The Migros-Genossenschafts-Bund relies on Microsoft Teams
Companies, and especially those the size of Migros, are always faced with the challenge of planning ahead when choosing IT solutions and, if possible, relying on products that allow a certain degree of continuity. The fact that manufacturers with a broad portfolio are preferred in this context makes perfect sense, but can also entail limitations. «First of all, it is important to know that the Federation of Migros Cooperatives and Migros in general are strongly influenced by Microsoft,» says Baumann. «The Migros-Genossenschafts-Bund was already using Skype before the switch to Microsoft Teams, which was rolled out about three years ago. It was used purely as a communications tool to replace desk phones. At the same time, they started looking for a collaboration solution and finally decided to go with Office 365 with Teams because it enabled a state-of-the-art solution from the cloud.» As a result, Group IT began deploying the necessary infrastructure, and an initial pilot phase with Microsoft Teams was launched at Migros-Genossenschafts-Bund in mid 2019.
As Baumann points out, the goal was never just to introduce a new collaboration tool, but to enable the company's employees to work more efficiently and improve collaboration within MGB and also at national level. «The fact that Teams is a cloud solution makes it easier to collaborate with other Migros companies and with external partners, even across national borders,» says Baumann. However, the project manager makes no secret of the fact that the choices were limited in terms of the solution to be used: «Since we rely on Microsoft products in many areas on the infrastructure side and renew the license agreement every three years, the decision for Teams was simply obvious, also in connection with the introduction of Office 365.»
The introduction of teams required an extended and broad-based pilot phase, as Mauro Baumann explains: «From the outset, it was extremely important for us to carry out the pilot phase primarily with colleagues from the business and not with those from IT. We therefore discussed the approach with Corporate Development and HR and formed several pilot groups from the various directorates, i.e. HR, Legal & Compliance, Accounting, Communications and Media, and IT. In the end, around 150 employees in ten groups took part in the pilot phase.» One of the goals was to find out how the solution would scale. Baumann and his team therefore wanted to find out how the different departments work and what use cases there are. Above all, it was important to find out how the training and communication concept would have to be designed for the final rollout.
«We then accompanied the pilot groups for eight months. Fortunately, we already had the support of the top management of IT in this phase, with whom we were in close contact,» says Baumann. From the beginning, one of the project team's goals was to create an understanding of the solution among employees and to communicate its benefits and added value. The further course of the pilot phase was characterized by the daily use of teams, supported by several workshops. «In parallel, we worked with communities in teams themselves, where users could ask questions about the tool, Baumann says.
The rollout of Microsoft Teams within the Migros-Genossenschafts-Bundes was completed at the end of April. The task now is to learn from experience of our employees and make adjustments where necessary. For Mauro Baumann, it is clear that an important phase is now beginning in which it is important to continue to communicate actively and train users intensively: «We will now continue to hold workshops until the end of the year and evaluate the suitability of Teams in terms of collaboration and increasing efficiency. After all, in various departments, other solutions such as Slack or Trello are also being used. Now the aim is to achieve critical mass and broad acceptance among users with Teams so that the other tools still in use can be completely replaced.»
The Group IT of the Migros-Genossenschafts-Bundes did not manage the introduction of Teams alone. It was assisted by isolutions, a Microsoft partner company that specializes in the implementation of collaboration solutions, among other things. «We are a large IT department, but we don't have the same experience in consulting and change management as a specialized IT service provider,» Baumann explains. «That's why we wanted to have such a partner on board. We came across isolutions because the company had been involved in IT projects at Migros before. We contacted them and it was a good fit right from the start. Although Teams is a relatively young product, isolutions already has a lot of experience with it, especially when it comes to governance and training users.»
In conclusion, Mauro Baumann recommends that companies considering the introduction of a collaboration solution such as Teams pay attention to five key points. First, from a technical point of view, it is crucial to analyze your own network and make sure that you don't have any problems in terms of data quality and performance. If that doesn't work, the best communication and the best training won't help, Baumann is convinced. The second issue is governance. For example, who is allowed to share what kind of documents with whom? This is a key factor for data security. Furthermore, not everything should be reduced to Teams, because Office 365 is much more than Teams: «From my point of view, Teams is not yet ready to cover everything with this one tool. So it also needs the other applications in the suite.» Fourth, he said, it's important to consider what comes after the introduction of a collaboration solution. After all, at some point all employees will be using the new application, which will create new needs. The fifth and last point is also the most important: «Communication and change management are elementary. The introduction of a collaboration solution is not an IT project, but a change project,» Baumann emphasizes. (luc)
Overall project leader for Office 365, MGB