How to Launch a Plan for Unified Communications and Collaboration in Three Steps - Page 2

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2. Consider the Migration Approach

The whole point of unified communications and collaboration is to let people share information the way they want, at any given time. When each user device logs onto a network, the network shows a record not only of the "presence" of that person, but also of that individual's contact preferences. Collaborators can switch channels seamlessly while communicating-like from teleconference to Web conference to viewing electronic documents.

In the second step of planning, therefore, you'll need to gain an understanding of the business-driven features and capabilities your organization requires. Whose presence needs visibility, and which business processes will that serve? Which people and data need to be connected to meet business objectives?

As an early adopter, your organization probably has some combination of people handling communication-intensive and time-critical business processes, mobile team members with shifting preferences for communications channels, specialized or distributed work forces, or flexible business-continuity options. You'll need to consider the impact on the business during the migration of various users, and issues such as how to maintain network stability during the migration process.

3. Decide How to Source

Although some degree of unified communications and collaboration technologies may already be in place, an organization likely will need assistance developing a holistic strategy to combine technologies and providers into a common architecture. Decisions need to be made about whether to seek a fully managed service or a standard package from a vendor.

Unlike most IT projects, where the goal is to isolate the user and the business from the disruption of the change, migrating to unified communications and collaboration technologies requires the involvement of users and the business as a whole. It fundamentally changes how people communicate and conduct business. Projects must focus on streamlining business processes and generating value. This can't be done in a technology vacuum or solely by information technologists.

It's advisable to select long-term technology partners, not just the most economical, short-term vendors. True partners will help your organization integrate tools and systems within the context of business objectives, and connect unified communications and collaboration strategies with your line-of-business applications.

Following the above three steps will give you a foundation for harnessing the full potential of unified communications and collaboration-not just adopting the latest technology solution.

From here you'll be able to develop a detailed planning and implementation in three phases. (See my companion article, "How to Adopt Unified Communications and Collaboration: Three Phases.")

When the race to adopt a strategy for unified communications and collaboration is upon us, you'll already be through the gate.