Office 365 Groups: How They Work & How to Manage Them

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Office 365 Experience? A new buzz word for the year perhaps, but an interesting way to look at what we need. For as long as I can remember, we’ve identified the concept of a “Team Site” to SharePoint without hesitation. However, SharePoint isn’t great at everything and Microsoft realizes that.

Introducing Office 365 Groups, a way to use Exchange and SharePoint together to give your teams or group of people a way to work together using the best parts of what’s available in Office 365.

Office 365 Groups explained in detail

In my efforts to show these new ways to use the technology we have at our disposal, I accepted to present on Groups during the European Conference Training Week. Here you have a full hour long session that not only covers some of the new thinking behind Office 365 Experiences, but also dives into Groups. Both the good and the bad are presented, or things you should watch out for in any case.

Bonus: Still not sure about how Groups work? Download our Free Guide to discover everything there is to know about Office 365.

Here are my slides:


Video Transcript

Benjamin: Today I wanted to talk to you about Groups for Office 365. And I know it’s for Office 365 but it’s very important to look at it because as we’re entering SharePoint 2016 and the on-premises and hybrid scenario, there’s definitely a lot of this coming along and it’s going to be more and more present.

And it’s also important because, what we have to choose with Team Site, with Yammer, with Groups, with everything coming up these days. It’s definitely important to follow on these and make sure we are using the best experience. And I’ll get back to that with “What we have accessible?”

So again, good morning. My name is Benjamin Niaulin, I’m a guest of SharePoint MVP, but honestly, it doesn’t matter as long as you learn something today. That’s my Twitter, I work for Sharegate, which is an Office 365 and SharePoint Migration & Management Tool. But today, we’re really going to focus on Groups for Office 365 of course.

A little thing about me you should definitely know, I am French and usually I say I’m French and I’m lazy. The reason I say this is I’m always looking for ways to do, the easiest way possible to make something so that everyone in my organization could use, can get something out-of-date without me having to work too hard for it, as always what I’m striving for a lot of jokes of course.

And today, I thank you for all of you who are joining. I am talking to you from Canada, where it is currently minus 35 Celsius, so it is quite cold. And I’m really, really happy to be here with you. If I freeze over like my goal to webinar did, don’t worry about it, it’s just the cold over here.

All right. So “Yeah, more stuff, more new Office 365. Why aren’t you talking about SharePoint 2016 instead?” and of course, shout out to my dog. I understand you. There’s a lot of things going on, there’s Office 365 releasing tons of things all the time. And I’m here, once again talking to you about Office 365 stuff when you’re still on-premises, and you’re wondering why should I even bother. And hopefully, this will give you a good idea.

A couple of weeks ago, actually now. It’s probably been a month or two ago, I was seeing a customer of ours here in Montreal, and he tells me, “You know what Ben? It’s been a long and exhausting road with SharePoint. You’ve told us, ‘You could do anything with it. It’s a platform, you just have to go build it.’ But frankly, I’m tired of it.” That’s essentially the feeling that I got from this person is.

And frankly, they were always going out and building it themselves with SharePoint but it never quite did 100 percent of what they needed. Right? So basically, you get this platform, you get sites, list libraries, and so on. You build it and then you hear at the end, “We’re not sure whether SharePoint actually, it doesn’t really work like that. You need to do this, you need to do that.”

And I think that Microsoft it’s the same thing. They’ve heard this. They’ve heard that a lot of people have licenses with SharePoint but not necessarily everyone has been using it. And that’s what’s really important to the consumption of the tool, to make sure that you’re using it and you like it.

The Evolution of SharePoint

the Evolution of SharePoint

Now, of course SharePoint is still going on. We’ve recently read a blog post from Julia White in the office team, who said that there’s still a SharePoint 2016 on-premises is coming in just a few months. Probably will be revealed at the ninth conference. But what was interesting about the evolution of SharePoint was mainly, that it talked a lot about hybrid, talked a lot about connecting both your Office 365 and your on-premises when it made sense, when it mattered.

So if it makes sense to use, say, OneDrive for Business or groups, for example, or TeamSite or whatever, and leave the rest on-premises in a hybrid scenario, it still makes total sense and could still save some money. So the evolution of SharePoint brought some new thoughts, new ideas, and this is probably going to be the focus.

If I can call it like that for this year, “I think we should stop focusing on the technology.” I know we keep saying that, but this is really what is happening with Office 365 is to help us stop saying, “Oh, that’s Exchange and that’s SharePoint and that’s Yammer, and it should be used like this and that. And how to actually use the technology?”

Instead, this is what Office 365 is focusing on. And again, this was really, really detailed and explained on their blog post by Julia White, and which I invite you to go check out if you want, it’s called, “Evolution of SharePoint.” What I mean by, we’re going to focus on all experiences now, is that instead of focusing on SharePoint and focusing on Exchange and focusing on Lync and focusing on Project Server. Instead, we’re going to try and provide the experience of searching. Right?

So Search, they’ve already released things like Delve, they’ve released the Office Graph of course. And this is the idea of basically being able to find things without having to go. So it’s an experience of going to have to search things.

We’ve already seen portals come out. Right? There’s a video portal, which I believe, yes, Roosevelt is going to present here on the European Conference training week as well. So the portals is I’m very excited about, but this is a perfect example once again of experiences being delivered instead of a single product and focusing on that technology itself. A video portal and whatever other portals that they’re announcing that is still relatively secret.

