May 13, 2021
With so many recipes for making a Group, it’s helpful to find an approach that suits your palate. Here’s what all chefs should know.
Creating a Microsoft 365 Group is a lot like planning a dinner party. A variety of methods and ingredients could be used to serve a flavorful meal.
There are more than 20 ways to establish a Group –– a service that allows you to choose a set of people to collaborate with and to easily share a collection of Microsoft resources (such as an Outlook inbox, calendar or document library) –– and each approach can affect the result.
Think of it as serving your guests sushi versus spaghetti. Both are satisfying but also different.
It’s important, then, to understand the many paths to establishing an Microsoft 365 Group and to know which variations could best suit your members and the task at hand.
With the help of my esteemed industry peers, I thoroughly explore this notion in the AvePoint e-book, “Office 365 Groups: The Definitive Cookbook.” But for now, let’s put on our virtual aprons and explore the basics.
What Is a Microsoft 365 Group –– and Why Are There So Many Ways to Make One?
At first, the concept of Groups can be confusing. It is not a tangible tool a user can access, such as Microsoft Teams. Groups is the underlying framework for connecting different tools within Office 365.
Office 365 Groups, which last year were rebranded as Microsoft 365 Groups, gather the identities of people who need to work together. Each Group creates a unique “group identity” in Azure Active Directory. As a result, key resources can be integrated among these individuals without needing permission (or help) from IT.
Say your marketing department forms a Teams channel. You needn’t replicate the same processes for building out OneNote, SharePoint or other Office 365 tools for them; this all happens automatically via the Group. Talk about an instant meal!
But Teams is just one way to make a Group. Each method involves different steps and brings its own benefits and challenges. Moreover, the self-service nature of Group creation underscores the value of robust user training and governance to prevent sprawl and protect sensitive data.
Still, the buffet of options for creating a Group offers wide flexibility, which is helpful when tailoring your own menu. Ready to get cooking? Read on!
Easy Ways to Create Microsoft 365 Groups
1. Peruse the People App
The People App is where users can view and manage all their contacts from services such as Exchange and Active Directory, with optional plug-ins to migrate social media contacts. The app is technically a part of Outlook, and Teams will not be enabled.
2. Tap the Outlook Mobile App
With just a few taps in the Outlook Mobile App, you’ll have your new Group email alias and associated tools right away. You can add members from within your organization and external guests if needed.
3. Partner with Planner Mobile App
With each new Plan that is created, a new Group is created simultaneously. After all, the files you attach to your tasks –– and the comments you leave –– need to be stored somewhere.
4. Come Together Through Teams
The collaboration platform features cross-application membership service so you can create a new Microsoft 365 Group simply by creating a new Team. You may also connect the functionality of Teams to a preexisting Office 365 Group.
5. Tackle the Task in Planner
Like the mobile app, each new Plan created in Planner establishes a new Office 365 Group, allowing expanded collaboration into OneNote, Outlook, OneDrive, and more.
6. Embrace SharePoint’s Simplicity
Given the broad functionality of SharePoint, it should be no surprise that you can create Groups quickly and easily. Users may do so from the SharePoint home screen, a hub site and even the root of a site collection.
7. Make Connections via Yammer
The social networking tool continues to integrate into Office 365. When you create a Group in Yammer, you’re also creating an Microsoft 365 Group with the associated content management, security and compliance benefits.
8. See Possibilities in Stream
Users may create Microsoft 365 Groups within Stream, a secure video service. Here, each Group gets its own mini video portal that displays new and trending content. Be warned: If you delete a Group in Stream, it will also delete the Office 365 Group.
9. Embrace Outlook Desktop Client
Outlook remains a staple for its email and calendar functions –– but users also love it to easily build Groups by creating a distribution list. Even with the popularity of the Office 365 suite, many customers still prefer the Outlook desktop client.
10. Source from Office 365
Groups are an Office 365 invention, so it makes perfect sense users can create Microsoft 365 Groups from Outlook in Office 365 by creating distribution lists.
11. Leverage Collaboration in OneDrive
By storing files in their own drive in the Office 365 cloud, OneDrive users can send a link to give colleagues file access and coauthoring privileges. They also may create a “shared library,” which is like a separate OneDrive for a team or project (and it’s a Group too!)
12. Harness Power BI
Since April 2019, Power BI users can create a workspace without creating a Group. But if you select “revert to classic” mode, you’re creating a workspace based on an Office 365 Group.
13. Visit Office 365 Admin Center
For Office 365 administrators, this powerful tool can create a Group via a distribution list. Settings within a Group can be adjusted here.
14. Use SharePoint Admin Center
The SharePoint Admin Center may be used to manage users and sites, and to monitor usage and overall health. It also has the power to create an Microsoft 365 Group by creating a Team site.
15. Tap into Teams Admin Center
This where you create tenant-wide settings for your Teams. This might include allowed apps, external access, email integration and more.
16. Explore Exchange Admin Center
The Exchange Admin center allows you to do everything from mailbox migrations and managing in-place eDiscovery holds to rules for mail flow and more. You know what else it allows you to do? Create a Group!
17. Designate with Azure Active Directory
Distribution lists created in Azure AD can now also be designated as Microsoft 365 Groups. This gives users the benefit of a distribution list, but also the file-sharing, communication and scheduling benefits of a full Office 365 Group.
18. Build It Through PowerShell
For those who are command-savvy and want to create via scripting, they can launch and manage Groups through Windows PowerShell. The user creating the Group via PowerShell will automatically be designated as the owner.
19. Try Groups REST API
Developers well–versed in HTTP protocols and who want to create a new Microsoft 365 Group have the option to use the Groups REST API. They can also manage and make changes to existing Groups here.
Whatever your business objective and skill set may be, there’s a Groups recipe that’s right for you. Combining the best Microsoft tools into one hearty stew that caters to the needs of your audience will earn rave reviews.
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