Understanding Microsoft 365 Groups is Key to Controlling Teams Sprawl

by | Oct 4, 2021 | Blog, Groups, Home Page, Teams

Microsoft 365 Groups, previously Office 365 Groups, have been a key component of the Microsoft 365 ecosystem for several years.  However, it is fair to say that many organisations do not fully understand them, despite making significant use of SharePoint Sites and Microsoft Teams which both depend on Groups.  

What is a Microsoft 365 Group?

In its most simplified form, a Microsoft 365 Group is a security container for users, allowing them to collaborate on a common purpose. Groups include a shared mailbox, calendar, notebook, and SharePoint Site.  Groups are also the building block for other workspace types, and we will come to those later.

However, this blog is not about what Groups are but instead discusses why they are important in the context of Microsoft Teams and specifically for managing sprawl. When thinking about Teams sprawl, organisations frequently consider who can create them, who can manage them and when they expire. Microsoft 365 Groups are essential in the management of each of these areas.

Why Microsoft 365 Groups Play an Important Role with Teams

Let’s start with who can create Groups. Organisations typically choose to lock down Group creation because they are the fundamental building block of a Team, and if a user can’t create a Group, then they can’t create a Team. Managing the creation process of Teams helps manage sprawl as it reduces the risk of duplication and overwhelming users with the sheer volume of Teams. When locking down Group creation, organisations typically choose somewhere between everyone and only certain members of the IT team. It is, however, important to understand that locking down Group creation may impact other business workflows, such as creating Planner Plans or Yammer Communities.  It is common for organisations to have a less stringent governance process for the creation of these workspace types in comparison to Microsoft Teams.

Next, let’s consider why Microsoft 365 Groups play an important role in who can manage Microsoft Teams.  As explained earlier, Groups are a security container, and therefore control the membership of a Team. Within the context of membership, the ownership of a Team is defined by who are the Owners of the Microsoft 365 Group. An Owner is essentially the administrator of a Team, where they can change the structure, modify many settings, and control the membership. This delegated administration model, which is controlled by the Microsoft 365 Group, may be alien to many organisations and can quickly lead to Teams sprawl if a consistent Ownership model is not maintained.

Finally, the expiry of a team is very much dependant on the Microsoft 365 Group. Microsoft Teams can quickly become a crowded place for users, with an associated lack of certainty about where content should be stored. Organisations need to define what expiring a Team means to them, and the impact on the Group components.  If a Group is deleted, either manually or as part of an expiration process, then the Team is also deleted.  A Group itself does not have a native archive state, unlike a Team, but often organisations choose to hide it and remove certain permissions.  

How ProvisionPoint Workspaces Can Help

ProvisionPoint Workspaces leverages the power of the Microsoft Graph to provide granular control over Microsoft 365 Groups and Teams. Organisations can easily define who can create Group based workspaces, including Teams, and an approval process can be introduced as part of the creation process. Rules can be implemented to define the number of Team Owners to ensure ongoing ownership. Finally, lifecycle policies can be defined which will control when a Team is archived.

If you would like to learn more about managing Microsoft 365 Groups and how it can help you control Teams sprawl, simply contact us.

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