How to Create New Teams Using Customizable Templates

Prepopulate New Teams with Channels, Apps, and Tabs

Microsoft announced the ability to create new teams based on customizable templates on May 19. As noted in Office 365 notification MC222406 (September 18), the feature is rolling out in October 2020. Teams templates are described in Microsoft 365 roadmap item 67110, where Microsoft says they expect templates to “standardize team structures, surface relevant apps, and scale best practices.”

According to a Microsoft representative, these templates won’t be available for education tenants as they already have education-specific templates. However, the two types will merge over time.

Out-of-the-box Standard Templates

Templates are prepopulated structures created by Microsoft to make it easy to create teams to do a specific job. Each template consists of a set of channels, tabs, and apps that are automatically added to teams created using the template. Some of the 13 out-of-the-box templates are for general use (like project management); others (like Organize a Store) are for a particular industry. Among the templates published by Microsoft are:

  • Adopt Office 365.
  • Manage a project.
  • Manage an event.
  • Onboard employees.
  • Organize help desk.
  • Coordinate incident response.

As an example of what happens when you create a team using a template, if you use the Manage a Project template, four channels and two apps are added to the new team. The channels are called General, Announcements, Resources, and Planning while the apps are OneNote and Wiki. During the creation process, you can rename the channels to make them more appropriate for the new team. Because it might take some time to create the channels, apps, and tabs contained in a template, you can close the Teams creation screen after you save the details of the new team. Teams will then notify you when the new team is available.

After the team is created, you need to fully build out the new team by taking actions such as:

  • Adding team members and owners.
  • Adding other apps and channels (including private channels).
  • Updating the team photo and other settings.
  • Installing connectors.
  • Posting a welcome note.
  • Uploading files.

Building New Teams Templates

The set of out-of-the-box templates are managed in the Team templates section of the Teams admin center. You can add, edit, or remove templates to meet the needs of the organization. Figure 1 shows the initial step in creating a new template to help teams work on new books. At this point, we define its name, description, and locale (English in this case).

Creating a new template in the Teams admin center
Figure 1: Creating a new template in the Teams admin center

The next step is to add the channels and apps which Teams will automatically create in new teams based on the template. The General channel is always present (essentially, this channel represents the team). For our template, we’ve elected to add two additional channels, each of which will have tabs created for Planner and Microsoft Lists (Figure 2) to help us organize the writing and production of our book.

Adding channels and apps to a Teams template
Figure 2: Adding channels and apps to a Teams template

Because Planner and Lists are added as tabs, they also feature in the list of apps installed by the template. It’s likely that those working on books will want to praise the efforts of authors, technical editors, reviewers, and the overall editor, so we’ve included the Praise app as well.

When everything is defined for the template, click Submit to publish the template and make it available to users. Custom templates are listed ahead of the set of standard templates when shown to people creating new teams (Figure 3).

The new Teams template appears in the available set
Figure 3: The new Teams template appears in the available set

Useful Tool for Administrators

Time will tell whether Microsoft’s expectation of the positive effects of templates will come true. If many of your teams are created using the same structure, like the teams used to support classes of the same type, templates are certainly a useful tool in the administration toolbox, including if you use the Graph to create teams. The current release of the Teams PowerShell module doesn’t yet support the creation of teams with templates.

This is a small detail of Teams administration and doesn’t feature heavily in the 1,200 pages of the Office 365 for IT Pros eBook. Which just goes to prove how much extra interesting and valuable information the book does contain!

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