Our social experiences with Yammer, BI, if you haven’t looked at the new Power BI that’s been released, it’s now available for free and comes with a BI designer. And honestly, I’ve played around with it, and it is really, really cool. And then we have Team Sites. What is the Team Site experience? The experience is for us to work together on Files. Have events or calendar items to have announcements, conversations. That’s what a Team Site really is.

What the technology is? At the moment you’re probably thinking SharePoint. And that’s why. That’s why we’ve been trained for free for years now, right? Since probably seeing SharePoint 2007 or maybe some of you all the way to 2003. We know what Team Site as a SharePoint Team Site. But as an experience, it’s really about coming in collaborating or working together. And the last experience that comes through as Office 365 is Files. Working on Files, and this will be OneDrive for Business. And again, I’ll talk about that in just a few seconds.

So this is to put you in context that now, or this year, and what Office 365 focuses on is really in delivering experiences instead of you going out and building it yourself. So you don’t become like that IT director in Montreal who’s just tired, who said, “SharePoint is inexpensive. Click, click, click, you got a site.” But now it’s been a year, he’s putting on an intranet and so on. So instead what Office 365 tells you, “You know what? I’ve got a video portal, do you want to use it? I’ve got a Team Site with groups, do you want to use them? We’ve got Search with Dale, do you want to use them?” OneDrive for Business, right?

It’s the consumption of the things that were SharePoint, that were Exchange, or are really and they’re cut and put together in a certain way that deliver an experience that matters for you. So I know, right? It’s hard to follow, there are tons of things that’re going on. Every other week it seems like there’s a new release, you’re not sure what to use anymore. And you know what? It took me some time too, and I’m in this every day.

There are groups for Office 365 we’re going to cover today, but we’re supposed to use groups, we’re supposed to look at Yammer, we’re supposed to look at Team Sites, we’re supposed to look at webinar, distribution list, e-mail distribution list. What is it all about? All right, so I’ll bite what are our Office 365 groups. Right? While you’re allowing me to dive into it today, even though it’s Office 365, let’s go look at Office 365 Groups.

Office 365 Groups VS other Groups

Office 365 Groups VS other SharePoint groups

First, very, very important, it has nothing to do with security groups or SharePoint groups. Right? So if you have the notion, if you’re used to SharePoint, right, and the notion of a group for you is a security group in your file share or it’s a group that you create to give access to a SharePoint Team Site. It has nothing to do with that. Groups for Office 365, of course we’ll make a lot of sense when we finish this session. The Group for Office 365 is more of a new way to call a Team Site that has other features, which will talk about very shortly.

So forget that notion of security or distribution groups or distribution list for now. Let’s look at it from a fresh angle. It’s a new way . . .I know it’s a funny picture isn’t it? It’s a new way to work together. Right? So what groups essentially allow you to do? If I have to do a high-level overview and give you an idea of what groups for Office 365 actually is and what it actually does, it’s a way to work together. We’ll go at it in details. But it’s sharing files, it’s having conversations essentially.

Are you guys familiar, perhaps with Groove back then, before SkyDrive pro, and before SharePoint Workspace and before OneDrive for Business? There was something called “Groove” and it came with Office, it was a green icon in the bottom of your taskbar. You probably always look at that, but never actually used. And what the Groove was meant to do is to help a group of people, smaller than necessarily a big team to work together.

So working together meant, “Exchanging files offline and working on them online as well, checking in and checking out.” That’s what Groove introduced back then, but never really took off. Then we have Team Site that really took it on another level and brought meta-data, workflows, and all of the things that we know of a Team Site now. And now what’s happening is that it’s no longer possible for Microsoft to stick around for three years and release something brain you out of nowhere that hopefully people will use.

It worked fine back then, but what’s happening today is that Mac shops are not the only one building software. Every little startup in the world, every little company can build a new application, the experience, the know-how was there. And Microsoft has to deal with these companies that are focused on delivering these Web solutions directly on the Web that everyone has access to.

So now, what’s happening is IT doesn’t make as much as the decision, but it’s the business, its people in HR and marketing, communications. They say, “You know what? Let’s use Dropbox. Let’s use WeTransfer. Let’s use YouTube. Let’s use a Facebook private group.” And as they’re moving away to these other services that they’re consuming, Microsoft said, “Well, we need to deliver something that’s easy to use so that a group of people can work together easily.” And that’s where group comes in.

So this is the running joke, “You mean like a Team Site?” and “Of course.” It’s the running gag right now. Right now, people are looking at groups and were saying. Well, what you’re saying is that there’s a place for people to work together on files. They have maybe a calendar, they have maybe conversations. Essentially, you’re saying that’s a Team Site.

Let’s get back to that. Let’s get back to that because it is definitely interesting the way that it’s going right now. So put your dreams away for now. I have wanted to but for now let’s get serious. Let’s see, what do we actually get when we’re talking about receiving group for Office 365.

What’s in Office 365 Groups

What's in Groups for Office 365

Well, first, you get Conversations, so let’s go take a look at it. I opened up my Office 365 here and this is the home screen of Office 365. And what I love about this has nothing to do with groups, it’s the app launcher and really allows me to jump to the right piece that I want to use. Remember, consumption of experiences. Am I looking to do video? Am I looking to get my files? Remember this. Am I looking to access my calendar, talk to people?

So right now, I’m going to go to Outlook. Outlook is actually the main focus on of where groups are stored and interacts with. We’ll go over that in just a few seconds. I’ve previously created a group already, but I’m going to show you how to create a group very, very soon in this presentation. So as I usually have my emails, my inbox that I send and receive content, I would have the people that I often talk to or in my team that would appear here.

