Need Help Understanding Office 365 Groups? Ask The Experts!
Hi ya’ll! In the past year, there’s been a lot of buzz about Office 365 Groups since all the major announcements at Microsoft Ignite. When understanding Office 365 Groups, there’s no shortage of resources that explain “Groups are shared work spaces where group members can collectively get things done“. But how exactly do Groups work, and how will they enhance the way you work?
Well…We’re here to help!
I’m very, very privileged to have had the opportunity to present an hour long webinar with two of my colleagues and friends from the industry, Christophe Fiessinger from Microsoft and Jeremy Thake from Hyperfish.
Our goal is to help you understand what Office 365 Groups are and the impact that activating them can have on your organization, including the following topics:
- An overview of what Office 365 Groups are, how they work, and what you get when you set one up
- Use cases and customer stories showcasing how you can use Office 365 Groups to power your teams and projects
- Prescriptive advice on how your IT and governance teams can manage Office 365 in the era of Office 365 Groups
Here are our slides, “Understanding Office 365 Groups: Ask The Experts”
Done understanding Office 365 Groups and looking for best practices and solutions?
With Office 365 Groups, your users are empowered to work together much more effectively. But how do you effectively administer and govern Groups when most controls are left to your end users? We’re here to help:
Join us 11AM EST on Tuesday, February 7 for an interactive question-and-answer webinar where we will cover:
- Key considerations when activating Office 365 Groups
- How to manage the various Office 365 artifacts that come with Groups
- Tips for building a strong Groups governance strategy
- Solutions for regulating Groups creation, management, and end of life
By the end of this webinar, you will understand key considerations when administering Office 365 Groups and how to stay in control with minimal business disruption.
Learn more about Office 365 Groups:
- The Office 365 Groups Playbook
- How to Manage Office 365 Groups Natively
- Office 365 Groups vs Yammer
- Ask an Admin: Day-to-Day Office 365 Groups Administration
- [Video] Behind the Scenes of Office 365 Groups with Microsoft’s Christophe Fiessinger
- [Webinar] Ask The Experts: Understanding Office 365 Groups with Microsoft, Hyperfish, and AvePoint
- Managing Office 365 Groups with Governance Automation Online
- Backup and Restore Office 365 Groups with DocAve Online
- [Video] Provision Office 365 Groups in Policy with AvePoint
- [Video] Backup Office 365 Group Files and Quickly Restore with AvePoint
Transcript from Ask The Experts Webinar: Understanding Office 365 Groups
Dux: Happy Tuesday, everybody. Thank you for joining us. It’s going to be a great hour. My name is Dux Raymond Sy, and I host this “Ask the Experts Webinar” around Office 365 Groups. This webinar is presented by Microsoft, AvePoint, our good friends from Hyperfish. And, boy, this is going to be a jam-packed hour as we unpack and learn everything we can about Office 365 Groups.
Thank you for all that signed up. We have over 1000 people sign on this webinar. We’re broadcasting live on Twitter and Facebook Live. For those that are on Twitter and Facebook Live, you can still jump on and you’re welcome to stay here and watch this too.
This webinar is being recorded. All the resources, questions and answers we’ll provide that soon after the webinar so you can share it with your colleagues as well. So let’s go ahead and get the show started here.
First and foremost, again, my name is Dux Raymond Sy. I serve as the CTO of AvePoint and very, very grateful and privileged to be part of this phenomenal ecosystem in the last 12 years or so, being the Microsoft Regional Director and MVP. I’m very excited to share the next hour with good friends from Microsoft, Christophe Fiessinger, and also Jeremy Thake. So, Christophe, why don’t you introduce yourself?
Christophe: Thank you, Dux, and hello, everyone. My name is Christophe Fiessinger. I’m a Program Manager on the Office 365 Groups Team. And I focus, among other things, Office 365 Groups to service but also delivering an awesome experience in Groups and Outlook.
Dux: Thank you, Christophe, and…
Jeremy: Hi, I’m Jeremy Thake.
Dux: Go ahead, Jeremy.
Jeremy: Sorry, I was jumping to start in, Dux. Hi. Jeremy Thake here. I work for a company called Hyperfish up in Seattle. I used to be at Microsoft for three years in the Office 365 and Azure space. You might have heard of me on the podcast I used to do with Richard diZerega on development. And I was actually at AvePoint before so it’s nice to be back in an AvePoint Webinar.
Dux: Awesome. Thank you, Jeremy. And I’ve got to tell everybody, I’ve known Christophe and Jeremy for a long time. And I remember the first time I met Jeremy. His hopes and dreams was quite different than what he’s doing today but it’s all good. It’s all great. But with that being said, what… Remember, Jeremy, when you told me you wanted to be president?
Jeremy: I did. Actually, that was [inaudible 00:02:23] back in 2009 and I’m not quite sure why but I sort of wanted to be the president of the United States and not probably within reach.
Dux: Hey, buddy, it’s never too late. You’re still young so. So with that, let’s go ahead and jump right on it. So what we’re going to do, I’m going to turn over the stage to Christophe. Christophe will do a good overview and understanding of what Office 365 Groups is all about. How it can help your organization. And then we’ll spend most of our time just discussing what opportunities there are and how we can help our organizations in maximizing Office 365 Groups.
And throughout the session, if you have guys have any questions at all, feel free to pop it in the chat room, on Facebook, or Twitter and we’ll definitely get to it. And we you run out of time, we’ll take all those questions and post it on as a blog-post, along with this recording as well. So with that, Christophe, over to you and I’ll have you take control of the slides.
Christophe: Great. Thank you, Dux. So as Dux mentioned, I wanted to level set your own designing of groups and maybe some of you are using it today. Maybe some of you have attended conferences in the past or have different level of knowledge.
So, the first, hopefully, I will be fairly quick and I will. And I apologize because I really want this to be interactive, as Dux mentioned. And that’s why we got Jeremy and Dux so that they can ask me all the hard questions and do live Q&A. So I’m going to go very fast but hopefully, there’s a lot of content. If you have additional questions, and as Dux mentioned, happy to engage with you guys across social media or others if there’s outstanding questions or requests as you might have.
