How to migrate your telecom to Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams logo at the center of 4 circles

Migrating your telecom to a cloud platform like Microsoft Teams can seem like a herculean task. So what are you supposed to do? Not migrate? Of course not!

Instead, you can take the steps necessary to strategically migrate your telecom to Teams, removing some of the stress and ensuring that you have the unified communications experience that’s right for your organization.

We brought together Irwin Lazar, Vice President Service Director at Nemertes Research, and Lauren Brockman, Sr. Director of Product Management, here at Bandwidth. Together, they discussed Microsoft Teams, and what steps your organization needs to take to migrate strategically.

3 questions for a successful Microsoft Teams migration

Setting out a strategy for your migration hinges on knowing what makes a migration successful. There Irwin and Lauren agreed that there are three hallmarks of a “successful” migration:

  1. Will your organization save money by migrating?
  2. Will your organization achieve a gain in productivity by migrating?
  3. Will your organization achieve a gain in revenue by migrating?

Being able to say “yes” to at least one of those shows that your migration was successful; being able to say “yes” to more than one is even better.

A typical Microsoft Teams implementation journey

Instead of embracing all the features of Teams all at once, organizations generally transition in a phased approach: 

  1. Phase One: Move instant and group messaging to Microsoft Teams.
  2. Phase Two: Leverage Microsoft Teams meeting capabilities for audio, video, and web conferencing.
  3. Phase Three: Migrate voice and calling features from Skype for Business or other legacy telephony solutions.

Choosing your telephony model

Migrating your telecom to Microsoft Teams gives you one of two (big) choices to make within the Microsoft Phone System: Calling Plan, Direct Routing, or Operator Connect?

In this blog, we’ll only explore Direct Routing solutions. Learn more about Operator Connect here.

Smaller organizations typically embrace the Calling Plan for ease of management and simplicity of all the calling bundled in one place. That’s good news to our ears, as Bandwidth is the underlying voice carrier for the Microsoft Calling Plan. 

Direct Routing (Microsoft’s term for “bring your own carrier”), is more appropriate for larger, complex organizations that want to retain existing telephony features or their existing carrier contracts. In addition, at a certain point, Calling Plan pricing can become cost-prohibitive as organizations grow. Here’s how the two options compare side-by-side: 

Microsoft Calling Plan vs. Direct Routing

Calling Plan Direct Routing
Easy-to-understand per seat pricing Maintain legacy routing & features/functionality of on-prem equipment
Simple telecom purchasing (phone numbers, inbound/outbound, international, 911, caller ID, directory listing) Gain more control, scalability, and cost efficiency
Ease of turning up new workstations Favorable for organizations with legacy telco contracts

A Nemertes Research enterprise survey conducted in October 2019 estimates that about 90% of organizations who are moving their telephony to Teams will choose Direct Routing as their telecom solution. 

The choice comes down to balancing costs, desired features, ease of management, and how much control you want over your phone numbers. Assess what your needs are now, and what they will be in the future, to make the right choice for your organization. You may begin with Calling Plan and move to Direct Routing as your requirements change. 

Key considerations for Microsoft Teams Direct Routing

If you’ve decided that the path to take when migrating your telecom is Teams Direct Routing, it’s important to put in place a plan for making the migration. The ideal plan allows you to:

  • Leverage APIs to automate processes and workflows
  • Eliminate downtime by working with your provider to schedule phone number ports 
  • Set the stage for a seamless migration by porting numbers over in a systematic way: by department, building, location, country, etc. 
  • Troubleshoot your solution to make sure that connections are working and that users have high-quality voice communications

Prepare for Dynamic E911

Precise location management is an essential part of protecting users with 911 calling. It’s increasingly common that users move around an enterprise or work remotely, communicating primarily with softphone applications.

A work-at-home employee may be across the country from an enterprise’s headquarters when they dial 911; without precise location management, that 911 call may route to the public safety answering point (PSAP) near the company’s headquarters instead of the employee’s home, creating significant delays in emergency response for the remote worker. In addition, adding new endpoints and keeping up with moves within an organization in real-time is critical for reliable 911 performance. 

Finally, in February of 2020, 911 notifications will be required by the FCC as a part of Kari’s Law, which means that designated personnel such as security teams or a front desk attendant must be alerted when a 911 call has been made. Organizations should start planning for all of these issues, upcoming regulatory requirements, and any applicable E911 state laws where employees may reside.

Learn more about Direct Routing and Dynamic E911

To learn more about your Direct Routing options, check out these resources: