adopt and embrace , sfb , skype for business , uc , unified communications , | 2016/02/10 at 12:49am

Adopt and Embrace: Skype for Business Adoption

Gone are the days where you could just deploy it… and they will come.  Well, almost – particularly when it comes to Skype for Business.

In fact, many organisations who have deployed Lync or Skype for Business over the past few years have commented how easy it is to get their workforce to adopt the platform.

For me, it depends on how you define adoption.  If your stakeholder’s expectation is to deploy a system that enables presence and simple instant messaging capability for your workforce, then I would agree with you.  Some simple communication, and some self-service resources just in case, and you could see adoption surge virally throughout your organisation.  In fact, I have seen first-hand the excitement when people in your business see that presence jelly bean for this first time.  Or when they send their first instant messages to each other (99% non-work related on day one – but that is ok as the team are discovering what is possible).  Fast forward a few weeks and instant messaging will have embedded itself within a majority of your organisation.

Great right?  Not so much.  The challenge with the “deploy it and they will come” approach is that most business cases for Skype for Business are not built purely around the presence and instant messaging aspects of the product.  Whether it is virtual meetings, video conferencing, or voice communications – changing the behaviour of your workforce to embrace those aspects of the product can prove a lot more challenging.  Making it stick is even more of a challenge.

My advice is take a step back and remember what you are trying to achieve as an organisation.  Are you simply trying to “improve collaboration”?  It can be difficult to build a successful adoption program around a high level, intangible goal like that.  Get more focused, like “we seek to reduce travel expenditure by 25%” or “to reduce pressure on the availability of our meeting rooms within our head office, we want >50% of our meetings to be held virtually”.  With context like that, it is very easy to then zero in on specific adoption activities including communication, training and coaching of individuals and teams.  More so, it means you can measure the impact of your Skype for Business deployment and adoption activity in terms that the business understands.  82% of your workforce being active on Skype using IM is a great vanity metric… but saving $197,342 in airfare, accommodation and taxi expenditure over 6 months is much more important and valuable to your business sponsors and stakeholders.

So where do you begin?  Every adoption program should be grounded in the goals you set out in your business case.  Don’t just teach your people how to use the tool (if you want to do that – save yourself a whole lot of work and hassle ticking the “training box” and just send them to this YouTube video for free).  Instead, work with your people to understand their business processes, challenges or opportunities, in their language.  Then share with them how Skype for Business could streamline the way they work – saving both time, and money.

Ready to dive deeper?  Check out this session from Microsoft Ignite 2015 which talks to Skype for Business Change Management and Return on Investment.  Or read about our three “lessons from the field” when executing user adoption programs.

A big thank you to our guest blogger, Paul Woods of Adopt and Embrace