So the slide I’ll present is typically the first section is why did we build Groups and why this is… What is this all about in the world of collaborations in the enterprise? And then after I’ve presented what Groups is why we built it, then I’ll switch gear and talk a little bit about the technicalities. Since my understanding is most of you are actually professional and technical audience. So I’ll talk about, you know, how can you administer Groups and how does it… What are the different options to manage it within your directory and stuff like that? And then I’ll just wrap up with additional resources that might be useful for you to get started on your journey to leveraging Groups in your Office 365 tenant.
So again, let’s get started. And, typically, you know, starting with the why, hopefully I’m preaching to the choir. But this is a slide we use where, you know, collaboration has changed quite a bit in the workplace. There’s one stat on this slide that say, you know, we need to collaborate more than ever on projects. Obviously, a lot more than five years ago and that’s one of the stats that we have here.
The other thing that we’ve seen in the workplace is there’s a greater diversity than we had in the past. You know, 20% today of the workforce is composed of temporary workers for instance, contractors and freelancers. And I mean those people are not part of your active directory. They’re outside of the HR world and yet, they’re still key members or contributors that might help you on projects and whatever you’re working on as a group.
Geography distributed, you know, typically the stats is 30% of the global workforce now is mobile and 30% of full-time employees actually do most of their work outside of your location. Outside of, sorry, the physical office that the company provides. So again, you know, that’s creating a need from your workforce to be able to be mobile and work wherever they are, and not necessarily be sitting in a cubicle to get work done.
And then the last, which is definitely important, for some of us that have been in the workforce for a while is, you know, there’s different generation, different habits, different maturities. And certainly the millennials that, you know, are the bulk that are coming in in the workforce are a big force in driving change. And have very different expectations in the workforce than let’s say when Christophe or Dux started a couple of years ago. Where we get trained on the one-page memo to make decisions and derive consensus to go about our day-to-day projects. So that’s just a glimpse of, you know, what has changed in the world of collaboration.
And then this next slide talks about not only of those cultural changes and diversity in the workforce. But there’s also different needs that have evolved on how you get work done in an organization, whether it’s large or small, whether it’s commercial, or government, or education. And, you know, this provides, kind of, a panel of some of the key functionality or key tasks that groups need.
And one that’s typically fairly new, that’s fairly hot and a lot of people have questions, is this notion of the chat-based workplace. You know, the idea is I might not have time for asynchronous communication and I need rapid-fire to go back and forth let’s say with Jeremy. And, hey, we’re both working on some code and maybe the build is not working, or it’s breaking, and/or maybe on a code fix or change of hands before I check in my code, yada, yada.
Obviously, mail and calendar, I don’t need to introduce. It’s been around. You know, that’s one of the forms that’s been around the longest. And, you know, we still think there’s a place for the ubiquity of email, the formality that email provides and so forth.
Voice and video, that’s pretty much what we’re doing today whereas we’re real time. Obviously, we didn’t put the webcam on but it’s a very popular way to get work done and collaborate with your colleagues.
Co-creating content, you know, think of it’s great, as a group, to communicate but hopefully, you’re also working on deliverable. Whether it’s sophistication, the deliverable, the price code, the time sheet, whatever it is. Hopefully, you’re producing something to move your company forward, whatever services and products you offer.
Site and content management, think, hopefully, all the intellectual property, the deliverables, the assets that you’re producing. Hopefully, there’s a life cycle around it and you manage those and think of that bubble responding to that need.
And enterprise social, it’s something, you know, that’s risen. You know, it started about eight years ago, which is the whole notion of reaching out throughout the organizations. You know, you’re breaking silos. It doesn’t matter if you’re a new hire or if you’re the president, if you’re in engineering or sales. But various topics that spans your entire organization where you want everyone’s potential eyes, and opinions, and ideas, and make sure everyone notices or potentially can provide help.
Now in addition to those different needs that groups have today, there’s definitely additional challenges that we’ve seen and, you know, siloed apps create friction. You know, you have different notifications, different credentials, different security and compliance. And I know probably a lot of you have to deal with that on a day-to-day basis. And typically going hand with that is this notion of shadow IT. Which is, hey, an employee today with any device, you know, their favorite iPhone or whatever smart phone that they have, they can pretty much… If the tool that’s provided by the organization doesn’t fulfill their needs, they can pretty much download the app of choice that they think meets their need, and invite their colleagues and contractors, and go about doing their business without asking anyone’s approval. Certainly [inaudible 00:09:58] of our employers know IT. And this is definitely a challenge in the enterprise today, again, with the proliferation of smart device.
Now, this leads us into the next slide, which is okay, what are we doing in Microsoft from an Office 365 perspective, which is our productivity suite? And can you guys still hear me?
Dux: Yes, we can hear you.
Christophe: Hello, hello?
Dux: Loud and clear. Hey, Christophe, we can hear you loud and clear.
All right. So while, I think, Christophe is kind of signing back in, I think just to pick up on where he’s going with this. Is from a Microsoft perspective, Office 365 as you’ve seen in the last five years, I think, is how old Office 365 is. Is providing a lot of different methods, and tools, and capabilities to addressing needs or styles of different groups of people.
Recently, we saw Microsoft Teams. We had a great blogpost about that. We have great webinar about that to provide that gap around chat-based workspace. You know, Microsoft is still leading and continuing to invest around mail and calendaring through Outlook and Exchange Online. And we’ve seen the growth and innovation around Skype. One of the most exciting things around Skype, especially in the Office 365 GovCloud last week or… Yeah, it was last week or two weeks ago was officially… The E5 is now officially available, the E5 SKU for the GovCloud which, obviously, Skype is a big part of it for voice communication.
Content and co-creation, with Office 365 Pro Plus both on the desktop for Office and also obviously online. The ability to co-create content with different capabilities such as co-authoring or even jumping into teams and working on documents. And later on, we’ll talk more about Groups. The ability to work on content with Groups, and Teams, and SharePoint, and OneDrive. All that has been certainly made available throughout the platform.
Editor’s Note: Another free webinar available for you to learn from Microsoft, Dux, and Avanade all about Microsoft Teams, Office 365 Groups vs Teams, and when to use Office 365 Groups vs Team sites.
With sites and content management, SharePoint which has been around for a while. But the continuous innovation on that with the recent announcement of the modern Team sites and the SharePoint development framework so we can continue to enhance that…
Dux: Hey, Christophe, you’re back.
Christophe: I’m back. Sorry about that.
Christophe: Yeah, can you hear me?
