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Microsoft Teams is Replacing Skype for Business — Are You Ready to Migrate?

Updated October 22, 2019
In a previous blog, we announced that Skype for Business will soon be replaced by Microsoft Teams. We talked about the history behind the replacement, described the benefits of Teams for current Skype users, and discussed why it’s the ultimate hub for teamwork

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We now know that Skype for Business is officially going away in June of 2021. What we didn’t get into in the previous blog is the architecture of Microsoft Teams and how to best approach your migration. To ensure a seamless transition, it’s best to start preparing for your upgrade well in advance.

The Structure of Microsoft Teams

Microsoft understands that businesses thrive on organization, so they developed a hierarchy to the structure of Teams. The top level of this hierarchy are “Teams” which can get a little confusing since it’s titled the same as the platform itself. If you’re considering migrating to MS Teams, it’s helpful to know a bit about the architecture of how it’s set up.

  • Teams — Teams can be created for topics, departments, projects, clients, etc. They house all the Channels and Tabs associated with an initiative in one central place.
  • Channels — Channels are public to anyone who’s invited to join a Team. You can find Channels within Teams to join, or you can create your own. Inside channels you are able to hold on-the-spot meetings, have conversations, and share files.
  • Tabs — Inside each Channel are Tabs, which are central to keeping each Team organized. Want to create a departmental Team, with an Administration Channel that links your existing SharePoint Intranet as a Tab inside the Admin Channel? Not a problem.
  • Meetings — Meetings allow you to see everything you’ve got lined up for the day or week. You can view your meetings in a thread format within individual Channels and Tabs, or you can access them in a calendar format from the Meetings section in the left sidebar. Your MS Teams calendar seamlessly syncs with your Outlook calendar as well.
  • Activity — Also accessed from the left sidebar is your Activity feed. This is where you can catch up on all your unread messages, @mentions, replies, and more.
  • Calls — If  your organization has it enabled, users can call anyone from inside MS Teams, even if the other person does not use Teams.

Transforming the Future of Teamwork

Microsoft Teams is transforming the call and meeting experience to go beyond traditional unified communications, resulting in enhanced workplace productivity. In order to compete with sophisticated collaboration tools such as Slack, as of August 2018, Microsoft has upgraded Teams to be a complete meeting and calling solution equipped to support enterprise level organizations. New Messaging, Meeting, and Calling capabilities have been released throughout the past year, and by the end of 2018, all of Microsoft Teams’ core features will be available for use.

Microsoft Teams Calling capability roadmap. Find the Messaging and Meeting capability roadmaps here.

Interested in learning how Microsoft Teams can benefit your business? Contact us online, or give us a call at (240) 406-9960 to schedule a consultation today.

Planning the Move from Skype to Microsoft Teams

If your organization is using Skype for Business today, you have a few options on how you can proceed with the migration to Microsoft Teams.

  1. Continue to Use Skype and Do Nothing for Now
    One option is to continue using Skype for Business and wait until Microsoft forces the upgrade to Teams, which likely won’t happen for a few years. However, you probably won’t see any new features coming to Skype, and waiting until being forced to migrate won’t give end users any time to familiarize themselves with the new tool.
  2. Launch Teams as a Pilot Program
    A second option is to introduce MS Teams to users now and let them explore the tool at their leisure. While this option is preferred to the first, once the transition from Skype is complete, you are faced with the problem of governing and managing your Teams instance, after everyone has had free reign to organize things how they please.
  3. The Best Approach: Use Both Tools in Parallel
    The best approach when transitioning to Teams is to run it alongside Skype until it fully meets your needs. You’ll first want to first develop a set of governance and management protocols. Then, launch a structured pilot program that trains users on how to access their day-to-day Skype capabilities inside the Teams platform, and slowly introduces them to new collaboration and communication features.

Microsoft’s Skype to Teams migration roadmap

The Coexistence and Interoperability of Skype and Teams

Before introducing Teams across your organization, it’s important to understand how Teams works alongside Skype for Business. Without getting too technical, the biggest takeaway is that there are a lot of options for coexistence and interoperability, and some aren’t available just yet. Proper planning and testing is critical to the success of your upgrade and migration, so make sure to enlist a partner with expertise to ensure a smooth transition.

Interoperability between Microsoft Teams and Skype for Business

Making the Move

If you’re considering upgrading to Microsoft Teams, now is the time to plan your migration. Microsoft has provided a wealth of resources to help you succeed like, How to upgrade from Skype for Business to Microsoft Teams.

However, if your organization doesn’t have the internal IT resources to support this type of migration project or you just need guidance on planning, reach out to us or give us a call today at (240) 406-9960 to set up a time to chat.

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