Microsoft Teams Shared Channels To The Rescue


"Teams Shared Channels is a hidden gem within the platform that almost NOBODY uses to its full potential.. "

In this post i will try to explain with some examples why this is the case. For me teams shared channels came to the rescue in different scenario’s in combination with offcourse the implementation of the Modern Workplace, Zero Trust and Azure Cloud.

Note: This is also a subset of the presentation I gave on Experts Live 2023 in the Netherlands.

What Is A Microsoft Teams Shared Channel?

We all use teams don’t we? We also make use of channels what is part of a team. By default you get a “general” channel with every team, but you can create additional channels to be used for example for specific topics / projects or (by using a private channel) to create a “restricted” channel where not all Team members have access to. 

Since Juli 2022, you also have the option to create a Shared Channel! A long awaited feature leveraging the Azure B2B Direct Connect functionality.

So it’s just a Microsoft Teams channel, but…

Yes it is just a channel. But the benefits it offer compared to a standard or private channel is massive. On the background, B2B Direct Connect is used and eliminates the need for Guest accounts (almost like an active directory trust). You simply “trust” external tenants leveraging the existing user account of members of the shared channel.

For “end-users”, this has the following benefits:

+ No switching anymore between orgs. Woohoo!!
+ Use your own MFA registration (no additional needed!)
+ Share specific channels instead of the complete team (and private channels). Internally and externally!
+ Most of the functionality is available

For the more advanced users please dont forget:
Most of the functionality is available, but not all! More on that later 🙂

Microsoft has created a table comparing the different channels regarding functionality -> https://learn.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoftteams/teams-channels-overview#channel-feature-comparison

When to use a Shared Channel?

Simply looking at the use cases, Shared Channels tick ALL the boxes. Added a table based on a microsoft post:

As you can see, a Shared Channel has a lot of possibilities compared to a standard or private channel.

Options for “sharing” a Shared Channel?

Another major benefit, is that you can share a Shared Channel with:

1. an individual. This requires you to manage the direct members of the channel),
2. a complete team. This effectively shifts managing membership of the channel to the owners of the attached teams :).  

This is where the magic starts and you can let creativity on the loose :). Think about it… Both options have their benefits. But ever thought about who manages the members? You can “decentralize” membership of the channel. Leaving it to the “connected team” owner (lazy admins FTW!).

Ok, Now Time For Some Shared Channel Use-Cases!

You can use a shared channel for many situations. I added 4 scenario’s just to give some examples. Try to think outside the box as you can solve a lot of “sharing information” challenges for organizations. 

Note: Take a good look at the RED box showing where you manage the members for accessing the shared channels :).

What about connecting “overlapping” departments of different companies within a group / initiative? Lets say HR for example .

By creating a Shared Channel for HR and attaching it to the HR teams of the different companies (eacht with their own Microsoft Tenant), all HR employees have a shared space to share data, chat and schedule meetings (without ever switching or using different user accounts….).

In addition, each HR department is responsible for the members of their OWN team (resulting in that all relevant HR experts are connected) ;).

Ever worked on a project with different organizations? (cant imagine you didn’t 😉 ). It looks a lot like scenario 1, but this could be something more temporary.

By creating a Shared Channel for the project and attaching it to the project teams of the different companies (eacht with their own Microsoft Tenant), all employees working on the project have a shared space to share data, chat and schedule meetings (without ever switching or using different user accounts….).

 

In addition, each Project team within a company is responsible for the members of their OWN project team (resulting in that all relevant experts are connected) ;).

There are situations where experts from different orgs need to find eachother or share information. Why not create a shared channel for this?

Same benefits take effect, but the BIG difference is that the members are now managed by the shared channel (as no teams are attached).

We all know the all company team within teams, but what if you would add an additional channel containing all users from all sister companies?

For M&A orgs this is a perfect way for doing communication to all employees of a group 

As each company is responsible for adding the members to the All Staff / Company teams withing their organization, this is managable. 

And now a what simpeler use case for internal use.

In every organization there is information that is relevant for everybody and managed centrally, but sometimes hard to find.
What if you would create a shared channel containing the Code of Conduct, Security Guidelines Default Templates, Building Blocks etc etc and attach it to all internal department teams?

All departments will get the shared channel that is managed centrally by the owner of the channel. Wowie! Mind blowing…

ps. you could even change the permissions on the document library, making the files “read only” for the connected departments :). As this is so specific, i will not go into details…

 

Limitations Of Shared Channels
THERE IS ALWAYS A BUT… 

Some less positive parts/limitations* of using Shared Channels are there.. For me the most important ones are:

• Moderation functionality not available
• Only Azure AD work or school accounts are supported for external participants.
• Shared channels support tabs except for StreamPlanner, and Forms
.
• Botsconnectors, and message extensions are not supported.
• Org-wide teams are not supported to be added as members of a shared channel
• Wen you create a team from an existing team, any shared channels in the existing team won’t be copied over
• Notifications from shared channels are not included in missed activity emails.
• Shared channels are not supported in class teams.

Another more annoying thing is that only members from the “home” tenant are able to schedule/start meetings and add or remove direct members.

So depending on your use case, don’t forget to check and test this!

* All limits and limitations are documented over here by Microsoft-> Limits and specifications for Microsoft Teams – Microsoft Teams | Microsoft Learn

And there is so much more to share about shared channels

As you can see Teams Shared Channels can solve a lot of problems. But there is even more to discuss… 
I can cover this in a later post if there is enough interest in it :). I can say that i am a big fan…. 🙂

Raising security

Did you know you can use Sensitivity Labels on shared channels (set on Team level)?

Enforcing
security for all connected tenants in combination with Conditional Access! Bizar,,,

Onboard and offboard FAST

Setting up Shared Channels is so easy and makes life of end-users a lot better.

You can use Shared Channels for onboarding and offboarding Microsoft Tenants perfectly in a jiffy. For M&A organizations this can be a game changer in combination with cross-tenant SMTP domain sharing

An INTRA INTERNET

Every Shared Channel has a dedicated Sharepoint Site... All users of the shared channel have access to this site!

Wow... What about an INTRA INTRANET with all connected tenants! 🙂

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