When organizations are deploying, or looking to deploy, Skype for Business there are many variables to take in to account. Skype for Business challenges are unlike other UC solutions. For example, Cisco largely makes all components of the ecosystem whereas Skype for Business relies on a myriad of technology, from multiple vendors. When you consider endpoints, routers, SBCs, servers and so on, the complexity can cause a challenge for the teams responsible for managing performance and adoption of the new technology.
An easy way to boil this down, is to speak at a high level and break the problem set down in to three key areas:
- Server (or infrastructure)
- Network – encompassing wired or wireless networks, and
Compared to other UC platforms there can be a lot of variability in the Microsoft domain. When dealing with Skype for Business customers, we continue to find an increasing amount of complexity, with a myriad of types of devices and multiple ways to connect.
Skype for Business Visibility is only Part of the Solution
To simplify the management of this complexity, breaking it down to the three key areas allows teams to better assess how healthy their environment is. While there are tools out there to assist in managing these environments – usually provided by the vendor – they only provide insight into that particular piece of the puzzle. You can lose valuable time turning from tool-to-tool, trying to identify issues and attempting to stitch data together to provide a holistic view of the environment health. What teams need are solutions with the ability to provide a view of your entire ecosystem, like Prognosis for UC.
Network Reliability key to Overcoming Skype for Business Challenges
This becomes even more critical as organizations begin moving from on-premises to a cloud topology. We hear time and again ‘moving to cloud will eradicate complexity and make life easier', while a cloud UC solution does offer many benefits, organizations will always retain a network component – providing the ability to connect to the cloud service – and users will still require endpoints, which could be a laptop, tablet, mobile etc connecting wired or wirelessly.
So irrespective of whether your organization is moving to the cloud, your team will need to stay on top of the network and endpoint challenges.
Top Tips for Toppling Skype for Business Challenges
Here are my time-saving tips to help you conquer Skype for Business challenges. I have an operations management background and whenever I was working with my teams to improve service levels and user experience, I would think about the problem set in terms of a pie. That's right – a good old pie, any flavor will do.
The Problem Set Pie
Now, as you add pain points to the pie, each one represents a slice – certain slices will be larger than others, for example if your servers are continually falling over, this may represent a bigger piece of pie than issues with call quality from remote users. They are both pain points, but one clearly outranks the other. In a Skype for Business scenario, all these pain points will relate back to one of the three critical areas in your ecosystem: Server, Network or Endpoints.
Once all the slices are added to the pie, you then focus on the larger pieces so your pie – and issues – shrink over time. This helped my teams become more focused on the task at hand and, when the pie had shrunk, allowed us to deliver more transformational projects, rather than firefighting smaller issues.
Do you have a similar approach to managing Skype for Business challenges or helping your team become more efficient and focused?