Of course I can create new folders, this is typical Outlook Web App. And in the Outlook Web App and Outlook Web App only are also have access to groups, which is a new context, they are new experience. And as you can see ,you’ll have different things that you can do. So for the group, European SharePoint Conference. Right? I’ll talk over public group and private group very soon.

But I get a few things that I can do. And one of them is conversation, and this is what I’m currently in. And conversation works in an interesting way. You’ll start a group conversation and it’s essentially, if I may, the conversation is essentially an email. Right? So I’ll go over who are the members of the group, but right now, I can have a conversation with the members of this group. So if you are thinking Team Site, if you’re thinking Yammer, essentially it’s a group once again.

So I can start a conversation, “What do you think of the new Office 365?” Right? I can attach something in the conversation, so this will pop-up my OneDrive for Business, my recent files, the files that are inside my personal OneDrive for Business. And I’ll talk about that. I can upload from my computer. I can get another file from another group that I may belong to. And of course right now, I only belong to this one. And I can get files and . . .Of course, there’s a bug right now. Office is fine. I can get the files that are stored in my current group.

So essentially, I can get files from anywhere. And I can link them or I can send them as an attachment or I can basically share them through OneDrive for Business or the group files. When I’m done, click on “Send” and everyone in the group will be able to participate in this new conversation. So very much think of it as emails more than something like a Newsfeed, or more like a Yammer conversation. This is really more like email that I’m participation with every member of the group here.

So as another user, for example, that is part of the group, if I log in as somebody else can come in reply here. With reply to me or to the group itself and say, “I like it!” Attach a picture, whatever. And of course, click on “Send” and continue the conversation in that way. Right? So this will be one conversation, I get the notification here, typical Outlook.

Now, what if I start a group conversation and I also if I want, can tag somebody from the outside. Remember, this works like email. So if I want, I can say I also like to send an email to somebody outside of the company. And say, “Test…” I don’t know. “Test” there you go and click on “Send.” So this will have the conversation in the group with every member of the group but also have somebody from the outside participate.

Now, the behavior. Unfortunately, is that person on the outside will receive the email and can, definitely can start . . .I think I actually have it open here, go in this Gmail here and I should receive it in a few seconds. There it is, there is the group email from EUSPC and from the MOD Administrator who sent it to me.

Now, I can reply, can choose to reply, “I got it.” What happens when I send it back and go back to my Office 365 here in my group and a few seconds in the group you’ll see it as in New Email. So we’ll get it here in two seconds, we’ll also get it here and we’ve got it in the group. There it is. However, as you can tell the “I got it,” came as a new conversation.

So let’s recap quickly, I know I’ve been going all over the place. You get a group for people to work today as members of this group. As part of groups, you get a conversation. Conversation allows you to have talks and chats between the different members of the group. But you can also if you like, add anyone’s email from anyone outside the group. So I can talk to somebody outside through their Gmail, through their work email. And this is very, very useful if you want a group, right, that people can submit things to.

For example, an ideas or “Where should the Christmas party be held?” or when if you want the contact support. And they can just contact that email and the group in this case, support or helpdesks or whatever the case, can reply to them and can always, everyone in the group can see what’s going on and who responded to what. Essentially, not on like a sort of a ticketing system and or user support. So it’s actually pretty useful. So I love the fact that we can have people from outside of the organization to participate in the group. However, the experience is still, of course, it’s separate from the original conversation, but it still helped us follow.

To do this I had to go edit the group that I had created. And allow people from outside the organization to email this group. So if you don’t want this to be possible, if you don’t want anyone from the outside being able to email your group, you can definitely leave that off, which is the default value. So that’s the conversation. It’s important to know that by default everyone that is in the group and in the organization can email this group but people on the outside can’t participate. However, it is not on by default. Let’s go back here.

So first, you get conversations. The second thing you get is a calendar for the group. Now, don’t get me wrong. Let’s talk about Team Site, a SharePoint Team Site, for example. Did you like the calendar in a SharePoint Team Site? That’s what I thought. It’s not the best calendar if I could call it that even for actual work, for actual use is actually when we’re used to this constant Outlook.

Everybody’s been in an Outlook or almost of everybody has been using Outlook for years and we’ve come to expect certain things from calendar management. All right. And then we go to SharePoint and SharePoint say, “Well, we have of this calendar.” Which is very limited in some ways.

So here what we have is a calendar for the group. Now, the advantage of this is that you can put it alongside your personal calendar, but the calendar here will belong to actual group itself. So no matter who leaves and joins the group, the events, the occurrences, they’re all still there and still fine. So here if I click on “New” or click somewhere on the “Dates,” I get the full Outlook experience for calendar management.

I can repeat the event as many times as I want, I’ve get customizations on that. I’ve got reminders, I’ve got attendees, I’ve got a scheduling assistant. I can put any form of text in there as well. I can even go to get apps from the Apps Store that I can use. So for example there’s the app, “My Templates” where I can use text templates for the meeting. Right? So there’s a much better integration here because I’m actually giving the group. Right?

Remember, we stop focusing on the technology. We focus on the experience through Office 365. So instead of doing either an Outlook calendar or Outlook distribution list or either a Microsoft SharePoint Team Site would pick in the best of both welts. In this scenario, we’re saying there’s a group of people that are having conversations and the group itself has a calendar that the members of the group can interact with.

So I can take any of these events and I can add them to my personal calendar as well. Right? So I can click it, add to my calendar, I can edit it. Some people have accepted the event, I can link to other people outside your organization. But the best thing about this here, is that the calendar is not a SharePoint calendar, it’s an Outlook, it’s an Exchange calendar. So if everyone in, if tomorrow, if for example, where there’s a marketing team.

