Microsoft Teams: External User Limitations

Discover the external user limitations in Microsoft Teams that can make it difficult to safely collaborate and work with clients.

External / Guest Users in Microsoft Teams

From no clear audit trail of external user actions, to difficulty identifying channel access per guest; if you’re evaluating Microsoft Teams for external collaboration with clients and partners, here's what you need to know.

  • Visibility of External (Guest) Users is Limited

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    Microsoft Teams calls (non-federated) external users “Guests”. If Guest access has been enabled on your account, external users can be invited to join your team and a particular channel within it. However, if your team comprises more than one channel (which it undoubtedly will!), and more than one guest, it’s impossible to see which guest is a member of which channel! That’s an issue if your team needs visibility over the external users that have access to the files in a channel. You should also note that Guest access is an org-wide setting, so there's no way to restrict the ability to invite external users to particular functions of your organization.

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  • Identifying Guests

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    When a Guest is invited, their display name is automatically set to the username part of their email address. It can therefore be hard to identify and assume the name of Guests (and their companies) participating in your channels. Instead, your important client may simply be referred to by an obscure email address! Bizarrely, Guest users are unable to update their own display names. Instead, your O365 admin must update the Guest profile via the Azure Active Directory User Management panel. If you are managing multiple external users in your channels, this can cause confusion and an unneccesary burden on your IT team and O365 admins.

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  • External Users Can't Search for Files

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    Chances are, you’ll want your external users to be able to search for files in the Channel you’ve assigned them to. Unfortunately, Guest users are unable to search for files in Microsoft Teams. This can make it challenging for them to find the files they need.

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  • Multiple Tenants

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    Mircosoft Teams only allows you to use one account at a time, so it’s important to note that if your external users have their own Microsoft Teams tenant, they will need to log out of that, and into yours in order to see any notifications you’ve sent their way. This may increase the chances of important updates being missed.

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  • Huddle integrates with Microsoft O365 to extend your external collaboration capabilities

    Learn more with a free demo.

  • No Audit Trail of Activity

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    If you are working with external guest users, it’s important that you can check their activity. For example, you might want to check if a client has viewed an important document, or if they’ve created a new file version. Unfortunately, Microsoft Teams’ audit trail is limited to your O365 admins only; who must run an audit log search via the Microsoft Security and Compliance Center. It’s not something that your business users will have visibility of; meaning access to this important information w

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  • No Team Activity Overview

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    A Team can comprise multiple Channels – often built around a particular activity or workstream. For project managers, or team leads, it can therefore be useful to get an oversight of all of the activity happening in a Team’s many Channels. For example, any outstanding tasks, or new files and discussions. Microsoft Teams doesn’t consolidate this channel activity into a simple overview summary at the Team level, so you’ll have to visit each Channel and read through individual discussion threads.

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  • Tasks Not Connected to Files

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    By adding Microsoft Planner to your Channel you can allow members to create and manage tasks. However, it’s not overly simple to connect your task to a particular file; for example, to set a client approval or a review. Instead, users will have to copy the link of a document stored in the files tab and paste it into the task. Users who then navigate directly to the file will have no visibility of any outstanding tasks, and must instead search Planner.

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  • Limited Templating

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    If you’re looking to use Microsoft Teams as a Client Portal solution, you’ll likely want to apply a consistent template to the Team and Channel – perhaps ensuring that all newly created Teams include a pre-defined list of files or instructions. While some degree of templating is available in Microsoft Teams, automatically assigning content to spaces isn’t possible and must be manually added every time. This can dramatically increase your admin burden.

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