Reducing Costs: One of the Hidden Benefits of Skype for Business

Posted by Dan St. Hilaire  /  September 16, 2016  /  Microsoft 365, Skype for Business, IT   —   No Comments ↓

ace up the sleeveAs a Training as a Service (TaaS) solution provider assisting companies with user adoption of the newest cloud-based technologies, I’m receiving more and more calls to provide a training solution for businesses deploying Skype for Business as part of their move to Office 365.

Update: March 2019. We're getting more and more calls about Microsoft Teams. If you'd like to learn more about Teams, check out my post on What You Should Know About Microsoft Teams and An End-User Introduction to Microsoft Teams.

Many of the companies we work with are looking to deploy Skype for Business as a means to increase user productivity and collaboration within their organization. I get super excited when I hear that because I know that user adoption of Office 365 can receive a huge boost when the benefits of Skype for Business or Teams are involved.

The obvious benefits of Skype for Business

Most businesses realize an increase in productivity because their employees communicate more quickly and efficiently via Instant Message (IM) and impromptu meetings, versus a cycle of in-person meetings where you're waiting for Sam to arrive.

How to Get Your Team to Use Office 365

If you build it, will they come?

The biggest challenge we've encountered in getting users up to speed with Skype for Business is that some companies haven’t planned out the required functionality that will spark user adoption. This is even more so the case with Microsoft Teams. 

Businesses must have a clear understanding of all the ways their employees are currently communicating with staff, clients, partners, and vendors. Before a company takes the leap to Skype for Business they need to assess the current communication tools being used in the organization. Don’t assume you know.

What are they using now?

Chances are your employees are using tools like GoToMeeting, GoToWebinar, WebEx, and maybe even Google Hangouts or personal Skype accounts.

In addition to these popular business meeting tools, users may be leveraging other older technology like a phone bridge or toll-free services. These phone services can cost an arm and leg, where you might be charged for each person calling into a meeting on a per minute basis. In most cases, the benefits of Skype for Business can replace many of these tools and save businesses thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars. I'm not exaggerating; we've seen it.

Assess the opportunity to reduce costs in 3 steps

When we assist companies with their assessment (yes, that is a service that KnowledgeWave can provide) we highly recommend taking a three step approach before any training begins. If you’re looking to self-assess your organization before you deploy Skype for Business here’s our recommended approach. This holds true for Microsoft Teams as well. - If you are rolling out Skype for Business or Teams as part of an Office 365 deployment I recently created a Microsoft 365 Check List for User Adoption. It should be helpful if you are starting your planning now, or if you are looking to turn on Skype for Business or Teams from the Office 365 Toolkit. 

Step 1: What do you think you know? Document what your users are using today

Not just the users, but the departments. It’s not uncommon for different groups, even within small to mid-size businesses, to be using different tools. And even more importantly, WHY? Do you know why they are using a particular tool? Document the why. Then ask again in step two to confirm.

Step 2: What are your users really using and why?

Now, we’re not saying you don’t really know your users, this step is actually used to find out or confirm WHY they are using a particular tool. From THEIR perspective. Talk to team leaders to make sure your list is complete and accurate.

There are oodles of meeting and presentation solutions in the marketplace and this step gives you the most up-to-date inventory of which ones are in play at your organization. This is extremely helpful in assessing the potential need for keeping a particular solution for a user or business unit. I love Microsoft Teams, and couldn't imagine not using it, but it's still not perfect for large presentations. 

When KnowledgeWave conducts an assessment we invite every user to complete an Online Survey using, Excel Online. This step can usually identify users or business units that will be potential roadblocks before a Skype for Business deployment.

Step 3: Interview the users

At this point, you should be armed with the information you need to identify and successfully interview users based on how they are using their current meeting software or other presentation solutions. Reassure the interviewees that you’re there to make sure that their job needs are met, and that their solution may very well remain in place if it’s the only way they can continue to get their work done.

TIP 1: Not everyone will reply to your survey in step two. Make sure you check in with each department lead during this interview step.

TIP 2: Whenever possible, observe first-hand how employees are using their current solutions. Seeing is believing, and that goes both ways. Users who know you saw their needs are more accepting when you show them how Skype for Business can be used to accomplish the same thing.

What to ask the users?

KnowledgeWave has specific questions we ask based on the activities conducted by the users. If you’re doing your own assessment, you should too. Steps one and two help you identify what questions to ask users during the interview step.

Users who are using GoToMeeting to review weekly progress on a project with a distributed team of ten employees are asked different questions than a VP of Marketing at an insurance company who conducts quarterly presentations for 500+ agents that are mostly listening and watching. Will Skype Broadcast work for the Marketing VP? Maybe. Your questions should be designed to help clarify whether the capabilities of Skype for Business will or won’t meet a particular business need.

Your final report will lead the way to cost savings

KnowledgeWave rolls everything we collect into a final Assessment Report that shows where your business can eliminate duplicate costs, and we highlight where and what solutions you may want to keep in place or transition out. Our assessment also provides a recommended training plan that can be handled by the business internally, or by KnowledgeWave with various blended learning options, or a combination of both.

You can create your own final report by following our recommended steps. Going through this process you will be able to reduce some costs and identify possible requirements for things like PSTN conferencing, now called Conference Calling. 

With the findings in the report, you can also identify what type of end user training to provide. You can decide to conduct it internally or you can plug KnowledgeWave in to deliver the training in a blended format. We will not only set a spark for user acceptance and adoption but will light it on fire.

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Topics: Microsoft 365, Skype for Business, IT