Modernizing Your Business Phone System: Choosing Between SIP or Teams
If you’re a business owner looking to modernize your telephone communications you are not alone. Today’s technology landscape offers business owners and stakeholders the opportunity to have advance calling features at a fraction of the price that they were once available for. This is especially true for small businesses. The question is what phone system should be used and what benefits does it provide?
I’ll be the first to admit that choosing among the available options is not easy for someone who is not in the telecommunications industry. As a result, small businesses often end up choosing incumbent providers who offer expensive on site equipment and expensive rates for monthly service. While it is impossible to compare all available options, this guide: Modernizing your business phone system by choosing SIP or Teams will help you decide among two of the most popular options available now. We will discuss what each option brings to the table, what the associated costs are, what limitations each option has and why it’s important to partner with a consultant or provider who is willing to implement your business choices.
- Understanding the difference between Teams Phone and common VoIP PBX.
- When might SIP be the right choice for you?
- When would Teams Phone be the right choice for your business?
- Comparing costs and ROI
The Landscape of Modern Business Communications
Remember the days when business communications meant a hefty phone attached to your desk, with all the elegance of a brick? Those days are long gone. Today, it’s all about VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) and cloud-based solutions that let you take your office phone in your pocket, figuratively speaking.
The shift has been monumental, with tools now designed for seamless remote work, collaboration across continents, and integration with the apps we use daily. It’s a brave new world, and it’s exciting!
Understanding SIP and Microsoft Teams
So, what’s the deal with SIP and Teams? SIP, or Session Initiation Protocol, is like the internet’s way of making a phone call. It lets you send voice, video, and messages over the web. Imagine you’re using a set of building blocks to create your very own custom phone system; that’s SIP for you. It’s flexible, scalable, and plays well with various hardware and software. Asterisk and SIP make up the majority of VoIP solutions commonly available to small business. SIP solutions are offered in either hosted or on -site versions by organizations called ITSPs (Internet Telephony Service Providers).They are relatively cheap and full featured options to traditional phone systems. Most SIP offerings for small business are cloud hosted. This means that all a business has to acquire in most cases are the SIP phones.
On the other side, we have Microsoft Teams. Think of Teams as the Swiss Army knife of communication. It’s not just about calls; it’s about bringing your team together, whether through chat, meetings, file sharing, or calls, all integrated with Microsoft’s Office 365 suite. It’s like having your office online, where everyone can collaborate in real-time, no matter where they are. Many small businesses today, are using Microsoft 365 as their line of business application. As a result they have the benefit of using the included Teams app for collaboration. Therefore, it seems natural that they would also express some interest in expanding Teams functionality by getting licenses for Teams phone also.
What both SIP and Teams Phone Do
There are a number of features that both Teams phone and SIP based providers both do. As full fledged phone systems here are some of the features that both Teams Phone and SIP services both support:
Allow for incoming calls from the PSTN (Publicly Switched Phone Network)
Internal calls between users
The ability to assign phone numbers to users for direct routing
Voice mail to email
Music on hold
Call routing via IVR (Interactive Voice Response)
Call routing based on time of day
Text to speech
local call forwarding
If this is a list of the complete features that your organization requires you can stop reading here and choose a SIP based VoIP solution. They are typically much cheaper and contain all these options. If you think you might need more functionality then read on to so more of the benefits of each one.
Advantages of SIP for Small Businesses
Let’s say you’re running a boutique marketing agency. You’ve got clients across the globe, and your team is always on the move. With SIP, you can set up a system that grows with you. Most providers will charge on a per extension basis so you are free to start with a few extensions and expand as you bring on more staff. Plus, you’re not tied to specific hardware. SIP is a published Internet standard so and this means there are many manufacturers producing compatible SIP phones. Your company can use the phones you have, choose your provider, and if you decide to switch things up, you’re not stuck. Simply use those phones with a competing provider to maintain the value of your investment.
If you need to connect warehouse speakers for public address or other sip devices like door phones, elevator phones, or security devices like access control gateways for traffic then you will likely be best served by a SIP based system. There is an entire ecosystem of devices that have been designed to work with this industry standard.
