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Microsoft

We are happy to announce the general availability of User Activity based Expiration Policy for Office 365 groups. This means any active groups covered by the expiration policy will be automatically renewed.

 

We would like to draw your attention to a few resources available to you: 

THANK YOU to all private preview participants for the feedback and comments you shared in this community. Please continue share your thoughts here. Also, please feel free to reach out to us on:

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Office 365 Groups power collaboration across Office 365 

Collaboration is a key ingredient for the success of any organization. Office 365 groups, of the most used collaboration features in Microsoft 365 today, power the collaboration features across apps, including Outlook, Teams, Yammer, and SharePoint. Employees can create groups quickly and start collaborating with co-workers by sharing group documents, emails, and calendars.

 

The twin problems of Groups Life cycle Management 

As the number of Office 365 groups increases, an organization needs to strike a balance between cleaning up unused groups and ensuring any valuable groups do not get deleted unintentionally, causing data loss. Many of you have shared feedback about these challenges in groups lifecycle management.

 

You say, we listen and act

We heard your feedback, and we've made some changes! We are excited to announce the new version of expiration policy which ensures any group being actively used continues to be available, circumventing expiration. This feature makes life easier for users, including admins, group owners and members, by automating the expiration and renewal process by tracking groups for user activity across different apps, like Teams, SharePoint, Outlook, tied to the group.

 

The new expiration policy puts group life cycle management on autopilot 

The current Expiration policy allows you to set an expiration time frame for selected or all Office 365 groups . After the defined group lifetime, owners are asked to renew them if they are still needed. With this newly added intelligence, groups which are being actively used will be automagically renewed. This preempts the need for any manual action on the part of the group owners. This is based on user activity in groups across Office 365 apps like Outlook, SharePoint, Teams, Yammer, and others.

 

Example:  At Contoso, the administrator has configured the Group lifetime to be 180 days. Megan is the owner of the Contoso Marketing Office 365 Group, with Enrico and Alex as its members. Her group is set to expire in 45 days. If an owner or a member performs actions like uploading a document in SharePoint, visiting Teams channel or sending an email to the group in Outlook, the group is automatically renewed for another 180 days, and she does not get any expiry notifications.

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Manual Controls: Group owners will continue to have the manual “delete”, “renew” option for granular control.

 

Soft Delete: Like before, groups which aren't renewed (either automatically based on activity or manually) will be soft deleted. Groups in “Soft-delete” state can still be restored within 30 days, after which the content is deleted permanently.

 

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User actions for group auto-renewal: The following user actions will lead to automatic renewal of groups

  • SharePoint – View, Edit, Download, Move, Share, Upload Files
  • Outlook – Join group, Read/write group message from group space, Like a message (OWA)
  • Teams – Visit a Teams channels

We will continue to update this list to fine tune group auto-renewal experience.

 

Auditing and reporting: Administrators can get a list of auto-renewed groups from audit logs on the azure portal.

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Here are some quick steps to get you started.

 

Getting started

Office 365 groups expiration policy can be configured from the Azure Active Directory portal, as well as programmatically via Azure Active Directory PowerShell. Please note you need an Azure AD Premium license. Below is a quick tutorial on how to get started with the functionality in the new Azure portal experience.

 

1. Create Expiration Policy: Sign into the Azure portal, select Azure Active Directory, go to the Groups tab and select Expiration under Settings. (More details here) .Image 4.png

 

2. Set Group Life cycle: Specify the group lifetime in days and select which groups you want the expiration settings to apply to.

Group owners will receive a renewal notification 30 days before the expiration date, and from that notification they can renew their group with a single click!

 

If there is no user activity in the group (and the owners don't manually renew their group) within the required time frame, their group will expire. Upon expiry it will stay in a “soft deleted” state for 30 days. Owners of deleted groups will receive a notification letting them know their group has been deleted and giving them the opportunity to restore their group within 30 days after its deletion date. The Group will be permanently deleted after 30 days.

 

3. Auto-renewal based on user activity: No explicit action is required to enable activity-based auto-renewal. If an the expiration policy is set for Office 365 groups, auto-renewal will be enabled by default.

Learn more about how you can restore you group to recover all its content, including SharePoint, Planner, and Outlook - how to restore deleted Office 365 groups.

 

Note: The new version of Office 365 groups expiration feature is available for all Azure AD Premium customers.

 

Let us know what you think!

We would love to hear your feedback! If you have any suggestions for us, questions, or issues to report, please leave a comment below. We're always looking for ways to improve.

