We asked Microsoft MVP Jasper Oosterveld (@jasoosterveld) to break down Teams channels–standard vs. private vs. shared– and share best practices for secure collaboration in Microsoft Teams shared channels as well as end-user training tips.
Learn the basics: Getting started with Teams shared channels
We joined forces with Jasper to bring you up to speed on all things Microsoft Teams and how to get started with Teams shared channels.
Shared channels allow you to build a more efficient digital workspace across your organization:
- Collaborate and communicate more efficiently and openly with internal and external users
- Create one joint workspace across multiple organizations
- Share, view, and co-author files across organizations in real-time and asynchronously
- Initiate 1:1 calls or schedule a meeting and invite others to join
- Invite others to a specific channel without having to first add them to the team
The best thing about shared channels? You don’t need to switch tenants or sign in with a different account in order to access a channel in another tenant. Externals users can view and access the channel directly from their Teams.
Rather watch Jasper’s Q&A? Check out the video recording below.
Q: Standard vs. Private vs. Shared: When to use each channel?
When should you use standard channels, private channels, and shared channels?
Standard channels are open for all team members—everyone on your team can see them, participate in conversations, share files, and more.
If you need a smaller, specific audience for a particular subject, you can use a private channel. With a private channel, members of a team must be specifically added to it to participate and see content and the channel to appear in their list of channels.
Shared channels are for collaborating with people inside and outside your team or organization. I recommend using a shared channel to communicate and collaborate directly with a team or individual in a dedicated channel because–unlike a private channel–with a shared channel, you don’t need to invite employees or guests to the entire team.
With a private channel, you’re first required to invite employees or guests to the entire team for them to get access to all your public channels. Then you’re able to add them to the private channel.
But enabling user access to all your public channels is not always ideal. That’s where a shared channel comes in to limit oversharing. Shared channels also remove the need to create new teams when you need to expand collaboration in existing channels to others outside the team.
Q: What’s the best way to manage Microsoft Teams shared channels?
Shared channels are enabled by default. You have the option to disable the feature manually in the Microsoft Teams administration center.
A shared channel follows the same provisioning model as a private channel. When you create a shared channel, a SharePoint team site is also created–just like with a private channel–and can be managed in the SharePoint Online admin center.
Once enabled, owners can create shared channels and configure the settings for a shared channel within the team. Owners can change member permissions, enable @mentions within conversations, and enhance conversations with fun features like emoticons, stickers, memes, and GIFs.
When you’re ready to start using shared channels, it’s a good idea to instruct your employees on owners’ roles. Owners are able to change the following settings of a shared channel:
Q: What governance best practices should be implemented for shared channels?
By implementing good governance, you’re helping to ensure that your organization’s IT infrastructure is being used in a way that supports and meets its objectives and goals. Governance for shared channels involves:
Microsoft Teams policies
You can use policies in Microsoft Teams to control what users in your organization can do in teams and channels. For example, you can set whether users are allowed to create private or shared channels. That said, you should review your existing Microsoft Teams policies. Shared channels are automatically enabled, but you can configure certain settings such as guest access.
Consider implementing guest access policies for shared channels. Do you want to allow your users the freedom to add guests to shared channels? Allowing users access to what they need helps to boost user adoption and empowers them to do their best work. But ultimately, it’s up to you to decide.
It’s important to review what actions owners, members, and guests can do within a shared channel and define them in your governance strategy.
Addressing compliance and privacy over shared channels is important– especially when file sharing, conversations, and external access are taking place in the channel. If security and compliance are a big concern for your organization, then integrating Microsoft 365’s compliance capabilities into your governance strategy will go a long way to helping you meet compliance requirements and regulations.
Q: What are your top tips for training users to use shared channels properly?
The advantage of shared channels is that most of the features are similar to public and private channels, which helps increase user adoption. But before your users create a shared channel, they need to understand its use case.
Something that exists with shared channels (and that doesn’t exist within private channels) is the ability to share a channel with an entire team or a team you own. Your users will need to acquaint themselves with this new feature when inviting another user to a shared channel.
Once you’ve clearly communicated the attributes of a shared channel to your users, they’ll be ready to apply the concepts in their collaborative initiatives!
Automate your governance with a third-party tool
As your Microsoft Teams environment grows, it can be difficult for IT admins to manage. The ease with which users can create new teams can lead to sprawl, but restricting end-user capabilities can cause them to turn to shadow IT.
The best solution is to implement a lifecycle management plan that allows you to maintain an organized tenant and allows users to work productively.
Using a third-party Microsoft 365 management solution like ShareGate can help you govern your tenant and maintain an organized and secure Teams environment at scale. You can see what’s going on with all your teams from one place, find and clean up inactive teams, automatically monitor your tenant daily, and create governance policies based on real data.