And a marketing team meets on every Monday and there’s events that have already been planned for the year. Instead of whenever a new person comes in and things being in one person’s calendar anonymous, another person’s calendar or you sharing your personal calendar with someone, instead have that group create the events. And everyone that is a member of the group automatically see them as and overlaid calendar if they want to or if they don’t want to. That’s the idea behind the new calendar. I think you get the idea with the calendar.

You also get a OneNote notebook. Remember, think about it. Remember my picture earlier? You mean like a Team Site? Very, very, very similar. And what do you get with a Team Site? For those of you that have already started with Office 365, what do you get with the Team Site as well? You get a OneNote notebook. So right now, what we’re seeing, we have a OneNote notebook that the whole group can work on it. If you don’t have experience with OneNote, it’s a note-taking app and it’s actually pretty amazing. I love this app.

And so essentially, I’m in my group, I’ll go back here on my actual Outlook Web App that I’ve already switched to my calendar right now. In my group here, I can switch to the notebook and I’ll have the notebook for this group. So every member of the group can come in create a new tab, create a new page, and start taking notes and everyone can work it live at the same time in the same notebook. Right?

So for example, if me and Declan were preparing this webinar to present you today . . .And I hope you’re having an awesome time. Thanks for again joining from anywhere in the world, or watching it later on. But if you wanted to prepare this and we have to create a group like I did. Right? Conference or webinar with Benjamin. We both been members or we have two or three or four other people that were already members.

We would have OneNote to take a note on what we would do at which time and which questions would we prepare for beforehand? And we would have all of this beforehand. Then we go into the Calendar. Right? And then the calendar would set the dates and times while we would prepare ourselves or make sure that Go To Webinar wouldn’t disappear on me the moment I pressed on Go Live. Of course. And we would have conversations. We would talk to each other right here inside the group conversations.

The advantage also of conversations is online distribution list. If I add you six months from now in this group, you’ll have the ability . . .Wow. That was my French coming out. But you’ll have the ability to search the conversation. So you don’t only have access to conversations from the moment that you joined the group, you get access to the history since the group has been started. You should know however that even if you don’t belong to groups, by default, all groups are open to everyone. And I’ll get back to that very soon when we talk about management.

I do not belong to any group when I’m connected as Alex Darrow. As Alex Darrow, I’m part of the same company, but I do not. So I can browse groups and I can see the European SharePoint Conference group. And if I click on it, I’ll see the members, I can see the email, I can see the conversations. There’s no security on this. The reason for this is because it’s a public group. There is the ability for you to create a private group.

And in that case I would not be able to see as Alex Darrow, who has still not joined the group to see all the conversations happening and choose to participate in them even if he’s not joined in the group. Joining the group really allows him to subscribe, to make sure he is up to date with everything. But also to add the calendar as an overlay and so on and so on, the files accessed and all of this, but he can see them by default.

OneDrive for Business and Office 365

OneDrive for Business and Office 365

So I’m going to get back to my presentation here, which I’m sure you’re impatiently waiting for. Here we’re guys. As a group, you also get files or a document library. And this is where it gets complicated because it starts using OneDrive for Business. But what you don’t understand with OneDrive for business is that it’s not what you think it is. OneDrive for Business . . . I love TV shows, so if you’re watching Suits, you definitely would like the new season. All right, get back to Office 365, of course.

OneDrive for business is actually a brand. A lot of us tend to think, “Oh, it’s the old Groove. It’s the old SkyDrive Pro. It’s the old SharePoint Workspace. And what it is, it allows you to sync offline.” And that’s not entirely true anymore. OneDrive for business is its own brand, it’s almost its own product inside of Office 365. And if I could tell you to focus on one thing when you see this, I want you to think these, Files. I don’t you think OneDrive for Business sync offline.

OneDrive for Business equals Files. Let me explain to you. Let’s go back into our wonderful world of the group here. And instead here, I’ll go into the calendar, instead of going to the notebook. I’m going to click on “Files” which is also available here as a quick link. When I click on “Files,” look at the URL focus here, while I’m going to click on “files.” When I click on “Files” and the URL here is going to change. There you go. You saw it changed? Now, I’ll explain to you in a few seconds.

Where I am right now is OneDrive for business, not the offline sync. OneDrive for Business means Files. Yes, by default. If I click here, this is my personal files. I can see the recent files. I can see the files that are shared with me directly. I can see the files that I’m following and I can see the files in the different sites that I’m following as well. If you click on “Follow” on a Team Site, a regular SharePoint Team Site, your files will also be here.

And on top of that, the group that you belong to, you’ll see the files for the groups. However, if we look at the URL . . .I know I’m using a Mac, but a Mac comes with a zoom. And if I go to the end of this URL . . .All right. Look at the URL. After all of this, well here, it’s showing me right here. Right? HTTPS, the name of my group. So it’s actually showing a secret site collection, which I’ll talk about in a few seconds.

When you have your group the files are not actually stored in OneDrive. All right, I know I’m confusing you so is the rest of the planet. So let me help out just for a few seconds. Here’s what you probably know of OneDrive for Business. You think OneDrive for Business is the new My Sites. That’s what a lot of people have been telling you, “Oh, yeah. OneDrive for Business is the new My Site, it’s just the new My Site and it has that sync offline.” It’s not entirely true anymore. It is on-premises, well, sort of. Oh, the fun, the good times that we have together.

