Is Microsoft Teams Truly Fit for Purpose?

There is no doubt that the growth rate of monthly active users of Microsoft (MS) Teams is truly meteoric.  Satya Nadella, Chairman of Microsoft, announced on the Microsoft FY21 Fourth Quarter Earnings Conference Call that “Teams usage has never been higher. We have nearly 250 million monthly active users”.  He went on to state that “We have nearly 80 million monthly active Teams Phone users, with total calls surpassing 1 billion in a single month this quarter, and we’re just getting started”.  Microsoft’s intent is noticeably clear and their position in Gartner’s quadrant top right corner is looking justified.

The big question has to be, is MS Teams fit for purpose to replace traditional telephony including Voice over IP (VoIP) systems?  As an independent vendor agnostic consultancy we share our answer to this question drawing on our experiences helping our clients implement MS Teams.

Market Forces

COVID has and continues to disrupt the workplace, fuelling the shift to a hybrid workplace  where users demand an initiative desktop / mobile user experience where they can meet, chat, video and collaborate.  The rate of growth across the entire Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) market is unmistakable evidence of the demand for this style of working.

Teams is different, Microsoft has a much bigger strategic vision than the traditional UCaaS market players.  Teams was created with a bigger purpose in the software world.  Let me explain while answering the question I posed in this article.

Chief Technology Officers (CTO) typically demand that their live production applications are to be cloud based and ideally bundled into a straightforward cost per user price model – conveniently Teams is part of the Microsoft365 packages.  Another key Microsoft play is the rapid evolution of Azure as a cloud platform, where a CTO can take comfort for many reasons by locating their business critical services in the Azure environment.  PowerBI now gives the business visibility on mission critical metrics spanning the entire operation, this window on the business is critical for managers and Directors.

With Microsoft now a mission critical partner essentially spanning the organisation, implementing new services with a Microsoft badge will typically become the path of least resistance to change at both a purchase approval and user adoption level.  Perhaps we are back to the IBM days when no one got fired for buying IBM?

Integration and Joined Up Working

An interesting differentiator Teams has compared to other UCaaS vendors is how Microsoft have created the business case for global leading Software as a Service (SaaS) providers like Adobe, Salesforce, SAP, ServiceNow and many more to view Teams as a core component in the future of user’s desktop technology.   As a result these SaaS vendors have invested and have / are developing tight integrations with Teams ensuring their SaaS services are compatible with the future of the desktop.  Interestingly the UCaaS market leaders including RingCentral and 8×8 all integrate with MS Teams and claim to co-exist and enhance the MS Teams user experience.

Top Tips & Avoid the Pitfalls

Microsoft claim to have 80 million active phone users with 1 billion calls, which is understandable in the global SMB sector where their needs are fairly generic. The doubt has always been can the Teams phone system scale?

Careful decisions by Microsoft and the maturing of the market is now creating the opportunity for the number of users to scale into the Mid-market and Enterprise spaces.   The key aspects to consider if you are thinking of deploying Teams or any other UCaaS service are summarised below:

  • Endpoints – the range of handsets on offer cover most use cases you are typically going to need in the workplace. Positively there is also a suitable number of vendors on the market with MS Teams approved devices including Poly, Yealink and Audiocodes.  The challenge may well be accessing stock so make sure you get these ordered early in your project.
  • Headsets – again the range of devices will meet almost all of your users requirements. Look for MS Teams approved devices.  Again the market has evolved with plenty of choice, we have used Jabra, Poly and Sennheiser.
  • SIP Trunks & Call Tariffs – there are typically two options either Microsoft Calling Packages or Direct Routing.  Firstly concurrent SIP Trunks are becoming a thing of the past as most providers scale automatically unlike the old days of ISDN or dedicated SIP Trunks.   Call usage requires careful analysis of your call profile along with a review of your typical phone bills is recommended.  Typically the more users you have the more flexible and cost effective option is Direct Routing.  The choice of providers is rapidly growing all with a different approach, cost model, USPs and value add.
  • Front Desk – if you have a high volume switchboard this is a potential challenge and a detailed review of the use case is needed as there is not the traditional “switchboard.” However there are options and consideration is recommended as the inbound calling patterns may well change with Teams reducing the volume of inbound calls via the switchboard.
  • Meeting Rooms – the entire meeting room technology options are rapidly evolving with some extremely intelligent use case experiences now possible.   Ideally a seamless user experience from mobile, to laptop to meeting room is possible however the business case and budget should be carefully reviewed.  Positively Teams can support a wide range of meeting room options with a large ecosystem of hardware partners.
  • Voice Recording – should you need to have your calls recorded especially if there is a mandatory FSA compliance requirement, further research and use case definition would be strongly recommended.
  • Contact Centre – now here is the biggie. If you have a contact centre requirement, Teams is not a Call Centre and you will need to source a specific application. Again there are some excellent options on the market each with their own USPs and range of services.  We have worked with a range including Five9, Anywhere365, 8×8, Enghouse and Cirrus.  However this area is possibly the next move for Microsoft as they have just announced that Teams is embedded into Dynamics Service – again if clients are working with Dynamics, consideration is needed on which options you take.

A Word of Caution

There is no doubt that Teams has matured into a viable replacement for your typical workplace telephone system and does align well to support hybrid working especially if the CTO is committed to Microsoft.  The range of endpoints, headsets, contact centre add on makes Teams attractive along with the options for PSTN connectivity.

However be warned there are short comings and serious considerations to take into account when choosing Teams as your telephone system.  A detailed needs analysis is advised to define all the use cases across the organisation – once you have this you can then assess if Teams truly addresses all your user’s communication needs.  Ignore this key step at your peril! If you need assistance Trig Point Consulting are on hand to support you.

The Next Step

If have any questions about your Microsoft Teams unified communications and contact centre plans or would like help making your technology work for your organisation, please do not hesitate to contact Richard and the team on 0203 855 6325, or email