This article was originally posted to the Microsoft Teams blog.

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 aka.ms/SuccessWithTeams.

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 aka.ms/m365LP.

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.