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At the start of 2020, Microsoft reported 32 million active Teams users, making it the most popular collaboration platform in the industry. Within three months, one of the most significant consequences of the global COVID-19 pandemic was the immediate and widespread necessity to enable remote working across entire organisations, many of which chose Teams to maintain uninterrupted collaboration during the lockdown period.

With existing long-term projects for Teams rollouts accelerated and new projects initiated and delivered in record time, Microsoft reported 12 million new active users and a massive spike in usage, with 44 million users generating over 900 million meetings and calling minutes every day in March.

Even in normal times, despite such vast numbers of users and market-leading features, successfully deploying and enabling user adoption remains a complex challenge. In many ways, user adoption was made easier because of the COVID-19 pandemic, with users forced to work from home and given no other option but to adapt to the remote collaboration tools available to them.

However, challenges such as training and mitigating the risk of content sprawl still remain, and, with organisations placed under huge pressure to enable Teams quickly and at short notice in the midst of the pandemic, some might be faced with the prospect of playing catch up despite already having rolled out the platform across the business.

Chris Frewin, Principal Solutions Architect at Quest, described a successful Teams deployment: “Users are convinced they need 100% of their content when in reality they only ever use up to 80% – and only a tiny portion of that each day. When thinking about a successful Teams deployment, you first have to think about controlling the sprawl of the content and technologies you’re creating each time you create a new Teams site.

“You shouldn’t think of Teams as a permanent repository; it’s designed to be agile, light and collaborative. Groups upon groups is going to get really confusing, so you need to build a framework defining how long a Teams site can exist. A Team is a small, agile unit, so when it reaches the end of its useful life, archive or get rid of it and make space for new ones. That way, you will control the sprawl.”

SCC with its partner Quest provides solutions for the rapidly changing world of enterprise IT that help simplify the challenges caused by data explosion, cloud expansion, hybrid data centres, security threats and regulatory requirements. Quest is a global provider to 130,000 companies across 100 countries, including 95% of the Fortune 500 and 90% of the Global 1000, and is a key strategic partner to SCC in the delivery of its Workplace Productivity solutions that add value to its highly successful Microsoft FastTrack practice, where they are only one of a handful of Microsoft partners capable of delivering the full benefit of Microsoft 365.

According to Frewin, technology adoption is one of the key challenges to a successful Teams deployment, as well as defining up front what success looks like and how you’re going to get there. He added: “The business has to see demonstrable benefits for using Teams, so what milestones are you going to put in place to demonstrate that Teams is working well? This can be measured by setting clear roles and responsibilities. For example, recruiting a Teams ‘champion’ in each department that is well-trained and can promote the appropriate use of Teams.

“Policy is also critical to a successful deployment of Teams: setting out exactly what you will allow users to do. Many businesses run a pilot where the IT department controls who can create Teams. This will also help to control the sprawl and give users the freedom to set up Teams as and when they need to.

“Above all else, most important is training. Train your champions before deployment and have them train the rest of their department on how Teams works. Training is vital but can be high level because users will learn. Most people could tell you how Facebook works, right down to security levels, despite never having received training.”

With Teams having been rolled out at an accelerated pace during the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses had little time to define success, implement policy, appoint Teams champions or deliver any substantial user training. It remains to be seen whether in the long-term this will detrimental to the success of Teams deployments. Many, however, see it more as a shove in the right direction, with plenty of opportunity to plan in retrospect, with a userbase that otherwise would not have adopted Teams so quickly.

The workplace has changed radically during the past five years – and when we exit stringent lockdown measures it will likely be unrecognisable, in a way nobody predicted. Now more than ever, the opportunity to take advantage of new technologies and bridge the gap between what people use in their personal and professional lives is bigger than ever. SCC’s Workplace Productivity solutions, including Microsoft Teams deployment, ensures employees have the right tools and technologies to keep them connected and provides users with the flexibility that allows them to be productive anywhere and at any time.

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