External sharing in Microsoft 365 is a big part of the collaboration story for organizations these days. Having your external sharing policies set up “right” is an evolving process. IT Admin and compliance teams must be vigilant in striking a balance between security, compliance and usability.
Ensuring end-users understand what your external sharing policies are along the way is paramount to its success.
There are 2 steps I recommend you do immediately to accomplish this, the second building off the first:
Step 1: Create a Governance Site
Set up a Governance site where you can communicate all things security and compliance FROM AN END-USER’S PERSPECTIVE. Don’t put content in Records Manager or Security Expert speak… make it real. Give tangible and relatable examples so end-users understand. The advantage of having the guidance on a modern page is it’s really easy to update as your back-end policies change (and they will) as your Microsoft 365 governance matures over time (and it should be).
In the SharePoint Communication site built below, you can see examples of the types of content you may want to have on your site based on the navigation. The item circled in yellow is what we’ll link to in Step 2.
Step 2: Configure a Custom Help Link for External Sharing
Once you have your guidance documented, let’s link to it! The best place for documentation is in-the-moment while end-users are doing the activity you want to help with. You can provide a custom Learn more link while an end-user is attempting to share something externally and they receive an error message (image). This is an opportunity for you to link back to your organizational documentation on your external sharing policy so they understand why they are unable to share.
For example, if I have blocked a domain as part of the external sharing configuration in the back-end (fabrikam.com in this example) and an end-user attempts to share a document with someone from that blocked domain, they will receive an error message in the Send link dialog (image).
It’s a quick line of PowerShell to add “To learn more, click here” at the end of the error. Let’s do it!
Set-SPOTenant –CustomizedExternalSharingServiceUrl “<policy link url>”
Here’s what it looks like in action: (if the video won’t play, try this direct link)
A simple, yet effective addition for your end-users.
Thanks for reading.