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3.5 min to readDigital WorkplacePublisher Advisory Services

Choosing the best plan for calling within Microsoft Teams

A man with glasses and a beard standing in front of a blue wall.
John FariaProduct Manager – Unified Communications
A pair of earphones on a white background.

Investing in digital solutions like Microsoft Teams expands the collaborative experience to virtually every corner of your business, including your customers, but are you maximizing the value of this powerful platform?

Even digitally mature organizations who have enabled this Unified Communications solution often don’t realize its full potential because they aren’t yet using the Teams Calling feature to its fullest extent.

Microsoft has a lot to offer when it comes to telephony in the cloud, but you may not know which is the best solution for your organization. Let’s delve into the benefits of Teams Calling and how you can choose the best plan for calling within Microsoft Teams.

Telephony within Teams

To unlock even more from your investment in Microsoft 365, consider adding the Phone System capability to your Microsoft Teams platform. If you have an E5 license then you already have the entitlement to use telephony on Teams.

With this feature enabled, you can use Microsoft Teams as the complete telephony system for your organization. This will enable you to consider retiring your expensive traditional telephony equipment (PBX). Larger organizations typically have more than one telephony system for a variety of reasons, often because companies are spread across multiple countries or through organic growth and acquisition. Unifying on a single solution with Phone System, not only saves on cost, but simplifies your telephony into a single unified communications solution, improving ROI and enabling your teams to communicate seamlessly both internally and externally. This means that your hybrid workforce can make or receive those important calls, no matter where they are.

But before enjoying the many great business outcomes that can take place, it’s essential to find the right calling model. Microsoft offers customers the power of choice but picking the best option for your business is not always 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 calling solve?

When using telephony, businesses are often faced with common challenges, including:

  • Separate telephony contracts and different suppliers for each business location.
  • Call Center staff that have to 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 center
  • 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 organizations 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:

  • 1. Get rid of old, complicated equipment

    Upgrading your calling system through Teams means you’ll no longer need to budget for complicated (i.e. "expensive") equipment.

  • 2. Onboard new users effortlessly

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

  • 3. Controlling calling policies is a breeze

    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 easy process. Simply create custom calling policies, then select certain users to apply those policies to.

  • 4. Managing a high volume of inbound and outbound customer calls

    In order to stay connected with your customers, you probably have a contact centre solution. With Phone System, integrating with a contact centre can be incredibly simple.

  • 5. Enable hybrid workers to stay connected

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

The options available

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 license on a per number per month basis and still get to create toll-free numbers, enable emergency calling, and choose from a number of flexible plans where your minutes are all included. These are a great option for customers with no integration requirements and who need something very simple to manage and 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 customization are limited and you may have to buy from a number of operators if you want numbers in more than one country. But this is a great option for customers who want a choice of operator and who 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 utilize telephony services wherever you need them but also allow you to integrate with third party applications such as Contact Centre applications be they in the cloud or on-premise. 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 Microsoft Partner to do it for you. This is a great option for companies that have a contact center or who need to integrate existing systems or who need 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 the right expertise on hand to make sure you’ve selected the ideal solution for your business. Ideally you need to have someone around who can point out the hidden risks of migrating your telephony to the cloud, and who can guide you on the journey, and ensure you get the outcomes you expect.

SoftwareOne offers a range of services to help you on your Teams Calling journey. We can deliver everything you might need, from strategy workshops to help you choose the right solution, to full project delivery for your migration, to a full range of managed services, telephony and contact centre services to meet all your ongoing unified communications needs.

A yellow wall with a blue sky.

Get your journey started

SoftwareOne helps you to begin building out your Microsoft Teams strategy and choosing the best plan for calling. Learn more about we can help you to increase your business success with UC and Microsoft Teams.

Get your journey started

SoftwareOne helps you to begin building out your Microsoft Teams strategy and choosing the best plan for calling. Learn more about we can help you to increase your business success with UC and Microsoft Teams.


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

John Faria
Product Manager – Unified Communications

Digital Workplace