So, you're thinking about moving your phone system to Microsoft Teams. This is a great step towards modernizing your communication and using a platform your employees are likely already familiar with. You can read more about that here. Adoption of the Teams platform is nothing short of astonishing. Microsoft has said that Teams has had the fastest growth rate of any software they have produced to date, and that was 2019. Imagine where it is today. And with Microsoft Calling Plan, you have an easy option to get up and running.
Once you have made the decision to explore a move to Teams Phone System, you are going to have to flesh out more details about your deployment. Are you looking to provide desk phones to all your employees or headsets (or both)? Will you want to integrate third party applications to Teams? If so, which ones? Is there a PBX, Contact Center, or carrier contract that needs to be maintained and for how long? Are you going to use this change to redesign how your customers communicate with your company and how employees communicate with each other? These are just a sampling of the questions that are worth considering and can play a part in your company’s overall strategy.
In this blog, I'm going to cover one decision that will affect the ease, speed, flexibility, and cost you will have with the Teams phone system deployment. Whether to go with the Microsoft Calling Plan or Direct Routing to provide Dial-tone to the Teams phone system. Or whether to go with both. For this post, we'll take a look at Microsoft Teams Calling Plan. See my next post to learn more about Direct Routing.
What is Calling Plan
Calling Plan is Microsoft's direct Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) service offering. Microsoft will provide voice services to all your Teams seats on a per user per month basis for a flat fee (either bundled as Business Voice or as an add-on). Calling Plan's standard domestic offering is what I like to call "functionally unlimited", meaning as long as you are not operating an outbound call center which is active all day, you should have no concern about overages. Each seat provides a call capacity instance, or trunk, that is pooled together. 20 seats mean your phone system can support 20 simultaneous calls, and it doesn't matter how those calls are distributed since capacity is pooled. And with Microsoft operating as your carrier here, number porting is a breeze and billing is simplified.
When to use Calling Plan
Calling Plan is a great option for smaller accounts where simplicity is important or if you are a multi-location company with small offices in different regions of the country. It's also a viable option if your employees spend a large part of their day on the phone with external customers and vendors, where that "functionally unlimited" aspect of Calling Plan is desirable. We should not understate how much planning and uncertainty is removed by opting for Calling Plan.
But there are some drawbacks to going with Calling Plan only. The simplicity and ease of deployment comes at a cost, which is of course, the cost. Calling Plan can be more expensive than Direct Routing, particularly as your user count starts to tick up beyond 20 or 30. The cost difference becomes larger and larger as the user count goes up. Calling Plan is also less flexible. A flexible deployment may not be needed in your situation, but there are instances where it is required or desirable (more on that in the next post).
And there is also a concern about redundancy. It's not a bad idea to have a redundant carrier providing PSTN service to your phone system or to set up call forwarding to cell phones during outages. This is especially if you have a larger operation. There really isn't a great way to do either when your trunks come directly from Microsoft through Calling Plan.
Whatever your company's considerations may be, unless you have a knowledgeable staff with the time to appropriately plan, design, and deploy a Teams phone system, it's best to engage a trusted partner like Beringer to help. Quality communication for employees and customers is more critical than it has ever been, and all of us now know the value of a communications platform that we can take from the office to the home. Done well, a platform can remove friction and allow ideas and information to flow, improving employee productivity and the customer experience. The proper strategy will make sure all the benefits are realized and the risks avoided.
Beringer Technology Group, a leading Microsoft Gold Certified Partner specializing in Microsoft Dynamics 365 and CRM for Distribution, also provides expert Managed IT Services, Backup and Disaster Recovery, Cloud Based Computing, Email Security Implementation and Training, Unified Communication Solutions, and Cybersecurity Risk Assessment.