3 min read

The pros and cons of using Microsoft Teams as a phone

The pros and cons of using Microsoft Teams as a phone

The overnight move to home working for most businesses at the start of the Covid pandemic threw an immediate spotlight on the need for reliable and flexible video conferencing systems that everyone would be able to use.

These needed to be easy to access, requiring no tricky or time-consuming set-up, and able to work on home internet networks enjoying the most basic levels of connection integrity that may be prone to wobble at any moment.

Such was the success of applications like Zoom and Microsoft Teams that many businesses began to look beyond the video conferencing benefits and started to explore whether these systems could replace their existing phone systems completely.

Can Microsoft Teams be used as a phone system?

Yes! Originally released in 2017 as a collaboration platform like Slack, it was – along with Zoom – the preferred video conferencing tool of the pandemic, largely because of its ability to host more than a single video stream at any one time. Since then, Teams has also been configured to accept inbound phone calls.

How does Teams as a phone system work?

To make Teams work with your existing PABX you’ll need to calculate how many Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) channels you need. These are essentially your incoming lines and allow you and your staff to receive and make multiple calls at the same time.

You can increase or decrease the number of SIP channels you own at any time as you find the right balance, and at around £10 per month each they’re relatively inexpensive to rent.

The second step in making Teams work as your phone system is to set up and configure Teams itself. You may have someone in-house with the technical skills to do this, but if not it’s something that YCG can help you with.

Finally, you’ll need to buy and set up your hardware. This could be as simple as a laptop and a USB headset, but you can also connect the Teams mobile app or purchase Teams compatible desk phones.

Once that’s all installed and set up, it becomes a plug and play process similar to any other phone system.

What are the costs of using Teams as a phone system?

At the most basic level you’re going to need a Microsoft365 for Business (formerly Microsoft Office 365) subscription for each user. Depending on your needs, this will cost anything between £4.50 per month per user for the entry level package and £16.60 per month per user for the premium service.

You’ll also spend around £10 per month per line for each of your SIP channels. Microsoft offer their own SIP channels at a lower cost, but that’s not necessarily going to be the right strategy for your business – more on that in a moment.

What are the pros of moving my phone system to Teams?

If yours is a Microsoft business – in other words, your systems operate Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook – then Teams makes a lot of sense because it’s already integrated into the systems you use on a daily basis.

It also allows you to use Instant Messaging, which facilitates your team engagement and reduces dependency on email as a way of quickly communicating.

On top of that, your people will be able to screen share, run collaborative and remote meetings and training sessions, and stream company-wide events that your staff can dial into.

In this way, your phone system becomes a built-in and completely compatible part of your existing office tools.

What are the downsides associated with moving my phone system to Teams?

Let’s deal with the Microsoft SIP channel problem first. The reason we recommend using a dedicated SIP channel provider is that to use Microsoft’s branded version means you’ll have to port your numbers to Microsoft to get it working – and you can’t move it away later.

When it works as it should, this might not be an issue. But it does create some potential problems further down the line – mainly because when things do go wrong, you’re going to be dealing with technical support that’s based outside the UK.

You also need to consider how complex your current phone system might be. Lots of businesses have fairly simple systems, but if yours is one of those that is more complex – for example, automated information to update a caller on their wait time or where they are in the queue – then at present this isn’t offered by Teams.

If you want to get impartial, expert advice and help on which option is right for your business, then get in touch – we’re one of the country’s leading comms providers and we’re always happy to help.

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