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Microsoft Teams Deployment – Tips, Tricks and Lessons Learned [Video]

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Elaine Murray interviews Zach Katsof, Director of UC and Microsoft Teams advocate at Arkadin, about tips and tricks for Microsoft Teams deployment in enterprises. Watch the full video or read through the interview below to get valuable insights learned from deployments for various clients as well as at Arkadin itself.


Elaine: Thinking about how organizations can get started with Microsoft Teams, what would your recommendation be for organizations at the very beginning of their transformation journey?

Zach: My recommendation is to start small and think big. A lot of organizations that we speak to just want to give Microsoft Teams to everybody and see what happens. However, what we’re finding is that it is better to start small. What I mean by that is to first start working with change champions within the organization to prove the real benefits and capabilities of Microsoft Teams, and then build internal use cases from that. This provides the best forum to then build and drive adoption across the organization. So start small, but think big. 


Elaine: Can you give us some examples and tips for the Microsoft Teams champions to consider?

Zach: There are a lot of tips. Internally at Arkadin, I am definitely one of those change champions. And I think a couple of things that stand out to me are:

  • Understand your current way of working
    It’s really important to understand how you work today within the team that you’re going to be enabling the service with. To give you an example: Internally at Arkadin, within our sales organization, we analyzed what tools we currently use, what documents we need on an ongoing basis, what are the different things and resources we need access to. And then we built out our Microsoft Teams environment based on these insights, as a reflection of how we work today.
  • Keep it tidy
    Another tip: It’s kind of like the grass in your backyard (if you live in a house with a backyard). If you don’t cut the grass every week, it gets unruly very quickly. So, keeping your environment tidy is important. Within Arkadin – and we’ve got over 80 people within our core team that we use every day – there’s a little bit of maintenance that needs to be done every day from different people to make sure the environment is in tip-top
  • Share success
    Another big tip is sharing success and making sure everyone’s aware of the good news. Something that we’ve started doing is, once a week, spotlighting one way that we’re using teams internally to make sure even within our own team everyone’s aware of it. And then also across the larger community, other teams can take advantage of that and start using it within their main teams as well.
  • Point out benefits
    And then another key thing is not just how we’re doing it, but what the gain is for the business. So, there’s a different sales team member every week that I’m asking on our weekly team call: ‘What is it that you liked the most about Microsoft Teams? And what’s one of the new capabilities that you learned about this week?’ We use this internally to then share the benefits externally with other teams as well as with our customers.

As a change champion, you are ultimately responsible for the adoption of Microsoft Teams within your team and it’s really important that you are out there promoting and sharing success.


‘There are 10% of people that are ‘techies’. They will just dive in and they’ll love it. And there’s the 90% of people that are just resistant to change.’


Elaine: What about user adoption? Is it worth considering or is it just the buzzword right now? Do you see the benefit of user adoption when it comes to Microsoft Teams?

Zach: One hundred percent! One of the things that I made a mistake about probably seven or eight months ago (when we first started using Microsoft Teams) was, I created a bunch of stuff, handed it over and said, let’s go do it. And there was this then percent of people that are ‘techies’. They will just dive in and they’ll love it. And there’s the ninety percent of people, and this is true across organizational change management in any technology, that 90% that are just resistant to change.

It could be the best thing in the world. It could make your coffee in the morning, tuck you in at night and make your bed when you get up. People will not use it unless you enable and empower them. A strong user adoption plan is absolutely paramount to deploying and driving adoption within the organization with Microsoft Teams.


‘It could be the best thing in the world. It could make your coffee in the morning, tuck you in at night and make your bed when you get out. People will not use it unless you enable and empower them.’


Elaine: What are the key things that you think organizations need to avoid to make Microsoft Teams successful?

Zach: There’s a lot of things not to do. I think the biggest mistake is to turn Microsoft Teams on too early. We’re working with a lot of companies today that did this and then came back to us and said ‘Okay, you were right, we need your help now’. So, don’t turn it on!
Imagine if you had a 16-year-old teenager at home who just got their learner’s permit and without any lessons or without any tutorials, you just threw them the keys to the car and said: ‘Go, have fun!’.

Elaine: No!

