Difference between Office365 Accounts, Distribution Lists, Shared Inboxes and Groups


Mircosoft provides a seemingly endless variety of communication channels for you to leverage within your company โ€“ shared inboxes, distribution lists, groups, etc. It's a lot of information and we know it can be overwhelming or confusing to understand the differences between them. We've been there. Here's our perspective on these Office365 channels.

Office365 Accounts

An Office365 account is the standard email account that is given to an individual within your company - andersen@microsoft.com. In Front, you can easily connect these accounts through an OAuth authentication. Once you've authenticated, an automatic import will help you transfer your email history, folders and subfolders directly into Front so you retain all the context you need without having to miss a beat. Instructions to add an Office365 account.

Office365 Shared Inbox

An Office365 shared inbox has all the functionalities of a full account but is shared with a group. There is no user name or password. The group will be able to access a common calendar, but more importantly, send and receive emails using of that address. To add a shared inbox in Front just follow the same process you would to add an Office356 account. Instructions to add an Office365 shared inbox.

Office365 Distribution List

An Office365 distribution list is an address that anyone can send an email to, which will then distribute it to a list of other email addresses. The main problem with distribution lists is how 'noisy' it becomes. Being on a distribution list often means receiving a barrage of emails that aren't relevant to you, flooding your inbox and making it difficult for you to focus on your work.

By connecting a distribution list to Front you bypass all the noise and direct all communication into one central inbox. The team can then triage from there. An additional bonus with adding your distribution address to Front is that you'll be able to send emails using the distribution address, which is not possible with Office365 Outlook. Instructions to add an Office365 distribution list.

Office365 Groups

An Office365 group is an inbox that isn't as robust as a shared inbox but solves some of the issues you get with distribution lists. You have to be added as a member of a group to see it in your Outlook. Groups have their own address that can receive emails but teammates aren't able to respond using the group address, they have to use their individual inbox address. Additionally, groups don't support table stake features many teams rely on like folders, subfolders, archiving, etc. Adding an Office365 group into Front will allow you to circumvent all of these limitations.

So why would someone use a group then? Well unlike Office365 shared inboxes, groups are free. Instructions to add an Office365 group.

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