Use Cases for private channels in Microsoft Teams

The last week has been full of announcements at Microsoft Ignite. We waited a long time for private channels in Microsoft Teams and finally this week they arrived in our tenants. The usage of private channels seems quite easy, but what about the business value of this new feature?

What you need to know about private channels

Currently, you cannot use an existing channel and transform it into a private channel. You can use the settings page of your team or the context menu of your team to create a new channel. You will find a new option “Privacy” in the appearing dialog to create a new channel.

Set the privacy of a new channel in your team

If you set the privacy to “Private”, you will have to add each member of this new new channel manually in the following step. Otherwise, only you can use this channel.

There are a few important aspects you need to know:

  • A private channel has an owner. This can be an other person as the team owner. But team owners will see the private channels within the list of all channels of the team with their name and the channel owner (even if they aren’t a member of this channel and cannot see the conversation and files).
  • You can only add persons as a member to the channel who are a team member.
  • Each private channel gets its own SharePoint website. But this will be only a SharePoint website without an associated Office group. The SharePoint website is created to secure the files shared in this channel.
  • Governance and compliance rules belong to the team and will affect the private channels, too.

Single entry point for teamwork

I’m using Microsoft Teams with my developer team and we invited my manager and his manager to our team. Usually, the two persons aren’t active users. They can get every information but for conversations between me as the team leader and them as my managers we are using other communication channels. Now, we have new possibilities with a private channel.

I don’t need to switch between different teams or applications because I created a private channel “Management” for the three of us. We can discuss different topics, work together on documents and I can even post my messages in the management channel and at the same time in other cannels available to my team (with the feature “post in multiple channels”).

Use a private channel to exchange information within a management team

Collaboration with external users

We want to collaborate with our customers and partners by using modern technologies. If you are using Microsoft Teams, you can add these persons as external users. Since now, they were equal users like the internal team members. But there are some situations when you will need a private area (for project management or for the internal team members) and you want to be sure that no external user can access this information. Under these circumstances, it makes sense to create a private channel.

After only one week or less with private channels it’s to early to list all possible use cases for private channels. I will keep you up-to-date when I face new use cases and I would appreciate to get to know what you are thinking about this new feature. Please leave a comment with your experiences or ideas.

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