Tag Archives: limits

Set Office 365 group limits to avoid administrative hassles

Office 365 group limits to rein in unchecked access, which could lead to unintended consequences.

An Office 365 group not only contains the membership list for a collection of people, but also manages provisioning and access to multiple services, such as Exchange and SharePoint. At a fundamental level, this means each time a user creates a group for something — a project, or perhaps a team — they add a SharePoint site, group inbox, calendar, Planner, OneNote and more.

Groups is also the foundation behind new services such as Microsoft Teams, Office 365’s chat-based collaboration app. In addition to messaging via channels, Teams enables users to chat with colleagues over voice and video calls, collaborate on documents and use tabs to display other relevant team information. Teams uses Office 365 Groups to produce a team within Teams, not only for the membership list, but also to connect the underlying group-enabled services for data storage.

Why Office 365 group limits are crucial

By default, Office 365 users can create groups without any restrictions. While this appears to be a great idea to prompt viral adoption, it is likely to backfire.

The strength of Office 365 Groups is only one group is needed to manage a team’s calendar, share files among colleagues, and hold group video calls and chats. However, this is not immediately obvious to workers as they explore available services.

For example, a user starts work on a project and, being new to Microsoft Planner, decides to add a plan with the name Project Z Plan. The user also sees he can create a group calendar in Outlook, which he names Project Z Calendar. He feels he could also use a SharePoint site for the project, so he makes one called Project Z. Later, the user discovers Microsoft Teams and feels it can help with the project collaboration efforts, so he generates a new team named Project Z Team.

Each of those actions creates a new group in Office 365. A combined lack of guidance and structure means the worker’s actions — intended to build a seamless fabric that connects multiple Office 365 services — added multiple silos and redundant resources.

This scenario illustrates the need for administrators to develop Office 365 group limits to avoid similar issues. Users need instruction on what tool to use and when, but also some understanding of what a group is in the context of the organization.

Checklist for a proper Office 365 Groups configuration

Before enabling Office 365 Groups for widespread adoption, the administrator should adjust the basic settings to provide limits and help users adhere to corporate standards.

At a minimum, the IT department should consider the following Office 365 Groups configuration:

  • the email address policy for group Simple Mail Transfer Protocol addresses;
  • usage guidelines;
  • group creation restrictions; and
  • group classifications.

Apart from the email address policy, all other configurations require an Azure Active Directory Premium license, as documented here.

Next, define the settings to adjust:

Policy to update

Configuration to implement

Reason for the change

Email address

groupname@contoso.com

The company will use the main domain name because all the mailboxes were moved to Office 365.

Usage guideline URL

https://contoso.sharepoint.com/usage

Shows users best practices for producing Office 365 Groups.

Group creation restrictions

Enables line managers group to add Office 365 Groups

Only managers can create new Office 365 Groups.

Group classifications

Low risk, medium risk and high risk

Enables users to classify groups and be aware of the sensitivity of the information within the group.

To make these changes, we use PowerShell to change the configuration in multiple places.

For the email address policy configuration, add a new policy that applies to all groups with the New-EmailAddressPolicy cmdlet:

$UserCredential = Get-Credential

$Session = New-PSSession -ConfigurationName Microsoft.Exchange -ConnectionUri https://outlook.office365.com/powershell-liveid/ -Credential $UserCredential -Authentication Basic -AllowRedirection

Import-PSSession $Session

New-EmailAddressPolicy -Name GroupsPolicy -IncludeUnifiedGroupRecipients -EnabledEmailAddressTemplates “SMTP:@contoso.com” -Priority 1

For the group configuration settings, use the Azure AD preview module. After connecting to Azure AD, use this code to confirm there is a template for group settings:

Connect-AzureAD -Credential $UserCredential

$Template = Get-AzureADDirectorySettingTemplate | Where {$_.DisplayName -eq “Group.Unified”}

$Setting = $Template.CreateDirectorySetting()

Next, define the group settings based on the configuration defined in the table and apply it:

# Configure the URL for our guidelines

$Settings[“UsageGuidelinesUrl”] = “https://contoso.sharepoint.com/usage”

# Disable group creation except for the Line Managers group

$Settings[“EnableGroupCreation”] = $False

$Settings[“GroupCreationAllowedGroupId”] = (Get-AzureADGroup -SearchString “Line Managers”).ObjectID

# Create our list of classifications

$Settings[“ClassificationList”] = “Low Risk,Medium Risk,High Risk”

# Apply the settings

New-AzureADDirectorySetting -DirectorySetting $Settings

Verify those settings with the following command:

(Get-AzureADDirectorySetting -All $true).Values

Office 365 Groups configuration
Use PowerShell to check the settings for Office 365 Groups.

