10 Microsoft Teams Phone System Best Practices We Actually Use

10 Microsoft Teams Phone System Best Practices We Actually Use

With Microsoft Teams figures rising above 320 monthly active users, there’s no longer any doubt over the viability of using Teams as a phone system as well as meetings and chat. 

Businesses of all sizes are using the many phone system options possible with Teams to make, receive, route, and even block phone calls.  

Whether you’re a bells and whistles contact center, a global conglomerate, or a local business with medium voice usage, there’s something to check when it comes to Teams Phone System. 

In this blog post, we introduce the basics of Teams Phone System and explore 10 best practices for implementation, migration, and ongoing use. 

But first…

When not to use Microsoft Teams Phone System? 

It’s not advisable to use Microsoft Phone System if you’re tied up in a lengthy contract. Here, you’re better off utilizing the Operator Connect or Direct Routing options. 

Another option is to use Callroute as your self-service platform to connect any carrier, in any country to Microsoft Teams. 

We put number management, policy management, and PSTN connections into a single portal so you can connect your phone systems on the back end and use Teams as the front end. 

Be it on-premises or cloud, all your telephony administration can be catered for while you consolidate your PSTN connections to make on-net calls. 

What do I need for Teams Phone System? 

To enable Microsoft Teams Phone System, you need the following: 

  • Teams Phone must be available in your country 
  • Be able to port your existing number or select new ones 
  • Buy a Microsoft Teams Phone license per user you wish to enable voice 
  • Buy a Calling Plan or enable one via Callroute, Operator Connect, or Direct Routing 
  • Plan for call queues, auto attendants, and contact center features if used in your business 
Where is Teams Phone with Calling Plan available?

10 Microsoft Teams Phone System best practices 

When thinking about Microsoft Teams Phone System, there are many variables to consider.  

Like when rolling out any phone system, there are a lot of moving parts to consider.  

In this next section, we introduce 10 Microsoft Teams Phone System best practices to help you plan a smooth implementation. 

1 – Audit and consolidate your PSTN connections 

When planning your migration to Microsoft Teams Phone System, use this as the time to reconcile exactly what you have in play. 

Let’s say you have five offices around the world, all with different phone providers. You’ve got Verizon in the US, BT in the UK, Italtel in Italy, Vodafone in Germany, and have just signed up for Microsoft Calling Plan in Austria. 

That’s a lot of disparate telephone providers and a lot of different management portals to make changes in.  

You can use this opportunity to review what’s in use: 

  • Are users using other carriers you weren’t aware of? 
  • Are users using other phone systems you weren’t aware of? 
  • What’s the cost for calling between locations? 

As a central IT function, it’s near impossible to be totally up to speed with what local IT (or local users) have in place all the time. 

When I worked for Maersk Line, a company with 100,000 employees and 130 offices worldwide, it was guesswork most of the time. It may have been documented that the Swiss office had a Panasonic phone system and had ISDN lines provided by Orange, but you can bet when it came to migrating to Cisco UCM + Microsoft Lync, there was already a Cisco phone system on-site and the ISDNs were now provided by Swisscom. 

The point is, when you’re planning a major change to your telephony, you have the perfect window to take control of your communications estate. 

Use this time to get together with local IT to create an inventory of phone services and produce a gap analysis before you move everyone to Microsoft Teams for voice. 

Survey users (by way of questionnaire) to see how they make external calls. It’s important here to highlight that there is no right or wrong answer and the goal is purely information gathering. 

2 – Make sure you do a thorough “as-is” assessment 

Mark Vale, Chief Product Officer at Callroute and Organizer of Commsverse weighs in with his Microsoft Teams voice best practices

Mark Vale, Chief Product Officer at Callroute and Organizer of Commsverse, says to employ business analysts to engage with different business units to discover what they now use voice for.  

“This discovery is essential to understanding the voice of the customer so you can build the “to-be” state successfully. This may have an IT cost benefit too as you may find the majority of the as-is state is no longer used and their needs simplified which will lead to cost savings and easier support in the to-be Teams state.” 

3 – Engage and enable your support team. 

And do so before you go live and are ready to hand over.  

Another tip from Mark is: 

“Do not wait until the end of the migration to hand over to support and expect them to run with it. These people will not be specialists and they will require training and the fundamentals of what’s been deployed and the rationale behind it. They will need time to ramp up and tooling to help manage day to day changes. Waiting until the end of your project will mean you’re disadvantaged and risk project failure. Transition will be elongated as support try to react to having to support a new thing they may have not even known was coming.” 

4 – Prepare for go-live with users in mind 

When you’re planning a migration or new implementation of any technology, it can feel like you’re in total control. 

That is, until you go live and you’re flooded with support tickets from users who didn’t know or don’t like the new service. 

Thorough preparation for your Microsoft Teams Phone System rollout must include the following: 

  • Voice champions who evangelize the service 
  • Create pre-live communications informing users what to expect 
  • Include the rationale behind the change 
  • Send reminders in the build-up to switching over 
  • Create training materials for when the service is live 
  • Prepare a rapid response team in case of failure or user error 
  • Create basic troubleshooting materials so users can solve their own problems 
  • Follow-up with users and champions to see how much they’re using the service (multiple-choice questionnaires are great here) 

5 – Embrace auto-provisioning for new users and MACs 

When new users start, the administration can be as straightforward as creating a new Microsoft user and assigning a voice license. 

Yeah, right. How often does that happen? 

How much time and energy do you spend on constant provisioning changes?  

You know. The new user requests that don’t have all the information. The simple task that should be a quick set and forget.  

Only, it’s never like that, is it?  

  • HR sends a request for a new user. They need a laptop, email, Teams, the works.  
  • You get them up to speed inside your SLA for a new user request and close the ticket.  

