University Fosters a Culture of Innovation and Collaboration, and Sets Example for Students Preparing to Enter the Workplace

Prioritizing User Adoption in Skype for Business Rollout

Written By // Larry Jensen

Higher Education
Midsize
Wisconsin

The university intended to roll out Microsoft Skype for Business for its enterprise voice and collaboration capabilities. The university had experience with large-scale technology implementation but wanted validation of their approach given the high stakes nature of this project. It was vitally important the new voice system be embraced by everyone, and that the new capabilities for productivity and collaboration were adopted thoroughly among the university’s staff and faculty. The university invested heavily in these capabilities to provide a more collaborative workplace that retains and attracts highly talented people, fosters a culture of creativity and working together, and sets an example for students preparing to meet the demands of the workplace.

The university expected to validate their experience and process for technology implementation. Additionally, they expected to identify gaps and how to fill them. They required a comprehensive program for end user enablement and adoption that would make people productive with the new technology on day 1.

A university located in Wisconsin was confronted with the discontinuation of their legacy phone systems. Rather than simply replacing the old phone system, the organization took the opportunity to look more broadly at how faculty and staff communicate and get work done. It was decided that Microsoft Skype for Business offered the right capabilities to address a range of needs beginning with simple voice communication through real-time collaboration and content sharing between individuals and groups, large and small, within and outside of the university.

Replacing the Legacy Phone System with Skype for Business

Like most organizations, the university was already leveraging Microsoft applications through Office 365, and they had some familiarity and experience with the capabilities of Skype for Business.

Relative to hardware-based telephony systems from other vendors, the university found that Skype for Business would cost less to implement. More importantly, in looking more broadly at how faculty and staff interact with each other and with people outside of the university to get work done, they would get the greatest return from software investment and the work effort to deploy it would come from Skype for Business. With seamless integration between Skype for Business and other Microsoft Office 365 applications already in place and planned for deployment, the university was looking to provide a more collaborative workplace that helps to retain and attract highly talented people, fosters a culture of creativity and working together, and sets an example for students preparing to meet the demands of the workplace.

User Enablement & Adoption – Transforming Workforce Productivity

Giving faculty and staff the ability to work together more effectively, both within the university and beyond it, is the greatest benefit afforded by Skype for Business. Enhancing the culture of creativity and collaboration that makes a university great is a serious undertaking, and the reality of economic pressure makes higher workforce productivity a must.

The university had made significant technology investments in recent years to enable their people to do their best work. Even with these investments, they found it very difficult to measure productivity gains. While the technology continued to get better, the university was further challenged in that faculty and staff had difficulty keeping up with continual change. Frustration was apparent, leading to increasing resistance to new technology capabilities.

The university understood their return on technology investment was directly proportional to how well their people adopted new capabilities to work more effectively. If they were going to continue to ask people to change and adapt for the betterment of the organization, they needed a plan for successful end user enablement and adoption of the new capabilities Skype for Business would bring.

Partnering in Success

The university recognized a strong potential for partnership with SWC because they were able to validate some of the lessons the university had acquired with past technology rollouts. With a dedicated team of user enablement and adoption experts, SWC was able to fill gaps in their approach, and provide support where the university’s team lacked time or experience.

SWC was able to provide the university with an enablement and adoption framework which can be repurposed for future technology implementation.

Creating a Culture of Innovation and Collaboration

To help the university overcome the “change problem” that emerges with any major user-impacting technology upgrade, SWC assembled a program to understand end-user needs, create effective awareness and readiness, and enable university leadership to support the changes that would impact their people. A few examples of this included:

  • Building Awareness: During implementation planning, SWC and university executive sponsors identified the value for both the organization and individual groups, teams, and departments and communicated focused messaging through various channels to inspire action across a diverse workforce.
  • Change Management & Training: SWC assembled a thorough plan to ensure end users were well prepared for technology cutover. This included department-specific activities to provide the right context for change with individual groups and teams of end users.
  • Support & Feedback: End users knew exactly how to get help during the transition, and how to access resources at their disposal to minimize disruption and remain productive. The enablement & adoption program included a process for end users to share feedback to improve ongoing rollouts to additional departments and to capture learning throughout the implementation, thus streamlining production operation of the Skype for Business environment.

Continuing the Adoption Cycle

With the ability to work more collaboratively using Skype for Business, the university expects to benefit from the creativity of its people and to make greater use of investment in software capabilities like those provided by Office 365. The university expects to see improvements in staff productivity in terms of getting work done, and innovation in how people work together for the benefit of the university and the student experience.

By providing modern technology capabilities, the university is contributing to an overall environment that faculty and staff can embrace, to which potential newcomers may be attracted, and they are setting an example of technological leadership that students can learn from.

As new challenges and opportunities to enhance and innovate around how work gets done are recognized by the university, they have a well thought-out and proven framework to help their people adopt and embrace technology that will drive these changes.

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