Living with Lync: Lessons Learned
The top 10 takeaways from Enterprise Connect, from those who have been through the transition.
At this year's Enterprise Connect I led the "Living with Lync" session. We assembled an excellent panel of experts who brought lots of experience in living with, and "thriving with", Microsoft Lync. Whether you attended the session or not, examining some of the great lessons from the expert panel is worthwhile.
To better understand the lessons shared, it is first important to understand that the 2013 Living with Lync "experts panel" consisted of four individuals with deep and varied experience related to Lync:
Pierre St-Aubin is an Associate Partner at the consulting firm of Deloitte Canada, which consists of over 9,000 individuals located in 61 offices across the bilingual country of Canada. Pierre has been the key visionary and leader in Deloitte's current project to replace 59 legacy PBX and 30 legacy voice mail systems with a centralized and standardized Lync voice solution. Pierre was able to share key lessons relevant to a large organization that is considering Lync.
Mike Palmer is the Manager, Information Technology Department at the City of Langford in beautiful British Columbia. Mike represented a smaller organization which has decided to transition to Lync. Mike help the City first implement the previous-generation Microsoft OCS R2 integrated with their Nortel CS1000 ("Converged Office"), and then fully transitioned to Lync using SIP trunking.
Dave Damer is the President and founder of ThinkTel Communications, a National CLEC in Canada and leader in SIP trunking and cloud services to enterprise and wholesale customers. Thinktel was the first organization in Canada to offer Lync-certified SIP trunking and now provides hosted Lync (complete with enterprise voice) and Lync deployment services. Dave was able to share lessons from multiple customers related to Lync and Lync with SIP trunking.
Dino Caputo brought deep technical expertise to the panel. He is the lead Lync technical architect at Softchoice, a billion-dollar national IT supplier (US & Canada). Dino is also a partner along with me at EnableUC, a company that builds add-on products for Lync such as Trivia Engine for Lync, a training and knowledge reinforcement tool that uses a "game show" format to promote entertaining learning. Dino knows all the "nuts and bolts" of Lync and shared some key technical lessons.
Based on what the expert panel shared, I have consolidated their feedback into a top ten lessons learned list. In no particular order, the top ten 2013 Living with Lync lessons are...
1. Lync works. In previous years there was debate around whether Lync (or previously OCS) could serve as a PBX replacement. There is no longer any debate. All of the panelists attested to the fact that Lync is a proven, worthy, and complete voice option replacement.
2. The transition to Lync can be easier than you think. Mike really championed this point. Especially for a smaller organization, making Lync your new voice system can actually be easier than you would expect. Training and communication are still very important (as are the other lessons) but implementation tasks when dealing with hundreds of users are significantly easier than when dealing with thousands of users. (Also see my balanced pair of articles: Is Lync Really that Complicated? and Is Lync Really that Simple?)
For Mike, Lync provided a simpler and lower-cost environment to operate, as compared to his previous voice solution. Pierre also indicated that the transition to Lync at Deloitte was supported by a very strong business case.
3. Training is important. Pierre emphasized that while technical expertise is mandatory, without a strong training program, especially in large organizations, lack of user adoption can negatively impact a solid technical solution. Make sure you allocate sufficient project budget to properly train your users on how to effectively use Lync.
4. Communication and change management are important. Beyond "how to" training, Pierre emphasized that one of the key factors for success at Deloitte was strong communication and change management. Tell users well in advance what is going to happen (at Deloitte they took away all the old phones when transitioning an office) and explain how Lync improves and changes the way they can communicate.
Specific examples: the concepts of presence and delegates replace the concept of multiple line appearance on old sets; with Lync you call a person, not a device; best practice is to precede an internal call with an IM: "Got time for a call?" Federation lets you connect more deeply with customers and suppliers, missed call notifications and voice mails come into your email inbox, including to your mobile device.
5. SIP makes things even easier. Dave shared several examples from customers that illustrated how Lync with SIP trunking was an easier path. Mike concurred, as the City of Langford's Lync solution was based on SIP. Dino supported this suggestion, as he has deployed Lync solutions with both SIP and PRIs; the SIP solution clearly reduces initial Lync configuration and ongoing maintenance burden.
Next page: The second half of the lessons learned