Office 365 Groups allow users to collaborate through shared emails, conversations, files, teams and so on. Groups can be created from different Microsoft tools including Outlook, Teams, Yammer, SharePoint site collection. This facility provides a different set of features depending on the tool that is used to create a group.
With Office 365 Group, Exchange online behind the scenes generates a mailbox with Group email address to send and receive mails openly with the members of the Group.
Once Office 365 Group is created, Office 365 behind the scenes starts linking related services like shared calendars, SharePoint modern team site, OneNote among others in the background.
Creating an Office 365 Group from Outlook
When Group is created on Outlook, the background worker process starts hitting the below tools to create their own features
§ SharePoint – A new site collection workspace is created with the Group Name. This can be customized by the team with all the functionalities including Lists, Libraries, Sites among others.
§ Microsoft Teams – New channel is created on the Teams. It is a chat-based collaboration platform allows the users to engage in the conversation.
§ Shared Email – An e-mail id is created for the Group. Any Group member or Group owner can make use of it and mail the Group users. It allows the members to use a Shared Outlook for the Group.
§ Calendar – Set up a meeting invite specifically for the group members through Group Calendar. This Shared calendar is a separate one from the actual Outlook calendar in the organization.
§ Yammer – It is the office version of Facebook that allows users to collaborate in the community environment. It allows users to reach the community level people on the Organisation level.
Types of Users in a Group
There are 3 types of users
- Group Owners
- Group members
Group Owners: Group owners are the one who have the authority to add/edit/remove users from the Group.Group owner can manage the Shared outlook mail and conversations in the group.
Group Members: Group member can participate in the conversations, Planners, Teams and other collaborations. However, members will not be able to add/edit/delete the users from the Group. There can be upto 256 members in a group.
Guests: Guests are external users who are not part of the organisation. Guests use any email id other than our organisation account to access the Group. Owner can provide the level of access to SharePoint and other tools provided Office 365 admins allow other users in the tenant level.
Group owners cannot add the Guests if tenant level setting is disabled to allow external users.
Tenant Admins can create naming policies which is automatically applied when Group Owners create a group. There is also the option to create some custom naming policy including the use of block letters and special characters for Office 365 Groups. Below is an example
Group Expiration Policy:
From Azure Active Directory, an admin can set the expiration days for the Group so as to allow the group to expire automatically within a certain period. Once expiration period is met a renewal email is sent out to Group owner without owner renewal the Group is deleted. Nonetheless, the Group can be restored with in a period of 30 days after it has been deleted. Below is a snapshot of the expiration page.
The Owner gets a renewal mail and it mentions the expiry days for the Group.
Different types of Access to the Groups:
There are 2 different types of access levels namely private and public
Private level groups and their assets will be available exclusively to the set of group members internally. Others cannot access or join the Group without the Group owner permission.
Public level groups are shared across the tenant users. Anyone can join the group and the resources are available at the Public level.
Office 365 Group Classification:
Another feature of Office 365 Groups is classification which does not exist OOB and require a quick PowerShell to enable it. The advantage of enabling this classification is that the users can specify how sensitive the data is. There are various levels to the classification ranging from low to high.
After classification is set, it is visible on the team site like below.
Form Azure AD it is possible to specify dynamic membership rules so that new users are automatically added to a certain group. In the below case, AQL group has dynamic rules set for all the employees of the IT department to add them to the group automatically.
Outlook Group Apps:
This app is available on both Android Play Store and iOS App store. This app allows users to work extensively across all the application that are available in Office 365 Groups.
Microsoft set an announcement to retire this app on May 2018, but all the functionality of a group can be accessed from Outlook App
Benefits of Using Office 365 Groups:
Some of the benefits of Office 365 Groups include
- Instantly available making it easy to use across all Office platform
- Public by default, Groups allows users to discover and join without admin permission
- Easy to manage membership and permissions in one place both for end users and IT administrators
- Private groups provide controlled access to your group
It is easy configure guest access to a group.
Click on Add Members to open the below window
Guests will receive an email (refer below image)
Click on “Access files” to open other windows where users must enter a new password to access non-office 365 email account.