Friday, August 14, 2015

Ensuring external Skype for Business connectivity

I am big proponent of using tools like Skype for Business for improved business productivity. As such I encourage people to connect to with using my Skype for Business account of admin@ciaops365.com.

Why would I do that? My experience is generally that I get contacted via email in regards to some technical question. I then need to reply to get more details. The sender then replies again and I need to reply again and so it goes on, back and forth. This is very disruptive because it fragments getting a solution and the time required to resolve. The better method is to chat using Skype for Business and then potentially move into screen sharing so I can see exactly what is going on. I also have other tools like screen sharing and whiteboard available in Skype for Business. This generally means the issue gets resolved much faster and in a single session so I can focus on other things.

Unfortunately, what I have discovered is that many people who have Skype for Business via Office 365 don’t have ability to communicate with external parties enabled. Now having talked so many people through the process of enabling this it is time to do a blog post so I can simply point people in this direction in the future.

If you are having issues connecting to external parties with Skype for Business follow this procedure to ensure you have external communications enabled in your office 365 tenant.

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Login to your Office 365 tenant as an Administrator and navigate to the Office 365 admin center.

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From the menu options in the bottom left, under Admin, select the Skype for Business option as shown above.

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In the Skype for Business admin center, select the organization option from the menu on the left.

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From menu option across the top on the right select external communications.

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If you want to be able to communicate with others outside your organisation that use Skype for Business quickly and easily best practice is to select the option On except for blocked domains in the external access area at the top of the page.

If you also want to be able to connect with consumer Skype users ensure you have check the option below this to Turn on communication with Skype users and users of other IM service providers.

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Below this you can enter the domains you wish to block or allow depending your selection above. In my case I have nothing in there but if someone starts spamming me via Skype for Business I would add their domain here (you have been warned!).

Once you have made these change don’t forget to scroll right down to the bottom of the page and select the Save button to update your preferences.

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Now you can add people from outside your organisation that are using Skype for Business as well as consumer Skype as you can see above. The designation External Network indicates they are Skype for Business users outside your own Office 365 environment.

If you change the external communications setting in the Skype for Business admin center it may take 15 – 30 minutes for these changes to flow through and allow you to connect with external parties, so be patient.

That hopefully makes it easy for you to configure your Office 365 tenant to make connections with other Office 365 and consumer Skype users. As I said, I encourage anyone to connect to me using Skype for Business (admin@ciaops365.com) and contact me directly.