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For IT teams, making processes more efficient is very important to guarantee the execution of certain tasks while promoting collaboration within a company. To build an optimal Microsoft 365 workspace, especially in large enterprises, it is essential to use the right tools.

Microsoft 365 groups allow administrators to configure user settings in an optimized way to encourage productivity and collaboration between users. But what exactly are Microsoft 365 groups and what are their capabilities?

In this article, I’ll introduce you to Microsoft 365 Groups and show you how to use them to foster collaboration with confidence for Microsoft Development Services.

Microsoft 365 Groups, what is it?

Microsoft 365 Groups is a membership service that can facilitate teamwork in Microsoft 365 by helping administrators assign permissions for shared resources to a group of people who want to collaborate.

Without having to manually assign permissions to each user, adding a member to a group automatically gives them access to the tools they need to work with their colleagues (SharePoint site, shared Outlook mailbox or shared Planner).

Microsoft 365 groups are created for a variety of reasons, from collaborating on a specific project, establishing company-wide communication, to fostering communication between co-workers and departments. To meet these diverse needs, different types of groups can be created.

By default, a company using Microsoft 365 can create up to 500,000 groups. Here are some details about the limitations that groups are subject to:

Although the Business Essentials and Business Premium plans, as well as the Enterprise E1, E3 and E5 plans, all support Microsoft 365 Groups, the range of tools and functions available depends on the type of Azure Active Directory subscription and the licenses of group organizer you have.

Create Microsoft 365 groups

There are several ways to create a group. For example, a group is automatically created when a user creates a shared resource linked to a group, such as a SharePoint site or a Planner.

If not managed properly, this type of “open” group creation can lead to confusion and duplication of shared resources. Microsoft recommends creating group types based on their purpose:

1. Outlook Group

If your team prefers collaborating via email or sharing an inbox and needs a shared calendar, a Microsoft 365 group in Outlook is ideal. With a group in Outlook, you will have:

  • a shared mailbox
  • a shared calendar
  • a SharePoint document library
  • a shared OneNote
  • a SharePoint team site
  • a planner

2. Yammer Group

A Microsoft 365 group in Yammer provides features for large numbers of people to chat freely.

Because it allows for company-wide communication, and therefore reaching a large audience, a Yammer group is an ideal platform for making announcements and starting discussions. You will have:

  • a Yammer group
  • a SharePoint document library
  • a shared OneNote
  • a SharePoint team site
  • a planner

3. Microsoft Teams group

If your team requires frequent communication, a Microsoft Teams team can help your group communicate better. It is a chat-based environment. Its members can carry out conversations in real time, between themselves or with subgroups of this team.

You can create a group built directly around Teams or leverage your existing Microsoft 365 group with Teams features. You can change your group’s privacy status (public or private) in Teams, with a few notable differences:

Public groups: These groups can be searched and other users can join without the Teams team owner’s approval.

Private groups: These groups cannot be searched and the Teams team owner must approve new members.

Manage Microsoft 365 groups

As I mentioned above, allowing unrestricted group creation can quickly lead to chaos and unnecessary risk. It is therefore essential to properly manage your Microsoft 365 groups and set certain levels of control to strengthen security in addition to the collaboration.

Managing general group settings in the Microsoft 365 admin center (e.g. specifying who can create groups, setting naming rules, choosing which domain should be used when creating a group, managing access invited to groups and restoring deleted groups) is the responsibility of the global administrator, user administrators and group administrators.

On the other hand, granular management of groups can be delegated to certain users who can take care of basic tasks such as configuring a group’s settings or managing its content.

There are several roles within a group, each with specific responsibilities:

Owners: group moderators. They can add or remove members and have unique setting permissions: change group name and description, etc.

Members: ordinary users who use the group to collaborate. They have access to resources, but not to group settings.

Guests: Group members who are not part of your company. By default, they can be added by any member, unless restrictions have been set to better control access by outsiders.

Provision Microsoft 365 Groups

To choose the degree of control in group creation settings, there are three primary models for provisioning Microsoft 365 groups.

Each model has advantages and disadvantages. Fortunately, you can call on additional tools to optimize controls:

Naming rules: You can define naming rules for your groups so that their naming follows certain guidelines (e.g. avoid objectionable names).

Privacy labels: You can configure your group’s privacy, manage external access, and control device access. You can create labels such as Highly Confidential and specify certain controls for those labels (eg, do not allow external users) to enforce limits on group creation.

Reporting tool: Available in the Microsoft 365 admin center, this tool provides an overview of group usage (e.g. storage usage, number of active groups, analytics use of groups by users).

Other tools like Compliance, Information protection, and eDiscovery can help you meet data regulations and protect your sensitive data.

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