External sharing is an essential capability in today's interconnected business environment. While Microsoft 365 (M365) provides a broad set of collaboration tools, it's not without its challenges, especially when sharing outside organizational boundaries. Based on the insights of Max Goss from Gartner in his research "Assessing External-Sharing Options in Microsoft 365," we'll explore the intricacies of these challenges.

1. Security Risks from Default Settings

The preset configurations in M365 are designed to cater to a broad user base, but they might not meet the stringent security requirements of every organization. These default settings can leave gaps in protection, potentially allowing sensitive information to leak. The risk is compounded when users are unaware of the implications of these settings or when there's a lack of customization to align with specific security policies. Organizations must tread carefully, balancing ease of use with robust security measures.

2. Complex Management and Control

For IT administrators, the granular controls for external sharing in M365 can be a double-edged sword. On one hand, they offer detailed permissions settings; on the other, they introduce complexity that can overwhelm even experienced IT professionals. This complexity can lead to misconfigurations, inadvertently giving external parties access to sensitive data, or, conversely, causing unnecessary bottlenecks in collaboration.

3. Integration of External Identities

The integration of external identities within an organization's M365 tenant brings its own set of challenges. Not all organizations are equipped to handle external identities due to regulatory concerns, lack of infrastructure, or simply because the process is too complex. This can limit the ability to collaborate with external stakeholders efficiently, as it requires alternative means to authenticate and manage these external users.

4. Sharing Links Blocked by Security Systems

M365's sharing links are essential for collaboration but are vulnerable to being blocked by the recipient's security systems. This happens when sharing links are mistakenly identified as potential security threats. The disruption this causes can lead to delays, frustration, and a breakdown in the flow of information, affecting project timelines and productivity.

5. Limited Branding Opportunities

Corporate branding is a vital aspect of business communications, and the lack of branding options in M365's external sharing features is a significant drawback. When sharing documents or collaborating on platforms, the ability to present a consistent brand image helps maintain professionalism and brand recognition. M365’s limited customization options mean that organizations miss out on these branding opportunities during external collaboration.

6. The Hidden Costs of Guest Accounts

M365's guest accounts are a gateway for external users to access resources, but they're not always free. This can introduce unexpected costs, especially for organizations that collaborate with a large number of external stakeholders. Budget-conscious organizations need to consider these potential expenses when planning their collaboration strategies.


While M365 provides a foundation for external sharing and collaboration, organizations must navigate these challenges with careful consideration. Understanding the potential risks and limitations is the first step towards implementing effective and secure external collaboration practices.


Are you ready to redefine external collaboration for your organization? Reach out to us to see how eShare can transform your collaborative landscape, mitigate hidden costs, and align your external interactions with strategic business goals.

Mike Parrella

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