Zach: Exactly! That is not what you want to do with Microsoft Teams. For a successful deployment, it’s really important to empower your people and your teams with the right tools and the right framework, both around governance and management of the environment. So, if you think about it in the Microsoft Team’s world, it’s about understanding:

  • How is each individual part of a larger team?
  • What are the different types of tools?
  • What are the different types of meetings, content and resources that each individual uses on a day to day basis?

Once these questions are answered the business can literally go out and build their employees’ dream environment within Microsoft Teams, setting them up for success. And that can be through on-demand content, live lunch-and-learns, bite-size nugget videos, quick start guides or any other channel. But most importantly, establishing internal change champions is one of the best ways to drive adoption because employees will hear from their peers about the benefits and then they’re going to want to take advantage of those. It’s like that New-shiny-toy-syndrome. If you’re walking past someone’s desk and you see they have something you don’t, you’ll want it. So, that’s a good way to drive adoption.


‘It’s like that New-Shiny-Toy-Syndrome. If you’re walking past someone’s desk and you see they have something you don’t, you’ll want it. That’s why change champions are a good way to drive adoption.’


Elaine: Zach, in your mind, do you think you can do more harm than good with a Microsoft Teams-like-tool if you don’t consider what not to do with it before you push it live?

Zach: One hundred percent! The risk with any technology within an organization is that it’s going to become shelves wear and collect dust. If that happens there is a huge loss, a huge opportunity missed. That’s why it’s so important to have the right governance, the right framework around it.
One of the things that we’re helping organizations to do through consulting and planning, is building for success and planning for that environment where it doesn’t change the way people work. It actually enables them to work better within their current workflows. That’s why adoption and organizational change management are so important.


Elaine: So Zach, in a nutshell, what are your key takeaways when it comes to getting people on Microsoft Teams?

Zach: Sure. The biggest thing that I’ve seen so far… We’ve gotten so good at juggling so many different platforms in our day to day: We have our instant messaging tools. We have our audio web and video conferencing tools. We have our file storage. We have our team collaboration and chat tools. We have a phone system. We have a contact center. We’ve got all these different apps for project management and planning and polling, and all these different things. And we just become master jugglers in the technology space. That doesn’t actually make a lot of sense.

Microsoft Teams has enabled us to do is reduce the noise, simplify it into a single pane of glass. But even though there are so many benefits – going back to that analogy earlier – even though it might even be able to make you coffee one day, it’s still a change. And change is not something that a lot of people like.


‘Even though there are so many benefits to Microsoft Teams – even though it might even be able to make you coffee one day – it’s still a change. And change is not something that a lot of people like.’


To ensure that that ninety percent of change-resistant people are thought about, you need a solid game plan in place to support them through this transition. And then, my read, within 12 months, people will see the benefits of the tool, very similar to the iPhone: When it first came out 11 years ago people were resistant to that. And then once they started using it, lives were just totally changed for the better as a result. The same is going to be true for Microsoft Teams. But it is a change. And just enabling it is not the right plan.

So, I think the key is to be ready and realize that this is not just another tool. Once you get that engagement, your users will very quickly realize the ROI and it will fundamentally improve the way that you do business both internally and externally with customers and partners.

As you can tell, I’m pretty stoked about Microsoft Teams. I’m one of the biggest Teams champions internally at Arkadin. I’m really excited to continue to speak to organizations about figuring out how to help them get the most out of Teams.


Elaine: That’s awesome. Thanks so much, Zach!

Zach: Thank you, Elaine!


Read on in our ebook How to get employees to adopt unified communications?

How to Get Employees to Adopt Unified Communications

About the author

Zach Katsof is the Director of Unified Communications at Arkadin. Zach joined Arkadin as an Account Executive in the Toronto office back in 2006 and has been helping customers empower their end users with virtual meeting and communications solutions that improve productivity ever since! Zach has helped launch multiple new unified communications and virtual meetings solutions in the Americas and worked closely with all departments to ensure the offers were built with customer needs in mind. Now based in Atlanta, Zach is responsible for the Unified Communications Business at Arkadin North America. Zach has a political science degree from Queen’s University and an MBA from Georgia Tech. In his off-time, he enjoys spending time with family & friends and being active (golf, running, anything outdoors).

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