What is Microsoft Teams Voice/Microsoft 365 Voice?
by Adam Arnold
Let’s jump right into this one. Microsoft Teams Voice is Microsoft’s cloud-based phone system add on for Microsoft Office 365. Think of a phone system only in the cloud accessible from a mobile device, your computer or a desk phone anywhere. It is a critical piece of the puzzle when trying to transition to a Modern Office environment. A phone system in the cloud, accessible via multiple devices without the need for hardware expensive hardware infrastructure. For a monthly fee, you can make and receive calls, use an auto attendant, call groups, call park and direct dial numbers from anywhere (internet required). Every time we have a conversation with someone about Microsoft Teams Voice, a series of questions come up here is our shot at answering these questions ahead of time:
How does it work?
The phone system is user-based. So that means each user requires a license. With that license, they have access to a direct dial number and can participate in call groups and the auto attendant.
Further explanation is Adam has the proper license. With that, he has a direct dial number 615-826-3501(not my real direct dial but reach out via email and I would be glad to give it to you). He also is listed in the auto-attendant so when you call our main number 615-826-3500 you can say Adam and it will ring his name. He can also be a member of the Network Support Team. This means when someone asks for network support from the auto-attendant it will ring him as part of the group.
What does “proper license” mean?
This is the tricky one because it requires the right licenses to activate the voice features. Unless you are in Europe or Canada it requires Enterprise licenses and then two additional licenses 1 for Cloud Voice and 1 for domestic calling.
Can I transfer my old phone numbers?
Yes, if you have an existing main phone number that can transfer over no problem. You can also transfer over any direct dial numbers as well.
Can I have a desk phone?
Yes, you can use a certified desk phone, we would recommend the new Polycom CCX phones.
Do I have to have a desk phone to use it?
No, we have plenty of clients that use the mobile app on their smartphone or the desktop app on their laptop or desktop computer.
Wait if it’s on my cell how is that different than someone having my cell number?
Because you can essentially set quiet hours for Microsoft Teams on your cell and it will only receive calls during a pre-defined set of hours. You can call out from the app and folks won’t have your private cell number. This means they can’t SMS requests to you for services that circumvent your normal intake processes…
My phones roll over after business close, can it handle that?
Yes, you can specify specific settings for after-hours or even behavior on specific holidays.
I have a few part-time staff with email addresses, do they have to have a phone license?
No. They can just have an email address and no phone numbers. It is a la carte. You can if they have a Teams’ license, they can still chat with other staff members without the phone license. Also, you can use a common room phone license if you need to for your staff that wants a phone in a common area.
What if I have poor internet?
That’s a problem. Really without good connectivity not only will your cloud-based phone system not work but really, it’s hard to do any cloud-based system with poor internet.
Can I receive SMS messages on the line?
Right now, no. I think there are some other services you can use for that, but this system doesn’t support SMS right now.
Can I receive faxes in the phone system?
No, you would need to move to a digital fax service or just stop faxing because…it’s time.
Is conferencing available?
Yes, there is an audio conference license and you can even record your calls and transcribe them in Microsoft Stream. I wrote a brief overview of this here. Also, you can purchase a conference phone to tie into the system as a resource that can be booked along w a conference room.
Once it is set up is there anything else to do?
Yes and no, nothing in the cloud is set it and forget it. The cloud is ever-changing. New features are released new/advanced security is available and the need to change and pivot to incorporate those features is always there. So, the phone system can be configured but will need to be managed just like any other system.
Is it worth it?
This is an easy question to answer for smaller businesses. It’s a definite yes. Flexibility, scalability, and functionality with no investment in infrastructure makes this a no brainer. It all ties into your Office 365 login accounts and blends seamlessly into your collaboration with Microsoft Teams. It makes making and receiving business calls a snap through multiple platforms while all rolled up into our existing Microsoft 365 Identity/user account. With larger organizations much like anything else in the cloud, it would need the per-user cost to be measured vs the long-term maintenance of an existing phone system.
It is important to note that there are a lot of technical details in the mix here. Some features may not be available that you want, some features may be available that you don’t need. But from our view of the Microsoft Teams Voice is positive. The ability to tie out the entire cloud system into Office 365 where all our user identities are already tied together is quite useful. The seamless integration with Office 365 products suites is another win. If you have been on the sideline on this one, it is time to get into the mix.