Mar 15 2021

How to Make a Successful Transition Away from Skype for Business in Government

Skype for Business is being retired July 31, and Microsoft is providing support to change videoconferencing platforms.

State and local government IT leaders have a lot on their plates these days, especially in supporting remote workers. They also have one more thing to keep in mind: Skype for Business is about to fade away.

Microsoft has said it will retire Skype for Business on July 31, after which the service will no longer be accessible. That means agencies will need to start planning a transition to an alternative videoconferencing platform, such as Microsoft Teams.

To make the transition easier for organizations, Microsoft has launched a number of resources, including upgrade planning workshops; free, instructor-led training; and FastTrack onboarding assistance.

State and local government agencies across the country have been using Microsoft Teams for some time now, including for government meetings. As StateTech has reported, “Tanya Hannah, CIO and director of King County IT, says that the county has long believed in the power of conferencing, supporting smart rooms through Microsoft Surface hubs and Teams as well as Zoom.”

Microsoft’s Workshops Can Aid a Transition to Teams

To help advise on the transition, Microsoft is offering a series of hourlong, interactive upgrade planning workshops that provide best practices and share key migration considerations.

The “Plan Your Upgrade” sessions, available through March 31, are aimed at a wide audience of stakeholders. By the end, Microsoft says, the planning session will enable IT administrators and other users to articulate a high-level journey to Teams, be aware of common attributes of successful transitions, identify the steps to successful upgrades, and create and implement their own upgrade plans.

Microsoft is also offering free, live online training, starting with a Teams knowledge check to help users find the right class with which to begin. On-demand end-user training is supported by six YouTube videos, which range from 16 minutes to more than an hour in length. The final video is dedicated solely to making the switch.

DIVE DEEPER: How did agencies move quickly to a secure telework environment?

Microsoft’s FastTrack Service Can Help with the Transition

As with the upgrade planning workshops, FastTrack service can help government IT leaders and admins plan the migration, but getting the most out of this resource may depend on the agency’s existing IT environment.

The FastTrack service is free to customers with eligible subscriptions to Microsoft 365Azure or Dynamics 365. It includes curated Microsoft 365 self-guided resources, an adoption kit with templates and additional adoption tools.

When setting up Microsoft Teams, it is essential to define which of the four available security configurations (Baseline – Public, Baseline – Private, Sensitive and Highly Sensitive) the agency needs.

IT admins also must ensure that everyone has access to Teams. “If you already have a subscription that includes Teams, turn it on for everyone,” notes Microsoft. Admins also need to “understand how to get your organization started with Meetings and live events in Teams.”

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