MS Teams, “…but Microsoft told me it would be super easy…”

By Dave Bass

“…but Microsoft told me it would be super easy. All I have to do is purchase my licenses and calling plans and I’m good to go.”

That line, I’ve heard from just about every client. For those of you whom have transitioned to Teams, we all know this is not true. Sure, if your business is in the sixteen (16) countries they support, you only need basic PBX features, and you want to pay top dollar for usage charges, then yes, it is “super easy.”

But what if you’re outside that parameter and care about being financially responsible?

On the surface this seems to be like any other voice evaluation but please be careful. All is not as it seems. The phone system component is completely seamless inside the Teams app which is awesome. The problem is, the Teams Phone System will have some limitations which you’ll need to consider during your evaluation. That lost functionality could push you in to a situation where you need to look at leveraging a UCaaS (Unified Communication as a Service) vendor to be your PBX backend behind the Teams Phone System button in the application (similar to a lot of Skype designs). This could bring on additional costs. And, if you have Contact Center agents, it gets even trickier.

To figure out what kind of vendor you’ll need I suggest a comprehensive BRD. The better your team is at discovery and capturing future requirements, the better your BRD will be so you can properly evaluate/eliminate vendors. Please engage with all of your revenue producing and protecting departments when you conduct your discovery. My team will typically work with five to ten departments conducting discovery sessions to have the best opportunity for a comprehensive BRD that can be used to vet out vendors with whom we want to engage.

If your BRD eliminates UCaaS vendors then next up, you’ll then need to figure out how to control usage costs using the Teams Phone System. There are numerous providers in the global marketplace professing to offer Teams Calling Plan replacement services. You’ll be offered a few types of designs. All of these will have SIP Trunks with Session Border Controllers (SBC) as part of the design. These are connected to Microsoft with a feature called Direct Routing. Simple enough, right? Not just yet. These designs are also all over the place depending on the vendor. Some will ask to place the SBCs into your data center with expensive connections going to Microsoft. Others will put those SBCs at their data center with, you guesses it, expensive connectivity. The ideal solutions are Virtual SBC designs where the vendor is handling all the PSTN traffic in their core and handing off to Microsoft directly without any deployed gear or physical connectivity. For clarity, you do need the right environment for the V-SIP design to work for you so please do a good bit of due diligence to ensure this will work for you. If you’re the lucky few that qualify for V-SIP, the design is quite elegant from a client perspective.

The pricing is just as varied with regards to offered packages. Obviously, that’s on purpose. They want you thinking of the perceived value instead of actual costs. Keep your logic hat on. My team does a lot of “score carding” to assist leaders by eliminating the emotional evaluation component. I’d estimate, about 50% of the time, the client’s evaluation team winds up providing different recommendations than what the scorecard states is the right choice. Kind of crazy, right? But, it makes sense. All sales teams are not created equal. Some are better at spinning than others.

We hope these quick tips will be helpful when/if you go down the Microsoft Teams path. We’ll be doing another Microsoft Teams blog in the upcoming weeks. It’ll be “How to Leverage Microsoft Teams with your Contact Center.”

Please share if you found this article helpful to yourself or possibly to somebody else.

If your team is currently looking or has road mapped to evaluate voice or contact center platforms to improve design, functionality, and/or costs, the Telmac team has decades of experience and would be happy to share our knowledge with you and/or your internal team.

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