Dux: Yeah, we can hear you and then enterprise social… I kind of went through the different offerings Microsoft has. I stopped at the enterprise social.
Christophe: Okay. So I apologize for that. We went to a backup plan and good old landline. So, hopefully, Dux presented my slides but seriously… So I talked about the why and, you know, here’s how we’re addressing those different needs for different groups. And, you know, we’ve talked about chat-based workplace. And think of a Microsoft Team, which we just announced last November, which we’ll release the first quarter of this year.
Obviously, mail and calendar, you know, think of Outlook and all its endpoints where it’s the rich desktop, the browser form or the mobile app. Think voice and video to address that need or solution is obviously Skype for Business. Co-creating content, think of Office Pro Plus which is or desktop apps, you know, streamline to your favorite device if you will. Or this other browser version over desktop apps.
And then to store all the content, you know, the solution for that is SharePoint. I want to stress that because sometimes people confuse OneDrive for business. So basically, we say OneDrive for Business is more for your personal file even though you can do some lightweight collaboration. But [inaudible 00:13:58] through enterprise content management and the rigor that typically a company needs, the answer to store your content is in SharePoint online.
And then enterprise social, you know, we’ve acquired Yammer, I think, almost five years ago. And, you know, that’s our solution to reach out to the enterprise. And, you know, wherever we have a community of interest, or a community of practice and you want to tap the collective knowledge then for that, you know, the sweet spot is to leverage Yammer.
Now, all those applications and services are built on a common fabric and that’s what the Office 365 Groups provide. You know, it gives you the ability to go from one app to another with a single membership across the suite.
Now moving forward to double-click on what Office 365 Groups is, let me again explain. Since sometimes, I see a little confusion of people confusing the membership service on the individual app. And this slide gives you a little overview where, you know, again Group is a membership service. So typically, you think of the life cycle a user comes in. You know, Groups is self-service by nature and they start in the app of choice, whatever they’re trying to do. They can start in Teams, they can start in Outlook, they can start in SharePoint. Soon, they’ll be able to start in Yammer or they can already today leverage Planner, for instance. And they create a group within those apps.
What happens in the back-end is we’ll actually make a call to Azure Active Directory where we create that container, which is the group. And, you know, it has a name, it has descriptions, it has a logo. And more importantly, it has a set of members and, you know, there’s two types of members. There’s just owners, typically the person who created it and members as part of the group. And once that’s created, then, you know, you can go in the application again that you started and go back about doing your business. Whether you’re using a Board and Planner to do whatever breakdown structure of your project or wherever you start some back-and-forth chat in Teams and so forth.
So that’s the high level. Obviously, this happens in seconds and again, what I want to stress is don’t confuse Groups to service on the individual app that are built on top of Groups. And that’s what kind of like the bottom of the slide stresses. You know, you get one identity for the Groups. The Master is Azure Active Directory and it has all those properties and it kind of does the handshake with all the application. You know, if you’ve created a group in Outlook and you want to store content, then in the backend, we’ve already provisioned a full team site for that group. So that, you know, when you’re ready to upload a document then you can do so, and you don’t have to worry about creating the team site or vice versa. That’s what we mean by a set of resources.
So all those Groups get a common set of resources whether it’s a SharePoint team site, or OneNote to do note-taking, or whatever ideation, all the great things you can do with OneNote. You know, a common set of project management tool which is Planner and, obviously, different group messaging options whether you’re using Outlook, Teams, or Yammer.
Editor’s Note: if you have questions about Microsoft Teams, you’re not alone. Check out our frequently asked questions “FAQ” blog from our webinar with Microsoft’s Matt Berg, Avanade, and Dux.
The other point is there’s some loose coupling. So when you create things let’s say you create a team site, there is… You know, it’s not instantaneous but there’s a little bit of latency between all the other workflows or provisions. You can go about your business to work with SharePoint and hopefully, shortly thereafter, you do have to SHAREit inbox if you want to start emailing the groups. And that there’s constantly that back and forth between Azure Active Directory and all the workload depending on what you’re doing with the group. So that’s the high level of Group membership service.
Now in the next couple of slides, I’ll just talk briefly in how can you manage the group. So, again, as I said, by nature, groups are public and self-service which is the whole [inaudible 00:17:53] caters to that new generation where people need to move fast to stay competitive. Now with that, so you know, an end user, which is a box in the upper-left corner, can create the group. You know, there’s no friction. There’s no need of IT step in and request something. You know, the users can manage the group, add members, remove members, and so forth. And change attributes of the groups. Now with that, you can also obviously always step in as an administrators and you can create groups on behalf of the users. You can create groups using our Tenant Office 365 Admin Portal or you can use PowerShell. You can use REST API and so forth.
The other thing that typically people ask is, “Okay, great, it’s self-service but, you know, how do I groom my directory? And what are some of the balance and checks that I can put in in terms of governance to manage those groups?” And those are, kind of, some of the things that we’ve deliver during the past two years since we started being in production. But one of the popular one is dynamic membership and we’ve delivered that over a year ago. Which is the ability that let’s say think of a very large group, maybe organizational-based group. Like all the employees are reporting to a vice president for instance.
You don’t want someone, a single person to manage who’s in and who’s out. And instead, you might do a query on say, “Everyone reporting to Dux, whether they’re based in U.S. or worldwide, whether how many managers there is between Dux and those employees should just be part of that group.” And, you know, real-time the membership of that team fluctuates depending on those attributes.
The other thing that we’ve delivered a while ago was naming policy, which is the ability to add a prefix and suffix on a group name. Now, the naming policy only applies to this for the Outlook endpoints. There’s one popular item on the road map, which is extend that naming policy to all the endpoints, whether you created it through SharePoint, through Teams, through Planner. And that’s something that’s in our road map and I’ll talk about it later.
Hidden membership, again the idea is while you can browse and look at the groups, you know, in the directory for a specific regulatory and/or confidentiality. There are some groups where you shouldn’t be able to see that, you know, “Hey, Dux is part of this group.” So we support that.
And then the last, but not least, group creation permission. And the idea is in certain use case, you might not want self-service. And you can absolutely control who gets to create group but maybe you only want folks in IT to create groups. And we absolutely support that. Now, the only caveat I tell when I… Before you go in and remove creation is, you know, it’s a double-edged sword. Yes, you can remove creation to all your employees. But potentially, if you make it too hard, whatever the process that you’re going to tell the employee to follow to create a group whether it’s [inaudible 00:20:57] form or whatever. If you make it too hard, you remember our employee always has the choice to pick up their phone. And take whatever app of choice they can find in the app store and go about doing their business.