OneDrive for Business replace it with files. But from an individual’s perspective my name is Benjamin Niaulin, so I see the files that are for me. This is my personal document library. Yes, it’s my My Site. I want to see the files that I work on with the rest of my groups and that I have many, many groups here and I can create a new group from here as well. From here, I can see all of the files wherever they are in the different groups. In folders, I can upload a new one, I can sync them, I can select one and I can start editing in the browser, view in browser in this version history.

However, right now it’s very limited. It does not come with creation of new, say, “columns.” Right? There’s no library menu at the top. So you cannot see the actual document library. What happens here is that when you create a group . . .Let me go here, in my Admin Center. I’m going to become . . .Yes, I want to leave my Office 365. I’m going to go in my Office 365 Admin Center and I’m going to go under SharePoint.

Under SharePoint you always see the list of all the site collections that you work with. These are all of the site collections that I work with. There are no other pages. That’s it. Do you guys see the EUSPC site collection? No. It’s actually hidden. And if I try to create a new site collection and I decided to give it the same name as my group, EUSPC and I’m going to call myself MOD Administrator.

And I give it till a 110 megabytes to be fun, and I’m going to click on “OK.” Oops! The site collection already exists. Hold on a second. It doesn’t, I don’t see it. Yeah. So definitely have to watch out for that and the group don’t appear here. They appear in your Admin Center under “Groups” and they are merged with your other kinds of groups.

So for example, there’s my EUSPC and if I select it, I can see this is a use for team collaboration, this is my group that I created. But if I click on another one, this is a distribution list. So they merged and they’re syncless with all of them, which is interesting. So very hard for the SharePoint administrator to keep proper governance on that. So we’ll talk about that in just a few seconds.

So there’s a site collection that has been created, that’s for sure, because I can’t navigate to it. If I try to navigate to it, what is it If I type the site URL, so what was it? . . .Oh, there it is, it’s already in my autocomplete. Let’s delete the rest and let’s press “Enter.” What’s going to happen?

I’m going to go to that site collection and it redirected me to my OneDrive for Business that gives me a perspective. Like a Window if you want, that looks into that site collection in a specific document library that exist over there and I get to see it as a user that belongs to all of my groups. Wow, a lot to digest. I know. Right?

So far with when I create a group which is for people to work together, I add members to it. That’s fine. I get to have conversations, I get to have a calendar and I get files. The files portion of it is in a secret SharePoint site collection that gets created and counts against your quota, but you can see it anywhere to manage it and you cannot navigate to it. Every user that is a member of that group instead gets to see what’s inside of that site from his or her OneDrive experience, so that everything that is related to files for that user, for Alex Darrow, for Benjamin, for Suzie, for Jennifer. Everything that’s related to files you go from your OneDrive experience, your files experience, your personal files, the ones that you worked on recently, the ones that have been shared with you, the one insights in SharePoint and the one inside the group that you belong to.

So that when you’re on any device remember Mac Shops message this year, Cloud first, Mobile first. And when you’re on that app, that OneDrive app, you can access all of this from the same experience. That’s what they want. Why does it have to be just at SharePoint Team Site that’s that does the team collaboration? Why does it have to be just Exchange that does the calendar and the emails? Let’s put the pieces together and let’s build an experience. And that’s what Mac Shops is trying to go after. It’s not perfect and I’ll get to it, but that’s what files are. And if I had time, I would spend the rest of the day to speak about this bad boy, OneDrive for Business.

But we’re focusing on groups year, so remembered that OneDrive for Business. And you can hash tag this for the European Conference. It is not a central. It’s more than that. It’s a new brand and it talks about files. There’s an invisible site collection as we just saw in the SharePoint but it’s invisible in the SharePoint admin center. You can’t see it, you can’t do anything with it for now. So there’s definitely some awesome features and if you look at the description basically as we said before groups that you share conversation, documents and a calendar, now one notebook as well. Is essentially, for users to be able to quickly start working. Because the whole concept of requesting a Team Site from IT waiting two, three weeks.

What happens with that is that the people in your organization they start looking at other tools. And IT doesn’t even know sometimes their users is on Dropbox, their users is on Facebook private groups. And even if you think they’re not, believe me, I’ve seen some pretty sophisticated things that people have been using. Whether it’s a small, medium or even large enterprises, it’s all over. Because, now you can. Now there’s the power anyone can do it. Right? Before IT knew the geeky stuff, but now everyone, especially the new generation coming into the Office. They know how to create these things. And if it’s not available, if Microsoft cannot deliver them and if you can keep them in your organization, it’s risky because you’ll have your content spread across everything. And once somebody leaves or somebody changes roles, you have no idea what’s going on there.

And that’s why Office 365 makes sense, especially with a hybrid scenario with SharePoint 2016, on-premises or 2013 or 2010. Because it provides that ability to give what that people in the organization want, which is quick creation, quick work, quick collaboration, easy to use accessible or more mobiles. And at the same time it’ll let you control and manage it. Of course, again, this is a relatively new feature. So there’s still a lot to be desired. We’ll look at that. Isn’t all this kind of look like Yammer, right? If you guys . . .You guys done Yammer before. If you haven’t, let’s quickly go to it. I’m sure we can open one up.

I’ll fight I’m sure I have the SharePoint Conference from last year as well. But you’ll get the idea. There’s a feed, there’s a group. I can go inside of the group, say, “Office 365 IT Pro.” We have files, we have notes and we have conversations. So isn’t that the same thing that you just showed us, Ben? Why? Why would I start using this new one? That’s a very good question and there’s different things that I’ll answer different means.

