Our client’s 400+ staff are involved in maintaining and growing assets such as the telecommunication services, network infrastructure and transport facilities involved in rail transport across the state.
Post-pandemic, staff had been working from anywhere and the experience of huddling around laptops to discuss and share content had started to feel outdated. Their IT and digital services team noted in their three year strategy: “integrated, simple-to-use, reliable and secure information to support their operations and business objectives”, which saw them begin a project focused on launching and driving adoption of Microsoft Teams as the organisation’s unified communication and collaboration platform.
With our extensive experience in driving adoption of Microsoft 365, teamed with previously working together on a successful intranet project, Engage Squared was brought in to assist them with Teams adoption.
A few internal groups had access to Microsoft Teams from a previous project in 2020 that had eventually stalled due to other priorities. However, these teams were never provided with the training or resources to make the most of the platform. For these staff, “re-introduction” to a tool they were already somewhat familiar with and not using to its full potential was going to be an important factor in driving engagement and adoption.
Additionally, staff across the business were struggling with a multitude of applications – including Webex, Zoom, Jabber, and SharePoint 2013. The business lacked a consistent way of working, resulting in staff needing to context switch between apps as they communicated with others across the organisation. Reports of feeling confused about which tool to use when and feeling frustrated by having to use outdated isolated applications were common. Staff lacked a modern centralised collaboration space, where they could easily meet, chat, coordinate tasks and co-edit content from one place. Demonstrating how adopting Microsoft Teams could not only address these pain points but also bring additional benefits to their ways of working, especially in a scenario where staff were already juggling multiple applications, was going to be a key challenge.
The plethora of applications in use across their business meant that not only were its licensing costs not as streamlined as they could be, but they were also not leveraging their existing investment in Microsoft 365 to its full potential. Consolidating its technology stack for improved administration and resource management purposes was highly desirable for their IT team.
Overall, the goal of the project was to create efficiencies through standardisation, improve the employee experience of communication and collaboration, and enable productivity by empowering and upskilling users in how to use what they have well.
With remote and hybrid working the norm, the approach to engaging stakeholders for communications, requirements gathering and training was planned to be digital-first rather than relying on touchpoints that require physical presence.
Champion engagement was key during the discovery phase of the project as these nominated staff would help influence how their groups’ teams would be structured to best suit their needs. A combination of emails and virtual workshops were organised to reach this cohort and build a relationship, finishing with1:1 interviews held with each champion to discuss and finalise each team setup. With the champions also acting as Microsoft Teams Owners, it was important to discuss those roles and responsibilities.
In addition to discussions around configuration, the discovery phase also involved a training needs analysis. Champions were surveyed to gather information around what aspects of Microsoft Teams their groups would require specific training on. This was used to influence the content of the training sessions as well as identify what type of collateral would need to be supplied.
During the implementation phase of the project – champions were re-engaged to validate that the configured teams were fit-for-purpose. To cater for a variety of different learning styles, technical literacy, and audience needs a capability uplift program was developed that included targeted training sessions organised for groups such as specific business units, for executive assistants, for IT, etc. The foundational 101 sessions were run as demo showcases, while subsequent ‘add-on’ sessions run during the sustaining phase of the project were drop-in interactive sessions that allowed staff interested in specific productivity apps to get hands-on experience with features like whiteboard and breakout rooms. For staff that preferred self-paced learning instead, video walkthroughs were developed to get them comfortable in making the most of the Teams platform.
Limited IT resources meant that it was also important to ensure that staff would have the support they needed during the adoption of a tool without stretching the workload of the internal IT team. During the implementation phase of the project comprehensive and quick reference guides were developed that staff would be able to look up themselves to answer their questions, or that the IT team would be able to screenshot and share with staff without having to jump on a call or write specific instructions. During the sustain phase of the project Engage Squared was available to assist with any support requests that came through their helpdesk system.
We provisioned and configured Microsoft Teams for staff across the business to match how their group worked. These teams were aligned to the organisation’s structure and included understanding what types of channels they need and what resources are required for each channel.
Over a period of 4 months, we ran training sessions for staff. Some sessions were focussed on a specific app, such as Microsoft Teams, Whiteboard, Planner, OneNote, while other sessions had a broader focus on ways of working – such as how to run better hybrid meetings or how to use teams for teamwork.
We also produced collateral such as comprehensive use-guides, quick reference guides and walkthrough videos to provide our client with a variety of learning content that staff can use to continue to upskill themselves.
60% of staff attended the live Teams 101 training sessions organised for their business unit. Soon after these sessions, channel activity in Microsoft Teams grew by 250%, demonstrating adoption of ‘working out loud’ practices across the business. Following the Teams 101 training sessions, additional sessions focused on Microsoft productivity apps such as Planner, Whiteboard and OneNote were organised to meet user demand for further upskill opportunities.
To reinforce training, a range of self-paced learning resources were made available. These resources were not only able to support staff who could not attend their training sessions, but they continue to be useful reference resources for new starters and staff in need of refreshers. By working with Engage Squared, our client was able to develop professional content in a range of formats and aligned with best practices without having to burden their IT, learning and development or communications teams with the task.
The video guides developed for our client used Microsoft Azure’s Text-to-Speech Artificial Intelligence services. As a result, all videos could be produced with consistent sound quality regardless of who was resourced to complete the project, reducing the potential for delays in meeting deadlines. Additionally, going forward post-project our client can potentially use the same service to produce fresh new content while keeping it on-brand with previously supplied content.
After teams were configured and training delivered, we were available for a period to assist with any support requests for the helpdesk. This ensured that the helpdesk was not inundated due to the surge in adoption of a new tool, and instead had to opportunity to observe what kind of support requests were emerging and how they were being completed.
Overall, the project took 7 months with staff now successfully collaborating across Microsoft Teams specifically set up to cater to their group’s needs. Staff are able to make the most of the productivity, communication and collaboration capabilities of Teams.
The original goal of providing staff a streamlined way of working together from one platform was successfully achieved. Increased usage of Microsoft Teams has unblocked pathways for our client to start planning the decommissioning of their other siloed communication platforms. Reducing the licensing overheads from such software will be a major win for their IT team and a relief to all users frustrated with their currently cluttered technical landscape.