4 June 2019


4 Reasons Microsoft Teams Calling Features Won't Replace Hosted PBX

Business Phone Service by Tom Collins

Microsoft raised eyebrows when it unveiled it would be shutting down Skype for Business in favor of a new Office 365 integrated system called Microsoft Teams.

If you were like many, the potential of having the power of Microsoft acting as your PBX got you excited. It teased you with the promise of increased productivity and a more effective team.

Unfortunately, when Microsoft Teams Calling hit the market, it has thus far failed to deliver, keeping your Hosted PBX as the phone system of choice.

Why Microsoft Teams Calling Features Aren't A Replacement for Hosted PBX

Instead of replacing PBX features, Microsoft Teams Calling focused on compatibility with Office 365. In doing so they removed too many of the tools that many organization needed.

Teams may still be valuable for small offices without complex phone system requirements, but if your business relies on call centers, ACD Groups, advanced calling vectors, or some of the benefits of a flexible PBX that is fully featured and functional, Teams falls short. Here are four reasons Microsoft Teams Calling may not fulfill the needs of your organization, even if  you're using your own business phone service rather than Microsoft's phone service.

1. Microsoft Teams Lacks Common Features

To start, Microsoft Teams already lacks standard features. The system has no call recording, so you don't have the option to archive information shared during conferences and other important conversations. 

There is no option to provide notes on or search for previous text chats, and bookmarking can only be done for specific messages, not entire conversations. To make things more frustrating, conversations can't be deleted, so you'll be forced to sort through inactive messages to find the ones that matter.

Both enterprise businesses and smaller entities rely on call and contact centers. If Microsoft Teams Calling is your go-to system, you'll need to find another resource to manage your call routing as third-party systems won't integrate like they do with a hosted PBX.

Looking for More Than You Get with Big Telecom?

2. Microsoft Teams Requires Office 365

One of the great features of PBX is that you can use any phone you choose. Unfortunately, Microsoft has only certified seven IP phones to run their software.

This means, if you don't have one of those seven, you're stuck running everything through your computer. Now, part of you may think that's a blessing. After all, not needing a phone can save money, right? Well, the user interface takes up the entire screen, stopping you from doing anything else while a call is active.

Because you're forced to use Microsoft's apps and tools, rather than their competition's, you're limited to what Microsoft deems important to your business, not what you do. There are dozens of third-party apps and tools that can maximize productivity within your phone system's structure, but with Teams, you're giving up that option.

Also an issue, many users complain of bugs, leading to incompatibility between Microsoft's own tools, like Excel, to Teams. There's no way to pay for only specific features, as well. If you want something from Microsoft, you need to be willing to migrate your system or pay for both.

3. Microsoft Customer Service is Hands-Off

PBX requires top-notch customer service. If your system fails or requires assistance, you want to get it back up fast, and without wasting time searching for your own solution.

Well, Microsoft took a hands-off approach to customer service with Office 365 and continues the same tactic with Teams. The company has an extensive information database but prefers users to manage with a self-service approach, rather than Microsoft committing resources to help.

Responsive customer service is a standard practice with PBX, and if you need a system with an excellent uptime, Microsoft Teams Calling may not be for you.

4. The Fees Stack Up

Pricing for Microsoft Teams can get confusing. Teams requires Microsoft's Office Enterprise E5 plan, which costs $35 per month, per employee. For a medium-sized enterprise of 50 employees, that's $21,000 but doesn't include a phone. They do let you add a device, or you can use your own, but if it's not one of the seven that works with the system, you're out of luck.

A hosted PBX will cost around a third of that for the same number of users.

Additionally, a calling plan is separate from the E5 plan, so if you want to talk to people outside your network, the cost increases.

Finally, only some session border controllers work with Microsoft's service. Depending on what you need, this could cost tens of thousands and increase the complexity of your setup.

Why Hosted PBX Will Reign Supreme

While some companies have found success with Microsoft Teams Calling, there are a lot of things to consider before using it for yourself. If you plan to replace your hosted PBX, you're shopping for the wrong product.

Instead, take stock of what features you need and what price range you're working in. Our guide, 10 Questions to Ask Before You Buy Phone Service, is a great place to start. Then, find the systems that will allow you to scale as necessary, adding features when and where you need them.

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About the author:

Tom Collins (Twitter, LinkedIn) - is the Director of Enterprise Sales & Marketing for Atlantech Online. He has over 20 years of professional experience in the Internet Service Provider industry and is known for translating technology into positive results for business. A native of Washington, DC, a graduate from University of Maryland (degrees in Government & Politics and Secondary Education), Tom is also a five-time Ironman finisher.