SharePoint Online Teamification Can Expose Site Resources as Channel Tabs

Teamify: An Offer Hard to Refuse

If you’re the owner of a SharePoint Online team site which is connected to a Microsoft 365 group, you might have seen the prompts (subtle harassment) to “teamify” the site. The prompt (Figure 1) promises that you can “collaborate in real-time and share resources across Microsoft 365 with your team.” Sounds good, unless you created the site to use with email-based Microsoft 365 groups (aka Outlook groups) and plan to use email as the collaboration mechanism.

Who could fail to accept an offer to teamify a site?
Figure 1: Who could fail to accept an offer to teamify a site?

Email-Based Microsoft 365 Groups

I use Outlook-based groups quite often to work with companies who don’t use Teams or might not use Microsoft 365. In 2016, Microsoft added support for Azure B2B collaboration to Outlook groups to enable collaboration with external users. Tenant users can post to Outlook groups through Outlook (desktop, mobile, or OWA) but guests rely on email to receive copies of posted messages. In many places, Outlook groups are more than sufficient to work with third parties. But email will always get the message through (within reason) and access to the group’s SharePoint sites makes it easy to work on shared documents.

Driving Teams Adoption

But Teams is where the action is, and Microsoft certainly knows how to create many different touch points to drive user awareness and usage. Teams also uses Microsoft 365 Groups, and it’s more than possible to team-enable Outlook Groups. In technical terms, it’s a matter of creating a team and setting some values for the group, like the resource provisioning option. After creating the team, the team picks up the existing group membership and resources.

Creating Tabs in the General Channel for Site Resources

It’s long been possible to link a team to a group-connected site (the so-called teamify process). Recently, Microsoft added the ability to create channel tabs for site resources when setting up the new team. Figure 2 shows the dialog used to collect information about resources like Microsoft Lists and individual pages.

Selecting SharePoint site resources to create channel tabs in the new team
Figure 2: Selecting SharePoint site resources to create channel tabs in the new team

In Figure 2, two resources are selected to become channel tabs. Figure 3 shows the result with two tabs created for the home page for the site and a Microsoft list hosted in the site.

The SharePoint site resources show up as tabs in the General channel
Figure 3: The SharePoint site resources show up as tabs in the General channel

After creating the team, the process creates tabs in the General channel for the selected resources. You can’t create new channels when you teamify an existing SharePoint site, so the resources must go into tabs in the General channel. After creating the team and building out its channel structure, you can remove resources from the General channel into other channels. Unfortunately, you need to recreate the tabs as there is no way to move a tab from one channel to another.

Hiding the New Team

A small, but potentially important point, is that team-enabling a SharePoint site does not update the properties which hide the group from Exchange clients (Outlook, OWA, and Outlook mobile). If you look at the properties with PowerShell, you’ll see that the group remains visible to Exchange clients and the GAL.

Get-UnifiedGroup -identity "Project Haycock"| fl hiddenfrom*

HiddenFromExchangeClientsEnabled : False
HiddenFromAddressListsEnabled    : False

Is this important? In April 2018, Microsoft decided to hide team-enabled groups from Exchange clients with the logic being that once a group has a team, collaboration flows through Teams channels and chats rather than email. It doesn’t make sense to expose teams to email clients, hence the hiding. You can make up your own mind if you need to run a PowerShell script to find and update team-enabled groups which are still visible.

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