Use Office 365 to collaborate
Office 365 offers multiple ways to collaborate with who you work with, whether they are at the College or external. The method you choose depends on what kind of group you’re working with.
Collaboration methods are:
- Outlook if you’re going to be predominantly using email and calendars to collaborate with others on an on-going project or goal.
- Microsoft Teams for project work where you want to be able to chat and easily access other Office 365 applications in one place.
- Yammer if you’re aiming to reach a wide audience of like-minded individuals.
- SharePoint for creating a secure central file repository for your team with managed permissions.
Each of these methods creates an Office 365 group. This allows you to easily set up a collection of resources such as a shared Outlook inbox, shared calendar and a SharePoint document library for storing and collaborating on files. For more information and for other methods to collaborate with others, visit our sharing and collaboration tools web pages.
Groups guidance and FAQs
What is a 'group owner'?
Group owners can add, remove and manage the permissions of users within a group. We strongly advise that you have two or more owners for each group, in case one of them is on leave, absent or leaves the college.
How do I create a group?
Who can view my group?
When creating your group, you’ll need to decide whether you want the group to be private or public.
- Private groups can only be seen by those within the group, and all new members have to be approved by the group owner.
- Public group content can be viewed by all, and anyone within the College can join the group.
Guests from outside the college must be invited into both public and private groups. Guests will need a Microsoft Account to have access to the group. You should ask your external contacts for the format that they use to log in to Office 365 (if they have Office 365 at their business or institution) as many are like Imperial and use a different login to the email address. They can either log in using their own Office 365 login (sometimes this is their email address) or log in using their business email address (if they don’t have Office 365) where they will be redirected to create a Microsoft account for that email address.
When you leave the College, you will no longer have access to Office 365, therefore, won’t have access to any of your groups.
How many people can be in a group?
Groups can have up to 999 members, but we recommend you keep groups to a maximum of 250 people to make it manageable.
What is the group naming policy?
ICT have introduced a naming policy for all Office 365 groups. There are two key elements to this:
- When you create an Office 365 Group (through Teams, Outlook, SharePoint, Power BI, or Planner) a short code indicating your department will be added to the group name. This short code at the beginning or end of your group name will indicate what department this group belongs to (e.g. GROUP-NAME-IT). This will be automatic and will help when searching for groups and it will help ICT to direct adoption and use guidance for those areas where this is either lacking or features are not being used.
- For example, if you create a Team called, “My 2021 Departmental Teaching Team”. The actual team name enforced by the naming policy will appear as “My 2021 Departmental Teaching Team - XX” where XX represents the two character departmental finance code. So, in ICT this would be IT, and in HR it would be HR, etc.
- A classification as to whether the group can be viewed by external guests or not, and whether additional security or retention policies are applied to the group. These will be based on the College Data Protection classifications.
- We are implementing this as part of our ongoing Office 365 governance. The old 365 naming policy for Outlook based groups will be removed. Additional features will be implemented later in the year to provide labelling and control of sensitive data in accordance with good data governance guidelines.
Can I add guests to my group? Can I be added to my guests group?
If your guest doesn’t have an MSA then add their email address. They will get your invite to the group and on first access will be prompted and guided through creating an MSA linked to that email address. MSAs are free and just work to use the email address as the identifier.
What is the group expiry policy?
ICT has introduced a group expiry policy for all Office 365 groups.
All groups will be set with an expiry date 12 months from initial creation.
Owners of groups will be notified 30 days, 15 days and 1 day before expiry and on the date of expiry. In the emails sent before expiry, there will be an option to renew the group and this will extend the life of the group by another 12 months. If nothing is done and the group is allowed to expire then on the date of expiry an email will be sent to all group owners and any group owner will be able to re-instate the group. The expired group can be re-instated for up to 30 days after expiry. If the group is not renewed in advance of expiry or reinstated within 30 days then all group messages and files will be deleted and will then be unrecoverable.
Some actions taken within groups create an auto-renewal event which then supresses any expiry of the group for a further 12 months. The following actions will result in auto-renewal of a group:
- SharePoint: View, edit, download, move, share, or upload files
- Outlook: Join group, read/write group message from group space, Like a message (in Outlook Web Access)
- Teams: Visit a Teams channel
For groups which are already older than 12 months, group owners may see the first 30 day notice renewal email triggered on 27th May when this policy is implemented.
Any owner in a group may renew or recover a group from the email options provided.
Expiry emails are automatically generated by the Office 365 system.
ICT are implementing this to maintain the health of Office 365 and to control group sprawl – we know that there are many old groups in Office 365 which could potentially be removed – this automates the process.