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Comparing Microsoft Teams Solutions: Direct Routing vs Calling Plans

Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic, the way in which millions of businesses communicate with customers has become even more vital. If your business has been using Teams for a little while, you don’t need us to tell you about the features such as the ability to send messages, conduct video meetings or share files. However, were you aware that you could use Microsoft Teams as a voice over internet protocol (VoIP) too? To put this into context, you could use Teams just like you do a normal telephone but have the ability to do more with it and at the same time cut your costs. 

The way in which this can be achieved through Microsoft is to connect both your office telephone and Teams app together through either: direct routing or calling plans. 

In our latest blog article, we will provide you with a comparison between the two by helping you to weigh up the pros and cons of both methods. 

Do you know how a VoIP or Cloud-based phone solution works in practice? 

In case you didn’t know, a VoIP phone system is very much the same as a regular phone system with the only difference being that the calls travel via the cloud. Put simply, your calls can be pushed directly to your mobile or laptop, which can minimise costs as you won't need to have any hardware or maintenance to contend with. 

Let’s start by taking a look at Microsoft Calling Plans 

This may sound a little obvious, but Microsoft Calling Plans are something that comes directly from Microsoft, which enables your business to simply add voice calling to your existing Microsoft 365 subscription. Clarifying this further, it is essentially your phone solution within the Microsoft Teams application. These plans are charged on a per-user-per-month licensing model that provides you with a phone number and an allocation of minutes to use to make and receive external calls. As part of these plans, your PSTN carrier is Microsoft who you will rely on to provide you with a connection from your phone system to the public telephone network. Broken down further, you will will be able to choose between having either a domestic or international calling plan. 

What are the advantages of Calling Plans? 

If your business has relatively simple requirements for a basic phone system, then this is the right option to get your phone system into the Cloud. Better still, by going down this route, you don’t need to waste valuable time researching suitable options as you will be buying this service directly from Microsoft. 

What are the associated disadvantages of Calling Plans? 

Even though this method is very simple to implement, you may wish to consider some of the limitations associated with this method. You will need to make sure that you review the country list before you select one of the options as if you are looking to make calls to a country not on the list, the service won’t work.  

Given that this method is largely a self-service platform from Microsoft, this method might not be right for your business if you require additional support or need access to more advanced features. 

It is also worth considering the fact that the costs associated with these plans aren’t based on usage, if you don’t use your monthly allocation, you will still get charged as if you had done. You should certainly look to steer yourself to the Direct Routing method if you are looking for that added flexibility where minutes can be tailored to your business requirements so that you are not paying for minutes you don’t use as well as the monthly costs being lower. 

Now, let’s shift to Direct Routing 

If you didn’t know this already, direct routing is an easy and low-cost alternative to basic calling plans, enabling the user to call external landlines and other mobile devices via Microsoft Teams through the use of SIP trunks. This is a phone system that uses the cloud to provide all the glitz and glamour that you expect from a standard telephone system, thus saving you time and money that you would use to setup an on-premise alternative. 

What are the advantages of using Direct Routing? 

They work in a different way to Microsoft Calling Plans as direct routing provides you with a wider selection of options that can be tailored to meet your specific carrier and coverage requirements. On the whole, this largely means that they often work out cheaper and have better flexibility than the fixed options that Microsoft provides. Better still, they can easily handle the porting of existing numbers as well as any necessary integrations such as with CRM & ERP systems. 

The following benefits can be achieved through this method: 

Reduced costs 

Make major savings per user when compared against Microsoft’s calling plans. 

Free access to advanced call statistics 

You can gain easy and free access to in-depth call statistics allowing your business to make better, data driven decisions. 

Comprehensive cloud solutions 

A full cloud solution which doesn’t require significant initial investment as expensive hardware isn’t required. 

Number porting 

Enable your business to stay connected with the same geographical number no matter where you are based. 

Don’t miss any calls 

Keep your business working and minimise downtime with network and number level resilience to keep your business going at all times. 

What are the disadvantages of using Direct Routing? 

There are a few minimalistic disadvantages of using direct routing such as they can often be a little more complex to implement over Microsoft Calling Plans. However, it is a tailored solution depending on the telephony needs of the business, so with more effort at the start will lead to a number of long-term benefits such as reduced costs as well as dramatic improvements in the overall collaboration between colleagues. 

Next Steps? 

Have you read the above article and are still confused? The best option for you would be to give our Microsoft experts a call today to discuss how we can help your business to successfully implement Microsoft Teams as well as help you set up the phoning solution best suited for your business. 

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