 

User Voice: Add security groups to Office 365 groups

Support & feedback: groupsarfeedback@microsoft.com

 

 

Best regards,

 

Salil Kakkar                                                               Yuan Karppanen

Program Manager                                                    Program Manager

Office 365 Groups                                                    Azure Active Directory

twitter-3.png  @salil_kakkar

 

10 Comments
Occasional Contributor

So if you check this SharepOint site to make sure it can be safely deleted the group will be renewed....hummm

Occasional Contributor

So aligning this with the documentation on Teams regarding expiration:

 

"Team auto-renewal - There can be times when a team owner is unable to renew the team perhaps because they forgot to renew or were away when renewal was due. In these scenarios, a team in active use can get deleted because of expiration policies that apply to the team.

To prevent accidental deletion, auto-renewal is automatically enabled for a team in the group expiration policy. When the group expiration policy is set up, any team that has at least one channel visit from any team member before its expiration date is automatically renewed without any manual intervention from the team owner"

 

It would be useful to have sort of a timeline of how things happen... for example: if the 30 days renewal notification is set to be sent for a group/team tomorrow and there is user activity today, does that notification even goes out?. 

Contributor

So, in the first chapter you inform...

 

We are happy to announce the general availability of User Activity based Expiration Policy for Office 365 groups.

At the end you add a note...

 

The new version of Office 365 groups expiration feature is available in private preview today for select Azure AD Premium customers.

Hmmm, what is now the case? GA or private preview? Or is the last part a note from the past?  

Senior Member
The "view" action seems like a very low bar. Should not count as active. Also, a chat message in a Teams channel "Is anyone still using this team?" also seems like it won't really be a good sign. I'd say any created or edited documents, emails sent or received, or chat messages from more than one member seems more like it.
New Contributor

We'd like to be able to filter the groups to which the autorenewal policy would apply by means other than manual selection of a list of groups. We need to exclude groups created by Microsoft School Data Sync, and so cannot apply the expiration policy to all groups. SDS groups are archived annually at the end of the school year but need to be accessible to teachers for a period of 3 years or so. The ability to have multiple expiration policies in addition to a default, and to be able to apply an expiration policy to a particular group based on regular expression matching on the group name would be very helpful and would make this feature usable for us. Thanks.

Frequent Contributor

The actions that will renew a group, based on SharePoint activity, are: View, Edit, Download, Move, Share, and Upload Files.

 

The ability to auto-renew a Group (and therefore the SharePoint site) based on view, download, move, or share is inconsistent with the options in Office 365 retention labels (and records retention generally): 'date created', 'date last modified', or the date the label was applied. A disposition review *may* result in the extension of a retention policy, but the review itself doesn't automatically affect retention. 

 

Records generally (including those not in Office 365) may be viewed, downloaded, moved, or shared, for as long as it is subject to a retention policy, after which they may be deleted (subject to a disposition review). These actions do not alter the original record. Extending retention (which is effectively what auto-renew does) based on these events (not actions) doesn't make sense as it could result in permanent auto-renewals. 

 

Regardless of the above, it will not be possible to create a Group expiration policy if you don't have an Azure AD Premium licence.

Occasional Contributor

So how does this work if the Retention Policy for Groups is turned on? 

Senior Member
The new features look great. In our organisation we have people who have sabbaticals, long term travel (research), and placements. For us - and possibly other academic institutions, it would be really useful if the 'delete after 30 days' could be set by a policy to 'delete after X'. Perhaps X could be 30, 90, 120, etc, or a figure specified by the admin. I think it would also be useful if you could have Groups/Teams/SharePoint sites 'tagged' with a 'no expiry' flag to ensure institutional knowledge isn't lost because someone's no checking it. There are some processes that run yearly, but there's little interaction/activity other at key points in the calendar.
Contributor

@Richard Harris 

I think it would also be useful if you could have Groups/Teams/SharePoint sites 'tagged' with a 'no expiry' flag to ensure institutional knowledge isn't lost because someone's no checking it. 

Someone added a group exclusion feature to UserVoice, you should vote for it: https://office365.uservoice.com/forums/286611-office-365-groups/suggestions/31010725-office-365-grou...

Also, for us I wrote an addition to renew special groups automatically. You can you do it via MS Graph, here is the API https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/graph/api/group-renew?view=graph-rest-1.0.

Senior Member

@Tobias Asböck - thanks for both of those. Very useful! :cool: