April 3, 2017

11 Tips for Avoiding Skype for Business Deployment Mistakes

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Microsoft’s Skype for Business is all the rage in today’s ever-connected enterprise world. But taking this unified communications tool at face value will only reduce your potential return on investment. Just like the on premises PBX that you installed years ago, Skype for Business requires a blueprint for deployment and usage to fully reap the benefits of this multifaceted solution.

To help you avoid making some of the common Skype for Business deployment mistakes, we’ve outlined what you should avoid doing and some tips to help you find real success with the solution.

 

Mistake 1: Keeping the Status Quo When Migrating

 

When your legacy PBX reaches end-of-life, it’s only natural to want to migrate to a full-fledged UC solution. But when doing so, you cannot maintain the status quo with respect to the features that you offer your users. Adopting a modern technology like Skype for Business will be inherently different, so that means updating your entire communications plan.

 

Tips:

  • Consider end-user hardware needs if you are planning on using voice, video, or both. Adding UC features means adding on-the-go equipment and video conferencing gear.
  • Think about remote workers and using a VPN for external access. Decide if your current VPN will support heavier traffic and what the costs of upgrading would mean for your business.

 

Mistake 2: Only Planning Through Infrastructure Deployment

 

Build it and they will come…well, maybe. You should plan beyond the nuts and bolts of infrastructure deployment. If your company is looking to increase productivity, then you need to drive usage defined by operational planning.

 

Tips:

  • Try a pilot program with a variety of users and have a system in place for feedback. Then be sure to appoint someone to manage improvements and closed-loop feedback.
  • Be sure to create a training program or at the very least, create or purchase some educational materials.
  • Consider having support staff or a help desk to answer questions or provide troubleshooting capabilities.
  • Have a worst-case scenario plan that outlines how to handle a situation where an answer isn’t readily available.

 

Mistake 3: Overloading the Network

 

When you’re in phase one of just using voice services, your network will probably keep up fine. Once you start layering in video, you might find your bandwidth being eaten alive and wreaking havoc on other IP services. In a way, you want to see your bandwidth used to the maximum, but not at the expense of deterring adoption because of quality issues.

 

Tips:

  • Examine your network capacity to ensure you can accommodate a Skype for Business deployment. Typically users underestimate their service needs, so keep that in mind when you’re defining requirements. Microsoft has a calculator to make this less painful.
  • If your deployment is going to take an incremental approach, don’t forget to complete another network assessment before you add in video conferencing capabilities.
  • If you’re plugging your SIP trunks into the Skype for Business Mediation Server, ALWAYS use a session border controller (SBC). SBCs do wonders for UC platform rollouts. They are paramount in securing traffic at the edge, managing call policies/routing, providing transcoding between IP and TDM platforms, and providing analytics so that you can get an inside look of your traffic.

 

Mistake 4: Making Assumptions About Users

 

Since you’re reading this, we’d take a guess that your deployment is going to go well. You’ve taken the time to read advice on how to succeed, and your technology is probably on point. But, don’t make the mistake of assuming that users see Skype for Business the same way you do.

 

Tips:

  • Users don’t know UC platforms like IT staff does. If they have a single issue with a softphone, they may blame the poor experience on the entire solution. Be sure to educate and communicate so that small issues don’t deter users.
  • Don’t make universal decisions for end users. Maybe some prefer wireless headsets, some others might prefer wired. By giving options you are more likely to make the transition more comfortable, increasing overall adoption.

 

Contact us to discuss your individualized Skype for Business solution. We will ensure you’re on the right path and avoiding costly adoption mistakes.

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