How a leading real estate investment firm migrated to Microsoft Teams and implemented Teams Calling across the business with LoopUp
Delancey is a specialist UK real estate investment and advisory company with over 25 years’ experience. As well as sourcing and negotiating direct property and corporate transactions, Delancey advises clients on appropriate capital structures, financing and provides asset management and development services. Since inception, Delancey has acquired, developed, managed and sold over £20 billion of real estate and real estate related investments.
Delancey moves to Skype for Business in 2015
Andrew Summerfield is Director of IT Operations at Delancey. He is responsible for setting the firm’s IT strategy and ensuring it aligns with business requirements. In 2015, Delancey was using an on-premises PBX telephone system for the UK office. The business was experiencing severe service outages with its telecoms provider and decided to move to a hosted telephony solution. “We had a lot of problems with our telecoms provider,” said Andrew. “I remember an outage that lasted three days. We needed to find a solution that would provide continuity of service when lines were down”.
At the time, the firm was already embarking on a digital transformation project that would move many services to the cloud. “We wanted to become less reliant on the infrastructure in our offices and source solutions that would enable people to work remotely or on the go,” said Andrew. “We were adopting this strategy in all other parts of IT, so it made sense to move to the cloud with our telephony. Our firm is a real Microsoft powerhouse, so we decided to go with Skype for Business”.
Andrew realised that the firm would require an external partner that could provide a fully managed service for hosted Skype for Business. LoopUp was recommended to Delancey by one of their other IT suppliers. Andrew met with LoopUp’s project management team for a consultation. “It became apparent quite quickly that were was no other business out there that had the same level of skill and experience to deliver a Skype solution as LoopUp,” said Andrew. “We felt that with LoopUp we would get a partner that understands our business and our needs. This is still true to this day. I know if I call LoopUp with a problem, they will deal with it”. Delancey selected LoopUp’s hosted Skype for Business solution and it was deployed across all their offices.
Delancey decides to migrate to Microsoft Teams in 2020
Delancey had been considering moving from Skype for Business to Microsoft Teams for some time. The business was also looking for a tool that could offer more collaboration functionality such as document sharing and group messaging. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck in 2020 and Delancey office employees were forced to work remotely, Andrew decided the company needed to accelerate the migration. “We had made the decision before the pandemic but that was what pushed us to act quickly,” said Andrew.
Delancey employees already had Teams available as part of their Office 365 license and small pockets of users had begun experimenting with the tool for internal chat or file sharing. “We had been using Teams in some capacity, so it was an obvious transition,” said Andrew. “Everyone was familiar and happy with the tool so there was no reason not to move to Teams for our telephony as well”.
Microsoft’s Phone System turns Teams into a full enterprise telephony solution. Users can make and receive external calls directly from Teams on any device that has the Teams app or a web browser and is connected to the internet. Teams also offers a wider range of features than Skype for Business. This includes group messaging, document sharing, file storage and app integration in addition to voice calling and video conferencing.
Although Microsoft offer their own Calling Plans, Delancey decided to use Direct Routing with LoopUp as the managed service provider. Direct Routing offers greater flexibility, wider geographic coverage, lower rates and increased levels of support. “We had a very successful relationship with LoopUp previously,” said Andrew. “They understood our needs very well and we had no problems with them, so we were more than happy for LoopUp to manage the migration and continue to be our service provider”.
A smooth transition with LoopUp
The full migration took three weeks. The first part involved a consultation and design phase where each stage in the migration was mapped out. Next, a small group of Delancey employees tested all the functions of Microsoft Teams – meetings, file sharing, cloud voice and calling groups – over a two-week period.
After a successful testing phase, LoopUp proceeded to deploy Microsoft Teams. Instead of phasing the migration by department, Delancey decided to switch everyone in their UK office over simultaneously. “Everyone in our office was already familiar with Teams so we just went for it in one go”, said Andrew. Microsoft’s Phone System was connected to the public switched telephone network (PSTN) using Direct Routing over LoopUp’s global voice network. Call transfer, forwarding and voicemail were set up and all existing telephone numbers were migrated over to the Teams environment.
The transition proved a success for Delancey and there were no interruptions to the service during roll out. “My only concern was rolling this out while everyone was working remotely,” said Andrew. “But there were no problems”.
Making the lives of employees easier
Once the migration was complete, adoption of Microsoft Teams grew rapidly. “Everyone in the business is using Microsoft Teams Calling,” said Andrew. “Our chairman is always using the app on his iPhone, our teams are always holding client calls with Teams Calling and we even use it for internal calls when employees are working remotely. It’s used for every type of communication and across all departments. During the pandemic, it really has been a lifesaver. Having everything in one platform has also made our employees’ lives easier and we never have any problems with the audio – it just works”.
LoopUp uses 20 carefully chosen Tier 1 carriers, and features auto-failover, PESQ scoring on all routings and real time carrier redundancy. LoopUp choose the optimal carrier to connect each call. This improves audio quality and resilience, and reduces costs. “Everything is stable and works well and we haven’t had any issues,” said Andrew.
A partner that goes above and beyond
Effective communication and collaboration is critical to any investment firm. After several years of using Skype for Business, Delancey decided to migrate to Teams because of the added functionality it offered. Delancey were impressed with the support and service they had previously received with LoopUp and selected them as a partner. LoopUp deployed the software across the business and implemented Microsoft Teams Calling. The migration was a success, and the firm was able to keep staff connected and the business functioning during the COVID-19 pandemic. Delancey employees now use Teams for both internal collaboration and external voice calls with clients.
“If someone asked me, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend LoopUp,” said Andrew. “We have always had a successful relationship and they go above and beyond for us. In the six years we have worked with them, we have never had any issues. If you are considering moving to Teams Calling, it’s definitely the right thing to do. It has helped our firm with business continuity and allowed our people to be reachable, wherever they are”.