Editor’s Note: Watch a short video and learn how AvePoint can help you easily create Office 365 Groups in policy and control user adoption.
So, you know, I’ve seen people being very happy turning out permissions. But on the other end, seeing shadow IT projects being rampant. So yes, it’s possible but really think twice about not making it too hard for people to request the creation of the group to get work done.
Other things we’ve delivered to again help you with governance is this notion of data classification and usage guideline. So again, you know, us and Microsoft, we have a three-tier classification, low, medium and high. And, you know, the idea again is to remind people that this is in the context of the workplace. And maybe these are things that users should remember that they should do and not do. For instance, if it’s customer data or financial data then it should be classified as high. It should be private so not everyone in the company can see it and so forth. Something with user’s guidelines, it’s a good reminder to tell users like, again, those groups are created in context of the workplace. And I’m sure you get human resources guidance on how to engage and more importantly, what not to do in any tools that you have available today.
In-place hold and eDiscovery, this is… Obviously, not everyone needs it but it’s available for, I don’t know, I think it’s been over a year now. But for the people that do cases and need their legal team to step in. You can absolutely do that, and freeze all the assets, and see what happened in case you have some litigation going on.
Additional thing that not all people sometimes are aware but help you with that notion of governance is that at all points, you, administrators, are in charge. And you know, one thing we had for a long time is we do have audit log. And at the most granular level, we do track all the circadian activities around groups. You know, who added a group age? Jeremy created a group. Jeremy updated a group because Jeremy added Dux to a group and so forth. So you can always audit, “Hey, why did Jeremy created five marketing groups?” Like maybe you had to reach to Jeremy like, “Do you really need five?” or “Maybe we should consolidate?” and so forth. So we do track that, you know, and you can query the audit log search both in the Office 365 Admin Portal or in Azure ADE. You can create your own API if you want to create a data store.
The other report that we released in the fall is the group activity report. Again, it gives you IT. “What are the popular groups? How many members does it have? How much storage are we consuming, and so forth?” So again, you can see what’s going on and maybe, you know, on the popular groups, you want to reach out to a team. And say, you know, “Why is this working so well for you that maybe you want to share success to other teams?” Or on the contrary, you know, you have groups that are no longer being used and maybe it’s time to delete those groups.
Something we got a SharePoint use site usage report. A lot of people say, “Oh, how do I view the storage consumed by the groups?” And yes, you know, as I mentioned earlier, all the groups get a SharePoint site. There is a report that shows that digitally and you can narrow it down to groups. And you can again see, you know, how much quotas you’ve assigned to each group and how much is consumed. So again, you’re always a step ahead of the users, and you can see if a group is going to run into trouble or not. And then as with everything else, we do have PowerShell commandment if you want to do some more granular auditing and reporting on some of those groups activities in your tenant.
Now, a couple more slides around administration, what are we building next? And those are some of the popular items that we’re working on. It’s not an exhaustive list but let me run through some of those items that we’ll be delivering soon. So, deletion recovery, the notion that if you delete a group, you don’t want the group to be completely deleted. And potentially, you have, kind of, a three-day grace period where you can still recover it. So maybe you can save some assets before it’s completely gone. And hopefully, next month is when we’re going to start rolling this to first suite. Initially, it’ll be script based or you have the partial commandment and later, we’ll give you administrative interface to do that deletion recovery.
Expiring groups is as simple as, hey, you know, you’re going to set an expiration policy, let’s say 90 days. And let’s say Jeremy created a group for Hyperfish. He’s going to get a reminder after 90 days, “Hey, Jeremy, do you still need that marketing campaign group?” And as the owner of the group, either you respond to the email and say, “Yeah, I want to retest. You know, that’s an ongoing group that I use day in, day out so extend the life of the group.” If he doesn’t retest that he needs that group, then the group will go 30 days later in a soft-delete mode. And another 30 days after that in a hard delete. So it’s a great way to automate and groom that active directory and potentially delete some of those groups that’s no longer needed.
Preservation and deletion policies, that’s something that I’ve been testing in my demo tenant and this is great. Basically, think of whereas expired group, delete the entire and all its assets, this is a little more granular. And maybe you want to set a deletion policy on that same messages and [inaudible 00:26:25] store in SharePoint. Maybe you say, “I don’t want to retain any messages in Outlook or any document that are older than 90 days” so you can do that. And preservation policy it’s a reverse too and then you can preserve to infinity, you know? So this is coming very soon. Those first three are coming in the next two month-ish.
Naming policy, as I mentioned earlier today, naming policy only applies for Outlook endpoint. We’re elevating that Azure Active Directory so that it applies to all the endpoints. This one is going to be coming in the spring.
And alongside naming policy, we’ll also be delivering banned word and profanity checking. So that again, you know, there is obviously obvious words. Especially if you are in education, you know, in school or university that you don’t want your students to leverage.
Oops. A couple more slides and then we’ll open up for Q&A. One feature that we delivered in the fall in September that we started rolling out is this notion of guest access. And I already mentioned in the introduction that, you know, working with folks outside of the firewall is becoming more and more important in the workplace. Just because of the proliferation of independent contractors in the workplace.
And guest access which we deliver, again, is a step in that direction. And the power of guest access as explained in that slide is it’s not just for B2B. Like you want to add Christophe at Microsoft in your tenant so you can ask a question about Groups. You know, maybe Christophe might have a Gmail account, a non-Microsoft account and it works with any account or any email address that’s available out there.
So basically, you would add, as an owner of the group, you know, email@example.com for instance to the group. And automatically that identity is actually added in Azure Active Directory. You know, we read that person is now an object in AD. Now, christophe@gmail will log in and since it’s a not a Microsoft account, we’ll create on the fly a Microsoft service account to map to that Gmail account. And from there on, I get access to all the conversation in Outlook, and, you know, all the documents, the OneNote, and all of those stuff that the team is sharing.
Now typically, there’s a lot of questions about this. And, you know, the two links at the bottom provides a lot more additional information on how you can administer and also how does it work from an end user. So that’s a glimpse of guest access supported within Groups and Outlook today.
