Can I Use Microsoft Teams as a Phone System?
When businesses shifted to completely remote operations during the COVID-19 pandemic, video calling and conferencing applications like Zoom and Microsoft Teams experienced enormous, 700% year-on-year growth when compared to the year prior.
Having witnessed the benefits of digital communication themselves, now businesses in Ohio are contacting us to express interest in using Microsoft Teams to replace their traditional phone systems entirely.
We’ve gathered everything you need to know about that transition in this article. You’ll learn how businesses can migrate their phone systems to Microsoft Teams, why they’d make the switch, and some key tips and strategies a qualified managed IT service provider will use when performing the migration.
Can I use Microsoft Teams as a Phone System?
The short answer – yes, you can! Microsoft Teams can do everything your regular phone system can do, and more when it’s configured correctly. That means making and receiving calls to and from any number, accessing voicemail, saving a contact list and call history, and other features you’re accustomed to on a business phone system.
Why Would I Replace My Phone with Microsoft Teams?
The first and obvious scenario to consider is if you’re already using Teams as part of your daily operations. If your team is accustomed to Team, then there’s a good chance that you can adapt to Teams as a phone replacement without much retraining, while immediately eliminating the expense of your phone system.
Even if you’re not currently using Teams, the migration may be worthwhile. Here are some of the benefits that businesses can expect to reap from the switch.
More Efficient Microsoft Workflows
As part of the Microsoft 365 suite, you can easily integrate it with other Microsoft Tools like Word and Excel so that important documents and reports can be shared and edited by all team members. This makes collaboration faster and more enjoyable.
Eliminate Tedious Email Back and Forth
Integrating email and document sharing with built-in messaging system and file-sharing features make communicating through Microsoft Teams much easier than sharing files via email. According to Forbes, professionals spend 2.5 hours a day reading emails. That time could be better spent by getting to the point and removing unnecessary formality.
Teams offers dynamic caller IDs for businesses so they can control how their ID appears to others when making phone calls. This feature is particularly useful for businesses that make many outgoing calls, such as call centers, making all outbound calls appear more professional and trustworthy.
Microsoft Teams is a powerful collaboration tool with messaging, voice calling, and video calling features. By unifying video conferences, online training, meetings, presentations, and regular phone calls into one platform, you simplify your communications infrastructure, make maintenance easier, and make your workday less confusing for staff.
Lower Telephony Costs
By replacing the phone with Microsoft Teams, you’ll likely save the money that would be spent on monthly phone bills. You can learn about other strategies we use to streamline your IT costs here.
Fully Managed vs. Phone System with Third-Party Calling
When considering moving your office telephone to Microsoft Teams, you should be aware of the two general ways companies approach the migration.
Fully Managed Phone System with Teams
Microsoft Teams offers various Microsoft Calling Plans where you pay a certain fee to enable phone call service directly through the application. This is done with the help of Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), which allows devices to establish connectivity through voice over internet protocol (VoIP).
So, in a fully managed phone system, you can directly dial all landline and mobile numbers from the Teams application. The app essentially becomes a complete phone system, enabling you to eliminate the plain old telephone services (POTS) lines.
Pros & Cons
The benefit of a fully managed phone system with teams is that you can streamline communication and do away with your phone bills. It’s perfect for organizations with remote operations where an office phone system isn’t essential.
The downside of such a system is that if you lose an internet connection, Teams will not work, and your phone service won’t either. For businesses that rely heavily on telephone communication, this can be a cause for concern.
Team Phone System with Third-Party Calling
In this option, a third-party service routes your phone network to Teams. You keep your traditional telephone system, but all your calls are routed through Teams. In short, you can make and receive all Teams calls while keeping your public switThat and ched telephone network (PSTN). This is known as “Team Direct Routing.” There are different third-party companies that offer such routing services.
Pros & Cons
Direct routing through third parties makes your phone system flexible, as you can make calls through Teams and normal office phones. You don’t have to remove your phone system so you can keep your current office number and don’t need to worry about configuring special caller IDs.
The downside is that direct routing can be complicated to set up, and you’ll rely on third-party service in case of technical or connectivity issues.
Best Practice for Transferring Phone System to Teams
Feel like you’re ready to migrate your traditional telephone system to Microsoft Teams? While it has many benefits, you must also consider some important factors before making the shift.
Start with User Experience
When replacing your phone system with Teams, keep your focus on user experience. What that means is staying focused on fast and stable connectivity, high-quality voice calling, and training for your staff so they understand the essential differences between Teams calling and traditional telephone systems.
The transition may be confusing for some, especially non-technical staff or older staff members. By ensuring that they understand the benefits and know how to make the most of the system, you’ll be setting everyone up for success.
Consider the Costs of Replacing Your Phone System
Replacing your phone with Microsoft Teams can be cost effective, but that isn’t always the case.
In a fully managed phone system, you don’t have to pay separate phone bills, but need to pay for Microsoft Calling Plans instead. Is the calling plan cheaper than your telecom provider’s rates? Even with direct routing, you still pay the phone bills instead of paying for Microsoft’s plans, while you must also pay third-party services for direct routing.
If you need advanced call routing and related functionalities, there’s a chance you’ll need to upgrade your network infrastructure. For example, do you know if you’ll need a session board controller (SBC) to connect your existing telephony system to monitor the Teams traffic and control firewalls? Will you need to buy all new telephones if you migrate to a VoIP system?
Do a deep analysis of the technical factors affecting your migration to determine the most efficient and cost-effective solution for your business.
Do a Pilot Program to Ensure Your Migration
There are always unforeseen technical issues when embarking on a company-wide technical project. Migrating your phone system to Teams can get a bit confusing, which is why we recommend that you start with a pilot program, then roll out company-wide after you’ve worked out the details. You can also use this time to ensure the security of the Microsoft 365 deployment.
Prepare your Telecommunication Infrastructure
Your telecommunication infrastructure must be dependable and robust if you want to replace your phone with Microsoft Teams. During the early stages, have an IT services firm or consultant analyze your network switches, firewalls, and other telecommunication services to ensure they’re up for the challenge.
Businesses that can suffer significant losses due to communication issues or institutions that offer emergency services may want to utilize direct routing so that their phone system is always available if Teams isn’t working due to telecom connectivity problems.
Get Help from a Trusted Microsoft Teams Consultant
Feel overwhelmed by the process of migrating your phone system to Microsoft Teams? We understand! For over 20 years, the Astute Technology Management has been guiding businesses through all their most confusing technology issues, working from our offices in Columbus and Cincinnati. Contact our team any time at 614 389 4102 or [email protected]. We’re here to help!