Tag Archives: Ownerless groups

Dealing with Ownerless Groups in large Microsoft 365 environments

WIP

Scenario

Let say you administer a large Microsoft 365 environment (e.g. ~100k+ users and/or ~50K+ sites) and after some years you have a lot of ownerless groups and sites (around 5k probably), and a lot of inactive groups and sites (maybe 15k). You are getting more and more ownerless groups – dozens each week. You are thinking of stopping bleeding and cleaning this up…

Out-of-the-box we have Microsoft 365 groups expiration policy and Microsoft 365 ownerless groups policy. You might also have some 3-rd party tools implemented – e.g. ShareGate, SysKit Point.

If you do not care – you might just activate both OotB Microsoft policies – via GUI – they are simple to activate. But once you activated policies – they will trigger thousands of emails. Now imagine a person is getting dozens of emails asking him/her to be an owner or to renew the group that probably he/she has no idea about… What will happen next? People will probably ignore these alerts. Then? Groups and sites will be automatically deleted. And then? Right, there will be a huge noise and many angry users and high-priority tickets and you will have to restore sites/teams and finally you’ll have to deal with all that mess manually.

So, what is the right way to clean-up a large Microsoft 365 environment from ownerless and inactive teams, groups sites? Not a trivial question, hah?

Solution

Disclaimer: I’m sharing here my personal opinion with no obligations or warranty etc., so you’d dig into all the technologies used and based on your particular situation build your own plan. But my personal opinion is based on my 15+ years experience with SharePoint, including really large environments.

Note: It is always a good idea to discuss your plans with you org’s communication team and helpdesk/service-desk to adjust clean-up activities with other initiatives and let other people be prepared.

High-level steps for group-based Sites:

  • consider implementing Minimum 2 owners per group policy to stop bleeding. Currently Microsoft 365 does not have such functionality, so consider 3-rd party tool like SysKit Point or custom PowerShell script that sends notifications
    • apply this policy to groups where you already have 2+ owners – it’ll be safe
    • apply this policy to all other groups by chanks
  • consider custom PowerShell clean-up, e.g. you can simply delete groups with no owners and no members and/or inactive groups with no content and/or groups that are inactive for a long time (this must be aligned with business and legal)
  • implement Microsoft’s Ownerless groups policy in “Clean-Up” configuration; there are some tricks and gotchas worth a separate post, but in short
    • avoid scoping down this policy via people (security groups)
    • implement it for all groups all users with 6-7 weeks and custom e-mail template
  • implement Microsoft groups expiration policy in “Clean-Up” configuration… again, there are a few different strategies – see this article
  • change Microsoft Ownerless groups policy configuration to a “Permanent” mode configuration set
  • change Microsoft 365 groups expiration policy with a “Permanent” mode configuration

Note: There will always be ownerless groups in large environment. We have to live with it.

All above was mostly about group-based sites (as we have OotB Microsoft policies for groups), but we probably have the same problem (or even worth) with standalone sites (that would be a separate topic).

Microsoft 365 admin center: Manage ownerless Microsoft 365 groups and teams

There is a new feature published at Microsoft roadmap site:

Microsoft 365 admin center: Manage ownerless Microsoft 365 groups and teams

Teams, Outlook groups, Team Sites etc. powered by Microsoft 365 Groups supports two roles: members and owners. Members can collaborate with others in the group through files, emails, messages etc. Owners manage the group membership and monitor content and conversations. When employees leave an organization or switch projects internally, it results in their existing user accounts getting deleted. If such employees were group owners, keeping track of their groups becomes critical to ensure accountability within the organization. We have introduced a new ownership governance policy to help automate the management of ownerless groups by requesting active members to become owners of the group. Admins can define who is eligible for these notifications and configure what notifications and how often these notifications are sent to active group members. Users, who are members of the ownerless groups can simply accept or decline request via the actionable email message.

  • Feature ID: 180749
  • Added to roadmap: 10/10/2023
  • Last modified: 10/10/2023
  • Product(s): Microsoft 365 Admin Center
  • Cloud instance(s): GCC
  • Platform(s): Web
  • Release phase(s): General Availability


But based on the feature description – all looks exactly as what we already have for years as “Microsoft 365 ownerless groups policy” which you can configure under Microsoft 365 Admin Center -> Settings -> Org settings -> Microsoft 365 groups

More on Microsoft 365 ownerless groups

Massive Microsoft 365 groups update with PowerShell

What if you need to update thousands of m365 groups? E.g. membership – to add a group owner or member.