Okay. The other point I want you to think about is, you know, I mentioned that collaboration and change. And one of the things that I want to stress is, you know, we think that DLs, distribution lists, or distribution groups, as they’re called in Active directory definitely had their place in the sun back in the days. But we do think for a lot of reasons, that Groups in Outlook is a better forward if you want to leverage…if you want to collaborate over email. You know, the number one reason typically I give is it’s got a history of all the conversation. Whereas DL, you know, if you join on Monday, you have no idea what Dux and Jeremy did the week before or the month before.
So we have an article that provides some of those talking points in addition to all the administrative capabilities that you can do. But we’ll also deliver ways for you to automatically, with one-click, upgrade those DLs to Groups.
And then I think, okay two more slides and then we’ll pass…we’ll go to Q&A. So the next question is, “Okay, great, I get the point. Let’s move out DL and so forth. How do I help my users get started?” And our answers from that, across 365, is FastTrack. You know, it’s our users and adoption portal that gives you all the assets you need to start with 365 and try using an adoption. And guess what. We have a set of videos already available today. And for instance, yesterday we also have a set of content to help you start with Microsoft Teams and [inaudible 00:30:27] content to help you leverage SharePoint and so forth, or Skype for Business.
So I really want you, if you haven’t used FastTrack, to go and leverage all the assets that are available. To then in turn pass that on to your end users to help them get value out of what you purchased which is Office 365.
And last slide and then we’ll go to Q&A. So one thing I want to stress is that I mentioned earlier. So we are, obviously, continuing to invest in Groups and think of there’s continuous investment across each experiences. Yes, we’re continuing to invest in Outlook. As I mentioned, you know, yes, we have [inaudible 00:31:03] email and Groups. And, you know, we’ve done calendaring improvements and so forth.
And then Microsoft Team, obviously, we haven’t even chipped but based on all the feedback, we’re taking a ton of feedback and incorporating that to make it an awesome experience. But think of investments across all the individual experiences. And then in addition to that, we’re also, obviously, investing in Office 365 Groups and I give you a couple of things that we’re doing, for instance, to help you with group administration and governance. And then, obviously, in addition to that, we’ll also continue to invest in the individual administrations of each of those workloads.
So again, I didn’t want to list all those things. If you got questions on what’s coming, you know, there’s a one-shop stop for all the roadmap items on FastTrack at microsoft.com.
And the last couple of things I want to give you as calls to action before we switch to Q&A, I really want you to revisit those distribution lists and migrate or upgrade as many of them as possible to Office 365 Groups. I want you to leverage all the content on FastTrack to drive usage in your tenant. And last, but not least, we’re always open for feedback and, you know, we’re trying to be very agile and very fast in all those workflows. They’ll give us feedback on what can we improve or what’s missing via our technical community.
So with that, I think, I’ll pass the mic to Dux and Jeremy.
Dux: Awesome. Well, Christophe, I tell you there’s so much goodness in the last set of presentations and slides you talked about. I think one of the key main points is baby steps, right? I love your call to action next steps. If you haven’t, move your distribution list to Groups. Now it may be overwhelming, there’s a lot of things, you know, “How do I administer and all that?” But I remember you actually started using it and take a very pragmatic approach. With the things that people do today like distribution lists, it’s hard to get your head around it and really uncover all the possible use cases.
Jeremy, what do you think? What are some of the feedback and thoughts based on what Christophe went through?
Jeremy: Yeah. I think the big takeaway for me was that, you know, much like when people use or collaborated with documents before things like the cloud existed. You were working on a local file system or in a network file drive. And the benefits that you got from then transitioning to SharePoint to show your documents, to kind of collaborate, to give on those document. I believe it’s the same kind of transition that you get when you’re moving from distribution list where you’re very email-centric to move into this, kind of, Office 365 Groups aspect where you’re taking what you used to do always in a distribution list. And now, doing the same thing but in the environment where there’s a lot more, kind of, sugar around it to help you even more from a productivity side within your teams. And I think that’s, kind of, definitely a key advantage that I’ve been seeing with customers that have been slipping over to these distributions lists.
I guess the other thing, my takeaway here and just looking at the Q&A questions that have come through. And I’m hearing this a lot of, kind of, outside is this webinar as well, Christophe, is. I guess the question back to you is in your last slide, I don’t know if you can slip back to that slide. But it’s quite pertinent in terms of how you guys are at Microsoft, the positioning that is… Is a lot of questions come up when teams are introduced because it had this notion of conversations, much like the notion that Yammer has, and also the Groups in Outlook has in terms of the email distribution lists. How are you kind of explaining…? You know, is teams replacing groups or is that this definition between one Office 365 Group is and what a Group in Outlook is. Maybe you could explain a little bit more just to try and maybe eliminate about 50% of the questions in that list.
Christophe: Sounds great and that’s going to be easy then. So basically, we don’t say “one size fits all” for conversation. And you know typically, there’s a slide maybe I should have included, where we think Teams is for what we could chat-based, networks-based. And what we mean by that is, typically, you think of the use case where you need to iterate rapidly. And that’s why I used for an example, for instance, Dux, and I, and maybe Jeremy, we’re developers. We’re checking code [inaudible 00:35:18] where we don’t have time to send an email. Like Dux broke the bill or if I’m waiting for Jeremy to check in a method or whatever an API. I need him to check it in so I can complete my checking and so forth.
Or if all three of us are working on the cover page of the “Seattle Times,” or if all three of us are working on the live webinar, we don’t have time for… We need that rapid-fire back and forth, right? If all three of us are traders on Wall Street on commodities, I want to know why Dux is going high on call and why Jeremy is going low on orders. So that I can make an informed decision on which position I should take. So again, all those use cases, like being real time and that’s what we mean by ad-based workplace.
On the other end, the other extreme is think of maybe, you know, can you wait a couple of milliseconds, can you wait a couple of seconds for a response? And if yes, then maybe where you use along today with things like email. So you know, I’m putting through [inaudible 00:36:22] next to one another. And another part of the question is, hey, Teams is based on Groups, which was that first diagram that I showed earlier. So you create Team and guess what, you’re creating an object in active directory called Office 365 Group. And every time you create a new team, you create another group. So don’t confuse groups to membership service from the individual app.
