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Translated transcript of the podcast by Olaf Kaiser and Alexander Eggers on „Teams Adoption“​

– Olaf

An MS Team project is not a technology topic but aims at a new way of working with the customer. How to get customers excited about this topic. How such a team project with the customer is to be set up and what is to be considered technically, nevertheless, you hear in the today’s consequence. Many thanks to Alexander Eggers, Managing Director of epc GmbH and Microsoft Teams Adoption Specialist, who today talks with me as an expert with a lot of passion about the way to the team customer project and the challenge in it. Welcome to MSP in the podcast for system house managers and executives who want to grow profitably in the area of Managed Services. My name is Olaf Kaiser and I am a partner and consultant at Ubega Consulting. My consulting focus with my clients is on exactly this service growth and now have fun with the conversation.

 – Olaf

Hello, Alex.

 – Alex

Hello, Olaf.

 – Olaf

Thank you so much for your time today. We’re talking about your special topic, and I brought a lot of questions. It will be about Microsoft teams today. Before we start, please introduce yourself and what you are doing in the context and your company.

 – Alex

My name is Alexander Eggers I am managing director of epc GmbH. We sit here in Nienburg between the beautiful Hanover and Bremen. We are 25 employees and grew up in the classic system house 20 years ago. We have started three years ago with Office 365 more intensively and for well one and a half years we have determined that the market, as far as Microsoft teams concerns, a quite large demand generates. And so we have continued to specialize in this segment.

 – Olaf

This means that before Managed Service comes, so to speak, our focus today will be: how do you start the dialogue with a customer on these communication and cooperation topics? Increasing demand, you just mentioned, what leads to this demand with the customer? Why does the dialogue even start towards teams?

 – Alex

Now we must go back a little bit and it is so that Microsoft since they released Office 365, basically everyone thought that is just Word and Excel base. By the way, that’s not right. And that’s why Microsoft said at some point: Yes, we have to offer added value, and so I’m sure anyone who’s interested knows that there’s a lot of potential with Office 365, and teams are just one of them. Teams were born in March 2017, for the general public and the idea behind it was to say how Microsoft reacts to the changes in corporate culture in companies in a different way and how to work together and the very clear question: How do we manage to work with these new methods and what tools do we need for that? This has somehow resulted in Microsoft teams and this demand is generated by the fact that many customers already have Office 365. That means you know that there are some obvious applications in there that you don’t use yet. Or recently it is installed as standard when you install Office. That means they also see it and say: What is it, what can I do with it? And then it’s the case that customers come up to us or even system house colleagues come up to us who say: People are the demand, how do I map it now, what do we do with it now? And so it’s actually always the case in the first instance that the customer is only informed about what possibilities. He actually has to make a decision, is that something for me now or is that nothing for me now.

 – Olaf

He comes rather over this Microsoft App corner I say, than that he has strategically considered.

 – Alex

He might hear something somewhere, have heard the name or something. Then he already has it, then he looks at it but cannot sort it properly. How do I do it right now or he starts to try it himself, but then he probably gets to the point where he says: yes, it’s not really structured what I’m doing here! how do I get it now pressed into structure? This is of course the advantage and disadvantage of this tool. It’s just, if you’ve seen it before, totally simple to understand. You can do it fast if you understand the basic principle. But that’s exactly the difficulty, because the use itself must be structured and that’s the big challenge, that it won’t be used properly afterwards, if you don’t know how to use it properly in your company. So intuitively introduced is usually a problem.

 – Olaf

Now the customer has this interest and indeed, there are a few facets that we will see when it starts. How does such a project start?

