December 20, 2022

Managing external collaboration in Microsoft Teams

Introduction

The external sharing capability in Microsoft Teams allows you to connect and collaborate with your clients, customers or vendors who are not part of your team or organization. You can share almost all resources with them including teams, channels, sites, etc., or limit them to simply chat or meet with you or view your files.

To enable external collaboration in Microsoft Teams, you need to configure the sharing controls across Azure Active Directory, Teams, Microsoft 365 Groups, and SharePoint to allow the level of sharing that you want for your organization.

To set an environment apt for collaboration with external parties, you need to adjust and customize many external sharing features for Microsoft Teams, SharePoint Online and OneDrive to ensure corporate data is shared responsibly.

Let’s have a brief look on the steps required to enable external collaboration in your tenant:

1. Configure settings in the portal

External collaboration settings let you specify what roles in your organization can invite external users for B2B collaboration. These settings also include options for allowing or blocking specific domains, and options for restricting what external guest users can see in your Azure AD directory. The following options are available:

  • Determine guest user access – From here, you can restrict what external guest users can see in your Azure AD directory.
  • Specify who can invite guests – From here, you can limit the ability to send invitations by turning invitations on or off for everyone, or limit invitations to certain roles.
  • Allow or block domains – You can use collaboration restrictions to allow or deny invitations to the domains you specify.

2. Add guest users in Azure AD

First, you need to sign in to Azure portal as Global administrator, Guest, inviter, or User administrator and add guest user in the Azure Active Directory.

After you add a user you can also assign them to a group, or give them access to an app in your organization.

3. Govern guest access in Microsoft Teams

Once you’ve added a user in the Azure AD portal, that user will also be listed on the guest users page in the Microsoft 365 admin center. Guest access enables collaboration with external users by adding them as guests to your organization’s Azure AD. Guest access enables external users to have broad access to corporate data and applications beyond Teams channels. External users will have to switch tenants to collaborate in Teams in other organizations. Bringing a guest into Teams allows them to have access to private channels they’re invited to and all standard channels in the team.

4. Govern guest access in Microsoft 365 groups

By default, guest access for Microsoft 365 groups is turned on for your organization. Admins can control whether to allow guest access to groups for their whole organization or for individual groups. When it’s turned on, group members can invite guests to a Microsoft 365 group through Outlook on Web. Invitations are sent to the group owner for approval. Once approved, the guest is added to the directory and the group.

Guest access in groups is often used as part of a broader scenario that includes SharePoint or Teams. These services have their own guest sharing settings.

To collaborate with guests across documents, tasks, and conversations, Microsoft Teams provides all of the collaboration features available in Office and SharePoint with persistent chat and a customizable and extensible set of collaboration tools.

While the basic sharing features can be configured to require people outside your organization to authenticate, Microsoft 365 provides many additional security and compliance features to help you protect your data and maintain your governance policies while sharing externally. You can implement additional safeguards to help protect your content from accidental or intentional inappropriate sharing.

5. Govern guest access in SharePoint and OneDrive

SharePoint administrators have many settings available for collaboration. Organization-wide settings are managed from the SharePoint admin center. Settings can be adjusted for each SharePoint site. You should keep your organization-wide settings at your minimum necessary security levels and increase security on specific sites as needed. For example, for a high-risk project, you may want to restrict users to certain domains, and disable the ability of members to invite guests.

After enabling SharePoint and OneDrive integration with Azure AD B2B, you can share of files, folders, list items, document libraries and sites with people outside your organization. This feature provides an upgraded experience from the existing secure external sharing recipient experience. External Sharing can be set for both SharePoint and OneDrive. OneDrive restrictions can’t be more permissive than the SharePoint settings.

Why consider automation for external collaboration

Certainly, setting up external collaboration in Microsoft 365 is a tough row to hoe. From the productivity point of view, external collaboration is a huge advantage to a business while from the administrative point of view, it is a ton of manual work under a governance framework.

Besides, configuring controls and various other settings via multiple admin centers, Microsoft Teams provides no way to actively monitor shared data. Managing and maintaining external users or guests in Microsoft Teams is highly inefficient as it engages IT teams in additional work. With this regard, automating external user management is an excellent way to raise the security of the platform and boost the performance of your teams.

Automate external user management using TeamsHub.io

Thankfully, TeasHub.io provides a flexible and secure way to manage your external access and makes it fit for sharing organizational data. Using automation, it weaves multitude of features to manage external collaboration for different apps like Teams, SharePoint, and OneDrive at both team and tenant level from a unified interface. Administrators do not need to struggle anymore aggregating data from different admin panels. Managing permissions and restrictions for every user accurately in an automated environment leads to a great user experience and enhances productivity.

TeamsHub.io provides clear visibility into teams, guests and resources involved in collaboration and allows administrators to monitor externally shared files with ease. No complex navigations; no context switching; no PowerShell scripting. TeamsHub.io streamlines complex administration processes, simplifying tasks to eliminate unnecessary and arduous steps for empowering users. To sum up, TeamsHub.io is a comprehensive solution for external collaboration management and all other governance needs.

To know more about external collaboration management and other governance features in Teamshub.io, please visit https://teamshub.io or contact sales@cyclotrongroup.com 

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