April 23

Common Voice-Enabling Teams Questions Answered

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Common Questions on Voice-Enabling Teams

We engage with customers every day asking how to get the best out of their unified communications or contact centre solutions. With many looking at the potential offered by Microsoft Teams to displace their current unified communications system or PBX, we have compiled a list of the most common related to voice-enabling Teams.

Can I choose someone other than Microsoft to voice-enable Teams?

With Direct Routing, you can now choose another vendor to voice-enable Microsoft Teams. Microsoft developed Direct Routing for that specific purpose. As long as the vendor is supplying SIP Trunking via a Microsoft Certified (approved) Session Border Controller (SBC) then you can add another vendor’s service to voice-enable your Microsoft Team.

Will I be able to use Teams instead of my PBX?

Exactly. Once you voice-enable Microsoft Teams you now use Teams as your PBX.

Microsoft Teams offer most of the features that PBXs provide and Microsoft is continuing to provide enhancements. Microsoft is providing new features to Teams every month – one of the advantages of a cloud delivered solution.

Don’t get us wrong here. There will always be some unique or proprietary features that some PBXs offer that Microsoft won’t, but it also provides capabilities that make it easier or better to use than a PBX.

Do I still have Voice Mail

One feature, in particular, we get questions about is Voice Mail. On many PBXs today, it is a separate system, integrated to the PBX. (Some models have been discontinued, like Avaya/Nortel CallPilot -that cause organizations to look for alternatives.)

Microsoft includes voicemail capability within Teams. It offers the same capabilities, including changing greeting and playing back messages. Using the Teams client, you can even see a transcript of the message, vary the speed of the playback and access actions you can take such as – delete, add to contacts, add to speed dial or even call back. Finally, being part of the overall Microsoft O365 solution, you can set it up to email you the voice message in Outlook.

Can it support capabilities like FAX and Paging?

This is one of those areas that Microsoft Teams does’t support out of the box. The good news is that there are ways to support FAX and Paging. Microsoft voice partners, like Unity, can help you implement these into your overall solution.

Does Microsoft Teams provide Contact Centre functionality?

Microsoft Teams does not natively provide contact centre functionality. Microsoft recently introduced a set of APIs to allow other vendors to integrate products into Teams. There are vendors that offer that offer contact centre functionality today that can integrate into Teams and several more already announced.

Choosing the right approach will depend on the sophistication of your current requirements. We have a lot of experience implementing contact centre solutions for customers, so talk to us and we can offer some guidance.

Can I port my existing numbers

Absolutely. If you switch from an existing PBX your existing numbers can be ported over to your SIP Trunks connected Microsoft Teams. You can also acquire additional, new, DIDs if you need them.

Can my network handle it?

Voice enabling Microsoft Teams will impact both your internal data network (LAN) and your internet connection.

If you are already using Microsoft Teams or use a VoIP based PBX you are already using both your LAN and Internet connections. But it might be worth investing in a data network assessment which can provide you some insight into any changes that might be required.

If you are not using Teams yet or are currently using a non-VoIP PBX it would almost certainly be a good idea to invest in a network assessment. Voice traffic is much more sensitive to poor data network connections. A data network can be configured to manage voice traffic – our experts know how to configure them. It does, however, require sufficient bandwidth and network devices that have the appropriate capabilities to set up properly.

Can my network handle it?

Voice enabling Microsoft Teams will impact both your internal data network (LAN) and your internet connection.

If you are using Microsoft Teams or a VoIP-based PBX you are already using both your LAN and Internet connections. But it might be worth investing in a data network assessment to provide greater insight into any changes that may be required.

If you are not using Teams yet or are currently using a non-VoIP PBX it would almost certainly be a good idea to invest in a network assessment. Voice traffic is much more sensitive to poor data network connections. A data network can be configured to manage voice traffic – our experts know how to configure them. It does, however, require sufficient bandwidth and network devices that have the appropriate capabilities to set up properly.

What does it take to set up? / How long does it take to set up

First, it depends on your current set up, how long you have been on Microsoft O365 and what is already in place. You must be on a Microsoft O365 license that includes Teams – most do but not all. You must already have Exchange and SharePoint set up. If not, these have to be set up and configured. Assuming they are in place, we can then look at the next steps.

We provide an assessment questionnaire and walk through it with clients. This will include your current business numbers and any DID blocks you are currently using and the service provider. This will be needed to port those numbers later, besides any new DIDs that are required (which may have to be a different block of DIDs.)

You will also be asked to provide your Microsoft Teams information and IP details which lets us check your Teams profile which will be needed to set up the SIP Trunks and SBC. These steps can all be handled reasonably quickly.

At the same time, there will be discussion around Teams device requirements. For example, if you are displacing a PBX, are there common area phones that will be required such as the lobby or common areas? Will users require handsets or headsets or both? They need to be UC quality headsets. Handsets will take a little longer to order and configure for deployment and will require a data jack near the user. So those may or may not impact on time to roll out.

We will also discuss setting up items like any hunt groups, automated attendant queues or IVR and any of the key calling behaviours needed to ensure there is no impact when cutting over from the PBX.

We would test your trunk set up before putting into service. In Canada, it can take a few weeks to port numbers, depending on the Telco.

We can offer training for users – usually delivered remotely through Teams, if defined as part of the project.

But the bottom line is that you can be up and running reasonably quickly, within a month, which is something not easily done with premise-based equipment.

How will it get supported?

Your third party voice provider should support all SIP Trunking components – the SIP Trunking and the Session Border Controller. The Microsoft Teams portion should be supported by your IT team. Microsoft includes a variety of dashboards specifically designed to monitor devices and your voice traffic.

You can engage in an agreement for your provider for incremental Teams support. Unity, for example, provides a variety of managed services that wrap around Microsoft Teams including one to monitor voice quality.

If your network is set up correctly and you are using Microsoft certified devices and/or Unified Communications quality headsets, you should have very few voice call quality problems.

What is an SBC or Session Border Controller?

A Session Border Controller is used to create a secure break-point or ‘firewall’ between two networks – in this case between the SIP Trunking network and your internal data network or LAN.  It manages and controls the media streams (voice calls) and signalling (control), meaning it manages how calls are set up, connected and disconnected. Because these calls are essentially data traffic, these connections have to be secured to ensure no impact on your data network.

What is SIP Trunking?

SIP stands for Session Initiation Protocol. Ultimately it is a way to send voice calls over the internet. While telephone systems or PBXs migrated to VoIP or IP based systems, where the voice calls were converted to data ‘calls’ over your internal data network or LAN, they were still being converted back to analogue or digital signals to send the calls to the outside world. SIP Trunking means that those calls now be carried as a data ‘call’ over the internet.

SIP Trunking is more efficient than traditional telephone system connections and scales more easily. They are less expensive than analogue or digital trunks, so you are likely to see additional cost savings on your overall communications budget using SIP Trunking.

Send us your Questions

We know this is by no means an exhaustive list of questions on your mind regarding what it will take to migrate to Microsoft teams and voice-enable to create a truly single unified communications and collaboration hub for your organization. 

So either comment section below or use the Contact Us form to send your questions.


About the author

With experience leading engineering, product management, services, sales and marketing teams, Paul has a wealth of business knowledge that he applies in showing customer how to get the most out of their unified communications and contact centre solutions.


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