What’s New in Office 365 (September 2019)

As a regular user or admin of Office 365, you are no doubt aware that Microsoft is always making changes, upgrading, and adding features to Office 365 products. It is nearly impossible to keep up to date on all of them. This is our attempt at highlighting the ones we think will impact you the most and make your life/work easier. This month we talk about new templates for creating users in the Microsoft 365 Admin Center, Private Channels in Teams, Site Swapping, and Priority Notifications in Teams.  We also throw in bonus information like a heads up on a free online Microsoft Flow conference coming up on September 10.  Don’t forget to check out the Microsoft 365 Roadmap for a full list of all that is happening with Office 365.

Use Templates to Create Users in the Microsoft 365 Admin Center

Microsoft will soon be rolling out the ability to use templates to create users in the Microsoft 365 admin center. Templates will allow admins to quickly create many users by saving and reusing shared settings. We can see this being a huge time saver for admins at orgs where hiring is project base, in industries where turnover is high, and for autocompleting general information that will be the same for all employees. This is so new, that we don’t even have it in targeted release yet, but here is a screen shot from Microsoft’s documentation.

Admin Center User Template

Microsoft 365 admin center user templates allow you to save and reuse shared settings for types of users. For example, you can save values for roles, licenses assigned, contact information, and location. When you use the template to create a new user, the saved values in that template will automatically apply to the new user.

Private Channels in Teams

From day 1 of Microsoft Teams general availability, one of the most frequently requested User Voice improvements was the Support of Private Channels. While this is a positive step in the direction of Microsoft listening to the community, it also introduces an additional layer of complexity to the management of Microsoft Teams.  One of the biggest complaints we hear about SharePoint is its permissions are too confusing due to the various options available.  There’s a fine line between offering the community the choices they request and keeping the complexity to a manageable level.

If you’re not quite sure you want to go down the rabbit hole of private channels now, Teams Administrators can easily disable the functionality in the Global (Org-wide default) policy on the Teams policies page in the Microsoft Teams Admin Center.

Private channels allow organizations a space for focused, secure collaboration among a subset of a team. A lock icon indicates a private channel.

  • Team owners can see all private channels in a team.
  • Team members can only see those private channels that they have been added to.

This feature will be gradually rolling out to customers early this month. The roll out will be completed worldwide by the end of September.

Site Swap

With this new feature, admins will be able to swap the location of a SharePoint root site with another site using a new PowerShell cmdlet Invoke-SPOSiteSwap. While this is an exciting addition, there are some limitations to be aware of:

  • Only sites within the same domain can be swapped
  • The source site must be a modern team site, a communication site, or a classic team site
  • All subsites contained with the source and target sites will be swapped
  • The source and target sites can’t be connected to an Office 365 group. They also can’t be hub sites or associated with a hub. If the site is a hub site, unregister it as a hub site, swap the root site, and then register the site as a hub site. If a site is associated with a hub, disassociate the site, swap the root site, and then re-associate the site.
  • Any sharing links or bookmarks will need to be recreated after the site swap.

Additionally, it is important to note that the root site and all its subsites will be archived automatically and you must use the SharePoint Admin PowerShell version 16.0.8812.1200 or later.

  • Rollout will start with organizations that have approximately 50 licenses or less.
  • Then will gradually expand to organizations with approximately 1,000 licenses or less.
  • Organizations with more than 1,000 licenses will be advised of their roll out schedule in a future announcement.

Deciding whether to enable Priority Notifications in Microsoft Teams

Great blog post on Pracitical 365 that covers this in deail but if this is the first time you’ve seen Priority Notifications in Microsoft Teams…the gist of what it is can be found in Microsoft Teams Messaging Policies documentation but to save you a click:

“If you turn this on, users can send a message that uses priority notifications. Priority notifications notify users every 2 minutes for a period of 20 minutes or until messages are picked up and read by the recipient, maximizing the likelihood that the message is picked up and acted upon in a timely manner. For a limited time, unlimited Priority Notifications in Microsoft Teams will be made available for all customers. This promotion will run from June 2019 until December 31, 2019 and during this time all Teams users will be able to send unlimited Priority Notifications. For more information, see Messaging policies licensing.”

Now if we click over to Messaging policies licensing page, we get a nice table with a clear definition of what users will be able to do once the “promotion” ends.  In the referenced article Steve Goodman does a great job of articulating the various decision points and actions to take when determining how to handle this feature moving forward.  Internally we have decided to leave the option open for our team to utilize hoping that it will only be used when necessary…so far, so good but only time will tell. However, if my phones Teams App starts hammering me with notifications every couple minutes daily we might just revisit this setting in the future😉.

Microsoft Flow Online Conference September 10, 2019

If you’ve been wanting to learn more about Microsoft Flow this free online conference might be just the thing you are looking for.  Just know that if you consider yourself a beginner, you’ll want to make sure to attend the earlier sessions as the content becomes increasingly more advanced throughout the day.  If you’re not sure the content will be relevant or you know you cannot dedicate an entire day to online learning you can always check out the Session Schedule to find what works for you.

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