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User buy-in crucial when migrating from Slack to Microsoft Teams

For organizations using Microsoft 365, migrating from Slack to Microsoft Teams can better support employee workflows. But a migration requires more than mandating users to switch.

Microsoft Teams is gaining ground on Slack as organizations look to create a more unified UX within a Microsoft environment. For Microsoft 365 subscribers, uniting all collaboration applications under the Microsoft banner gives IT better management capabilities and keeps workflow tools in a fully integrated environment. But migrating from Slack to Microsoft Teams requires careful planning.

"The big driver that we see is organizations wanting to simplify the environment," said Irwin Lazar, analyst at Nemertes Research, based in Mokena, Ill. "Companies are making a strategic decision, since many already use Microsoft 365, which includes Teams; it lets them cut costs and bring management into their business."

Part of what makes Slack attractive to end users is the availability of a number of third-party application integrations. Integrations, such as file sharing applications and analytics tools, make it simple to customize Slack to fit specific workflows. In some cases, employees may not realize Microsoft Teams can perform many of the same functions without having to leave the Microsoft platform, said Hunter Willis, product marketing manager for AvePoint, a data migration and management service provider based in Jersey City, N.J.

While employees may favor Slack, companies are starting to push for a single manageable unified communications (UC) platform for all employees. Microsoft Teams is seeing an uptick in migration as organizations using Microsoft 365, a SaaS subscription bundle that includes Office 365, look to answer all of their UC needs in a single platform as cost-effectively as possible, Willis said. But organizations migrating from Slack to Microsoft Teams must prepare for potential pitfalls -- namely, information migration and user resistance.

Migrating information to support a more unified collaboration environment

Slack and other team chat applications facilitate contextualized real-time communication. When migrating to Microsoft Teams, IT needs to figure out a path that moves not just users, but also information. Slack enables users to export conversations, but conversations cannot be easily imported into the Teams application. Users would need to switch out of the Teams environment to access information from a previous platform.

Few tools support moving information from one platform and seamlessly integrating it into the Teams environment. Looking at services such as AvePoint and Mio should be a part of migration planning. AvePoint offers services that will help transfer information, channel conversations and files from Slack to a Teams environment; however, it does not yet have a way to move person to person chat conversations into the Teams chat, Willis said.

Mio acts as a third-party unifier that syncs chats happening in Slack, Microsoft Teams and Webex Teams. Syncing chat channels before migrating offers a way to begin bringing conversations from Slack into the Microsoft Teams environment.

Overcoming user resistance

The draw of Microsoft Teams is that it's a free add-on to Office 365. The majority of tools an organization requires in a UC platform are available in one place, removing the need to exit the environment to access information. Eliminating the use of third-party applications reduces overlapping tools and creates a uniform UC experience across the organization. For many, the hardest part of migrating from Slack to Microsoft Teams will be user resistance, Lazar said.

In the freemium UC landscape, employees have ample opportunity to develop preferences for specific tools that may not have IT approval. Mandating users to drop preferred applications and platforms for a company-approved platform is unlikely to prevent users from seeking out unapproved tools. Expecting an overnight migration to a new platform isn't going to happen, Willis said.

Getting end-user buy-in on the transition to Teams needs to involve training. The easiest way for IT to smooth the migration from Slack to Microsoft Teams is to talk with employees. Find out what tools and features they rely on from their current platform and show them how to access those capabilities within Microsoft Teams. In environments already using Microsoft 365, IT can show how Teams is integrated into the workflow a team has established.

Creating the understanding around why a company is standardizing on a single platform goes a long way to mitigate resistance to a new workflow tool. The migration should be about finding workflows that improve the life of an employee.

Willis said one method to help groups migrate from Slack to Microsoft Teams is to set a deadline for when migration should be complete. Training sessions that focus on specific workflow features should be established to help users with the transition.

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