With the recent implementation of on premise Skype for Business as the new telephone system at the Victoria and Albert Museum, one of the challenges that we faced was keeping track of direct dials and extensions and managing how they are issued.

This challenge is likely present in many telephone systems, whether they be on premise or hosted solutions (cloud). But what we wanted was for Active Directory to be the primary source of this data and have methods to maintain and error check that information so we always know exactly what number is issued to what purpose.

The benefit of this is not only to IT departments who can manage the work, but also the entire business as this accurately maintained data then gets pulled into Outlook, Skype Clients, Sharepoint and any other system that can run off Active Directory. (Most business systems these days)

The solution I created was a spreadsheet that is simple enough for 1st Line Support to use, that lists all of the available telephone editions and direct dials available and listing if they are free or taken or if they have errors present.

Users can then open the spreadsheet, locate the next free number and issue it. It even has fields showing the number to use in Active Directory and Skype for Business when issuing a number. (I am sure numbers could be issued automatically when Active Directory is populated, but for now the Skype and Office 365 components are manual, so it simply lists the right format for those systems so you can copy and paste.)

The spreadsheet updates itself hourly. To manage this, it refreshes data from a CSV file when it’s opened and a series of PowerShell scripts are scheduled to run regularly pulling data from Active Directory, Skype for Business and Office 365 for the unified messaging component.

I am actually very proud of this solution, because it’s both fully automated, requiring no manual intervention from 3rd Line Support once it’s gone live, but also very visual and familiar as its within Microsoft Excel.

Click here to go to my Portfolio Post that contains the spreadsheet, PowerShell scripts and brief documentation on how to make use of this or take parts of it as needed.