Businesses of all sizes today realize the value of putting collaboration at the center of the communications technology stack. Many IT leaders move to Microsoft Teams quickly and are keen to combine the Teams experience with business phone demands, now more than any other time.

One way to allow phone calls using Microsoft Teams is with a Microsoft Calling Plan. This turns Teams into a light-touch PBX, tightly integrated with the rest of Teams’ functionality. It’s great for small organizations as an out-of-the-box solution, but things get more complicated—and more expensive—for larger businesses. Microsoft Calling Plans are available in only a few countries, making it hard for global workforces on Teams to obtain local phone numbers.

A more attractive proposition for IT leaders, especially with today’s ongoing economic stress, is to add third-party telephony support to Teams using direct routing.

Direct routing links Microsoft Teams to a preferred telephony provider, giving IT leaders real flexibility. It is a cost-effective alternative to Microsoft Calling Plans and allows Teams users to make or receive phone calls from Microsoft Teams. With so many direct routing providers available, businesses are spoilt for choice. Knowing what is right for your Teams users can be challenging.

Here are five considerations to keep in mind:

1. User experience matters.

Keeping users at the center of the Teams experience is vital successful adoption of Teams across your organization. Some direct routing technologies require calling bots, mobile apps, or browser extensions to be installed on end-user devices, creating a disjointed Teams user experience. It also means retraining Teams end-users and maintenance ordeals for IT pros.

Look for direct routing solutions that don’t alter the Teams user experience in any way, ensuring continued usage of Teams as the default enterprise collaboration app, without any additional training. See how 8x8 Voice for Microsoft Teams facilitates native calling experiences for mobile and desktop Teams users.

2. Consolidate on one platform.

Many direct routing products need separate calling plans together with on-premises SBCs and SIP Trunking infrastructure that is both costly to install and maintain. Managing onsite equipment and multiple telecom vendors is a burden that IT admins would happily avoid, especially in today’s cloud-first world.

Consider direct routing solutions that don’t require physical IT hardware, making it simple for your IT pros to manage all Teams users through a single interface. Learn how 8x8 empowers all your employees to communicate internally or externally on a single communications platform, regardless of whether they are Teams users or not.

3. Go global.

Direct Routing providers offer a simple and cost-effective alternative to Microsoft Calling Plans. While several vendors include more PSTN replacement options than Microsoft, many fall short of providing full PSTN services and global numbers. That means organizations need to acquire expensive voice gateways which and are difficult to maintain.

Make sure your direct routing supplier offers full telephony replacement services worldwide, together with local numbers, non-geo-graphic numbers and affordable calling plans. Discover how 8x8’s global network and location experience gives Teams users full PSTN access in 42 countries, unlimited calling plans in 47 countries, plus local and toll-free numbers in over 120 countries.

4. Integrate with more than just Microsoft Teams.

Connecting Microsoft Teams to your business apps and CRM systems gives Teams users greater convenience and a personalized user experience. However, most Direct Routing services have limited support for third-party business apps, disrupting the Teams workflow.

Choose a direct routing solution that integrates ecosystem partners, so that you extend the value of Teams, get better employee engagement and bridge communication silos. Watch how 8x8 Voice for Teams make and receive calls from their favorite CRM application.

5. Look beyond telephony.

Ask your potential direct routing vendor about value-added benefits that go beyond just providing PSTN calling from Teams. Consider if the prospective solution includes business tools such as call or speech analytics, Teams-accessible phone settings, a certified contact center for Teams, or integrated call recording for business compliance.

Using direct routing with multiple systems can burn a hole in your pocket in the long term, making it difficult for IT to customize, integrate, and keep those systems up-to-date and working efficiently with Teams. Take a look at how 8x8 Voice for Microsoft Teams provides a Microsoft-certified contact center, so agents can make and receive calls using Teams and use advanced omnichannel capabilities, access analytics insights and access 8x8 phone settings – all from a single integrated 8x8 cloud platform.

Convinced that your business needs 8x8 Voice for Teams? Why not speak to our team of experts at 1-866-879-8647 (US), +44 333 043 8888 (UK) or online.