How to simplify external acces on SharePoint Online site?

Copper Contributor

We use SharePoint Online for an extranet scenario (knowledge base for partners). We want to improve adoption by making it as easy as possible for external users to access our site collection.


My desired scenario is therefore the same as for internal users:

New external user navigates to my SharePoint site collection. User get's the default message saying 'Sorry you don't have access to this page' and the external user can do an access request.'. Then, to grant the external user access, the administrator just accepts the requests.


The above scenario works for internal users, but I cannot get this working for external users. Is this possible, and if yes how?


If not, are there any other ways to simplify external access. In our scenario we now first need to explain our partners that they need a Microsoft account. Then they need to tell us the emailadress of their Microsoft account. Then we need to invite the user. Then the user needs to accept the invitation, but gets confused when he need to choose between 'Microsoft account' and 'Organization account'. This whole procedure is to cumbersome to get good adoption.


Thanks in advance.

2 Replies

I hope someone comes in with a better solution, but what you described is pretty much he only way I've known of to handle external users.


About the external user handling process though, why ask them what the email for their Microsoft account was? They should be using their business email as the basis of their Microsoft account.

If the partner organisation is also using Office 365 you should share to their Office 365 ID rather than have them create a Microsoft Account. Yes, it is confusing and the naming doesn't help as most people think their Office 365 account is their "Microsoft" account. Microsoft 365 branding isn't going to improve this.


You could consider creating a Microsoft Account for each of the external users and sending them the credentials (securely) so at least they are ready to go and they don't have to do the setting up and accepting the link. Another possible simplification is to create an Office 365 Group as the basis of sharing which would help make sure you only had to set things up the once for each user. There's a good explanation of sharing on the ShareGate site


If using federated identities for your partners is a possibility, that might be worth considering, although probably complete overkill for the scenario you are talking about.