In my case, it was Microsoft 365 ownerless groups policy… Details are here but in short, I needed to update ownership for 10,000 m365 groups adding 10 accounts to group owners, 1,000 groups per account.

And I figured out for myself that the fastest way is to use Microsoft Graph API with PowerShell parallel trick. Here is the PowerShell code:

$groups | ForEach-Object -Parallel {
    $owner = "user2del27@vladslab.onmicrosoft.com"
    Add-PnPMicrosoft365GroupOwner  -Identity $_.Id -Users $owner
} -ThrottleLimit 50

In my environment, it took ~ 8 seconds per 1,000 groups.

Ownerless groups and dependent channels

Here is the scenario:

There is a team (including SharePoint site) under Microsoft Teams. There are multiple channels under this team with types:
– standard channel
– shared channel
– private channel

A single group owner (team owner) leaves company and the team (group) becomes ownerless. Question: what will happen with private and shared channels?

A group (team) gets a new owner. Question: what will happen with private and shared channels?

“Microsoft Teams – Teams And Channels Service made you an owner of a channel”

TBP

Archiving SharePoint Sites

WIP

What is archiving SharePoint sites and why we’d need it?

Disclaimer: Archival that was announced at Microsoft Inspire 2023 (Introducing Microsoft 365 Backup and Microsoft 365 Archive) is not what we are discussing here.

Scenario

(Work in progress)

You are in the process of cleaning-up large Microsoft 365 environment. You need to delete SharePoint sites (e.g. due to inactivity) but you cannot get confirmation from site owners (e.g. sites or groups are ownerless).

Deleted sites could be restored within 93 days of deletion if somebody rise a hand, but there is still a risk of possible loosing of important information, e.g. in case site is needed one a year. So you need to do clean-up but at the same time you want to decrease risks of loosing information.

So, you might want to do something with sites to engage users to volunteer to be site owner if they want to keep this site – e.g. prevents using the site the regular way and let users know that the site will be deleted etc., but do not actually delete site until it will be fully clear that site is not needed for anyone and can be safely deleted.

Let us call it “Staging” period. Depending on your org culture/rules/licensing etc. it might be 6 months, or 1 year or 5 years or more.

Approach options

generally, the options are (random order):

  • Set site to Read-Only mode
  • Set site to No-Access mode
  • Convert group from Public to Private
  • Remove access to the site (remove users from group)
  • Rename the site
  • Put a banner on a top bar with a message
  • Message to Teams or Yammer chat
  • Send e-mail to site members
  • Implement a Microsoft 365 ownerless groups policy

You might choose to set sites to read-only mode or even no-access mode. If so – users that are still need this site are loosing ability to work with site, but site is not deleted. Consider archiving as kind of scream-test phase before actual sites deletion.

If a user who needs this site would scream (rise a ticket to restore site) – you can trigger processes of
a) finding new owner for the site
b) excluding the site from clean-up process
c) actual restoring site to normal mode

There are some options to setup a site to Read-Only or NoAccess mode. Here is the PowerShell command:


$siteurl = "https://contoso.sharepoint.com/teams/Team-SO-B"
Get-PnPTenantSite -Identity $siteurl   | ft -a Url, LockState
Set-PnPTenantSite -Identity $siteurl -LockState ReadOnly
Get-PnPTenantSite -Identity $siteurl   | ft -a Url, LockState
Set-PnPTenantSite -Identity $siteurl -LockState NoAccess
Get-PnPTenantSite -Identity $siteurl   | ft -a Url, LockState
Set-PnPTenantSite -Identity $siteurl -LockState Unlock

The problem is what if the site is teams-connected or yammer-connected or just group-based. Here are some test results:

