Top 5 Reasons External File Sharing is Difficult and What To Do About It

Sharing files with external parties is fraught with a mix of uncertainty, risk and complexity, for both the individual and the organization. This is especially so when the files to be shared:

  • contain regulated data,
  • are many in number and/or size,
  • require modification by the external party,
  • are created within and shared from internal collaboration systems (e.g., Teams), or
  • are sent to clients, for whom you want the best possible experience.

Under these circumstances users are struggling, IT is burdened and/or information security intervenes. But this does not have to be. There are steps you can take to improve the productivity of your file sharing and content collaboration with external parties, while not compromising on data security.Here are the Top 5 issues we see users and organizations confronting, and the steps they’ve taken to eliminate them.1.  Users have to get IT involved to move large/bulk filesWith email being a non-option for most (more on this later), users turn to IT for help, often by opening a ticket with the unhappy expectation of a several days turnaround while IT sets up an SFTP folder/account, creates a SharePoint site, or takes some other action.The alternative is to provide aself-service file sharing capability,preferably one that allows the user to share files without the need to copy files into a new environment. For example, if the user’s files are already in OneDrive, SharePoint or Teams, allow them to share files from these locations. If there are missing security controls for you to allow this, consider providing these controls via eShare.2.  Users have too many tools to choose fromThis embarrassment of riches leaves users confused, IT struggling to maintain overlapping capabilities, and security burdened with maintaining multiple DLP policies.The solution is to adopt asingle platform for external file sharing that allows users to share files using the tools and workflows they are already familiar with. For organizations that have deployed O365, this is Teams, SharePoint Online, OneDrive, Outlook and Office Apps. The common platform allows the organization to define a uniform set of sharing policies, no matter how files are shared. It also creates a single audit log for compliance reporting, risk assessment and investigations. eShare can be that single platform, leveraging the strengths of O365 and providing the controls, branding and ease-of-use features that organizations require.3.  Your O365-equipped organization does not allow file sharing via Teams, SharePoint and/or OneDrive.Your users want to share files using the applications and workflows they are already using, but you are forcing them to seek other tools and, in most all cases, copy the shared files into those tools, manage file updates and changes between two copies and master yet-another application for file sharing.The solution of course is to allow your users to stay within Teams, Outlook and Office Apps, and for your files to stay within SharePoint Online and OneDrive…all whilesecurely sharing files externally. This is precisely what eShare allows.4.  It is difficult to manage file versions and often impossible to co-author documentsBy forcing your users to store and share files outside of O365 you are preventing them from benefitting from the modern collaboration it makes possible. For example, they are left exchanging multiple copies of contract, hoping that redlines are not conflicting and using ‘merge and compare’ to avoid a catastrophe. That’s the stuff of the last decade, not this one.The best way to avoid version confusion and truly co-author documents is to provide recipients a link to shared files, not the file itself. Thismodern collaboration capabilityis easy with eShare, which natively integrates with Office Online and uses OneDrive and SharePoint Online to store all shared files.5.  Email is surprisingly unpredictable and inflexiblePast experience prompts many questions when sharing files as an email attachment. Is the file size too large? Will a secure mail system unexpectedly kick in and create a bad experience for my customer? Will I run afoul of a compliance policy? Can I reliably recall an email sent to the wrong person? At the root of these questions is the organization’s inflexible approach to email, especially in the presence of regulated data. Email works, until it doesn’t.Taking the mystery out of email can be achieved through well communicated security policies, DLP rules that offer more than allow or deny as outcomes, and amodern approach to secure emailthat provides a great recipient user experience. eShare can help you realize the latter two, with the ability independently protect the body and attachments of an email and optionally replace all email attachments with links.Taken together, the steps outlined here allow organizations to take the pain away from their external file sharing, enabling users to more easily, confidently and securely share files and collaborate with external parties to drive better business outcomes.

Bill Fletcher

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