With those adjustments in place, the new Office 365 Groups creation process changes, as shown below.

Office 365 Groups plan
A new plan shows the configuration settings defined by the Office 365 administrator.

Now, new Groups will have appropriate email addresses assigned — existing groups remain unchanged.

Office 365 Groups email
With a configuration in place for Office 365 Groups, the proper email address gets produced automatically.

Add boundaries and reduce complications

It’s important for administrators to employ Office 365 group limits. This practice prevents unchecked access to resources in the collaboration platform, which maintains order and avoids problems with redundancy and wasted resources.

Change key settings to put basic governance in place to steer users toward usage guidelines for Office 365 Groups. This helps the administrator ensure the groups are created correctly and can be managed properly as adoption grows.

Experts share their shortcuts to creativity with STEM: Join #MSFTEduChat on Sept. 19 |

Learning has no limits. When educators and students truly connect in the classroom, they see endless learning opportunities in the world around them, today and tomorrow, and inspire creativity within each other. On September 19th, we’re bringing in the experts to help you inspire student creativity and curiosity with STEM during our #MSFTEduChat TweetMeet at 10:00am PDT.

Whether you’re a full-blown STEM expert or just trying to understand what teaching with Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) means in the context of your classroom, our community of global educators and MIE Experts are here to share their experiences and advice. They’ll answer your questions in a live #MSFTEduChat TweetMeet event on Twitter. (Wait … what’s a TweetMeet?)

And in prep for the TweetMeet, you can check out our Microsoft in Education STEM Resource Collection in the Microsoft Educator Community here. During the #MSFTEduChat we’ll also discuss how we can use STEM to help achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Why join the #MSFTEduChat TweetMeets?

We’ll let our eager hosts explain with the MSFTEduChat Flipgrid videos they’ve created especially for this month’s event. We highly welcome your video response to this grid, so go ahead and submit yours:

When can I join?

Join us Tuesday, September 19th at 10am PDT on Twitter, using the hashtags #MSFTEduChat and #MicrosoftEDU (which you can always use to stay in touch with us).

To prepare for the #MSFTEduChat TweetMeet, have a look at the questions we have lined up this time. We also highly recommend that you set up a Twitter dashboard – through TweetDeck, for example – to monitor incoming tweets containing the #MSFTEduChat hashtag and other relevant search queries. Watch this TweetDeck Basics tutorial on how you can do this.

TweetMeet questions

An animated GIF showing this week's TweetMeet questions.

  1. What excites you most about #STEM in the classroom?
  2. How can we spark creativity in our students with #STEM education?
  3. What are some low-tech or no-tech ways to get creative with STEM?
  4. What role does #STEM play in 21st-Century Learning skills?
  5. How can we use STEM to achieve UN Sustainable Development Goals?
  6. What’s your best tip, resource or person to improve #STEM learning?

The UN's Sustainable Development Goals.

Hosts

We have an incredible line-up of passionate and knowledgeable hosts, so be sure to follow each of them on Twitter:

Coaches:

We’ll also be joined by a couple of hosts from Microsoft Education:

STEM Saturdays are now available in the US

STEM Saturdays are free drop-in sessions that give people a chance to engage in fun and interesting Science, Technology, Engineering and Math projects hosted by their local Microsoft Store. This month’s STEM Saturdays will test your engineering and data science skills, as The Education Workshop has partnered with Mattel Hot Wheels® Speedometry™ to challenge you with a new Forces and Motion project and lesson plan. Register and learn more about the online workshops and demos we have lined up for you on the Microsoft STEM Saturdays page.

The Hot Wheels Speedometry track.

What are #MSFTEduChat TweetMeets?

Every month Microsoft Education organizes social events on Twitter targeted at educators globally. The hashtag we use is #MSFTEduChat. A team of topic specialists and international MIE Expert teachers prepare and host these TweetMeets together. Our team of educator hosts first crafts several questions around a certain topic. Then, before the event, they share these questions on social media. Combined with a range of resources, a blog post and background information about the events, this allows all participants to prepare themselves to the full. Afterwards we make an archive available of the most notable tweets and resources shared during the event.

Learn more about TweetMeets and earn a badge in the TweetMeet Course on the Microsoft Education Community.

The #MSFTduChat event time is 10:00am PT. If this time isn’t convenient for you, please follow your local channel or even consider hosting your own #MSFTEduChat in your country and language. Please connect with TweetMeet organizer, Marjolein Hoekstra @OneNoteC, on Twitter for more info on hosting in your language and time that works best for the educators and MIE Experts in your country.