And the last part of the question is how is Teams and Yammer and what’s the difference? Again like typically, what we say is Yammer is enterprise social. And another way to think about Yammer is about connecting across your organization. So if it’s not that rapid-fire, close-knit team, that set of traders, that set of editorial team or developers working together. But instead the use case is let’s say we’re launching our product, we need to reach out across the entire team. We need to tell our sellers, we need to tell our support team. We need to tell our engineering team. We need to tell our PR team. “Hey we’re launching this. You know, here is there a press release.” In that use case, it’s not just targeted at a very precise set of individual. We want everyone in the company to know we’ve announced this. And backing up this great product we’ve just launched.
Or another use case is a community of practice or a community of interest. You know, it’s not just the people that I know that care about gaming. But maybe if there’s folks that care about gaming that I’ve never met just because we’re not physically in the same building. We’re a large organization. So for that, Yammer is definitely a great tool. Where you know it’s enterprise social. You’re reaching out across the entire enterprise where you’re announcing, or you’re crowdsourcing, or getting feedback.
Dux: And that’s what I really want to stress and what I love about what Christophe is describing. Microsoft is providing opportunities for us in the enterprise to enable different business use cases. Really, the conversation and we’re getting to it, shouldn’t be should I use Yammer, should I use Teams, should I use Groups? As the business enablers, as I see, our job is to help hone in on what that business use case is. Is it a fast-paced collaboration that Teams would fit or is it more of an enterprise live where Yammer comes in? Or maybe it’s just one where email fits. And it’s that constant drive and innovation that Microsoft provides is what’s exciting.
Because at the end of the day, even if Microsoft doesn’t provide these capabilities and technologies, guess what? Your business may still go out there and use similar tools that we have to pay for that we’re not governing. And the beauty of this is this is part of the Office 365 platform and Office 365 stack.
Now, I think we got to jump into Q&A. There’s tons of awesome questions. Now, just to put a little disclaimer, in the interest of time, we’ve had some of the high-profile questions but we’re committed to answer all the questions that we have. If we don’t get to it in this webinar, we’ll post it on our blog. We’ll send out an FAQ and this recording will also go out.
So first question, Christophe, we talked about directory management. Are there any limitations for Groups with Azure AD in comparison to Groups with on-premises AD? Can you expand on that a little bit?
Christophe: So we do have some published limitation, which is just a starting point. But I can tell you that I’ve worked with customers that are over half a million… Sorry, there’s no limitation on the number of Groups you can ask. What I was alluding to is I work with customers that have over a half million members in a group.
So, you know, stepping back, Azure Active Directory is our identity in the cloud. That’s what’s used every time you create a tenant. It’s our big bet. So while I’m not aware of any physical limit on how many number of objects we have, trust me there’s very, very large customers that are using Azure AD and happily doing so. So, you know, again going forward, Azure AD is our identity in the cloud. That’s what power identity for users and any other objects in AD. So it’s definitely something we’ve done a ton of investment and we continue to invest to scale to even larger numbers.
Dux: Awesome. Awesome.
Jeremy: So, I guess Christophe…
Dux: So we got…Go ahead.
Jeremy: Sorry. As a follow-up to that, like with the administration service side, Christophe. I like the idea, you know, kind of differentiating like the conversations that you can see it in Outlook compared to the underlying infrastructure that’s provisioning all these things. One of the big questions there was when you delete the actual Office 365 Group, does it go and delete all the other things that’s provisioned? Like the SharePoint site, like the Microsoft team, like the Yammer group, like you know, etc., of all the different things and those provisions for that group. How does it kind of clean up after itself?
Christophe: Yeah. So a good question. Pretty much when you create a group, you know you provision all the services. When you delete it, it should delete all the associated services. So if you’re not seeing that then it’s definitely something we should fix. Typically, there’s a little bit of a latency. For instance, by the time you delete a group, let’s say, in Outlook or in Planner and by the time let’s say the team site, that’s associated with that group gets deleted. Like I said earlier, it’s like a loose coupling.
But that deletion be more than an hour. If you’re not seeing things being cleaned up after you delete a group, that’s when you reach out to a support organization because it should be deleted. The reason why today that’s why we’re introducing soft-delete because some people deleted a group thinking, “Hey, I don’t need it.” Whereas maybe one member of the team or the group say, “Oh, I still need that PowerPoint on that,” whatever that note and unfortunately, that got deleted. So that’s why we’re putting soft delete. It was a little too easy to delete everything.
Dux: Got it. So speaking of deletion, what’s the retention on that? Is it similar to like OneDrive or SharePoint recycle bin? Is there a certain time where we can still recover inaudible those that’s…
Christophe: So today, that’s why we are working on soft delete that I mentioned earlier. So today, there’s no retention. You know, it gets deleted within an hour, everything is gone. Soft delete…
Dux: Got it.
Christophe: …we put a 30-day retention so that, you know, like someone can initially, like I say, there will be two PowerShells so only admin can do so. But later, if the end users where they can recover the group themselves or make it active again because they were a little too quick at deleting it.
Dux: All right. Awesome. So next question, and this is maybe for Jeremy. This is from James from Neo Clinic. “What are your recommendations or best practices for controlling organic growth and balancing self-service creation with governance?” Jeremy, by the way for instance, has been putting a lot of phenomenal content around Groups and Teams, when to use what. So make sure you follow him on Twitter and a lot of the blog content he’s putting out. So what’s some of the top-of-mind recommendations do you have, Jeremy? And I have some thoughts around this too.
Editor’s Note: learn how you can strike the balance between enforcing governance and allowing users to easily create Office Group, getting your users what they need quickly.
Jeremy: Yeah, sure. I think what Christophe said earlier on the beginning of the webinar around, you know… The more control and layers you put in place of something, the more resistance you’re putting to them getting their job done. And they’ll likely to kind of go out and use SHAREit and spin up other services. And I think that’s why things like Slack have now become so prominent.
But the problem with those services is that IT can’t control them. They don’t have the compliance that Office 365 has. They’re not looped in with all of the eDiscovery and other aspects of…more of the data privacy aspects of bigger concerns that quite large companies have. But I also feel like whatever Microsoft do from an out-of-the-box experience. And it’s great to see things like, kind of, deletion on the road map there of being improved. Is I believe that there’ll always be need that maybe on top of kind of what they allow in terms of creating these more rapidly is that you might to have the certain work spaces be kind of workflows in play. And I know for instance those tools government information are going to have that need of that self-service with a little bit more control on to the top. And so, it is really down to your organization in terms of how open you let these things be.
