Lync Implementation: Achieving Your Goooooooooals!
User focus, network assessments, and organizational issues dominated discussion.
Our Enterprise Connect Lync road show wrapped up in New York City this week, with the biggest crowd to date and presenters with some great advice for those considering, implementing, and/or managing Lync in their enterprises. Rather than search for some underlying theme to the panel discussions, I'll just bullet out some key takeaways I had from the trip:
* Relentless Focus on the User:: This was a theme throughout the tour, and it got extra emphasis in New York. Aamer Kaleem of Microsoft reminded the audience that if you're transitioning from traditional communications systems to Unified Communications, "Your users are going through a massive change," and you have to prepare them for it--and that means training.
The payoff is that it really can make a difference, according to Bill Scudder, CIO of Sonus, who said that internally, "Users love it," and are using it to collaborate in ways they never had before--for example, engineers at sites around the globe working together: "It has completely transformed our business," he said.
* Preparing the Network: We've been talking about the need for network assessments and adequate resources for real-time traffic ever since voice over IP emerged a decade ago. But it's still something that enterprises need to be reminded of--and it's also something that network managers can quantify and troubleshoot more effectively now than ever before.
For example, Alan Shen of Unify Square pointed out that performance monitoring tools can use measurements of network metrics to classify calls according to qualiity ratings, and said when using these tools, it's crucial to pay attention to the low end. Unify Square's tool classifies calls in categories, and the one to watch is "Poor". Most enterprises he's seen are averaging about 4% Poor Call Percentage, but the target should really be 1% or less, he said.
Alan also offered some hard numbers on what's achievable for service availability; 3-9s is a realistic goal, he said.
* Cost Factors: Much of the emphasis here was on realizing the cost savings you projected when the implementation launched. At one level, you can turn to an old standby for cost savings from VOIP/UC: Audio conferencing. Bill Scudder said Sonus eliminated all third party outside conferencing, saving $400,000-$500,000 per month. Also, with extreme weather seemingly on the rise in the Northeast and elsewhere, Sonus has found it can retain productivity when offices have to close and people work from home; Scudder has seen Lync sessions increase in those scenarios.
Phil Moen, CEO of Unimax, stressed the need to understand the overall cost of all elements--infrastructure, licensing, etc.--both before and after the Lync implementation project: "Did you meet the expectation, and did it go down?" By the way, the answer to the second question may be No--if you're adding new functionality with Lync and expanding capabilities to more users, that may wind up costing more--but whatever you get should gibe with expectations.
Similarly, Quentin Kramer of SPS stressed the need to achieve the returns you projected: "Did we disconnect everything we said we were going to disconnect?" for example, PRIs, And if you were betting on Lync driving travel avoidance, make sure your workers really are avoiding travel.
* Organizational Issues: Quentin Kramer said the communications team has to take the lead in pulling together the parts of the enterprise that will be affected by the Lync migration: "We have to become bridge builders," he said.
Bill Scudder stressed the need for executive sponsorship of the program, and Phil Moen added a caveat: "The executive sponsor can't say, I'm the executive sponsor, I'll be golfing, call me if there's any problem." He or she has to actually engage with the project.
Ultimately some people just won't buy in. Alan Shen told the story of a customer that had a PBX engineer who simply balked; Alan described this individual hunkered down in his basement lair from which he'd run the PBX his entire career--"leather chair, with the shape of his butt on the seat". He was about to retire and had no interest in learning Lync. In the end, they had to just work around him: "Some people will come along, some won't."
* Why I Love New York: Watching the World Cup in Bryant Park behind the Public Library on a summer evening, cheering Mexico on to victory with the tourists and office workers on their way home.