Services SharePoint site is connected to/Site StateRead-OnlyNoAccess
Outlook onlyN/AN/A
SharePoint and OutlookOutlook emails: OK
Outlook files: read-only experience; No options to upload or create document; Documents are open in read-only mode. “The file couldn`t be saved to group” error message when trying to save file to a group library.
Outlook emails: OK
Outlook files: empty screen; No error messages; Documents are not visible; “The file couldn`t be saved to group” error message when trying to save file to a group library.
SharePoint and Yammer
SharePoint, Teams and OutlookTeams chats: OK
Teams files: documents are open as read-only; No options to upload or create a new document
SharePoint: “This site is read-only at the administrator’s request.”
Teams chats: OK
Teams files: “403 FORBIDDEN” error message
SharePoint: “
This site can’t be reached
The webpage at https://contoso.sharepoint.com/teams/Team-STO-B might be temporarily down or it may have moved permanently to a new web address.
ERR_INVALID_RESPONSE”

So you can see – behavior is inconsistent – users can still chat in Teams and Yammer and consume SharePoint content (in case the site in read-only) or get error messages or not very meaningful results (in case the site is in NoAccess mode) – so it would be not clear for users that the site is gong to be decommissioned.

to be continued…

Ownerless groups in Microsoft 365

I have multiple publications on the subject – how to manage ownerless groups in Microsoft 365:

And 9 videos :

Here is the Introduction video and content covered in next videos:

Ownerless group policy configuration failed

If you are seeing “Ownerless group policy configuration failed” and “Please try again.” error message:

there might be some different reasons:

  1. Microsoft said it is (was) a know problem – it happens sometimes (timeout?), if you configured the policy properly and have enough permissions.
    So just go back one step and try again – all should be good.
  2. Sometimes “Ownerless group policy configuration failed. Failure in configuring ownerless groups policy” is a permissions issue
    SharePoint admin, Teams admin: cannot configure Ownerless Groups Policy
    Global admin: yes, can configure Ownerless Microsoft 365 Groups Policy.
    What is the minimum role required?
    According to a recent update of the Microsoft’s article – “A Global administrator can create a policy…”. In my experience – groups admin can also configure the policy

Note: Groups admin when configuring the policy can see warning message “You don’t have permissions to save changes”.
No worries 🙂 => You will be able to save changes 🙂

Video tutorial on the policy configuration (at around 5:00 you can see this error message):

Manage Microsoft 365 groups membership with PowerShell and Graph API

As SharePoint or Teams admin you can manage Microsoft 365 groups (create, update, delete, manage membership etc.) having your admin role activated. I use Azure registered app with “Group.ReadWrite.All” Microsoft Graph API delegated permission and Microsoft.Graph PowerShell module.

When a user was not a group member or group owner – and is added to the group members – user gets notification “You’ve joined the <Group Name> group” via e-mail that comes from a group e-mail address.

When a user is added to the group owners (or elevated to group owner if user was a group member) – user does not get notification.

When a user was a group owner and now is added to the group members – user does not get notification.

All the actions are logged into Microsoft 365 audit log under your personal Id.

Script samples:

# This script is just a sample to demonstrate basic technique on deletion m365 groups with PowerShell and MS Graph
# please do not run this script as is, but update it upon your needs

# authentication with personal Id
#  app must have as minimum "Group.ReadWrite.All" Microsoft Graph API delegated permission
#  user must have SharePoint admin (or Teams admin) roles activated
Connect-MgGraph -ClientId $clientid -TenantId $tenantId 
Get-MgContext | Select-Object Scopes -ExpandProperty Scopes

# sample data
$groups = @()
$groups += [PSCustomObject]@{GroupId = '443d22ae-683a-4fe4-8875-7bd78227a026' }
$groups += [PSCustomObject]@{GroupId = 'e5805388-c18c-48c0-b42d-6223cf8f3d82' }

# Get Groups
foreach ($group in $groups) {
    Get-MgGroup -GroupId $group.GroupId
}

# add members to the group
$groupId = '443d22ae-683a-4fe4-8875-7bd78227a026'
$userId = 'df74e0d3-d78c-495b-b47a-549437d93cf7' # Adele
New-MgGroupMember -GroupId $groupId -DirectoryObjectId $userId

# add Owner to the group
$groupId = '443d22ae-683a-4fe4-8875-7bd78227a026'
$userId = 'eacd52fb-5ae0-45ec-9d17-5ded9a0b9756' # Megan
New-MgGroupOwner -GroupId $groupId -DirectoryObjectId $userId

# Delete group
# add Owner to the group
$groupId = '443d22ae-683a-4fe4-8875-7bd78227a026'
Remove-MgGroup -GroupId $groupId

https://github.com/VladilenK/m365-PowerShell/tree/main/KBA/Ownerless-Groups