6 min to read

Calling with confidence: a guide to Microsoft Teams calling options

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John FariaProduct Manager – Unified Communications
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Microsoft Teams Phone allows organisations of any size, to turn Microsoft Teams into a powerful and flexible phone system. If you are considering replacing your legacy in-house phone system (PBX), that can be costly and complex to manage, Teams Phone is an excellent solution.

A recent study by Forrester concluded that by investing in Teams Phone, companies could reduce licensing and usage costs related to their phone environments, as well minimise the burden on IT to manage their calling solution, freeing them to focus on core responsibilities. Teams Phone also enabled end users to save time and collaborate more effectively.

If your organisation has invested in Microsoft 365 E5 licenses, then you already have access to use Teams Phone, enabling you to take full advantage of this transformational technology.

But before enjoying the many great business outcomes, it’s essential to find the right calling model for your business. There are so many solutions on the market, that navigating the potential choices and identifying which one is right for your organisation is not easy.

In this article we dig into the real benefits of cloud telephony on Microsoft Teams, and we decode the various options available, to help you make an informed decision for your business

What telephony problems does Microsoft Teams solve

When using telephony, business users are often faced with a few key challenges, these include:

  • Separate telephony contracts and different suppliers for each business location
  • Call Centre staff that use different applications for calling, messaging and collaboration
  • Expensive, ageing, traditional telephony systems that need ongoing maintenance and support
  • Challenges integrating your telephony platform with modern UC platforms like Microsoft Teams or a cloud contact centre
  • Dial-in audio-conferencing that isn't integrated with Microsoft Teams meetings
  • Employees having to switch between a headset for a video call and an ageing desk phone for an audio call
  • Hybrid workers unable to make or receive work calls at home
  • Conference rooms that don’t integrate telephony with video and web conferencing

By providing solutions to all these issues and more, Microsoft Teams empowers full cloud voice services through the Teams platform. The Phone System is a major component of Teams and organisations use it for a wide range of business functions.

The benefits of using Microsoft Teams for calling

While we have touched on the benefits already of Teams as a telephony replacement system, it is important to know what else it has to offer. Here’s a closer look at some of the other benefits of Teams calling:

  • Onboard new users effortlessly

    Since Teams Phone doesn’t require hardware that takes weeks to figure out (like PBX), new users can jump right in and start enjoying the benefits of Teams calling.

  • Controlling calling policies is easy

    For administrators who want to control users’ ability to make private calls or set up call forwarding, creating custom calling policies is an incredibly fast and effortless process. Simply create custom calling policies, then select certain users to apply those policies to.

  • Managing a high volume of inbound and outbound customer calls

    To stay connected with your customers, you might have a contact centre solution. With Teams Phone, integrating with a contact centre can be incredibly simple

  • Enable hybrid workers to stay connected

    Employees can make and receive work calls from anywhere that they have access to Microsoft Teams, whether on a laptop, at home, or a mobile device. Now your workers can communicate easily with one application on a device they choose.

The options available for calling

There is a choice of how you implement Teams Phone for your business and vendors like SoftwareOne can help you plan and implement one that’s right for you. Let’s get into the options available and how they work:

  • 1. Microsoft Calling Plans

    With this option Microsoft is your operator. You can buy phone numbers as you would a Microsoft licence, on a per number, per month basis, and still get to create toll-free numbers, enable emergency calling, and choose from several flexible plans where your minutes are all included. Whereas with the other options, you would choose a specific vendor, with Calling Plans Microsoft is your provider. These are a great option for customers with no integration requirements and require something simple to manage, with predictable monthly costs. Ideal for smaller businesses.

  • 2. Operator Connect

    For customers who want a choice of operator but who still want a simple solution without the need for any custom integration, Operator Connect allows you to buy telephone numbers from a range of well-recognised telephone companies who have partnered with Microsoft. You can shop around for the right plans depending on your usage profile, and you don’t have to only choose one operator. Options for customisation are limited, and you may have to buy from several operators if you want numbers in more than one country. But this is a great option for customers who want a choice of operator, but don’t have any complex needs, beyond simple inbound and outbound calling in Teams.

  • 3. Teams Direct Routing

    Here’s where you get even more flexibility to do business exactly the way you want. Direct Routing means you can choose your own operator providing voice into your Microsoft 365 environment, including keeping your current operator if you want to. This will allow you to utilise telephony services wherever you need them, but also allow you to integrate with third-party applications such as Contact Centre applications, either in the cloud or on premises. Teams Direct Routing also gives you the flexibility to integrate other communications systems you may have, like fax machines or DECT phones. With Teams Direct Routing you can configure everything yourself if you have the expertise, or you can select a trusted partner to do it for you. This is a great option for companies that have a contact centre, or who need to integrate existing systems, or those needing telephone numbers in countries where Calling Plans and Operator Connect are not available.

Ensuring Unified Communications success

If you’ve decided to move to cloud telephony, you most likely want to avoid any disruption to your business during the move – especially if you are planning to keep your existing telephone numbers. That’s why it's important to have a trusted partner by your side to make sure you’ve selected the ideal solution for your business and the expertise to highlight hidden risks of migrating your telephony to the cloud and support you on your migration journey to ensure you maximise everything possible from Microsoft Teams.

SoftwareOne offers a range of services to help you on your Teams Calling journey. We can deliver everything you might need, from a Teams Calling pilot if you wish to allow your users to fully test the solution without committing to a full range of Teams Calling and contact centre services to meet the need of any customer.

At SoftwareOne, we deliver expertise and modular end-to-end telephony and contact centre solutions, customised to any organisation’s needs. We can support you on your Teams Calling journey and enable everything you might need, from strategy workshops to help you choose the right solution, to full project delivery for your migration.

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Supercharge your business calling experience with Microsoft Teams

Understand the process of retiring legacy systems, enhancing productivity and implementing a Teams Calling pilot.

Supercharge your business calling experience with Microsoft Teams

Understand the process of retiring legacy systems, enhancing productivity and implementing a Teams Calling pilot.


A man with glasses and a beard standing in front of a blue wall.

John Faria
Product Manager – Unified Communications

Digital Workplace