Editor’s Note: Watch a short video and learn how AvePoint can help you easily create Office 365 Groups in policy and control user adoption.
Microsoft Teams you put a lot of in place. You can see there from the roadmap there around different naming rulings that will happen. And it goes in to correct the underlying children parts of the Office 365 Groups. I know that’s part of the concern is that people are calling these things the right things and, obviously, that they have owners for its lifetime. So if the group, as Christophe was just saying, isn’t being used, that is going to chase out and keep kind of ownership tied to a certain person.
So I think once you’ve got those automated processes in place so that it’s not kind of created, and left, and forgotten. And then three years later, the IT department is going to realize what they can and can’t clean up that that’s going to… It definitely makes things easier from a product-feature perspective both from what Microsoft provides out of the box and what, you know, companies like AvePoint will provide.
I guess, Dux, maybe you got to talk a little bit more in context of what AvePoint will do to help on top of what they do outside of the box?
Dux: Yeah. I mean quickly to your point, I was speaking with a customer yesterday and there was a group created in this organization. It’s a massive organization. They’re doing a pilot and this group from the business unit called a group IT. So they create groups called IT which, in essence, spawned off a bunch of different things. So it created a SharePoint site collection called IT, but this group is not IT. So there’s a lot of that, right?
And from a governance perspective, certainly Microsoft has done a good job in these initial stages of providing mechanisms and capabilities to help manage this. But certainly, as you think about expanding the usage and driving adoption, there are options out there through the partner ecosystems. So in fact in two weeks, we have a whole webinar just on how do you best manage, and take care, and provide good governance around your Groups implementation? So we have a webinar on that in two weeks. So I encourage everybody to join that webinar, as well. We’ll send you the details.
All right. So I’m going to hit on a couple of questions. Let’s see. There’s a lot of good questions. I’m just trying to pick. So, Jeremy, this is for you. Maybe something more tactical and more use-case driven. Why or when should I use Groups versus SharePoint sites? I mean living the world of SharePoint, right? We get SharePoint but then now with Groups, and Teams, and Yammer. But just kind of comparing the two, pros and cons of Groups and SharePoint sites.
Jeremy: Yeah and I think it comes back to that slide of the different presentation layers and technology, kind of, [inaudible 00:47:38] really. Which is that when I create a SharePoint site, you know I get this notion we had to create document libraries, and custom lists, and so forth, and parse lists. And people are familiar with the pages within SharePoint.
But then if I’m creating an Office 365 Group, not only am I getting this notion of, kind of, the email distribution list, “on steroids,” I guess is the best way to explain it. With a document library and with the ability that it’s going to go and provision a SharePoint site, and now a Yammer group, and Microsoft teams. Is that you’re getting a lot more capability for your team collaboration, what you’re doing by leveraging all these different services. So yes, you could just create a SharePoint site but then you don’t get all the benefits for everything else through the Office 365 Group it’s creating.
I think one of the biggest things I’m seeing customers find and have benefit there is that when you create an Office 365 Group, it’s an interactive directory group. Which means that when you’re managing security membership to it, you’re actually doing that at the AD level. Which means that other services that are aware of active directory can use that membership aspects for their own benefits as well.
Whereas if you, kind of, create a SharePoint group…sorry a SharePoint site, you’ll get different SharePoint groups within that SharePoint site. But the membership and the management of those SharePoint security groups is within SharePoint. It’s not really useful outside of the walls of that SharePoint team site. And I find that there’s a real huge benefit there because the membership of the groups that happens at that Office 365 group level is usually controlled by who’s the owner of that group. And so, you don’t have this problem of spinning up a SharePoint team site with a managing membership there. And then maybe you’ve got a distribution list that you’re controlling for the marketing department as well. And now you’ve got to manage membership in two places, rather than taking the benefit of creating that Office 365 Group and letting that, kind of, provision all the things down.
Now, I guess, a follow-up question to Christophe on this is from a provisioning perspective and this really comes down to the fact governance aspect is. It is, kind of, spinning up all of those things and one of the questions that we have in the list there is, you know, can you control what gets provisioned? So rather than kind of giving me a SharePoint site, and a Yammer group, and the Microsoft Team, and a Planner, Board. Can I, kind of, decide which things get lit up when I go and provision that Office 365 Group?
Christophe: And the answer is no, you don’t get to… It’s that loose coupling but you can go a la carte say, “Oh, I just want a Team site,” or “I just want an inbox,” or “I just want a calendar,” or “I just want Planner,” not today.
Jeremy: Yeah. And so I think, you know, a lot of people are having that concern that they’re [inaudible 00:50:29] kind of, there is a lot more different buckets of contact that will be in those different products. So what would be your guidance is, as a consumer, when they navigate to say the marketing Office 365 Group? That some people might be kind of collaborating without knowing in the Yammer group, and some might provisioned like collaborating in Microsoft Team. And some could be discussing inside of Groups inside of the Outlook interface. How would you guide people to try and keep on top of those conversations? And to make sure they’re not missing out and not aware that something, kind of, business critical for the marketing group might be happening in one of those content conversational services?
Christophe: So that’s a good question. I think the most basic thing is as a team, again I don’t know if it’s a team-based group, or a project-based group, or organizational-based group. But hopefully, let’s say, it’s a project and that Dux, Jeremy, and I are working on a project. We all agree what medium are we going to use to communicate. And typically, if we say, “Oh, we’re going to use email,” or “We’re going to use Teams,” or “We’re going to use Twitter,” or whatever…hopefully not Twitter. Once you agree then that will be the medium that I’m going to track on a day-to-day basis.
You know, internal Microsoft Office Groups that are using Teams and that’s what they use because that’s what collectively the group has decided to use to communicate with. Other teams that I work with are more email-centric and certainly, others are more Yammer-centric. So typically, I do it, sometimes I go from one to the other just to track because Teams, like I said earlier, you had to pick different options that fulfill their needs.
There is definitely some potential of me going from one to other. We’re looking improving that by giving you notifications. And closing some of the scenes as you navigate from one experience to another. So there’s definitely work that needs to be done and that we’re actually already working on to help you seamlessly if you need to leave whatever experience you’re in. Let’s say you’re in SharePoint and you want to check a conversation related to the Group. If you need to go out Outlook on the web, we want to make it as seamless as possible so that, you know, remove the friction to go from one experience to another.
