After reviewing the new calling capabilities added to Teams last month, I have to say…moving to Teams in the next few months is a bad idea.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Introduction of new calling features is great! However, we have holes in the deployment. Holes which put Teams in a precarious situation. Its feature set expanded…but not enough to take over for Skype for Business.
In case you missed the December announcements: Microsoft added calling tools to Teams, so that Teams users could make & receive phone calls from within the client. In order to use these tools, you need two Office 365 services:
- Phone System (formerly known as Cloud PBX). This comes with E5 licenses, but you can buy it as an add-on to other plans.
- A Calling Plan (formerly known as PSTN Calling). We covered Calling Plan rates (and an international surprise) back in July 2017.
You would need these services to make/receive calls in Skype for Business Online as well.
Adding voice calls to Teams makes perfect sense—it can’t absorb Skype for Business without them. But this wasn’t a complete move. The next batch of updates won’t come until mid-2018.
Meanwhile, Teams is stuck in a sort of productivity limbo. It’s able to do some things Skype for Business can do…but not enough of them. Phone calls through Teams, coming from Skype for Business (or any full-featured VoIP provider), will frustrate users and slow down work.
Let me illustrate why I’m taking this position. I know it may not make sense for a Skype for Business blog…but I promise, there’s a good reason!
The 17 Calling Features Missing from Teams – As of January 2018
Brian R., an author at the No Jitter blog, put together an exhaustive list of call features available between Teams’ new Phone System, Skype for Business Online, and Skype for Business Server with Enterprise Voice.
Teams Phone System: Back to Call Feature Drawing Board – No Jitter
I looked at some other sources to verify this, including the Office 365 Roadmap. Brian most definitely did his homework…the post is superbly thorough!
His list does tell us which calling capabilities are now in Teams. Here are the major ones: Call Forwarding/Hold/Transfer, Voicemail, Do Not Disturb, Suggested Contacts, and E911.
However, in the same list we also see some painful limitations to Teams’ calling rollout. Several features are still missing. Features that I discussed with our team.
We all agreed – these missing features would prohibit Teams adoption for pretty much all of our customers.
Here are several which stood out. Along with why they put the brakes on Teams voice call adoption.
- No Consultative Transfer. One of our customer’s front desk personnel rely on this feature. They currently use Skype for Business Online. Without it, they would dump the whole service tomorrow.
- No USB Devices. Which cuts headsets like my Jabra Motion Office out right away.
- No IP Phones. Every Polycom phone we’ve deployed becomes useless. How is anyone supposed to make calls?
- No Transferring Calls to PSTN Numbers. Want to transfer a call to your cell? Too bad!
- No Boss/Delegate. Without this one feature, two of our customers could not function day-to-day.
- No Call Waiting or Music on Hold. These don’t even have an ‘expected’ date. Is Microsoft just dropping them for Teams?!
Brian marked a total of 17 features as, “expected mid-2018” or “expected late 2018.” 26 other features are simply marked “No.” As in, “No, these features are not coming to Teams. Don’t hold your breath.”
I hope the ‘Expected’ features are deployed in the promised time frames. That would at least give users something to wait for!
Teams Still Handles Chat. Don’t Rely on It for Voice Calls Just Yet.
Can your business still use Teams? Of course! It still has its chat and conferencing capabilities. If you’re already on Teams, you can proceed normally. Maybe try out the new calling tools, if your tenant has Phone System and a Calling Plan.
But relying on it as a phone system is premature. It’s not ready for that yet. Not until all of the above features (and a few more besides) are implemented and working.
We’re STILL waiting on Guest Access anyway…
Which feature would you NEED to have to use Teams for chat and voice?