Why Microsoft Teams Might Be Right for You
Put simply Teams Phone makes most sense in organizations that are already organized around Teams for collaboration. Imagine you’re managing a remote team working on various projects. With Teams, you can jump from a video call into a shared document, chat on the side, and never miss a beat. It’s about keeping everyone connected and in sync. For businesses already using Office 365, it’s a no-brainer. It simplifies your tech stack, and with everything in one place, collaboration becomes second nature.
Comparing Costs and ROI
SIP VoIP Costs
Cost is always a biggie, right? As mentioned earlier ITSP’s that provide SIP services will provide these on a per extension basis. Think of a SIP extension as a SIP phone. There might be some upfront costs for hardware if you’re starting from scratch, but the monthly savings can be significant. If you’re looking for a comparison of the best VoIP service for your business your can check out my article
Understanding Teams Phone Licensing
Teams, on the other hand, is part of the Office 365 subscription. If you’re already in that ecosystem, adding Teams can be easy. However, consider the cost of additional licenses for your team and any add-ons for calling plans. Microsoft Teams Phone is often more expensive when compared with sip phones.
There are also licensing gotchas that you need to be aware of in Teams. Not only are the individual licenses for users more expensive in Teams, but there are times you will need to buy licenses to support your configuration. For example, lets say you want an option in your automated greeting to forward a caller to an outside number when pressed. Companies often do this to send calls to outside sales reps or others in their mobile work force. In the Teams phone world a separate license needs to be assigned to that automated greeting. This is not the case in SIP systems.
Navigating Limitations and Challenges
No solution is perfect. With SIP, the challenge often lies in the technical setup and finding the right provider. It’s a bit like cooking; the ingredients (in this case, hardware and SIP trunks) need to be just right.
Teams, while user-friendly, relies heavily on a good internet connection. Plus, if you’re not already using Office 365, there’s a learning curve and the additional cost of subscriptions.
The Role of a Knowledgeable Partner
This can sound like a lot of information for someone researching this for the first time. This where having a knowledgeable partner comes into play.Talk to your MSP about what solution will be best for your organization. If you don’t have an MSP, then please get one. You read all about why MSP are important and what they can do for you in the article “Understanding Managed IT Services: A Comprehensive Guide for Businesses“.
Syslogic’s Role in Helping Clients Choose a Telecom Provider
Syslogic has been offering services like Microsoft Teams, and SIP based PBX communication to our clients for years. We can help you audit your system, and your workflow to choose the technology that best suites your enterprise. Our understanding of the strengths of these services both technically and financially puts is the ideal position to consult for our clients.
Wrapping It Up: Your Next Steps
Choosing between SIP and Teams isn’t just about picking a phone system; it’s about choosing how you want to communicate and collaborate. Both options have their strengths, and the right choice depends on your business needs, budget, and future plans.
So, take a moment to think about what your business really needs. Is it flexibility and customization? Or is it seamless collaboration and integration? Once you have your answer, you’re halfway there. The next step is finding that knowledgeable partner to help you cross the finish line.
Remember, in the world of business, communication is key. And with the right system and support, you’re not just modernizing your phone system; you’re setting your business up for success.
Glossary of Terms
Glossary of Terms
1. VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol):
A technology that allows voice calls to be made over the internet instead of traditional telephone lines. It converts sound into digital packets and transmits them over the internet.
2. SIP (Session Initiation Protocol): A signaling protocol used for initiating, maintaining, and terminating real-time sessions that involve video, voice, messaging, and other communications applications and services over the internet.
3. SIP PBX (Private Branch Exchange): A private telephone network used within a company that utilizes SIP for call management, allowing users to communicate internally and externally using different communication channels like VoIP
4. Microsoft Teams Phone: A collaboration platform that is part of the Microsoft 365 family of products, offering chat, video meetings, file storage, and integration with other Microsoft Office applications. It also includes features for business telephony.
5. Microsoft Teams Phone: A branch of Teams functionality that permits a Microsoft client to send and receive calls on a PSTN (Publicly Switched Telephone Network)
6. Unified Communications: A system that integrates or unifies multiple communication methods within a business. This can include voice, video, messaging, email, and software applications to streamline and improve communication processes.
7. Licensing Costs: Fees paid for the right to use software or technology. In the context of Microsoft Teams, it refers to the subscription cost for using the platform as part of Microsoft 365.