The pros and cons of Microsoft Teams as a business phone system

Over the last year and a half, Microsoft Teams usage has exploded, increasing from 75 million users in April 2020 to 145 million as of April 2021. As a result, many are starting to explore the use of Microsoft Teams as their business phone system. There are times when this approach makes sense, but also times where Microsoft Teams phone usage is not quite ready for prime time.

Overall, the sound quality of phone calls through Teams is on par with any other cloud-based Voice-Over-IP (VOIP) phone systems. For those businesses whose phone needs are pretty simple, where most calls are direct-inward-dial (DID) to individual phone numbers without any sort of menus or sophisticated call routing, Teams may in fact work well, provided a fairly computer-literate user base. While desk phones are available, the real power of Teams as a phone system is that a physical phone isn’t necessary. If your users are comfortable with leveraging a “soft phone” on the desktop or laptop computer, Teams will be an easy adoption.

However, if users prefer the simplicity of a standard desktop handset with powerful call routing features, Teams may feel underpowered. Complicated call routing and hunt groups often cannot be configured. In addition, in our testing, if a user is in a call group where inbound calls are configured to ring the group for multiple rings, a group member’s phone will still ring even if the user in on another call, interrupting their existing conversation. This is basic functionality that other phone solutions have already figured out – Teams, not quite yet. Similarly, the user’s availability is directly tied to their Outlook status and can’t be overwritten. If a user’s calendar shows them to be in a meeting for a certain time period, their phone will not ring. Therefore, the user must be diligent to manage their calendar real-time in order to make sure inbound calls are received.

For these reasons, our recommendations are generally to evaluate Teams, but do so with these limitations in mind. For some, using Teams as a phone system can be a cost-effective and satisfying experience. For others, however, it’s critical to identify the functionality will work before making the commitment to pivot to Teams phone usage.