 – Alex

I’ll go right into it. Maybe I’ll tell you the story of how we came to this in detail. Simply to say, it is also a learning factor. How did we start? We saw the tool. We thought it was cool. As many IT companies or IT people like this topic. And then we said: „this is actually a great tool for one of our customers“. Picked out a client and said we were going to do a pilot project. He had nine locations with 50 employees. So many small locations and they had to communicate with each other. Somehow this tool is actually exactly the right thing for you. And if it’s just about communication. The whole range of functions was not yet clear and teams were extended every month. A year and a half ago, two years ago, it was still a very early stage. That’s when we said, „Let’s do this now.“ So we have done an introduction, how we think like you do an introduction:“ Look there is the tool, very easy to use. Any questions ? Let’s do it now“. That just went completely against the wall. Okay, I’m very sorry today. So we are in close contact with the customer and we try to bend that straight. But you also have to say quite clearly: „Introducing teams is not really an IT topic“. This isn’t in IT and maybe I don’t necessarily make friends with it, but these are simply experiences we made with it because we noticed, just because you might be able to use it nobody uses it yet. And who maybe has ever started to play around with it has noticed, I can chat with it, okay yes, I can chat but I also have WhatsApp and what about Telegram or any other Messenger? Okay, I have one more messenger. Does that make sense now? I don’t know. Many don’t really get out about the correct use because the questions are already answered. So what is a project or a team? What is a channel?. When is it a chat?. When is it a group chat?. When do I then use which function within it, so that it can be used correctly. And now, of course, we quickly get to the point. There are also people who may not be so experienced in IT. So they abstract immediately and see such a tool and say: How cool is that, I can do everything and start. But there are people and now we get into the whole topic of why this has also driven against the wall. There are people who just have a negative attitude because maybe they say “I don’t feel like learning a new tool or I just got used to email and I can handle Outlook super. Why do we have to do anything else now?. I’ve got everything, I’ve organized myself well with the tools we have, I don’t need any more.”

And that’s one reason why it didn’t work out during the introduction. Because a part of people and there I do not need to chat out of the sewing box now, it has been so far in every company and without discrimination to be but it must be presented in a frequency. Young people get this tool, see it, you explain it to them and in almost all cases everything is immediately clear. You don’t have to explain much and they understand because they have an affinity to IT and to the end devices and tools a completely different perception. They start working immediately and an older generation doesn’t just have to be older but that’s the way it is. There is rather the negative attitude, there is still how and why at all. I can call him. What does he need the chat and all that for now? There we have rather the problem, we have two generations in companies that work differently with it. I am in my early 40s so I meet exactly those who have been in their early 20s and come into the company for the first time or maybe just a few years and are in their late 50s who have been in working life for many years and have never needed it before. And there are worlds colliding and if you don’t take them with you then this project won’t work.

 – Olaf

Now you talk to this customer and he has these two groups which you may not know at the beginning of the contact, are not yet so deep in it, but from experience you know, also this customer will probably have these two groups. What are you offering him?.

 – Alex

Within the framework of teams, we have the very clear question: what culture do I actually have in the company? How do we work, how are we organized?. How open are we to new things? That means the first thing I always do when someone shows basic interest in getting a questionnaire from me, which they have to fill out first so that I can take a closer look at the company. That’s like 20 questions that are all aimed at categorizing, how do I sort this customer. What technical possibilities does he have now? Where are the limits, what about home offices, what about field offices, what about the connected ones? How technical are you?. That’s what I need as a basis. Then we differentiate a bit according to the size of the company. These introductions workshops make more sense when the company has, say, a size 50 plus. 50 employees plus because in a smaller segment we don’t need to inflate it so much. So 50 to 100 employees, we often do that so that we only bring the team leaders and the company management into a first workshop. You already said, workshops is our password, the topic we work with. We get the executives into these workshops and then it builds up. I can say something about the content of the workshops right now. We have there workshop 1 which refers to the management and so a bit of teams, that’s what we do with it. Workshop 2. it is about the training of professionals, of professionals for teams, champions, I say lighthouses to it, so that within the company also people who want to use it can be helped.. The third one is then the actual training, the workshop of the employees themselves, who are supposed to use it. And in larger companies it’s a bit different. We usually work with or start working with pilot groups. Usually it is a department which should use the tool, first to get to know or there is a concrete project which should be worked on over several groups from different departments. Then we start with this topic so that you are introduced slowly or find out what is going on in this company. A very elementary component that is very important to me is that we have to talk about change management. Change management, that is something that hasn’t played a role at all for us in IT, at least in our classic system house business, so far, there was no reference to it at all. We have to take people on a journey during change processes and there are people who have learned that. How do we bring change processes into the company?.. We found out that the bigger the company or the more classical it was, the more we need support at the job. We have brought in external consultants who are specialized in this segment so that we can also address that. And that runs parallel to the team workshops where we always have to watch: is that necessary or not for this company? Should we do it in the classic IT environment or not? Change processes are commonplace there. But if you get into government processes or perhaps into really old structures old business models that can become a problem.

 – Olaf

And I do believe that the culture of change plays an important role, as you describe it. Can I spontaneously think of a question about which changes worked well and which didn’t?

 – Alex

A part of this questionnaire where we ask questions, so how are you on this path at the moment where do you see yourself in processes of change, do you have any at all, which ones have you been able to implement?

