With the increased use of Microsoft Teams many organisations are looking to move completely away from their existing Skype for Business Server, or Lync Server deployments and move into Teams-Only mode to fully realise the benefits of a cloud provided communication and collaboration platform.

Migrating users with basic telephony requirements (i.e. just dial tone) is reasonably straight forward but what if Skype/Lync users have been receiving calls through shared numbers as part of hunt groups or IVR menus using Response Group functionality? If we’ve identified that there is still a requirement to distribute calls between users how do we continue to provide that functionality with Teams?

Unlike a user account, there is no way to migrate Response Groups directly into the Office 365 world as there isn’t a cloud Response Group service, instead with Microsoft Teams we have Auto-Attendants and Call Queues and the call flow needs to be recreated using them.

Auto-attendants provide the workflow functionality found within Response Groups, primarily:

  • Welcome Message
  • Open/Closed message & routing
  • Holiday message & routing
  • Menu/IVR options

Call Queues are similar to the queues found within Response Groups, they can contain groups of agents or individual agents (max 20) who will receive the call. Calls still have the option to leave the queue based on time spent waiting or volume of calls waiting.

With Response Groups both the workflow and queue allowed calls to be forwarded to voicemail, which was usually a dedicated mailbox configured for Unified Messaging. In Office 365 it is possible to use an Office 365 Group as the destination for the voicemail, rather than licensing a dedicated user account whilst still controlling access to the voicemail.

The main differences between Auto-Attendants/Call Queues and Response Groups are:

  1. Auto-attendant opening/closed hours can only use minutes that are 00,15,30,45 compared to free choice in Response Group workflows – A decision around hours will have to be made if the response group is a custom time to either reduce or increase the operating time
  2. Response Groups allow calls to be forwarded to PSTN numbers (subject to voice routing policies) in various scenarios however this functionality is not currently available within Microsoft Teams. The only option currently is to license a dedicated user account with the appropriate licensing, PSTN connectivity and configure it to call forward always to the desired destination
  3. Auto-attendants have a single level of questions, if a second level is needed the call can be directed to additional Auto-attendant(s) to provide multi-level menus

Call Queues can have agents that are either Teams-Only or who are still using Skype for Business Online/Server but this is dependent on how the call reaches the Call Queue. If the call is via a Microsoft provided Service Number then both Teams and Skype agents will receive the call, however if the call reaches the Call Queue via Direct Routing (bring your own trunk/dial tone) then only the Teams-only agents can receive the call.

When it comes to migration the approach will depend on the current environment/PSTN connectivity but all options start with recreating the workflow in Microsoft Teams. If it is possible to port/transfer the number to Microsoft then calls can to continue to reach users no matter the client but what if you are using Direct Routing? That answer will depend on the number of workflows present and whether agents are in multiple groups or not.

If agents are in multiple call flows a short-term resolution is to simply forward the on-premises number to a temporary Service Number provided by Microsoft and assigned to the call flow until all agents are upgraded to Teams-Only mode. This approach should only be used in the short-term as the call forwarding charges will need to be paid for and depending on the connectivity caller ID may be lost but the advantage is that it allows agents to be migrated and upgraded to Teams-Only mode individually.

The alternative is the cut-over approach and with a limited number of agents and little to no over-laping between callflows this can be accomplished within a short period.

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