In this article I am going to talk about how Office 365 external sharing can be used to increase productivity by collaborating with your external partners and vendors.
We are currently living in a world where collaborating and communicating with external vendors and partners has become essential in order to effectively run your business. With that in mind, sharing content with users outside of the organization is becoming commonplace. Office 365 can help organizations do this by facilitating this collaboration with external users safely and securely.
In this post I am going to focus on SharePoint Online External Sharing. I’ll be covering the following topics when it comes to External Sharing in SharePoint Online.
- Different ways to share content with External users.
- External Sharing Approvals
Please note – this post assumes that you currently have external sharing enabled on your Office 365 tenant.
Different ways to share content with External users
When using SharePoint online you can share content with External users in three different ways.
- Sharing a specific site with an external user:
You can invite External users to share a specific SharePoint site. When you share a specific SharePoint site with an external user it will send an invite via email to the user with a link to the site that you would like to share. Once the external user clicks on the link in the invitation, they are prompted to sign-in using their own Microsoft account.
By default, users are not required to sign-in using the account that was used for the invitation. E.g. If you invited an external user using email@example.com as the email and the user signed-in using firstname.lastname@example.org; the user would still be able to access the site. However, Microsoft recently added a setting at the tenant level which prevents this and forces users to login using the same account that was used for the invitation.
Also, depending on role of the user inviting the external users, there will be an additional step for requesting approval before the email gets sent to an external user. This information is covered in the “External Sharing Approvals” section.
- Sharing a specific document with an external user:
In certain scenarios you would only want to share a specific document with an external user. You can achieve this by selecting the document and clicking the “share” option from within the dropdown menu. Sending an invitation to share a document is a similar process to above in regard to sharing a site in that an external user would also be required to sign-in before accessing the shared document. The only difference is that the user would only get access to the document you shared.
- Using the guest link:
If you would prefer to give an external user access to a document without being required to sign-in, you can use the guest link option. To generate the guest link, select the document and then click guest link option from the drop-down list.
I hope this gives you some overview of sharing feature. In the next part I will cover the external user approval process.