The best thing right now that you can do is know that all of these things exist, and how they work to make sure that you can make the best decision. Obviously, for example, when you store files in Yammer, there’s absolutely nothing you can do with them. It’s not the best way for an enterprise that meta-data, workflows and all of that. Right now, the files that are used inside the group, they’re stored in a SharePoint document library, which makes total sense for management purposes. SharePoint is the best. So we’re definitely happy to be able to use that piece in combination with conversation. And we’ll talk about it very, very soon in this presentation.

But eventually, we’re going to see Yammer integrate as well. So what I mean by that is once you’ll go in your conversation and this has already been announced, so it is coming eventually. You also have your Yammer a group conversation. So I’m not exactly sure how this will all play out and how it will in track in your user experience and how it will all look like. But from my understanding is you’ll have conversations, calendar, members, files, notebook and you also have Yammer conversation. So when you’ll create a group, it will also create a Yammer group in your network and the conversations you’ll have there will also be available here so that we can say that we don’t care about which technology we’re using as long as we get to work together. That’s the experience we’re looking for and that’s what we want.

How to create Groups in Office 365

How to Create Office 365 Groups

Continuing. How’s everyone doing by the way? I can see everybody’s Munich. Well, we’ll talk afterwards. So creating groups. How do you create them? Where are they created? This is what you see. When you create a group you get this interface on the right, you choose a name. If it’s available, remember it automatically creates an email address that you cannot change afterwards. And it also creates the site collection in SharePoint that you cannot see because it’s hidden and therefore you cannot manage. You can add a description and you can choose whether or not this group is going to be public or . . .So let’s go to create a group actually. Wow, you can see my slider already. Let’s create a new group. You get the pop-up, we’ll call it a question . . .The group is available. “Webinar questions.” We can make this group public or private. So private group will mean only the approved members can see what is inside.

However, we’ll talk about that. But everyone can see every group. It’s not because your group is private that no one will be able to see it. Everyone will see. So if you call your group, “We’re going to fire John,” John is going to see that group. He’s going to get it. So you definitely want to be careful with that because as it now public group and private groups can be seen, but only the public group can be seen at all times and conversations can be seen in five, can be seen and saw. For private groups, you only know that they are there, but you have to be an approved member to be able to see what’s inside.

You choose a language for notifications and you can subscribe to members automatically so they receive everything in their inbox. When you’re done you click on “Create.” And there are some options that are not available when you create the group. So in a few seconds once the group will be created, you sign the options that I had that none of the options allow me to say whether or not do I want to add members. Let’s skip that for now.

And there’s my group. I can change the picture of the group by the way it takes the first two letters. You can change the picture of the group for now. I’m not going to do that. But there’s a new option here that is not available for some reason on the time you create the group. Let people outside the organization email the group. Sure. All right, save. And as of now everyone that is listening to this webinar until I close this group, of course, can email at this email questions .Ben, whatever my email was, @Ben. You have every information here in few details. There’s the email. Questions All of you can email me now. I know some of you are actually going to do it. I’m going to leave this group right away. When you get the idea, right?

So what happened here is that while I created this group it’s actually stored in as your AD, that’s where the group is created. So Office 365 is actually running on Windows Azure. Right? And in Azure, there’s something called, “Azure Active Directory.” where users and groups and all that has whenever you’re using the DirSync what Office 365 or whichever the case they’re created and stored there. In this case the group is stored in Azure AD. Most of the things inside a group are either belonging to Exchange or they belong to SharePoint. The idea is to give that experience where whether you’re using one or the other it doesn’t matter because the user, the people in your company don’t care about these products, they just want to work together.

So we give them a little piece of Exchange, the conversations happen in Exchange, the calendar happens in Exchange, but the files and the notebook happen in SharePoint. The perspective of all the files happen in OneDrive. How are we doing? All right. And the big problem here. Well, it’s a problem if you wanted it to be a problem. Everyone, I repeat, anyone in your organization can create a group by default, anyone. That means, Joe from shipping, if he has access, he has a user account, he can create a new group called “shipping” and he can work with the other members.

Anyone can create them by default. So this is needless to say in combination . . .Can you imagine this? Anyone in the organization can create as many groups as they want. And every time you create a group it creates a SharePoint site collection that the administrator of the entire Office 365 cannot see. So this could become a problem and chaos even if you let this happen, if you let anyone and you have too many users especially for large enterprise, an all for OpenOffice. That means for example Yammer is that way. Anybody can create groups and we have a Gambas Center that goes after and ensure that the groups that were created are useful, are meaningful should be there. There’s no one there that already exists and then delete all access on this group. You can have that for your SharePoint group as well.

However, if you wanted more hands-on approach, you can disable group creation by user. It’s actually an all one mailbox policy. So there’s the link, there’s the actual PowerShell command, you can say, “Only these certain people are allowed to create the groups,” and the other people will see the new group creation but when they’ll click on it will say, “Sorry you know have access to create these groups.” So there is a way to control groups in some way. If you’re comfortable with PowerShell, the command line is not that difficult. You can say on who you want to set this, this will turn it off. This will stop them from creating because by default everyone can’t. So you got to work with that, but it’s definitely possible to manage these groups straight from PowerShell.

Groups VS Team Sites & Yammer

Office 365 Groups VS Teams Sites & Yammer

All right. We’ve talked a lot about all of this. Group versus Team Site, versus Yammer, versus distribution list, versus everything that exist already. Why should you use one? Which one should you use? There is no… I can’t give you a table of this, then, if this, than that. There is no such thing. You have to know what you get with groups and you have to know the limitations of Group right now, and you have to know what a SharePoint Team Site is, and you have to know how Yammer works.

