Managed Services Transition: MS Teams, O365 and Sharepoint Collaboration

OVERVIEW: Silver Tree recently managed the due diligence and transition of its client’s IT services, including infrastructure and applications maintenance, to Silver Tree’s IT Managed Service practice after finding opportunities for significant cost savings and a dramatic improvement in quality of service (QoS).

 

HURDLES:

  • Client needed the transition to be complete in six weeks
  • Plans to work onsite for due diligence at the client’s HQ were thwarted by COVID 19

 

APPROACH: The due diligence and transition plan had many moving parts from scheduling interviews, collecting documents, setting up knowledge transfer sessions and holding daily status calls.  We wanted to establish a comprehensive solution to manage all aspects of the team – in six weeks.

The client used a combination of Microsoft’s O365 and Skype for Business products and Box for document management.  Silver Tree, and their partner Happiest Minds, use O365 and Teams.

To manage the project, the following functions were required:

  • Project team web-based site accessible from any location and device
  • Governance and permissions
  • Document management
  • eMail
  • Messaging
  • Calendaring
  • Audio/video conferencing

In addition, the solution needed to be user-friendly.

Assessing the various tools and platforms available between the organizations involved, we decided to use Microsoft O365 and Teams platform as our core project team site.

Why Teams?

  • A single platform that offered all the capabilities needed to manage the project
  • Due to the number of documents collected, created and stored as part of due diligence and knowledge transfer, a central repository accessible to all team members was crucial. Teams, with its document repository based in SharePoint, was a familiar and user-friendly solution
  • Teams ability to manage adds/removal of members, and governance over access and permissions was critical as information on the site included proprietary and confidential data from the client and partners

Functional requirements alignment with the Microsoft toolset:

  • Project team web-based site accessible from any location and device- Teams
  • Governance and permissions– Teams/SharePoint
  • Document management- SharePoint thru Teams
  • eMail- O365 Outlook
  • Messaging- Teams
  • Calendaring- O365 Outlook
  • Audio/video conferencing- Teams

EIGHT TRACKS

Silver Tree determined eight tracks were required to successfully transition our client’s IT Services. These tracks or channels (easily set up in Teams) drove the hierarchy of the Teams site.

PERMISSIONS & GOVERNANCE

Next, we established the team members and member permissions.  Although Teams enables this easily, it does take time.  When completed, all team members were assigned permissions to different tracks as well as document permissions were established.  The effort to maintain the site is minimal with all changes (e.g., new members) directed to the “administrator” with structured governance firmly in place through the permissions established.

MANAGEMENT

As a program manager, managing multiple tracks required in a due diligence and transition project, I was amazed at how I managed it through a single toolset, all part of the Microsoft product suite. The Teams site was frequently used by all team members. A few site statistics:

  • The site included 32 members, seven that were Silver Tree staff, and 25 that were client and partner organization staff
    • Teams is location agnostic as it is cloud based. This was a true test of all team members remote capabilities during COVID 19 in locations as far as India and throughout the US. Location was not a factor!
  • Document management for over 900 documents with governance and permissions in place
    • A separate channel was established for 150 documents representing standard operating procedures and other operational documents that were ported over to the ongoing services site
  • Eight channels representing different aspects of the project. Permissions were set for each channel depending on individual roles

 

Lessons Learned

  • Although the standard meeting platform was Teams, the client used a different platform when they set up meetings. This drove some confusion using different platforms with different looking features and functions. The optimal use of the tool is to stay with the MS Teams audio/video conferencing capabilities, which is agnostic, does not matter if a person joining is outside the organization. Teams also provides a useful chat feature and file sharing capabilities.
  • Knowing how you want to organize the Team site upfront will make things easier over the course of the project. Otherwise, making changes to channels and folders can confuse team members. Although, administratively, changes are not difficult to do with Teams
  • Map-out your permissions for channels and folders in advance. Using an Excel table is useful. Gain approval from project sponsors before setting permissions.

RESULTS

In just SIX WEEKS, transition to Silver Tree’s Managed Services underpinned by a new collaboration environment with operations transparency and daily reporting (previously not provided) has helped our client:

  • Quickly ramp up from bare bone managed services (previous provider), to expanded services at a lower cost.
  • Establishment of a NOC to monitor all devices
  • Expanded services for setting up accounts and O365 support
  • Quicker response and resolutions for Help Desk Tickets
  • Data never available before: Service Performance, Operational reports & materials
  • With service integration. Silver Tree brought multiple vendors together (Telecom, Server Hosting, On-Site support, NOC, Help Desk, etc.) and provides governance to enable seamless workflows, documentation and reporting between vendors all with
  • Contract negotiation with all vendors, with savings of up to 40% on current contracts
  • Repeatable processes, resulting in lowering costs and increasing QoS on an ongoing basis

 

SILVER NUGGET

“It follows that for those organizations with Office 365 licenses, Microsoft Teams ought to be the default collaboration tool for optimizing remote work. This makes sense from both a cost-savings perspective (given one is already paying for an Office 365 license) and a capability perspective. Teams provides the range of capabilities typically sought after for remote work: from audio and videoconferencing to whiteboarding.”

Optimize Microsoft Teams During COVID-19, John Randall, Info-Tech Research Group, June 26, 2020

Learn more about Microsoft Teams here.

Silver Tree Services offers a mobility solution, integrating Microsoft toolsets such as O365 (including Teams), iTunes, and Enterprise Mobility and Security along with unified communications that enables a work-from-anywhere workforce.  Go to https://silvertreeservices.com/distributed-workforce-mobility-solution/ to learn more.

 

Patrick Savard. ITSM Practice Lead

Silver Tree Consulting & Services