In this article, we introduce you to Teams Connect and Shared Channels. We look at what is new in Teams Connect and at the benefits of Shared Channels.
Introducing Team Connect and Shared Channels
In recent weeks, Microsoft has started rolling out an important new feature for Teams, i.e., Teams Connect. Teams Connect adds shared channels to Teams. It is a new type of channel that allows to share channels across multiple organizations. They can be shared with individuals as well as with entire organizations. In essence, shared channels allow people to collaborate seamlessly and in real-time in the same digital environment with customers, partners, suppliers, or anyone outside their organization with all the deep collaboration tools that Teams offers, like chat, meet, collaborate on apps, share, and co-author documents.
What is new in Teams Connect?
Before the introduction of Teams Connect, Teams used two types of channels. You can think of channels as sub-teams of your team. There were general channels and private channels. As a rule, everybody on a team has access to the general channel. Private channels consist of only those members of the team that the owners add to it. Teams always have internal members, who are a part of your organization. You can also add external members who have a guest status. By default, guests cannot, e.g., modify documents but can be allowed to comment, or take part in chats or meetings they are invited to. Team administrators can overrule those permissions to allow guests to modify documents, as well.
Teams Connect introduces a third type of channel, i.e., the Shared Channel. A Shared Channel offers a way for people outside of your organization to be more actively involved in your Team. You can grant them more permissions. Importantly, you can not only do this for individuals but even for entire external teams. In the past, if you worked together with members of an external organizations – think, e.g., of external experts or legal service providers – you had to give them guest access to your team, and typically they would give one or more members of your team guest access to their team. This meant that people would often have to change tenants to be able to effectively communicate. With Shared Channels, that is no longer necessary.
Benefits of Shared Channels
Shared channels offer several benefits. A first benefit was just mentioned, i.e., that one does not have to change tenants. In the past, if two organizations worked together on a project, they would each have their own team. This effectively meant that members of each organization would be a member of their own team, and they would be external members of the other one’s team. So, one individual would have two memberships with different permissions and would have to switch between the two, depending on the team one was active in. By being able to add entire existing teams across organizations to a shared channel, that switching is no longer necessary.
Shared channels also enhance your security and compliance when collaborating with external parties. Also important in this regard is that shared channels offer a and far more secure way to share information that does not depend on sending emails with attachments.
A third benefit is that shared channels allow to seamlessly collaborate with external partners and to work across organizational boundaries as one extended team.
Finally, the Team Admins always remain in full control.
Shared Channels in CICERO LawPack
In a previous article, we already explained that CICERO LawPack fully integrates with Microsoft Teams and SharePoint. CICERO LawPack can create a team on a per case basis where it also creates the channel and SharePoint website. None of that will change. You will now also have the option to create a shared channel from within CICERO LawPack.
Summarizing, shared channels allow you to add external individuals as well as entire teams to your team and offer advanced permission management to go along with it. They allow multiple organizations to work together in a shared space, have conversations, schedule a meeting, share, and co-author files, and collaborate on apps, without ever switching tenants.