The expectations of the customers are sometimes very different. We will also answer the questions. What is there to get around to in the end?. Well in front of the workshops there is usually a kind of teaser like a teaser lecture where we talk to the decision makers for an hour. What is this now anyway? They have to know that this is something for them. But if you say after this lesson: „Yes, we can basically imagine that, we have an idea for it“. Then it goes into the questionnaires and then also into the workshops. The basic principle must be clear beforehand, you can’t start with the workshop without anyone knowing why we are actually sitting here now. That doesn’t make any sense, of course. Perhaps again very briefly because this is also a very elementary point. Especially in the first workshop when we sit together with the executives and you asked about your intention: Why does someone do that at all? I clearly take the view that I am saying that generations will follow who work differently. They grow up differently with IT. Digitalization’s perfectly normal with them. My standard saying is always: „How will you explain to a 16-year-old teenager that he should use a keyboard, mouse and phone to work on the table when he’s 16 years old and he knows nothing but voice input and touch screen? As worlds collide and digitalization is completely normal for these people. Whether they do their travel planning, whether they have already equipped their Thermomix with W-LAN, whether you have WhatsApp or communication via the end device via the smartphone is a completely normal process. Just look at how young people use their mobile phones to make phone calls that don’t hold to your ear but always keep it in motion. When you walk across the streets, they always keep it in front of their mouths. Because they’re not used to having a listener. They don’t even know that anymore, a dial with telephone on it, with handset. In other words, you can already see how the changes are occurring. And the companies, and this is also part of the workshop, I say to them quite clearly:“ People there comes a generation behind, if you want to apply for them, then you also have to deal with these topics here“. That’s why it’s incredibly important to be prepared. At least to have a plan if you want to include it in the changes or not.

 – Olaf

Stay a little longer with the workshops and the procedure you described. Now you have collected these experience values also over a longer period of time. Now, if anyone listens and says something like that, I’ll build it up. It kind of makes sense what I just heard. There is also a big package from Microsoft,

 – Alex

So the tools that Microsoft makes available are really great. We have the Teamwork Assessment Kit that’s what it’s called.

But this has also been done new. The first versions were already good but not as extensive as it is now. I think the download alone is 300 MB with dozens of slides in it and also instruction manuals. That’s a great thing, but I have to say it right now, it’s because it’s so extensive and something you have to work your way into. So that’s not going to be delivered to run to the customer and start. Besides, it’s all in English. Of course, this is also a certain challenge. There are plans on the part of Microsoft to also translate certain things into German in the future, because they know there is a need, but such an assessment kit with the scope, that will probably still take a little while until it is in German. And even then it is like that, but you have to say, you have to adapt it a little for the individual. Microsoft naturally has an enterprise market in focus. So that means we’re talking companies 1000 employees plus. Sure, there’s a lot more volume on it, of course. And of course you notice this in the tools that Microsoft makes available. You have to look there, what about my customers, who do I want to address, am I there in the SMB so in the KNU segment, small medium-sized company or am I Enterprise? And maybe I’ll have to break it down a little. But if I’m looking for ways, of course, how can I place myself there I don’t start with an empty PowerPoint, that’s definitely something that helps.

But what is very important to me and I have to say this now and every system house that asks us, I explain it to them when they say: „I want to do it myself“, see that you have the right people for it. You we are talking about process analysis, this is rather the classic business IT specialist, who has to look at processes in the company in order to consider how we can get them into teams? How can this be implemented in a meaningful way?.. And then talks a lot on the decision maker or team leader level to find out with them. That means, I already said at the beginning, it is not a pure IT topic. Of course it helps if you are IT-savvy but if you are honest, you have to say, it is exciting for people who are really more into business informatics, business administration and so on, to make these workshops successful in the end. It’s much more than just a training course on how to use teams

 – Olaf

 Now to the classic question: If I am in the middle of the system house size between 10 and 30 employees, where many in Germany move, I am almost already before the question: do I do that myself you have answered for you. But everyone else has to be willing to get into those levels where it’s not technology or do I have someone in the company that I may not be able to put there tomorrow but who has an interest, a motivation and that I can develop? I also believe that the person who does it or introduces it at the beginning is of crucial importance, because the change management which you have just said as a keyword, the understanding of the counterpart, is probably not an overdone one…,it is a platform and not a finished process so to speak. It is not e-mail on, send but it becomes more individual perhaps how you work and I think you have to listen well and adapt to what the other person says. Not just roll something out or anything.

