It ignores your requests in both obvious and subtle ways. For example, even something as simple as shrinking the window only works down to some globally-defined minimum width. Conversely, if you want to widen the window to see more information, that works until Teams decides you actually want to see more margin whitespace instead. This is user interface 101 - the user is in charge of their experience. If I want a tiny window, it's the program's job to make that happen, not to prevent me from getting it.


Simple UI changes are among the most-often requested features on the UserVoice forums. They don't even change the default view - so the marketing department should be happy. Technical users need options. And many of those options are also extremely useful for people with accessibility problems.

What happened in the end? I persisted for a year, and then gave up. Our technical team refuses to use Teams except when absolutely forced to. The same happened in virtually every other technical team in the company - several thousand engineers. They use a different product instead - which when introduced was adopted universally within two weeks.

And the saddest thing is that the required UI changes are all basic, UI 101 changes. None of them are rocket science, and have been promised as "working on it" or "on the backlog" on UserVoice literally for years. We no longer trust that Teams is listening, or that the developers will provide any significant improvement.


Hi @sean! The most important thing is that you and your users have a tools that enables you to work the way you want to. If you have found that, it's great! We have continually improved and released new Teams capabilities during the last 3 years and we will continue to do so. Maybe you soon enough you will consider us again. Thank you for your feedback!

Occasional Contributor

"We have continually improved and released new Teams capabilities"


Indeed. But the new features always seem to come at the expense of the absolute basic, simple, obvious, useful UI improvements that would make people's lives easier.


Case in point. There is no search on the Wiki. None. This has been deemed less important than blurry backgrounds on video calls. A wiki without search is seriously compromised.


Case in point. There is no way to select the font. People with dyslexia often use different fonts for accessibility purposes.


Case in point. There is no compact chat mode. "Mere users" have, on several occasions, prototyped the simple CSS changes that would allow this to happen. It takes a few hours. Your developers have been supposedly working on this useful feature for three years.

Senior Member

I wholeheartedly agree with @Sean Ellis  - pop out chat and basic practical tools are where Teams really, really drops the ball. If you want us to leave Skype behind and move to Teams then replicate its most useful features.


This is especially important in the current world where everyone is moving to home working and isolating to stop the spread of Covid-19. We are all rapidly adopting your closest rival as it has the basic features we all loved in Skype for Business.


Concentrate more on practical user rather than glitter and sparkles please. 

Occasional Contributor

Our road-map was to roll out Teams in Q3/ it's not so much the traditional Plan>Build>Deploy but rather Virus>WFH>'Here's Teams!'


On the plus side, it's nice to be in the situation where our users are actually wanting the roll out of a 'new system' :) 


(oh and for Phase 1 of Adoption? We really do need that 'all video participants' view in meetings, breakout rooms we can work around using Teams but the 4 people limit not so much, fingers crossed this feature arrives very soon. Build it and they will come.)


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