The new Outlook add-in from Microsoft provides a convenient method to transfer an individual email with its attachments to one or more Microsoft Channels.
Like it or not, but email is still the glue that ties an organization’s workforce communication together. We use it to communicate with our bosses, colleagues, partners, and customers. We use it for storing important messages, decisions, formal advice, and a lot of important collaboration happens in email.
Many organizations are increasingly adopting Teams as the collaboration platform and even strategically investing in transitioning many email collaboration scenarios to Microsoft Teams Chats and Channel conversations. So, when Microsoft announced this feature, it was highly anticipated to support the seamless transition of discussions from emails to a Team conversation.
Before I share my 3 reasons why this feature is not a complete answer, a video demonstrating the feature in action.
What are the Good Bits?
Natively integrates with Microsoft Outlook, no IT installation required
Automatically detects all channels accessible to a user sharing the email
Automatically extracts (a copy) of the attachments in the Teams channel SharePoint folder
Automatically posts the email as a new conversation in the Teams channel enabling users to continue the conversations from email to the Team
3 Reasons Microsoft missed the Trick
Emails are best in Exchange: Microsoft and exchange architects will advise you against storing emails in SharePoint. Every Team comes with an O365 group mailbox, and Microsoft design should have considered using this feature to download attachments in Channel SharePoint Folder, and email in the O365 group mailbox. That’s the core design principle on which the O365 group has become the core foundation for Modern collaboration keeping the conversation in exchange and files in SharePoint, yet providing a single experience through Teams interface
Email metadata is lost: By keeping emails in SharePoint, the opportunity to extract the important metadata as SharePoint columns is lost. Once the email is in SharePoint, additional custom solutions MUST be developed to support the need for email metadata (From, To, Subject etc).
Extracted Attachment remains hidden: While Microsoft did the right thing in creating a copy of the attachment for collaboration, but they forgot to post that as a link when posting the email. Instead, the embedded attachment appears in the email shared as a post. Instead, Microsoft should have posted the extracted attachments using ‘Share a link’ to enable a seamless collaboration on email conversation to continue in Teams and let users work directly with the files in Teams.
Below is an alternate design based on my point of view and the key issues raised by many customers in making the transition from email-centric to Teams centric scenarios.
Microsoft has produced a decent add-in that would be suitable for most simple scenarios but at this stage, many scenarios would still rely on 3rd party add-on solutions or customizations.