 – Alex

I’m thrilled too, you put it a lot better than me. But that’s exactly what it is, of course. A workshop is not worked off according to PowerPoint but it is actually the case that there is a lot of discussion and you, as the one who stands in front, have to react to it individually.

Every workshop is different. I don’t know how long it’ll take. There is such a basic structure but the day must be open at the back because it can also develop more intensively and something different always happens because other people sit there and other reservations are expressed. Every company is different. And that’s exactly what you’re saying. Bringing in that empathy or emotional intelligence, as it is often called, is a very important part. We have IT, we have this emotional history, empathy, we have processes. That’s already very extensive, what this person who is supposed to do that has to bring with him.

 (…)

 – Olaf

So in the area of projects and processes not equal, take the most critical. And what you might try by the way, at least maybe half of those who want to try it out. I can communicate with everyone just like that, to whatever. From haste tomorrow time for me or whatever internal questions I have. Or I could call somebody, I’m free to do that. To use this also for normal corporate communication, independent of the project summer party.

 – Alex

Hypothetically yes, but in practice it fails because not everyone has opened teams. Or he hasn’t seen it yet, so he doesn’t know how to use it. It is always the question, how big is the company we are talking about now?

(…)

So I remember all the beginnings back. That’s what I always like to tell you, so you can figure it out. We weren’t born and we knew everything, but we introduced teams with the same blue-eyedness as you might do today. A tool is great and you can use it and we make a team – meeting, so a meeting and invite about teams and somehow there is now one missing. Where is he now? I’m not gonna say a name, so you call him, „where are you now?“ „How do we have a meeting? I didn’t know.“ „I wrote in teams.“ He says: „I don’t open teams.“ Yeah, that’s good. Even there it is, so you can’t chat with anyone if they don’t even know it’s there. And with a 100 man booth, 300 man booth or something, they have to roll out the product sometime, that they even know that it is there and then that they also open it. And there I say: „Basically I am with you, but practically it is borderline, because here never the starting signal was given, so we now use the tool and here people, that’s how it works. Then that can probably work in a smaller environment as you say then it happens to be there but actually the controlled introduction is the foundation.

 – Olaf

Then we stick to something I, um, you publish here and there visibly with the topic teams, what I have read there. Maybe that’s the right thing to do at this point, because how do I know what’s going on? Once you’ve rolled out and there’s a bit of initial euphoria, perhaps in a curve like this, you’ve managed the summer project positively. Also with your, your support maybe and then everyone has that and then the big bustle starts, I think so. Perhaps the topic of the obligation to collect and bring information at this point. If I didn’t read myself out, I read that information, that something was changing. Let’s just say neutral at this point. And that is very important this change, if I remember correctly.

 – Alex

So I take the view that I say and this is actually one of the most important slides in these lectures to explain that the flow of information is changing. So far it has been. In a very abstract way, I sit in front of my computer, have my Outlook open. So many people already have a second monitor and Outlook is running in parallel and waiting for what happens. I’m gonna say this all clumsy. There’s an e-mail coming in, and I know I gotta do something now. So the information from the one who wants something from me writes me something and I am now able to do something because he sent it to me. So he’s got a debt to pay. He had to bring it to me so I could do something. And I just say in teams it’s different, because in teams it’s like someone who has an information that writes in there, so not specifically addresses someone, but writes it within a project. So now we’ve done this thing. The one who works within this project is now obliged to go in teams, to go into the project to see what someone has written there. So he has to get the information from there himself. Now I have to gather the information myself and process it.

(…)

There are also rules for teams. How do we work in teams? I can also write to specific people so that they get a memory. That’s where you were tagged. The Facebook and LinkedIn people among us know that. You write it directly to @ and the name, then he gets a message, but he still has to pick up this information where it is. He won’t get it sent directly. And that’s my thesis on it. And we just have to see that there is a generation that is used to getting information. And that is changing and I have to say that we have to clarify that this is clear to all involved.

 (…)

 – Olaf

Maybe there is at the technical corner, now we have something with each other and how to start such a project, now it’s something where you said at the beginning, people see it because it’s there. Nevertheless, system houses are also somehow, like technology, is there anything that has to be considered technically?

