I put some questions to my colleague Dan Hudson who has managed the preparation, rollout, training and ongoing maintenance of MS Teams this year.
And that’s just part of his day job. Impressive!
What was your adoption plan at the start of 2020?
We had soft launch which required users to request a license to begin using MS Teams.
This ensured we could manage the uptake without overwhelming our support staff. A third of the business signed up.
MS Teams has rocketed to millions more users worldwide since March. Has there been an increase at Wessex Water?
We fully enabled MS Teams for all users in February and saw a sharp uptake.
In March – with more people working from home – there was a dramatic increase in 1:1 calling (60x), group calls (34x), meetings (16x) and chat (4.5x).
We’ve now completed our migration from Skype for Business and have around 3,500 daily users and more than 500 teams.
What’s it been like behind the scenes?
I’ve spent the past eight weeks mostly supporting MS Teams; providing guidance on the key features, training more people who have found themselves now relying on it and working with Microsoft to stabilise the service and deal with problems.
How do you carry out training?
We’ve been trying online training once a week instead of classroom sessions in various locations. These can be costly and is limited to a set number of people.
Our approach allows anyone in the business to join no matter where they are.
One session had more than 90 attendees. A third of the business (around 1,200) have now received training.
How have people responded to the training?
It’s been overwhelmingly positive. They have been very vocal about the format and enjoy the flexibility and convenience.
We’ve even had some people attend again to keep learning and pick up on details they may have missed first time around!
From our post-training survey, 98% said they liked the new approach and might join more IT training sessions if they were held online.
Are there any ways of using MS Teams that have stood out for you?
Our water production team came up with the idea of creating a group with 150 channels (one for each site) so relevant information could be shared in one place.
I found this a very innovative approach to site management. It’s all but replaced information sharing via email, which was creating a lot of inbox traffic that wasn’t relevant to every recipient.
Meanwhile in our team, we’ve gone one step further and agreed to use MS Teams, not email. So far it’s going pretty well!
How would you describe the role of MS Teams?
It’s about collaboration and bringing people together. MS Teams is now hosting day-to-day activities, projects, steering groups and more.
We have adapted the idea of “Teamwork in Office 365” from Microsoft and it’s really starting to pay off. For the first time ever, we’ve seen a significant reduction in our email traffic of around 17% month on month.
Is there a key part of governance you’ve learned?
My advice is work on governance to a point. You can’t control everything so embrace a policy of providing suitable, clear guidance and empowering and entrusting users to follow that guidance.
What do you like and dislike about MS Teams?
Meetings work really well. The backgrounds are a lot of fun and really encourage people to turn on webcams and say hi!
I also love how easy it is to keep in touch with different groups of people. I spent half my time in Chat now.
There are still a lot of improvements to be made for admins, as well as optimisations to the desktop client. Microsoft are working hard behind the scenes on new features and improvements.
What upcoming features are you most excited about?
Pop-out (multi-window) meetings! It will be much easier to hold meetings while being able to access other areas of MS Teams at the same time.
This will bring back some of the older Skype for Business functionality we’ve been missing.
Thanks to Dan for his answers. He’s on LinkedIn if you want to connect and find out more.