Setting up email accounts in Microsoft 365

As a Microsoft 365 expert, there’s a question I encounter a lot: “how do I share email?” I’ve been asked several times in the last week alone so it’s probably time for the annual M365 email talk. 😉

emails | Beyond the Elms

Now, the question of M365 email addresses is actually a bit broader and comes down to “when should I create a user account and when should I create a ‘shared email’ and assign the user accounts to it?” Confused yet? Let me break it down.

User accounts 🧑

These are real people… the “bums in the seats” so to speak. You should always name them after the person they represent like “[email protected]” or “[email protected].” This is super important because Microsoft 365 uses Azure Active Directory for identity management and you can grant access to all kinds of stuff with that identity. It’s also hard to tell what’s going on during audits if you see “[email protected]”… was that a person? Should they still exist? Is this a legitimate access of the church systems? 🤷

Shared mailbox 📫

These can be though of as roles or groups. Your “,” “[email protected],” or “[email protected]” should absolutely be a shared mailbox that you then assign user accounts to access. You can assign multiple people or a single person to them, but they will persist regardless of who was on staff. If you have ever had an instance where a staff member went on vacation and you needed to get a password to access a generic mailbox, that is a clear sign that there should have been a shared mailbox.

In summary 😎

So, in short, people are people, roles are roles. People don’t change… you are always you… but the person that fills a particular job can change. Therefore, people always get user accounts and roles always get shared mailboxes.

Pro tip: Work less with email 🚫

All that being said, try to work in email less. It’s easy to get inundated with email so send video messages, call people on Teams, send quick chats via Teams, or pop over to a desk and chat. Don’t do sign-ups via email, and ask yourself if your church really needs that many mailboxes to begin with. I would also recommend you “batch” your emails by just checking and responding to them during one or two scheduled periods per day (so they don’t distract you during your most productive times of the day).

Isaac Johnson

Isaac has been in professional ministry since 2002, holds an M.Div. from Moody, and his goal is to equip churches to reach digital natives.

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