What happens the next day?  

Another ticket.  

Turns out that new user needs special policies. After all, they’ve joined the sales team and need their calls recorded. Oh, and they’re in the New York office so all their calls should be recorded.  

But nobody told you that.  

At this stage, you’re getting the ball rolling on a tick box exercise (literally) that should have been done in the original ticket.  

Sure, this might only take a moment. But the admin surrounding the physical task is an unnecessary waste of time.  

And, by the way, when this happens for the third time in a week, you’re not alone in tearing your hair out.  

The worst thing here is that this is a very mild synopsis of what happens inside the life of a Teams admin. 

Instead, you could be using an auto-provisioning solution that minimizes the risk of manual error when adding new users and making changes further down the line.  

Instead of relying on memory and maybe a documented process, you create user personas with everything that type of user will need.  

Then, the next time you have a user who falls into that category, they get automatically provisioned with all their Teams policies and access, based on the user you assign.  

All you need to do is configure an AzureAD (now Entra) attribute and Orto does the rest for you.  

See it for yourself: 

6 – Ensure and improve Microsoft Teams audio quality 

The first step to ensuring Teams audio quality is looking after your network connection.  

For office users, ensure a dedicated VLAN is configured for voice calls. Where possible, provide wired ethernet connections instead of relying on wireless networks that can be interrupted. 

For home users, communicate minimum bandwidth requirements and go above and beyond the bare minimum. If you have a lot of home users whose voice quality reflects the standards of your business, you might consider supplying a better internet connection than their existing. 

In the case where you can’t control the network, i.e. some home users and when staff are using their mobiles on the move, you can take steps like: 

  • Providing an ethernet cable so voice calls are wired instead of wireless 
  • Troubleshooting with users to find out why calls aren’t good quality 
  • Supply Microsoft Teams-certified hardware (headsets, handsets, etc.) 
  • Communicate how users can use Teams background noise suppression 

When calls remain poor quality, consider using analytics or monitoring tool to help find the root cause of the quality issue. Often it pays to do this from day one, so your dataset is vast and identifies patterns and anomalies. 

7 – Be proactive with your approach to analytics 

Kevin Kieller, Co-Founder and Lead Analyst at enableUC weighs in with his Microsoft Teams voice best practice

Kevin Kieller, Co-Founder and Lead Analyst at enableUC, says that while it’s critically important to properly engineer a Teams Phone System solution (selecting the right components, PSTN connection model, and experienced partners), it’s also critical to look beyond just working this work. He suggests using analytics to optimize costs and the employee experience from day one. 

“We often find organizations, including very large organizations, that only look to analytics after a problem has been reported. Quality issues that could have been prevented are allowed to occur and only dealt with reactively. This also means adoption of the full breadth of Teams Phone System services is lacking, reducing the value of the investment made into Teams as the primary voice platform. Most concerning, without tracking usage and adoption, we find organizations paying for licenses, DIDs, concurrent SIP channels, and other services that aren’t needed. Regularly leveraging built-in or third-party analytics is a best practice that can both improve end-user experience and save money for your company.” 

8 – Challenge the norm 

During the planning, implementation, and review phases, it’s likely that users (and even champions) will say “What I have now” is all they need. 

This is for several reasons: 

  • Unaware of new features and capabilities 
  • Set in routine habits and procedures 
  • Fear of asking for something different 
  • Humans fear change 

Use the data you have available within your business to help you determine a better future for users, administrators, and management. Simply replacing like for like is not transformation or an upgrade, it is just replacing what you have with something else that does the same and not being impactful to your workers or your organization’s digital aspirations 

9 – Decide your default state for voice users 

What is the minimum set of controls and policies voice users should get out of the box? 

  • Should they have internal and emergency calling enabled by default?  
  • Should they have domestic calling capability by default?  
  • Or nothing?  

Deciding on your baseline state will enable you to configure your global policies that will take effect immediately on licensing a user. This makes changes quicker and less complicated to implement when more advanced calling requirements are requested 

10 – Don’t be afraid to ask for help 

No, this isn’t specific to Microsoft Teams Phone System, but the Microsoft community is so vast and helpful that it seems remiss not to mention it. 

There are tons of Microsoft Teams influencers out there, alongside a community of MVPs, user forums, and self-support documentation. 

Leaning on the support community is a Microsoft Team best practice across the board

When it comes to unified comms and VoIP, I’ve honestly never known a community like it. For reference, I’ve been provisioning, consulting, and marketing in this industry for 16 years and nothing comes close to the Teams community. 

Seriously, if you’re stuck, ask. Someone will want to help. 

Conclusion: the bottom line on Microsoft Teams Phone System

Whether you use Microsoft Teams Phone System or you opt for an integrative solution like Callroute, Operator Connect, or Direct Routing, you must be aware of the bigger picture. 

Migrating a phone system in any business comes with risks and implementation time. There will also be a period of change, where it’s common to get pushback from users and management. 

Those risks, however, are trumped by the benefits of using Teams for voice if you’ve committed to Teams as your all-in-one communications platform. 

When everything is truly unified, users and administrators have a more productive experience, with less context switching, more focus time, and fewer distractions. 

That’s not to say that going all-in on Teams is the right decision for everyone. In some cases, like those with existing Cisco devices in meeting rooms or when you have different departments preferring other collaboration apps like Slack or Zoom, it pays to keep everyone happy (as long as you can support multiple platforms). 

With voice in mind, there are very few blockers to making Microsoft Teams at least your front end for voice. 

If you’re struggling with the back-end components, book a call with one of our voice experts

It’s free and there’s no obligation to become a Callroute customer. 

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