Microsoft Teams Connect (Shared Channels) is about to being launched and many are impatiently waiting to use it. I think that Shared Channels will be very useful, and I clearly see its value as you do not have to be a guest in many organizations and change tenant as often as you need today. BUT here is some well-meaning advice in place. You who may think that it is only to activate the functionality and then everyone can use it (just as many did when Private Channels was launched) should stop a bit and think beforehand. If you want this to work well and not lose control (again), then you need to do proper homework with planning, configuration and training before you roll this out in the organization.
“With Microsoft Teams Connect we are making it easier to collaborate with anyone outside your organization. You can use Team’s full suite of collaboration capabilities with external partners in other Azure AD orgs the same way you use them with colleagues from your organization. Shared channels enables people from different orgs to work together as one team in a shared space for a more structured, deeper and longer-term collaboration.”Source: Microsoft 365 Roadmap
Some examples of what you need to think about:
- Just as with Private Channels, each Shared Channel gets its own SharePoint area. How should you have control over this?
- Is the access for the external users affected if you implement (or have implemented) Conditional Access and MFA?
- How do Shared Channels work in Teams that are blocked from inviting guests?
- How to do with Sensitivity Labels? Does it work and when (and where) can you use it?
- Is it enough that you just configure your organization’s tenant for it to work?
- When should I use a team of guests, when should I use a Private Channel and when should I use a Shared Channel?
- How are Shared Channels related to M365 Groups?
- Do all Apps work the same way as in regular channels?
- Should everyone be able to create Shared Channels or can I control this with a policy?
I am sure that more questions will arise over time, but these are good to start with finding the answers to.
Strategy, Planning, User adoption and Governance
“If you do not do things the right way from the beginning, sooner or later you will have to pay for it afterwards.“
To start using Shared Channels is no exception. As always, Strategy, User adoption and Governance are of great importance here too. This time do not make the same mistakes that many others have made by just rolling out new functionality without first familiarizing yourself with both opportunities and challenges. I have seen many examples of this when it comes to rapid implementation of Microsoft Teams and not least when it comes to Private Channels. You must ALWAYS plan for how new functionality will be implemented in the organization and not least how the new functionality will be received and embraced by your end users. What information should be communicated to them, how should you communicate the information and what training do they need to complete.
Even though we do our work in the cloud and Microsoft 365 is our plane, we can not rely on there being any magic cruise control. You actually need Governance on all services and features and Shared Channels in Microsoft Teams are no exception.
I’m really looking forward to the launch of Shared Channels and I will, without a doubt, use it. However, I will spend a lot of time in advance getting to know how it really works and how we will use it in our organization.
If you are curious to know more about Shared Channels, you can read more here:
Tony Redmond’s article “Diving into the Details of Microsoft Teams Shared Channels“
AvePoint Blog article “6 Things You Need to Know About Microsoft Teams Connect (Shared Channels)” by Kevin Joy
Good luck and do not forget that with good planning you always get the best result!