I was asked to jump on a call today with a customer who was struggling with migrating branch sites from their legacy PBX platform to a new Lync Enterprise Voice platform.  We had helped the Customer Architect the Lync Infrastructure with Highly Available and Site Resiliency (Disaster Recovery) across multiple data centers, deployed that infrastructure, integrated the voice services, and conducted a successful Voice Pilot.  Sounds like a successful project, what’s the issue, right?

 

Most organizations do a great job of planning for and thinking about the costs and complexities of deploying Lync in the data center(s), making sure it is highly available and resilient across sites (DR), making sure the voice trunking, E911 services, networks and servers are robust.  The Lync infrastructure needs to handle the compute and bandwidth intense Lync UC capabilities with Voice, Video, and Content Sharing to ensure a great User Experience.  But once that core infrastructure is built how do we plan for, budget, and migrate perhaps thousands of users in dozens of branch sites around the country or worse, around the world?!?   Typically the Lync core infrastructure is only 10-20% of the entire cost of a Lync Enterprise Voice Deployment Project.  We need to treat the Branch Site Migration process as a Phase that is equally as important as the core infrastructure and focused on the User Experience to ensure Success.

 

Branch Site Migration is all about developing a robust User Adoption and Migration process for the initial branch(s) and refining the process with that feedback for each successive Branch.  The process should be cookie cutter and executed over & again for each Branch.   Here is our framework to help scope and budget for thinking through the process of deploying Lync Voice Services across multiple Branch Sites.  You need to make sure that you plan for and budget each of these activities whether it is executed by your internal resources or outsourced to a partner to maximize the probability of success for your migration.

 

Branch Site Survey & Planning

Each Branch or Site should be treated as its own project with a Project Manager, make sure that you include the branch owners in the planning process to incorporate the unique Branch requirements related to hours of operation, unique calling features, or other business processes.   Communicate the User Adoption & Migration plan to they know what to expect and when.

 

Conduct a comprehensive Branch Site Survey to document the different Use Cases and calling features that the different departments are using.  These can be the types of Handsets or Headsets for typical business users, Boss/Admin scenarios, Reception, Auto-Attendant, Analog Fax, ACD, Call Recording, Overhead Paging, Shared Line, Intercom, etc.  Remember you’re replacing the PBX, so whatever features the Branch is using need to be migrated to a Lync Feature, VVX or phone feature,  discontinued or perhaps a third party application needs to be purchased to support the business requirement.

 

The Branch Site Survey will drive which hardware and software (handsets such as VVX or CX, headsets, analog gateways, etc. needs to be purchased and staged for the Branch Migration

 

SBA and Infrastructure Deployment

Prior to Migration day, you will want to install, configure, and test as much of the new equipment as possible.  Make sure the SBA is installed and E911 Services working, make sure any network changes to support VVX handsets such as Provisioning Servers and DHCP options have been setup and tested.

 

Analog Services

There are many Analog devices that may be configured on the legacy PBX beyond fax machines and analog handsets.  If there are modems, overhead paging, doorbells, gate controllers, and other communications services that all need to be migrated or replaced as part of the migration plan.  Make sure the Analog Gateways are installed and each port is configured and tested prior to Migration day.  You don’t want to be running around testing these devices during the cutover process.

 

Handset Services

Voice handsets are simple but can be time consuming,  Each handset needs to be unpacked, assembled, the firmware updated, configuration applied, placed on the Users’ desktop and a test call placed & received to verify it is working correctly. 

Voice Features

Most Users in a branch will typically be standard business users and will not require special features to be provisioned for them within Lync or on their Handset.  However there are always a percentage of users (typically 2-5%) that require some type of special Voice Feature.  These can be call coverage, boss/admin, reception, special voicemail features or distribution groups, etc. and will need to be provisioned within Lync or even within the VVX Provisioning server. Identify what they are as a part of the Branch Site Survey, and make sure they are all implemented prior to cutover.  They all take time & testing.

 

End User Training

There are many different ways to educate End Users.  They range from distributing Quick Reference Guides, through Online Training sessions, to formal Classroom based instructor led training.  The method you choose depends upon your user community and their willingness for change, how you expect them to use their new Lync UC features, and the budget you have available. 

 

Cutover & Support

Have onsite resources available to help End Users when you cutover.  Pay special attention to the boss/admin Users and Receptionists.  Have people walking the floor asking Users how they are doing and answering questions and being pro-active.  Make sure that there is an escalation path and document each one so that you capture where Users have issues and feed that back into the Adoption & Migration process for the next branch.

 

Once Cutover is complete and the Branch is stable, make sure they are transitioned to your Day 2 Support organization and that the Branch understands that is their escalation path.  Allow your migration team to move onto the next branch, if the migration team is doing both migration and support they will slow down.

 

Miscellaneous and Contingency

Make sure you factor in 10%-20% of your budget for contingencies that occur during the migration or for capabilities there weren’t identified in the Branch Site Survey process or to cover other

 

Travel and Expenses

If you have a migration team that you will send to each Branch budget for their Travel and Expenses accordingly. 

 

 

Are you exploring making the transition to Lync Enterprise Voice? Have you deployed your Lync Core Infrastructure and now planning to migrate your User Community to Lync Voice?  Polycom Services can help with everything described here to ensure your success. Contact us at msft-uc-services@polycom.com to start the discussion.

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