Sitting pretty with Skype for Business Voice, conferencing and collaboration

Here, we look at why using Skype for Business for meetings is a good way to reduce travel costs, travel time and radically increase productivity.

If you’re like most of the public sector organisations we see, you probably have a mandate to reduce costs in your organisation. The message might not be quite so obverted as ‘save money’. Instead you might have initiatives using adjectives such as rationalise, and reduce in front of infrastructure and office space. At the same time, you’ll be asked to find ways to increase staff productivity and satisfaction. What if I told you that you were knocking on the door all along?

You’ve probably already taken the first steps toward your goals by moving some services to Office 365 and using the cloud hosted equivalent of Exchange Server. This means you’ve also changed your licensing model from on-premises only to a subscription based licensing that grants you the rights to use services on-premises and in the cloud.

Skype for Business is also part of your Office 365 suite, so you’re probably sitting on a solution that you’ve already paid for.

How to unleash the power of O365 and Skype For Business To maximise investment already made

Using Skype for Business for meetings is a well-documented way to reduce travel costs, travel time and radically increase productivity. Couple that with easy to use services such as instant messaging and presence (the ability to see who is online), video conferencing, team collaboration, screen and document sharing, and you can increase productivity significantly. In fact, Microsoft quote improvements of up to 25 per cent.

Add to this Skype for Business’ voice capability which can replace your ageing PBX estate and the potential cost savings are huge. One prime example of this is where a major NHS Regional Trust has successfully improved patient care while saving money, having turned to Skype for Business. Moving from ISDN to SIP and reduction in internal calls going over the PSTN can achieve huge savings for public sector organisations.

Sounds simple then? Working with the right partner that has the ability, track record and resources in public sector is imperative for a successful implementation. They will make sure you avoid the pitfalls you need to be aware of when deploying Skype for Business. These consist of two broad areas:

1. Getting the technology right

Start with the end in mind

Whether you’re adding new services or replacing existing ones you need to have a defined list of objectives for the project. For instance, list everything you want Skype for Business to do and then work on a plan to get each one right.

Don’t bite off more than you can chew

You need a plan with challenging but realistic timescales. Challenging to make sure the project has momentum and realistic so you and your team is not overwhelmed.

Planning is key

Effective project management and processes will ensure things stay on track from start to finish.

Focus on quality of experience

Traffic from instant messaging and presence isn’t going to burden your network, but adding real-time traffic such as voice and video can increase consumption significantly. Similarly, a slight delay between users sending and receiving IM’s will be imperceptible to the users. Apply these same delays to a voice or video call and the users will notice immediately. Users won’t use something with poor quality. Make sure your network is ready and optimised for Skype for Business and your staff will use it.

Experience matters

Partner with an organisation with the experience of delivering large, complex projects on time and on budget. If you’re also replacing your PBX, partner with a company that has the key skills required for Enterprise Voice in Skype for Business.

Choose the right team and let them work

Make sure you choose the right people internally with the skills and motivation to deliver the project. You’ll likely need an internal project manager and resources from networking, infrastructure and support teams. Once you have the team, make sure they can focus on this project until it is complete.

2. Getting employee buy-in

Having Skype for Business means users must change their behaviour to both adapt and adopt this new way of communicating. One of the biggest hurdles facing project managers today is managing this change across the organisation.

Many companies believe the finish line of a software implementation is the day the system goes live. The team gets everything built and efforts are made by all to launch.
However, it is important to remember that it’s more than just the technical deployment — it’s people, processes and technology.

The actual finish line in a technology implementation is when the organisation achieves increased productivity or meets the business goals they developed.

This involves a carefully managed project plan to train, equip and coach users to embrace new ways of working and adopt the new technology as part of their day to day working lives.

If you’d like more detail on this, please check out our User Adoption White Paper where the full details of our programme are clearly set out.

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