What is Office 365 Groups and how does it Help Businesses with its Collaboration Method?

By CIOReview | Tuesday, August 16, 2016
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In an organization, abundant information resides, flowing between colleagues and clients, present not only on-premise but at other locations as well. With this, needs of the stakeholders have changed; as they expect better offers and services from the productivity software they choose to capitalize on datasets.

Managing people, who works in a group to achieve a common goal, is a tedious job; only those executives who have hands on experience on software’s like Exchange and Sharepoint would know how to manage distribution groups. That’s when Office 365 Groups come into picture, which is one of the services offered by Office 365 that provides an overall experience for collaboration. It also offers features like calendar, notebook, and files.

The most common problem ‘distribution groups’ face is that the sent messages are delivered only to the members of the group. People outside the group won’t be able to receive the information. Later, when an individual is added to the group, the newly added member will be unable to access the previous messages. With all these flaws, most of the organizations still use this distribution group as one of prominent method to share information.

Office 365 Groups takes over traditional email distribution feature, by offering an enhanced way to send messages to the group and assuring that information is delivered to all the members. Office 365 Groups is a service embedded with communication and collaboration capabilities that enables teams, identified within the Azure Active Directory, to work as a single unit.

This service is the combination of the public folder and distribution group that offers the flexibility to use the unit as a regular distribution group.

Forming Groups

An Office 365 Groups is available under various plans such as—Business premium plans, mid size premium plan and Small business plan. Enterprises purchase the feature and utilize them accordingly to foster effective communication within their companies. By offering the benefits of limitless creation of group, enterprises can create as many numbers of categories they want within Office 365 tenant. Furthermore, it comes with a unique Exchange mailbox that offers ability to store the group information upto 50GB, including messages, posts, and calendar entries. This special mailbox is connected to a document library created in a Sharepoint site that helps in accumulating other type of information that is shared inside the group. By providing a web-based access to all the groups, Office 365 Groups enables the usage of Outlook Web Access (OWA) to the client.

This service of Microsoft assists enterprises in creating a new group through OWA in Onedrive for business. A new group can be created easily by navigating through groups section and clicking on create new groups. It gives two options to create groups in the beginning, Public or Private—once selected cannot be changed after. There is no constraint to join public group, anyone can share information and view contents, but to join private groups one has to send a request to the group administrators. The user who creates group automatically becomes the group admin and only when the request is accepted, the member can be a part of the group and initiate conversation.

Right to Access

According to the type of groups, users can access them to enter the conversation or simply follow particular group. Joining a new group under public is easy; Office 365 Groups offers a flexibility to view the contents or the ongoing conversation in the group. If a user is interested to participate in any of the conversation, they can join, and for more information, users can go through shared files. In addition to this, if a user likes any content they can follow that particular post by clicking on favorite option. Other features include notification, flexibility to type message in different format and attachment options. With all these features, Office 365 Groups gives a better user-experience than other services.

Managing the Group

This collaboration method not only gives a different outlook as compared to the traditional approaches but also comes with additional features that assist users in sharing and accessing the contents. Microsoft Office 365 Groups offers more storage than actually required; this leads to the creation of many unwanted groups that in turn results in a total chaos in the directory. This issue can be managed or controlled through deploying new policies in the OWA mailbox that restrict the number of groups created by user. OWA policy contains other features like GroupCreationEnabled too; using which the admin can easily control and manage the proliferation of groups.

Conclusion

Microsoft Groups is a great addition to the collaboration capabilities in Office 365. Through the platform, Microsoft has attempted to revolutionize the way people want to interact, explore, and be connected to each other. Regardless, only time can tell how well Microsoft Office 365 will perform, with all these existing competitors around like—Sharepoint, OneDrive and many others.