Dux: Awesome. I want to jump in. So I love all the energy, I love all these questions. A bunch of people are asking, “Hey, you know, all this stuff is great. There is going to be webinar in a couple of weeks, you know, on better management but I need help right now.” Or “What tool do you guys have as AvePoint that can help get us started?”
So we do have a technology. It’s called Governance Automation Online. It can help govern your Office 365 platform not only with Groups, SharePoint, OneDrive, the whole stack. So just go to our website avepoint.com and the you’ll find our solutions for Office 365. This technology is called Governance Automation Online. And certainly, we’ll unpack that more in our webinar in two weeks.
And then for those that are interested in Jeremy’s coverage of Groups, and Teams, and whatnot, look him up. I’m sure you’ll find the one and only Jeremy Thake. Ping him, Jeremy Thake, you’ll find his blog, you’ll find his videos on YouTube, all that good stuff.
So, there’s this one question… I know we’re about five minutes left for the webinar but this is a fascinating question from Oliver. So this is for you Christophe. “As more of these groups are being used as conversations come up, as all this… Is there a thinking on how we can better streamline or, kind of, join or group groups in a way? Is there some opportunities that are in the roadmap to provide that?”
Christophe: So to just make sure I understand the question or maybe I mean try to answer. I mean there’s a couple of problems that we’re looking at, that we’re working on. Which is whereas the case of the new hire, you know, someone joins AvePoint or Hyperfish, and how do we make that person, that he or she, oh, they’re working on their journey. So maybe by nature they should join all the groups that Jeremy is a member or all the marketing groups that maybe Dux has already at AvePoint. So with that use case, so we have that person on board as quickly as possible and join the channel that are relevant to their role.
And then there’s the other use case, which is again around the same theme of discovery. Which is let’s say, I’m a long time employee but as the structure of the company fluctuates, as project gets spin up every day. How do I make sure that I potentially join the conversation, either as a participant or just to work and get up to speed on some great project that my peers are working on?
So those are things we’re working in and actually as we speak. You know, we’re leveraging some of the things we’ve already delivered with the Microsoft Graph too. Based on your relationship in the org, who you’re working with, and what we think matters to you then we start suggesting document. That’s what Dale did.
We’re going to go a step further and start suggesting groups that potentially might be relevant, whether the group is using Teams, or Outlook, or Yammer. So yeah, we’re working on the re-improving that notion of rediscovery so you don’t miss a beat. And again today, with the advances in machine learning and stuff like that, we can already do a pretty good job at guessing what’s relevant to you.
Dux: Got it. No, that’s awesome. Jeremy, you know we’re about three minutes before wrap-up, any insights or thoughts around that? On how we can better streamline and really make sense and leverage the power of Groups?
Jeremy: Yeah. I would say pretty much like Christophe was going, right? The best way to, kind of, engage with your organization is to take the people that are already using distribution lists. Go find those groups and have conversations with those, kind of, the subject matter experts that maybe these DLs that have been going on for years within your organization. And encourage them to migrate over.
I think that doing that and doing simple things like as you remember when you’ve always shared the attachment actually in the email that you sent in the distribution list? And that question comes up on the DL all the time. Why not leverage the advanced capability of Office 365 Groups? Put the attachment there and then that way you can just keep sending the hyperlink in the email and encourage people to go check the file location for Office 365 Group? Rather than kind of searching through the inbox to find where that attachment was in the DL?
And I think the benefit of that from a file aspect as well is that then what happens is if you want to update that document, you can. Because you are linking, you are referencing to that central source of the truth and you can go and update it. Rather than have this fear of 1000 versions of that same document that has been in the various different conversations over the years in a distribution list?
And so I think that’s already going to help your organization to kind of have that one central source of truth. And I believe that will show the power within your user base really quickly and ramp people up on, kind of, the power of having this service and the value of the additional services it brings together.
Dux: Awesome. So a couple of things, we got two minutes. I’m respectful of everybody’s time. So as I committed upfront when we started this webinar, this recording will be made available. We’ll push it out. All the questions that were unanswered, we’ll continue working with Christophe and Jeremy and some of our subject matter experts. And publish out an FAQ and the answer a lot of the questions.
Quick polls, if you guys are still on, is this beneficial? Just pop in your response on the Q&A. We’d love some feedback if this format works out because we want to do more of this. We want to help educate people, especially with all the new technologies that’s coming up from Office 365. Just provide some feedback. “I love it, it’s great, I want more” or “Maybe I suggest you do this, that, the other.” Or any future guests you want, we’re going to do our best to get them on board in this type of format. Hopefully, you found it beneficial.
And Jeremy, boy, can you tell everybody about your free offering you want to give people?
Jeremy: Yes, sure. So if you go to hyperfish.com right now, you can run a free analyzer. And basically you log in with the Office 365 account or your on-premises credentials and we’ll give you a free PDF report. And that’ll actually show you your profile completely as across your entire organization. So you’ll have a good understanding about how many of your users have a manager field populated or don’t, or how many people have profile photos or don’t.
And you know if you look at Delve and the way things are going in the Microsoft Services space. You really aren’t unlocking the power of your investments that you already have unless you have that data captured for all of your users. So go check that report out and you can find out a little bit more about Hyperfish while you’re there.
Dux: Awesome. And again, Christophe, thanks so much for joining us. Any last words you want to tell everybody?
Christophe: No. Again, thank you for your time. I apologize for the technical audio difficulty. But you know, as I mentioned, I really want you guys to broaden your horizon. There’s a diversity in the workforce and there’s different need for collaboration. And I really want you to think just beyond, let’s say, email and beyond the usual suspects that you provided to your users in the past. And really consider the entire suite that you purchased and enable your end users to leverage it.
Dux: Awesome. And like I said, I will see everybody in two weeks for our “Best Practices & Solutions.” https://www.avepoint.com/office-365-groups/ We’ll talk about what’s available out-of-the-box Office 365 and how you can best manage and ensure sustainable adoption around your Office 365 investment, and Groups is a big part of it.
This Dux Raymond Sy from AvePoint, and thank you for joining, and let’s continue the conversation between now and two weeks. Jump on Twitter, feel to free to follow myself, Jeremy, and Christophe. But other than that, have a great day and looking forward to continue to engage with everybody. Thank you.