Based on that in the scenarios inside the organization, you have to choose which one will make the most sense for you. On top of that, I would say the benefits that I see from something like groups, sprouting in Office 365 is I know the users. I know these people in the different departments and it’s been years that they find that there’s no way to work with IT. The IT always stops them and blocks them and often with good reason. Right? There’s legal, there’s compliance issues. You can’t allow them to do whatever they want but people in these organizations have been tiredness. Right?

So they’re starting to look for new solutions. So the best solution right now in those scenarios is, yes, you can have your SharePoint on-premises with the files that need to be stored there for retention purposes, for policies, for compliance, for auditing. But instead of giving them the option to then use Dropbox because they’re going to use it, to use box, to use whatever else. Groups offer that alternative but that stays in your organization. It’s easier to create, you’ve conversation files and all of that and you get the best of the different technologies there. You also have Skype for Business or Lync however to continue to do live meetings, to do live conversations and so on. So which do you use?

Well, first, you have the Team Site. This is really the Cadillac, right? It has everything. It’s got all the options. The Team Sites you can create multiple document libraries, you can add meta-data, you can add workflows, you can change the branding, you can do everything. So Team Site is still team site. It’s there and it’s available and you should still use it. That’s what a Team Site is. That’s right. I think everybody’s comfortable. There’s lists, there’s everything in the Team Site. Groups for me, right now today is Team Site Lite with a promising future. All right.

So it’s completely new to new way of thinking. And right now it’s still missing a couple pieces for example, the documents in the document library or the files there’s nothing you can do with them. Right? There’s not even a delete button that you have to know it on the keyboard. There is no delete interface but you have to know that you can put any meta-data that the versioning that is turned on is exactly as it is. You can’t change that, you can’t turn on content to approval, you can’t do much. All of these is files in a library. Like many people have been using SharePoint for unfortunately is dumping files in the library in working with. So right now it’s very lite.

However, I find there’s a lot of promise, but you should know something. So you saw my slider already that although it does a lot of good things and because of this sayings right now you should know that group offers limited management. You can’t really do anything with it. There’s no anything. You can’t even . . .I don’t know. You can’t even change it, you can’t even delete the change of the email address and everything else is through PowerShell. You can’t control probably what the files are going to be there. You cannot recover…

See the second one. Cannot recover or deleted a group. So if by accident, one of the admin deletes the group, all of the files, all the conversations they’re gone and you don’t really have a way to recover that right now. There’s no API for developers as well at the moment for groups either. All the groups can be seen in the GAL, the global access list. So when you’re looking through the GAL, whether it’s in the email or whatever, every single group can be seen. The public groups can’t be seen, the private groups can’t be seen. There’s no compliance features. So if you have auditing, if you want to see who has access to what, who did what, there’s nothing.

Now, we know that Office 365 is really working hard on all of this because in Exchange it is amazing. The compliance features in the Exchange part and the compliance coming to SharePoint and the ones that are already there, the data loss prevention the auditing there are amazing. So I know they’re going to be coming, but right now its TeamSite Lite. It’s still very new. And I choose the test lite because it’s amazing, love it, new interface, new way of thinking.

But I can tell you that out here in the cold is you don’t really go too far. Right? You have turned off the heating. There is no everything, it hasn’t been really worked out for all the scenarios and all the environment properly yet. So that’s what groups is, is a really good look into the future. There is no retention policies on groups. So if you want groups to be deleted after seven month automatically, there’s nothing to keep control of that.

Which one was created when? Which one was the last one that we modified? Which one has not been touch for the last six months that we can do it? There’s nothing on that and there’s no migration support. So if you have files in your file sharing, you have files in your team site, and you want to migrate them to the groups, there’s nothing. There is no support, there is no API, there’s nothing you can do for that. Same thing if you’re coming from the Exchange site, you cannot turn in distribution list into a group. You have to do that manually in all the conversation, drag and drop them or something. There’s nothing to automate this or to do that right now. I’m sure we’ll see some of that coming as new features get added to Office 365 and added to the groups or team’s experiences.

Now, a year ago, as you can tell this looks like a team site. A year ago, Microsoft told us that we will be able to navigate to the team sites that belong to the groups. So remember when I create a group I get conversations, I get a calendar and I get files that create essentially a secret site collection and then I can see that library in my OneDrive. Eventually, at least I’m hoping it’s still the case. We want to have access to the site that was created for that group. And when this happens I will officially no longer need the regular SharePoint inside. Because this is the team site, but I get to access the things from anywhere no matter what technology is.

From my Outlook I get a real calendar, I can see it from my OneDrive. I have the files, I can create meta-date and add columns and create more libraries, but until that’s out, I will still need team sites for those more enterprises or bigger scenarios. The team site is I need more document libraries, I need the meta-data, I need to create view, I’m going to create alert, I’m going to create workflows. The groups right now, is for those quick collaboration scenarios. Right? I want it to work with Declan on this webinar. We wanted to prepare for you guys. This would be a nice opportunity to use a group.

Well, you’ll have files to work together, you’ll have conversations, you’ll have a calendar, have a notebook we can take notes. That would be the best quick scenarios for us to not have to go through emails and then use box to send files over because they’re too big or whatever the case is. So until this happens, I’m still going to use Team Sites. But I can see how groups is a new in parallel. So it doesn’t replace the team site and it will never replace that old team site, but it will be added a new parallel, a new vertical, a new way of working the new team or collaboration experience. And I will probably go more and more towards there when that currently happens.