 – Alex

There are two big issues over there. One thing is, it is difficult to make video communication or to communicate at all, if the device doesn’t offer it at all. In other words, a webcam makes sense somehow or a headset also makes sense in a fixed PC, because somehow I have to communicate about it. If I want to use tools like telephony and chat as well as video telephony. Especially when I have several locations, this is especially exciting, because I can build up an emotional relationship with someone who I can look into the eyes better than when I have a listener in my hand. But assumes that I have technically equipped the workstation with it. Otherwise it just won’t work. The second and that is much more important. This doesn’t really make sense without the use of teams on the mobile phone. This tool doesn’t make sense. It’s not a cultural change if I don’t use it on my cell phone. Mobility is a prerequisite for using teams properly. Now we can get into the companies. They don’t have any companies – cell phones.

 An App more on the mobile phone, on the private mobile phone then of course is unproblematic yes. So just a generation that is quite affine to work with mobile phones, mobile phones and apps they have already installed it before I come to the first workshop. That’s where it’s going. But not everyone is necessarily in such a way that they are now also up for it, because of course a certain accessibility is then also given. Well, open brackets, in teams you can say in the settings when I am reachable, via the mobile app, and when not, you can set the working hours. So you can manage it a little bit, but still it runs on your private mobile phone and then we get into the security topic.

 – Olaf

Finally a way to sell MDM.

 – Alex

This is a basis, who makes Office 365, will have hopefully already dealt quite a lot with MDM, otherwise you can bring your Outlook or your email – account immediately on every private laptop to use. You have to map this in a structured way and then there are many tools from Office 365 to control it. But that’s a problem. So not every company has automatic mobile phones or has assumed that the mobile work with the terminal device. You have to discuss how to deal with that. But it needs a solution or it will be difficult.

 (…)

 – Olaf

I still have a technical question, comes to mind quite spontaneously. Now let’s assume that they have solved the picture issue of important tip and they have also solved the mobility issue with the Devices. If now, what I just had, the central file server is no longer the central file server, it was somewhere, but that now wanders in teams. Will I get into archiving, backup and similar questions?

 – Alex

That’s it. Most people will certainly know this and of course this is a very elementary point. We need to talk about data protection, of course. It is already a problem and teams has of course also the problem, with the files not necessarily, they are in the OneDrive SharePoint. There are backup options. I say the top dog there with Veeam is there already hard in it. It becomes more problematic of course with the topic Chat and conversations in projects, as I save them now somehow away? There are now solutions from other providers who try to illustrate this. But you have to deal with that and build up know-how in any case.

 (…)

 – Olaf

Let’s take a look around. There were a lot of great tips already. Now you’re on the road a lot. Those who follow you, who know you, find out that you also travel outside Germany to see places in order to perceive something about this topic, which is very bothering you. Maybe now a little bit to the medium-term horizon that we will all take with us. You were on Inspire, so what else is there for us to do? What’s rolling towards us? Is there anything you noticed?

 – Alex

There’s actually something coming, and I’m inserting a little commercial block. Who has interest can follow me on LinkedIn well. I always try to bring content there that helps you. If I see a good tip, if tools or something like that or the assessment kit or something, then I bring it in. And you also noticed that I was on Inspire. That’s it. I also try to shoot small videos of what is new about teams. There I actually heard some great things, which really affect the near future. Namely the fact that Microsoft itself says: „Okay an enterprise market is more or less also well served. We want to now also set the view on SMB“.

 And on the other hand he also said that they have a focus for the coming year just in the area of teams. But right there, specifically, team adoption. And also change management. You can see that now, who reads a little bit about Microsoft. They now offer various seminars on the subject of change management such as Prosci. Who has heard that before is such a big provider of workshops. Three days of the workshop you get at Microsoft meanwhile also with or also discounts on these Prosci Workshops gives it over Microsoft partners. That’s one point where you can tell, okay, something’s happening now. Because Microsoft also knows it’s not the classic IT topic and if we want to use the tool now, because it’s great, then we also need people who can introduce it. And that’s why they’re offering that support now. The Teamwork Assessment is also a part of it.

 So actually, in the short term, now that is a big topic where we can expect a lot of support from Microsoft and therefore from partners who are now willing to deal with it this is now a good phase for it.

 – Olaf

Excellent. Alex. Thank you very much. There were a lot of concrete things and I think who wants to get in touch with you, because he got the impression, there is someone who knows a lot about it over a longer period of time and will stay there in the next time, so much can be said about your person, he gets you on Xing, Facebook, LinkedIn wherever. Probably is allowed to get in contact with you and you are also visible as a speaker at some events. Well, I can only recommend that. Who would like to exchange in the topic itself and would like to have a mad partner, who should speak with you.

 – Alex

I’d love to.

 – Olaf

Thank you so much for your time.

 – Alex

Here you go.

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