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How to Create a Company-Wide Contact List in Microsoft 365

Is your organization’s communication as efficient as the quality of the services you offer? An overlooked pitfall in communications is the lack of a company-wide shared contact list: an easy-to-find directory for your team to quickly find the information they need to send emails or messages.

Several simple methods are available to create a shared contact list in Microsoft 365, depending on your business needs and Microsoft services. Let’s take a look.

The Importance of Correct Configuration Settings

Before diving into the nuts and bolts of creating shared contact lists in Microsoft 365, it’s crucial to ensure you’re correctly configuring settings. Setting the right configurations from the start simplifies the process and prevents potential issues that could arise later from incorrect settings.

User Permissions and Roles

Ensure that only authorized personnel have the ability to create, modify, or delete contacts in your company-wide list to maintain data integrity. Microsoft 365 allows you to assign specific roles to users, controlling their level of access and what actions they can perform. This setup helps in safeguarding sensitive information and avoids accidental data losses or unauthorized access.

Consistency Across Departments

When setting up your contact list, consistency in how contact information is entered and maintained is vital. This includes standardizing entries for names, job titles, contact numbers, and email addresses. A uniform format across the company makes the list easier to navigate and use, reducing confusion and errors in communication.

Integration and Compatibility

Microsoft 365 is a comprehensive platform with various applications like Outlook, Teams, and SharePoint that can integrate with your contact list. Proper configuration ensures that these integrations enable real-time updates and access to the contact list across all Microsoft applications used within your organization.

How to Create a Shared Contact List with Public Folders

Public folders in Microsoft 365 is a versatile tool for sharing information across your organization. These folders can store various types of content, including emails, calendar events, and contact lists, which are accessible to anyone within the company granted permission.

1. Setting Up a Public Folder:
  • Log into your Microsoft 365 admin center.
  • Navigate to the Exchange admin center.
  • Find the option to manage public folders.
  • Create a new public folder and designate it specifically for contacts.
2. Adding Contacts:
  • Selected contacts can be added manually by entering details. Alternatively, you can import an existing email contact list using tools available in Outlook.
3. Configuring Permissions:
  • Configure the permissions to control who can add, modify, or delete contacts. 
  • Regularly review and update these permissions to accommodate changes in staff and their roles.

How to Create a Shared Contact List with Distribution Lists

Distribution lists in Microsoft 365 are another effective way to manage company-wide contacts, particularly email contact lists. They allow you to group email addresses under a single contact entry, making it easy to send communications to entire departments or project teams.

1. Creating a Distribution List:
  • Access the admin center in Microsoft 365 and navigate to “Groups”.
  • Choose “Distribution list” and begin creating your list.
  • Add members by searching for their profiles or directly entering their email addresses. 
2. Managing the List:
  • Once your list is created, manage it and customize settings through the Exchange admin center. 
  • Regularly update the list to reflect changes in your organization, like new hires or department changes.

How to Create a Shared Contact List with Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams is not just a platform for virtual meetings and chats; it’s also a powerful tool for managing and sharing contact information within an organization. By integrating contact management into Teams, you ensure that employees have immediate access to essential details right from their collaboration hub.

1. Creating Dedicated Channels:
  • Set up dedicated channels within Teams specifically for sharing and managing contact information. 
  • Channels can be organized by any categorization that suits your organizational structure.
2. Using Tabs to Share Contacts:
  • Within each channel, add tabs that link to external or internal resources where contact lists are stored. 
  • This integration allows employees to access contact information directly from Teams without switching between applications.
3. Leveraging Bots and Apps:
  • Customize bots within Teams to fetch contact details upon request, such as by typing “Get contact address for [Name].”
4. Syncing with Outlook:
  • Ensure that Teams is synced with Outlook and other tools where contacts are stored to guarantee that any updates made in one application are reflected across the board.

How to Share a Contact List in Outlook Global Address List

The Global Address List (GAL) is the default address list that users see in Outlook, which makes it the primary source of contact information for most employees. It’s accessible via Outlook and other Microsoft applications, and is automatically generated from user information entered in Microsoft 365 and Exchange Online.

1. Navigate to the GAL:
  • Sign into your Microsoft 365 Admin Center.
  • Once logged in, select ‘Admin centers’ from the left sidebar, and choose ‘Exchange’ to open the Exchange Admin Center.
  • In the Exchange Admin Center, click on ‘recipients’ located in the left-hand menu.
  • Then, click on the ‘groups’ tab where you will find options related to address lists.
2. View or Edit the GAL:
  • Under the ‘groups’ tab, select ‘address lists’. Here, you will see the Global Address List.
  • Click on the GAL to view its properties. If necessary, click ‘Edit’ to modify its settings, such as add a new contact or update the address book.
  • To add or remove a user, adjust their profile settings within the Microsoft 365 Admin Center under ‘Users’ > ‘Active users’. 
3. Refresh the GAL:
  • Changes in user profiles may take up to 24 hours to reflect in the GAL due to synchronization schedules. Manually update the GAL by selecting ‘Update address list’ from the options.
  • User permissions to view the GAL can be adjusted in the Exchange Admin Center under ‘Permissions’.

Create the Shared Contact List Your Team Needs with Expert Help

These Microsoft 365 features offer distinct functionalities that, when used effectively, can significantly enhance how contact information is managed and accessed across your organization. By integrating these tools into your contact management strategy, your team can easily access the resources they need to communicate efficiently and stay connected.

The Microsoft consultants at SkyNet MTS can help you set up, maintain, and optimize your company-wide contact list for seamless and secure communications. Reach out to us for a consultation today, and let us help you maintain a more connected and efficient workplace.

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