For several months now my internal job role has shifting into a more virtual world a bit the same as the network world is going virtual and cloud base.
Where I used to head two local office teams in Belgium and UK, I’m now also working intensively for the holding company that owns the company I work for. In this job role I’m responsible for heading four virtual teams that tackle the core infrastructure for all our companies.
The concept of V-Teams is reach out form our mother company and re-use existing and complementary knowledge in our daughter companies. To do this we form virtual teams across company borders joining forces on specific topics.
The four teams I’m currently heading are:
- WAN team: comprise of myself and 2 people spread across Holland
- Datacenter team: comprise of myself and 2 people spread across Holland
- Security team: comprise of myself and 2 people spread across Holland and a team member based in the UK
- Virtualization – Storage and Backup team: comprise of myself and 1 other person based in Holland
As you can see these teams are not big in size but they are huge in knowledge and intensity as each member is a year long IT-Pro veteran with a huge passion for their specialty.
This V-Team concept has been a great challenge for me on a content level but even more so on the technical level. Hosting meetings and keeping in contact is easy when your colleges are in the same room as you. It becomes more difficult when they are in the same building but a different room, however once you start talking about company and country borders the concept of keep in touch takes on a whole new dimension.
To guide my teams to success we have had to re-invent the way we do our daily tasks as non of us had ever been confronted with this type of operations before. Most of this takes place on a more logical level where I have had to re-think the way I prepare my meetings,… but also technology has really stepped up and helped.
I needed a quick and easy way to know if my V-Team members where available (yep presence) and I also needed a quick and easy way to get in contact and setup conference call’s and as the call’s are frequent, long a network based solution seemed the most cost efficient way to go.
As always I love MS and their product but I’m also a number 1 challenger of MS products as I strongly believe MS is great in many things but you need to select the right tool from the job and sometimes these tools come from 3de parties.
We experimented with Brosix IM for 4 weeks to see how this corporate oriented cloud based IM worked. Although it was ok we ran into a number of issue that posed to be a problem:
- Voip audio worked fine when on the internet at home but would not traverse our corporate firewall’s (yep the hate and love for firewall’s). I didn’t want to go and change firewall rules just for the sake of IM so this posed to be a number one breaker for us.
- Multi person whiteboards was an issue as well and seeing our teams ware more than two in size and we do a lot of design work this too was quite :-(
- The last issue we found with the product was the notifications of people coming back online where quite intrusive working counter productive as they distracted you from the work you where doing while missed chat messages,… where so obscure you looked over them for hours.
Of course there where also some great plus points with this tool not the least of them being the very easy config and deploy web portal and availability of multi os clients.
However the above three issues made us relook the market and trial Lync off the office 365 cloud service and sure enough it’s working great.
The whole setup through the MS portal was easy and fast and appart form the fact that we needed an MS rep Ilse van Ilse Van Criekinge to point us to SIP addresses before we found each other in the Lync list all went very very smooth. I have now been using lync to keep in touch with the team and the easy of setting up voip call’s with one or more people, sharing my meeting presentations and using the white board have proven to be extremely valuable.
Lync is really making my life easier and ensuring the success of my newly founded V-Teams as it makes weekly meetings possible and affordable where without this type of technology we would be bound to phone call’s and occasional travel.
If you have not tried it in our company yet, you should, you’ll really love it and you can trial it for free.