New Upcoming Feature for Office 365: Naming Convention for Teams/Groups

Sikich has seen the explosive interest and growth in Office 365 Teams since the turn of the New Year. We hear all sorts of praise from end-users on the usefulness of the tool. We also happen to hear all the complaints from IT groups about the craziness that came with it. By craziness, I am referring to the fact that, by default, any user can create a Team (or an Office 365 Group) at a whim. The end result has been numerous issues, mostly resulting from all the confusion between existing published distribution groups and new Team/Office 365 Groups that set up with a near identical name.

Typically, the initial issue reported is that of missing email. A user will report that they sent an email to a group that no one received. It turns out the user sent it to the Team/Group instead. Running a rather simple web search on the issue nets all sorts of complaints (pretty much by IT folks) that this behavior is crazy and needs to be changed!

To curb this problem, IT groups have asked me to disable the ability for users to create a Team/Office 365 Group. While putting the restriction isn’t the most straight forward process, it does result in allowing IT (and select individuals) to creating a Team/Group and blocking everyone else from doing that. The process is then that IT creates the Team/Group, adds the owner of the Team, and then the new owner can take on the management responsibility. This approach seems to be a happy middle ground to at least get going with Teams.

To address this concern, Microsoft has been working on a new feature for IT groups so that they can create a naming convention policy for Teams/Office 365 Groups.

The options we will get (for now) include the following:

  • Prefix-suffix naming policy – an option to define certain prefixes or suffixes that are added by default to any Team/Group (i.e. adding a prefix for “Team_” to the beginning of all Teams/Groups); and
  • Custom blocked words – an option to set certain words/terms as ineligible to use in Teams/Group names (i.e. CEO).

Since this feature is still in public preview, it is only available to those Office 365 tenants that have access to First Release. Those under First Release who want to test out this new policy option will need to use some powershell to configure those.

Perhaps once this hits general availability, IT groups can release the restrictions on limiting the creation of Teams/Groups and open that up to everyone again.

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