It’s official: Skype for Business is dead. In multiple 2020 announcements, Microsoft disclosed that it had initiated an end of life program for Skype’s enterprise-oriented software. The platform will be effectively retired as of July 31, 2021, and all remaining business customers should migrate from Skype to Teams prior to that date.
If your company started using Office 365 after September 1, 2019, there’s nothing you need to do; this is when Microsoft automatically began onboarding new Office 365 subscribers to Teams. But companies that have put off adopting Teams and been using (and investing in) Skype for Business for several years are now on a deadline to get everything moved over.
As you begin your Skype to Teams migration, we have a few tips to help the process go smoothly. But first, let’s look into why the switch from Skype for Business to teams is necessary and beneficial.
Why Microsoft is killing Skype for Business
While the Skype platform has been around since 2003, Skype for Business is much younger. Microsoft purchased Skype in 2011, but it wasn’t until 2015 that the company released Skype for Business as a replacement for Microsoft Lync, the existing corporate communication tool at the time. In practice, this was merely a rebranding; users simply needed to update their Lync Server for the change to take effect. No migrations or hardware upgrades were necessary.
But just two years after the launch of Skype for Business, Microsoft announced a new tool: Microsoft Teams. It was clear from the start that Microsoft Teams would eventually replace Skype for Business. Still, for several years, the two coexisted; Microsoft Teams initially lacked some of the technical capabilities of Skype for Business, while the latter had its own unique features that better supported collaboration and Office 365 integration.
Since the 2017 launch of Microsoft Teams, Microsoft has focused its resources on building the Teams platform to full capability, gradually migrating functions from Skype to Teams in the process. Today, Teams is the gold standard in workplace collaboration. Skype for Business is now redundant, and Microsoft’s decision to eliminate it reflects an effort to streamline its enterprise solutions and get rid of redundancy.
Benefits of switching from Skype for Business to Teams
Over the years, Microsoft has grown Teams into an integrated communication tool designed to provide an all-encompassing collaboration hub for businesses. Teams now puts Skype for Business to shame with a long list of benefits that you’ll get from your Skype to Teams migration.
Microsoft Teams sets up a framework for organized communication with teams and channels. Within your company, different teams can be created for departments, office locations, project members, committees, and more. Channels exist within teams to further separate conversations by topic or need.
Improved video conferencing
Although Skype has most of the basic video conferencing capabilities found in Teams, the experience is much better in the latter. Virtual meetings can be attended by guests from outside the organization, meetings can be recorded in the cloud, and a host of video customizations like background blur and whiteboard masking are available.
Office 365 integration
The main reason for companies to get excited about switching from Skype for Business to Teams is its native integration with the Office 365 suite. Teams makes it easy to collaborate in real time on documents stored in SharePoint. You can also use Teams in conjunction with apps like Microsoft Planner and Outlook to save time switching between windows.
Third-party app integration
In addition to native Office 365 integration, Teams can also work with an astounding list of third party apps that don’t fall under the Microsoft umbrella. These include Trello, Github, Asana, Salesforce, and many more.
Tips for a smooth Skype to Teams migration
If your organization is deeply ingrained in Skype, you’ll need to be tactful in your transition approach. Here’s how to switch from Skype for Business to Teams without leaving anything (or anyone) behind:
Give yourself enough time
Even though Skype for Business isn’t scheduled to become obsolete until July 2021, the Skype to Teams migration is something you definitely don’t want to put off until the last minute. If you’re reading this now and haven’t started the transition process yet, it’s time to start scheduling meetings with key stakeholders to begin formulating a plan for the transition.
Create a Microsoft Teams governance plan
Before making the transition to Teams, your company should have a clear blueprint of where the tool will exist within your current ecosystem, how employees should use it, and who will be responsible for overseeing and managing the platform. This outline, or governance plan, is key in setting organizational standards that will ensure smooth running from day one. Without it, your company’s Microsoft Teams organization can quickly grow out of control and become unmanageable, creating confusion and leaving users unable to find what they need.
See our complete guide on creating a Microsoft Teams governance plan for detailed steps.
Choose your upgrade journey
Microsoft has released a plethora of documentation to help organizations make the transition from Skype to Teams. Part of this is defining two separate paths that companies can take as they upgrade to Teams. These are:
- Overlapping capabilities method (using Islands mode)
- Select capabilities method (using one or more of the Skype for Business modes)
Generally speaking, if you wish to follow a more gradual approach to adopting Teams, the overlapping capabilities method is the option to use. This allows employees to use both Skype for Business and Teams side by side while they acclimate to using Teams. Every employee needs to keep both Skype and Teams running at all times as communications can come through either client. Once the company is ready to complete the transition, the system administrator can enable TeamsOnly mode to phase Skype out entirely.
On the other hand, the select capabilities method gives IT more control over the cadence of the Skype to Teams migration. Individual functionalities can be moved into TeamsOnly mode one by one, creating less confusion for employees through a predictable communicated schedule. Of course, the downside is that this method requires more hands-on work by IT administrators.
Neither upgrade journey is necessarily better than the other. At the end of the day, it’s just a matter of deciding which method more aligns with your organization’s capabilities and culture.
Make the process human-centric
Any new workplace technology adoption requires much more than just changing out tools and processes. It also requires changing employee mindsets. To successfully transition from Skype to Teams, you should follow a change management plan that prioritizes the human effects of change. Communicating the need for change, providing training, offering support, and responding to feedback are all great ways to unite the company behind your goal and generate greater success.
Use an automation tool
We’ve outlined how to switch from Skype for Business to Teams on your own, but there are tools available that can automate the process, reducing both the time and cost required to complete the transition. For example, users of Powell Teams see an average 75% faster adoption time. The platform also offers better organization, management, and governance of your company’s Microsoft Teams environment with templates, smart dashboard, reporting, and more.
Powell Teams is equipped to handle Skype for Business to Teams migrations seamlessly. Contact us to schedule a demo and see what the onboarding process looks like.