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Five essential steps to deploy Microsoft Teams telephony

Microsoft Teams usage is on the upswing with 250 million monthly active users and counting. As a mainstay in the post-pandemic workplace, Teams enables a flexible solution for communication and collaboration. And to further unify their processes, bringing all communications under one roof, businesses are turning to Microsoft Team’s cloud telephony component – Teams Calling. 

The business case for adding to telephony to Microsoft Teams is strong with benefits for IT teams including increased efficiency and elimination of the costs required to maintain legacy on-premises Private Branch Exchange (PBX) equipment. And to meet the needs of the flexible workforce, Teams Calling makes it possible to communicate with customers and colleagues from any suitable internet-enabled device. For many businesses already using Teams for internal collaboration and inter-company calling adding telephony via Teams, fully integrates business communications under one platform.

But as with any new technology, adding telephony to Teams comes with uncertainties and unknowns. To ensure a successful implementation of Microsoft Teams telephony, there are five essential steps to take in collaboration with your service provider:

1.     Conduct a readiness assessment

2.     Take time to design and plan your implementation

3.     Configure the environment

4.     Migrate your users to Teams Calling

5.     Check-in with your users for feedback

But first, understand your story …

Moving your telephony to Microsoft Teams may represent a significant paradigm shift within your organisation, with staff well-accustomed to using handsets and traditional phones. Before you make the jump to Teams Calling take some time to understand your story. This represents the starting point of your journey where you take stock of your existing IT environment, both external and internal, before you bring in Teams Calling. Microsoft refers to this as the envision phase.

We recommend looking at two main areas of your business and asking some questions:

Understand your level of experience and knowledge

  • Do you have executive sponsorship? Having buy-in from executive management can make a Microsoft Teams telephony project run more smoothly. Particularly if it’s explained as part of a fundamental shift in the business or part of an overarching business strategy.
  • What is your existing Microsoft voice familiarity? If you already use Skype for Business or Lync, users may already understand and be familiar with using soft clients. This makes the transition easier for users who can view the addition of Calling as an upgrade or next phase.
  • Are you already using Teams? Again, this makes things easier in implementing Calling, as users would already be familiar with the Teams interface for video and audio conferencing, in addition to collaboration features. 

Understand your business goals and objectives

  • What are your business goals and objectives for using Teams? This could be related to modernising or digitally transforming your business. Or it could simply be to get more value from your existing Office 365 or Microsoft 365 subscription and licensing.
  • What is your company culture like? To ensure a frictionless switch to Teams Calling, consider your company culture and how a new technology and way of working might be received. Having this understanding can help guide training plans and migration processes during the implementation phase.

Now that you know your story and have decided Microsoft Teams telephony is right for your business, there are five steps or phases to go through with your service provider.

1.    Conduct a readiness assessment

Here, a company’s existing IT and phone infrastructure would be assessed and any major blockers that would slow down a Teams Calling rollout would be identified. This involves a full review of technical requirements, network requirements and best practices.

Common areas to explore in a readiness assessment include:

  • Call routing: How are you planning to connect users to the PSTN (public switched telephone network)? How will this differ by site and country?
  • Network obstacles: Is your corporate network optimised for Microsoft Teams Calling? For example, opening up firewalls and gateways, or managing Quality of Service for call traffic.
  • Teams certified devices: What types of devices will you provide to users to make calls? Do they still need desk phones, or will headsets be sufficient? What equipment is required for meeting rooms and communal spaces?
  • Teams licenses strategy: Which Microsoft 365 licences does your organisation have today? For example, Enterprise E5 licences already include Teams Calling functionality, but other licences may require an additional Phone System add-on.

2.   Take time to design and plan your implementation

Most of the time spent implementing Teams Calling takes place during this phase. Here, all technical business requirements would be gathered and mapped out. Geographical considerations such as E911 (emergency calling compliance) to make emergency calls, which is crucial in the United States, would be addressed here.

During this phase providers will look at main phone number routing and the experience for end users, to ensure call-routing will function effectively for remote workers, or those who are often on the go and need to take calls to a mobile. The objective is to ensure your network configured inside of Teams matches the network outside of Teams. For location-based routing, all regulations and local laws need to be addressed and configured accordingly. 

It’s important to remember that whilst some features of cloud-based telephony won’t replicate old systems exactly, you will find new features that far exceed capabilities of legacy voice solutions. Moving your telephony to Teams gives you an opportunity to redesign and reimagine ways of working, for the better.

3.    Configure the environment

Once all technical requirements are documented and configured, the new infrastructure can now be tested in a staged environment.

At this point, it’s helpful to develop an end-user plan to ensure site-specific phone system features used within the organisation are being met or exceeded with Teams Calling. Some businesses find it useful to run a pilot using a sub-set of users with configurations that match the business needs of that site (i.e. boss/admin scenarios, call park, group call pick-up, attendant type call handling, call queues, simultaneous ring, international calling, cloud voicemail).

4.    Migrate your users to Teams Calling

After design and testing phases are completed, it’s time to start migrating your telephony to Microsoft Teams. With Teams Calling there are a variety of additional features in comparison to a traditional handset used to make phone calls, so it’s important that users understand those features and best practices.

Training is key to ensure users are comfortable with the new technology and to ensure their specific job functions are met. 


In migrating users, a main consideration is to minimise the amount of disruption to the end-user. There are a variety of recommended roll-out strategies that will differ depending on your site requirements. For example, for a site roll-out of a company in Dallas there are few options:

  • A full migration of all users in the US
  • Migrate all users tied to a main number in the US
  • Migrate all users in San Francisco, then New York, then Dallas

The best approach in migration is to move as many users across as possible, but this may not work depending on your site configurations. These discussions would take place beforehand with your service provider to ensure a seamless migration.

5.    Check-in with users for feedback

Once the migration to Microsoft Teams telephony is complete, the final step is to check-in with users and ask for feedback. Keeping your users involved with the process at all stages is essential to make sure it’s functioning smoothly across the organisation. Provide additional training where required and take time to iron out any reservations or challenges users may have.

Conclusion

Making the move to Microsoft Teams Calling is an obvious choice for many businesses. But despite the plethora of benefits in adopting Microsoft Teams telephony, it’s useful to understand the steps that are involved in making the move. Our experts offer the following as key pieces of advice:

  • Understand your story
  • Gather requirements in terms of your technical environment and end user requirements
  • Think through the process
  • Get users involved and ask for their feedback
  • Don’t rush the process

For more information or to discuss implementing Microsoft Teams telephony at your organisation, contact a member of our sales team

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