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Is the Skype for Business voice solution (now Teams) right for your business? This question has no definitive answer because every organization’s needs differ. If you’re reading this article, you’ve undoubtedly been researching VoIP solutions. And with most telecom companies now offering some kind of VoIP service, narrowing your search can feel overwhelming.
Still, there are some basic but universal services that any organization would want from its VOIP provider, such as:
- Call waiting
- Call Transferring
- Voice to email
Good VoIP providers will offer other fancy features as well. But as with any service, the more options you select, the more you’ll have to pay. If your organization requires advanced custom features that are not typical, expect a higher monthly fee.
This post will focus on Skype for Business voice — Office 365’s complete Cloud PBX phone system. I’ll cover the functionalities and key considerations in your decision process.
Why Go With Skype for Business Voice?
If your job is to pick the best voice solution for your organization, start by considering who the decision will affect most. Yes, I’m talking about your end users. Any change to how employees work will cause some commotion. So keeping their needs in mind will help guide you to the right decision.
What Questions Should You Ask Yourself?
- Which employees use the existing voice solution?
- What types of calls do these users make (international or domestic)?
- Which countries do these users reside?
- What calling services are they currently using?
- Are they using a hard or soft phone for calls?
- How are calls being routed in my organization?
- Who is supporting the current phone system?
- What kind of support do end users need?
As you can see from the partial list above, analyzing voice solutions is a big undertaking. But it’s always wise to investigate solutions upfront so you don’t have to clean up the mess when a service doesn’t meet your organization’s needs.
What Is Included in Skype for Business Voice?
Standard with the Skype for Business Cloud PBX are the following features:
|Call answer / initiate (by name or number)||Answer inbound calls with just one touch. Easily place outbound calls by dialing the full phone number, or just click a name in Skype for Business or Outlook.|
|Call hold / retrieve||Have multiple calls occurring at the same time. Just answer the next inbound call or place an outbound call, and your current call goes on hold automatically.|
|Call history||Keep track of all your conversations in one place—from IMs and phone calls to impromptu and scheduled meetings. It’s all recorded in your call history and stored in Exchange.|
|Call delegation and call on-behalf||Make or answer calls on behalf of a manager you support. Notifications make it clear to all participants when calls are answered or made for someone else.|
|Call transfer (blind, consult, and mobile)||Easily transfer calls from your PC to your IP phone, mobile device, or tablet — and every combination in between.|
|Camp-on||Calls from inside your company display a detailed caller ID that pulls information from your corporate directory—so you see a picture and job title instead of just a phone number.|
|Call waiting||When a call comes in while you’re in a call or meeting, you get a quiet notification in addition to a regular notification, so you can accept the call or route it to voicemail.|
|Call forwarding and simultaneous ring||Never miss a call with call forwarding and simultaneous ringing. Set up forwarding rules so your calls can go with you anywhere. Even forward calls to colleagues or to voicemail.|
|Clients for PC, Mac, and mobile devices||Experience robust calling features on the devices you’re already using — from tablets and mobile phones to PCs and desktop IP phones.|
|Device switching||Need to move a call from a headset to speakerphone quickly? You can easily play your call or meeting on another device with just a couple of clicks.|
|Distinctive ringing||Play different ringtones for the different types of calls you get every day, so you quickly know who is calling you.|
|Do-not-disturb routing and call blocking||Working on something urgent? Control your inbound communications with presence. Easily block all incoming communication except from those you specifically indicate.|
|Enterprise calendar call routing||Use your Exchange calendar business hours to enable or disable call forwarding and simultaneous ringing in Skype for Business—so you keep control of your calls and your time.|
|Integrated dial-pad||Make outbound calls quickly with Skype for Business. Dial by name or by number anywhere in the search bar and in the dial-pad.|
|Music on hold||Music plays when you place a call on hold, so your callers will know you’re still there and the call hasn’t accidentally dropped.|
|Qualified IP desk phones||Choose from a large variety of desk phones that are compatible with Skype for Business. Get great audio quality and ease of use in addition to robust calling features.|
|Skype and federated calling||Search for anyone in the Skype directory. Then connect, communicate and collaborate with everyone—consumers, businesses and friends and family — all without sacrificing security.|
|Team calling||Cover calls with your team easily without any extra work from IT. With team calling, your calls are sent to your team either immediately or after a set time period.|
|Video call monitor||Multi-task during meetings without missing what’s happening. See the speaker’s name and video stream in a small floating window, so you’re always ready to respond to any questions.|
|Voice mail||Get all your voice mail deposited in your Exchange mailbox and made available through Skype for Business on your PC, mobile device and IP phone.|
As Microsoft continues to roll out new services for Skype for Business Cloud PBX, the above list will change. For the latest information on the services available, check out the Microsoft products page for Skype for Business voice.
Considerations Before Switching to Any VoIP Service
- The cost of implementing the service
- The cost of the service
- The cost to maintain the service
- The impact to the end users
- The limitations of the service
- The cost of training end users to use the new service
- The time needed to implement the service
- The cost and technical needs to support the service
This list only scratches the surface of considerations you’ll likely need to make. As with any new project, having experts to guide you will help iron out the transition for everyone involved. Whether you decide to go at it alone or pick an experienced partner, be sure you understand your users’ needs and fully research the solutions out there.
Is Skype for Business Voice Right for Your Organization?
You’ll have to come up with this answer yourself. As someone who’s assisted many customers with Skype for Business voice migrations, I freely admit that the solution isn’t right for everyone.
If your company has already adopted Office 365 or plans to in the future, Skype for Business voice is easy to implement and could actually reduce your communication costs.
Implementing Skype Cloud PBX as your complete phone system involves upgrading your licenses (if not currently on E5) and a simple changeover. With that, you eliminate costly hardware, consolidate your conferencing, VoIP and PBX solutions and don’t disrupt the way users already work. While Skype Cloud PBX does have some limitations (e.g., no auto attendant capabilities), Microsoft is constantly updating the service and there are workarounds to align the solution with your business needs.
With all these considerations and more, it only makes sense to do your homework before you jump.
Need your questions answered now? Reach out to Agile today to learn whether a Skype for Business Cloud PBX setup is right for your organization.
Tyjon Hunter MCSA
Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate