How I would "fix" O365 Groups

Valued Contributor

Been chewing on this stuff for a while, and I know Groups is not technically broken, but mentally it is, given all of the posts and confusion.  If I were Microsoft, here is my list of things that I would do to "fix" and simplify the entire Groups concept in O365.


Caveat: These are just my opinions and taking into account nothing "technical" that could go into making any of this a reality.

  • When I say Group, I mean any Group created regardless of where
  • When I say Service, I mean any potential Group workflow, like SharePoint, Planner, PowerBI, Outlook, Yammer, and I am including Teams as a Service


(1) Consider and start selling Groups as an actual product offering, and not merely an underlying service.  

  • While I can agree Groups itself is not a tool, what Groups gives you and how it is perceived by business users is a collaboration unified set of tools.  
  • It is easier to think of the different Group services as an outcome of the Group than the Group being an outcome of the service.
  • Too much time is spent explaining Groups away...
  • This would be helped by doing what is in bullet #2


(2) Create a SharePoint-home-esque equivalent Groups home page 

  • Would be web based, but use the same concepts for what it shown in the Groups app, or Outlook for joining other groups
  • Show all Groups the current user is a part of
  • Make recommendations of Groups for a user to join
  • Allow users to filter Yammer Groups, versus Outlook Groups, versus Team groups, keywords, members, etc
  • Once you found a group, the entry should have quick links to each Group service that is enabled.


(3) All Groups should technically have the all of the same services available to them, regardless where they are created.

  • Meaning if I create a Group, I could technically have a Yammer, Outlook Inbox/Calendar, and Team if I wanted, in addition to Planner, SharePoint, Files, Notebook, PowerBI, etc.
  • At the end of the day, a Group is a Group is a Group
  • More details on what this ultimately means in bullets 4 and 5


(4) Give Group Admins the ability to "turn on" and "turn off" Group services as they want.

  • I would envision this as a list of checkboxes underneath the Group settings
  • group_toggles.png
  • Maybe technically everything gets provisioned, but at least hidden from the interfaces as to not clutter things up all the time.
  • If I go to Planner, I see tons of unused Plans because they are being provisioning for tons of Groups that have no need to use Planner
  • Maybe I started out with a Yammer group, but I want to shut off Yammer and start using the Outlook Inbox/Calendar instead later.  
  • At the end of the day, make the products available, but don't force them to be present and used if the team doesnt want to use them.
  • Even more details on what this ultimately means in bullet 5


(5) In line with Points 2 and 3, give O365 Admins the ability to create Group service creation policies based on where a Group is created from

  • A group can now technically be provisioned from Outlook, SharePoint, Yammer, Dynamics, Stream, Teams, and probably a few more that I am leaving off
  • A group admin could configure for example:
    • A group created in Stream will receive only Stream and no other services.  
    • A group created in Yammer will by default receive Yammer, SharePoint, Notebook, Files, but no Planner, Outlook, PowerBI, and Teams
    • A group created in Dynamics will by default receive SharePoint, Files, Notebook, but nothing else


(6) Make Yammer not necessarily tied to the Group membership, but a tool of the Group

  • Group could use it for internal Group-based conversations
  • Or Group could extend it out to other non-Group members without granted access to the other Group services.
  • E.g. a Learning and Performance Group could use the Yammer as a company-facing discussion interface without allow members to access their own Group tools



(7) Revert back to the old Groups Mobile App Icon, or at least something a little less visually pointless.   

  • I'm also including don't do away with the Groups Mobile App, many have danced around this subject, but it is better to have the one app for all of the services then eventually make you go to a Service, then find a Group that you want to access for that Service.
  • e.g. incorporating Groups Conv/Calendar into Outlook, incorporating Groups Files into OneDrive, incorporating Groups Notebook into OneNote
  • Those are nice to have, but don't make that the only entry point to get to the services.


(8) The Group should be able to be used anywhere in O365 as a Security container

  • This is mostly true today, but some services dont let you share to O365 Groups e.g. O365 Video, PowerBI, Stream
  • Group Writeback to AD should create elements as email-enabled security groups so that they could be re-used on-prem


2 Replies
While I don't have particular stance on whether a group should a product or just the underlaying service, I agree we most points and comments.
I expect point 8 to resolved a) by Stream for Video and b) PowerBI at a later time

@Brent Ellis I like your ideas! I had some similar remarks in this thread triggered by the difference between "Outlook groups" and "Yammer groups" making it worse (in line with remark 6).


I agree with most of your ideas and remarks. The list of services (checkboxes) and the home page should be no-brainers.



I find the current implementation not transparant and very much crippled.