Microsoft Lync

What it is and why it matters

Lync is a unified communication solution built by Microsoft; it's basically a messaging tool specifically designed for the corporate environment.

If you're looking for a comparison, Lync is similar to MSN Messenger, but for corporate world. All of your staff can be on an ‘internal MSN Messenger’ and easily communicate with each other. Lync is particularly useful for organisations that have multiple offices in different locations. Along with personal messenger features, Lync also lets you video conference and route phone calls; creating a central place for all communication.

Microsoft Lync enables each person to set a ‘presence’. This means staff members can quickly see if someone is at their desk, away, busy or in a meeting. It syncs with Microsoft Outlook to automatically pull out appointment information and set a presence. This is particularly useful to quickly see if someone is at their desk or not. Don’t waste time walking over there just to find out they’re out of the office.

Why Microsoft Lync is important?

A communication tool might sound like an unnecessary addition, but anyone who dismisses it is very out of touch. In fact, small and medium-sized companies can achieve three benefits from using Lync.

  • Increased speed of information and level of communication. You eliminate a lot of the time-wasting tasks such as writing and preparing emails, and going to someone else's desk only to find that they're not there. Save time and use Lync to quickly message and communicate.
  • Improve productivity by bringing the organisation closer together. Lync makes communication between multiple office locations easier. If you have offices that are geographically separated, you can quickly send a message and set up a video conference call instead of organising a meeting and driving all the way there. This increases the speed of information that can be transferred within your organisation.
  • One central place for all communication. Build your phone system into Lync and keep all your communication in one place. Say goodbye to physical phones and setup Lync to handle all of your calls. Keep phone calls, video calls and messaging all within one tool and house all the information in one place.

Challenges of Microsoft Lync

  • Overcoming the belief that Lync is a time waster. There are some companies that think personal messaging software is a fad from the teenage years, and that it’s just another distraction. Convincing older management can sometimes be a challenge. Draw on customer case studies to help demonstrate the value and benefits.
  • Capable Internet connection. If you're going to route calls through Lync, there will be a reliance on an Internet connection. As a result, there will be some limitations if you have poor Internet speed. Call drop outs and crackly audio are the common side effects of a slow Internet connection. Before opting to route calls through Lync, talk to your IT guy about whether your existing Internet connection can handle it.

Three keys to successfully implement Microsoft Lync

A successful Microsoft Lync implementation involves doing a proper business analysis and determining the right flavour of Lync that bests meet your requirements. Here are the three keys to successfully implementing Lync:

  • Carry out a business analysis and assess requirements
  • Determine the Lync service model that’s right for you
  • Train staff on how to use Lync

Carry out a business analysis and assess requirements

The first thing you have to do is assess what your organisation needs from Lync.  Do you want it to route calls?  Do you want it to be a phone system?  Are you satisfied with just the instant messaging and the video conferencing? Are you comfortable with hosting your data outside of Australia?

Once you've identified your requirements, you need to work with someone who's experienced enough and qualified enough to actually set it up and install it. By listening to your requirements, an IT service provider can make recommendations based on your needs.

Determine the Lync service model that’s right for you

There are three different flavours of Lync:

  • You can host it through an Australian partner such as R&G Technologies
  • You can have it hosted through Office 365 Lync, which is the cloud version for Microsoft
  • You can host it on your local IT environment

Lync is very heavily tied to Microsoft Exchange (email). Whoever is hosting your Lync will also need to host your Microsoft Exchange.

The advantage of using an Australian partner instead of Office 365 is that you can have them route your phone system through Lync. At this stage, Office 365 does not allow for the routing of calls via Lync.
A local solution is the least common flavour of Lync. Since Lync is inherently a fairly complex product, you really need to think twice about whether you want that burden on your local IT environment. Local should only be an option if you have specific requirements and you speak with someone who is a technical consultant with Lync who insists you need to go local.

Train staff on how to use Lync

As with any new technology, there will be a learning curve for staff. Training them on the best practices of Lync and how to use it will help make the transition easier.

Are you interested in learning how Lync can improve office productivity and increase collaboration?

R & G Technologies is a Brisbane IT Support and IT Consulting firm that helps organisations across Australia. We can help you make better use of new cloud technologies - like Microsoft Lync - to increase productivity. Call us on 1300 562 886 or visit our contact page.

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