So we talked about Yammer integration already as I’m finishing up here. We said that the Yammer conversation to groups are going to come into the conversations inside of group. But right now, Yammer is still on its own on the site. Yes, we have Yammer conversations, so if you’re in your Outlook Web App, which by the way between you and me. If you click on here, be careful with these four over here. It’s nice I can click on “Word” and I can start a brand new Word document. But I’ll tell you a secret. I don’t like the fact that it only goes automatically to my OneDrive for business. I want it to go to my group. I want it to go to my team site. And right now, there is no Save As for these apps. So once you’re here, we’ll let it load.

Users create anything from here. It goes to their personal documents library in one . . .Anyway, I’m going off topic here, but be careful if you’re deploying that at large because even if you’re in your group here, if you click on any of these, they actually goes to your personal document library. This document here is in my personal document library if I navigate to it. It is not in my group library, it’s not in my team site and I’ve no way of saving it anywhere else. So definitely be careful with that.

And Yammer? Yes, we do have Yammer and if I open it up, we saw earlier, if I open up this document and it will have edit and browser or view and browser whatever the case. We have Yammer conversation, I don’t know if it’s actually loaded in my Office 365 yet, but usually on the pop-up here you’ll get Yammer conversation. But there are happening somewhere else they are not in your group, you can’t save to happen in your group. So right now, very, very limited for that. Your conversation are going to happen in that conversation box and if people are talking on Yammer it’s completely separated and not connected.

So I’m also looking forward to that coming in and joining. I expect a lot to come out during at night to be honest with you. A lot of things had been said, it’s almost been a year since the groups has been announced and that all of this was promised. So I’m expecting a big, big show at the big Mac Shop conference. I know guys, our first Will Smith was laughing. You mean a team site? And now he’s crying. There’s a lot going on. You have to keep up with the paces? You don’t have to, it’s not true.

You have to understand what your users are going through, what they want, what they need. You have to understand what’s going on in Office 365. I want you to know that you can disable group creation, you can manage them, you can do whatever it is that you need and you want. You just have to be aware of some of the limitations that are there, what you should know right now. But between you and I, if I have to put my money on something . . . I don’t have much money, but if I have to put it somewhere it would definitely put on groups and the future of groups versus team site. If and when they open up access to that SharePoint site, where the files are loaded, then I probably will not need the regular SharePoint Team Site.

But we don’t care about that anymore, do we? It’s not about that, it’s not about SharePoint this or Exchange that or Lync this. It’s about the experience. It’s about saying, “You want a video portal? You want a collaboration portal?” Right? “You want search? You want Dale with that?” It’s using. And if people can work and inside of this it’s a cookie cutter of Exchange plus SharePoint plus Yammer put together to provide that collaboration experience. Then I don’t care. As long as I can manage it. I can be comply to my whatever the law, legal requirement that we have, whatever it is, then I’m in business.

I hope that this has been useful. I hope you learn something. Otherwise, I hope I was entertaining. I’ll stick around for questions of course. You can tweet me, you can use that harsh tag of course. Thank you very, very much. I’ll stick around, however, Declan, I’ll get it back to you, but I cannot see my “Go to Webinar” box. So I may have to leave and rejoin for the questions, I’ll let you know in just a few seconds. Again, thank you very, very much. Had an awesome time today.

Declan Clancy: Thank you very much Benjamin. Hopefully you can still hear me.

Benjamin: Yes, absolutely.

Declan: Perfect. I have a few questions here.

Benjamin: Perfect.

Declan: Of course. Anyway thank you very much for the presentation.

Benjamin: Awesome.

Declan: Perfect. So the first question we have here, “We don’t have a notebook in the groups of our tenant, is this only available for first release tenant?

Benjamin: Yes, it is for first release. So if you’re not on first release, you probably have to wait a couple of weeks, months. And you can never tell really the exact dates. That’s the whole . . . I don’t want to speak too loud on that but it’s very interesting how it works. So, yes. The answer is for first release right now. Expect that to roll out without you knowing automatically very soon.

Declan: Okay. Next question, Benjamin. Are you able to see groups calendar in Outlook client as well as on the Outlook online?

Benjamin: There is no group references to the… Sorry. Basically everything related to Exchange in the groups, it’s only available through all our Outlook Web Access. The client of Outlook doesn’t not see anything for the group right now. However, the calendar you can always connect to directly when you share it. So you’ll be able to see it about every interaction and almost everything in it is used through a Web.

Declan: Perfect. Time for just one more question. So the group files are deducted from whose file quota? Is it the OneDrive, one terabyte quota of the group.

Benjamin: No. So remember that’s the whole conclusion with OneDrive. A OneDrive wears a lot of hats. So even though the files look like they’re in people’s OneDrive, the files are not in people’s OneDrive. The one terabyte quota is for the person’s personal site, is the My Site aspect of OneDrive. Right? So they’re only shown there but they’re actually stored in a regular SharePoint site collection. So they actually count into your tenant’s quota, your SharePoint quota. I hope that was clear. Sometimes my French grammar comes…

Declan: No, that’s very clear. Thank you very much. Perfect for that, Benjamin. That’s all the time we have for question today and thank you all for joining us.

Benjamin: Thank you very much.

Declan: Perfect. Hope you can join us all again tomorrow, we’ve got three more great webinars with Allan Richards,  and Mark Cashman [SP]. And for more top-quality training from the world best speakers, look no further than Stockholm [SP] with European SharePoint Conference 2015. Registration is now open, and you can get a three-day pass for a price of 995.

Check out SharePoint Europe for more information. If you want to speak in front of European SharePoint community, here is your chance. Speaker submissions are invited on SharePointOffice365 For more info and submission speakers. Closing day for submission is until this Friday, 20th of February. Thank you all again for joining us today, and hopefully I’ll see you all tomorrow. Bye.

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