I feel like I’m dating myself by mentioning the term “phone system.”
Voice and data services have been converging for nearly twenty years. In fact, selling VoIP solutions back in 2003 was my career gateway into managed IT services.
In the early days, Competitive Local Exchange Carriers (CLECs) with hosted VoIP services had an awkward relationship with Managed Service Providers (MSPs).
CLECS were putting customer premise equipment (AKA edge devices) on local area networks and MSPs were getting all kinds of new requests to change the settings to firewalls.
The two forces didn’t always play well together. Voice quality didn’t fare well with even the slightest of changes to the network. MSPs didn’t “get” voice and CLECs didn’t “get” local area networks. They were separate disciplines.
There were too many cooks in the kitchen and clients didn’t know who to call for resolve. Was it a T1 issue, a problem with the hosted telephony software, or did someone misconfigure the switch?
So many questions, delays, and finger-pointing incidents.
Thankfully, times have changed and enterprise-class telephony is now offered as an add-on to the Microsoft 365 (M365) portfolio of diverse, unified communications services.
Ready to ditch legacy phone equipment? The following reasons may prompt you to jump on the Microsoft Business Voice (MBV) bandwagon.
Reason #1 – You are migrating from a server to the cloud
Transitioning Active Directory (AD), file-sharing, and storage to Azure AD, SharePoint, and OneDrive is the perfect inflection point to re-imagine your digital workspaces.
I’m not suggesting you do the entire transition on the same day or even within the same week; user training on new voice services should be carefully planned. However, adding voice to the mix will help you leverage integrated messaging services including Teams, Instant Messaging, Conference Calling, Video Conferencing, and more.
Even better, the entire stack is more cost-effective to manage as a unified whole. It’s also significantly less prone to equipment failure, power outages, and environmental risks.
Learn More: Microsoft Business Voice
Reason #2 – An upcoming office move is in the works
Less equipment equals lower real estate costs. Why move something that will take up more space and may require additional network build-out project fees like low voltage cabling and switches?
Moreover, your phone system lease or its useful life may closely correlate to the terms of your old office lease (five or ten years) so there’s a solid business justification for a new direction.
Learn More: Office Move Best Practices
Reason #3 – You have a high volume of staff onboarding and offboarding
Adding and removing voice users from Microsoft Business Voice is just as easy as activating and deactivating email accounts.
As the administrator of your Microsoft suite, your MSP can provision and deprovision users as quickly as you can say, “Hey, where did that Word document go?”
Just submit a support ticket.
This is especially convenient if your organization is deepening its work from home footprint.
Reason #4 – A phone system lease is set to expire soon
If your system is five years old, I would not recommend renewing the agreement until you examine the MBV alternative. Especially if you want the flexibility to add and remove users without contract penalties or avoidable cost overruns.
Moving forward, you’ll never have to buy more equipment or licenses than you need. A piece of hardware that accommodates 100 voice users is a sunk cost you can’t get rid of if you later decide you only need fifty voice users.
Not so with MBV, you can trade up and down, in the same manner, you switch between M365 Business Standard and M365 Business Premium licenses.
Reason #5 – You want to ditch desk phones
The image I selected for this article almost says it all. You can use a wide variety of VoIP handsets with this solution but you don’t have to.
Wireless and wired headsets reduce clutter, cost, and handling fatigue. The devices also free up an extra hand and give your employees enhanced integration with everything that is happening on their workstations, laptops, and mobile devices.
Reason #6 – Vendor Consolidation
Twenty years ago I would have never recommended you move your voice services to an MSP, much less Microsoft.
Sure, I was biased but I had valid objections: voice and data networks were siloed with hardware, software, and carrier services that didn’t always play well together.
However, voice has evolved into a software application that your MSP can manage through a single pane of glass and vendor manage any of the Internet nuances directly with their technical counterparts at all the major carriers.
Microsoft can’t make your Internet access fees go away but they can certainly give you one fewer technology vendor to deal with.
Learn More: 5 Ways M365 Transforms Business
After that glowing review of MBV, I would like to mention a few caveats:
- The solution may not include every bell and whistle you require and may necessitate engaging with an official Microsoft Voice Partner
- You may have to incorporate additional carrier services like SIP trunks and PRIs
- Be sure your MSP helps to carefully vet your requirements
- Carve out some time to attend a few demos