But Poor Communication Between Requester and Approver Spoils the Feature
Microsoft 365 notification MC350372 (updated 17 May 2022) announces that users can browse Teams Store apps and request administrators to allow the installation of blocked apps. According to the notification, administrators receive “the valuable signal” from users “to help prioritize their availability in the tenant.” In English, this means that administrators can see requests in the Teams admin center and decide to make the requested apps available.
Microsoft 365 roadmap item 84469 says that the feature reached general availability in April 2022. MC350372 says that roll-out commenced in late April but will not finish until late June.
Requesting a Teams Store App
Requesting an app is simple. Users search for an app or browse an app category to find something they like, and if the organization blocks the app, the user requests approval (Figure 1).
Administrators don’t receive notifications that an app request is awaiting approval. The assumption is that administrators will go to the Teams admin center, open the apps section, and check to see if any requests are waiting. Again, there’s no immediate indication that app requests are waiting, and the administrator must sort the apps by the “Requests by Users” column to see if they need to approve anything (Figure 2).
To approve requests, administrators open the requested apps and select the Manage Requests link. They can then reject the request or take the action necessary to release the app to users. In the case of the request shown in Figure 3, the administrator must edit the app permission policy applicable to the requesting user to allow them to install the app. If multiple users request an app, you might need to update several app permission policies.
I followed the guidance shown and updated the app permission policy to allow the requested app (you might also have to update the app’s status from blocked to allowed). After saving the change to the app permission policy, it can take six hours or more before clients pick up the adjusted permissions policy and users become aware that they can now install the app. The only clue is that the lock icon denoting a blocked app (visible in Figure 1) disappears. There’s no direct communication between the administrator who actions the request and the user who made the request unless the administrator contacts the user.
In addition, the approval request doesn’t disappear as it doesn’t appear to react to the app permissions policy update. Eventually, I rejected the request to make it go away. This action taught me that no communication happens to inform users that an administrator denied their requests. Instead, the Teams admin center happily announced that “Success: User requests cleared.” I guess this might make the requests go away, but it’s not a great example of user communication and isn’t what Microsoft claims in MC350372 when they say:
“This experience enables users to seamlessly communicate with Teams admins, and request apps that would improve their work in Teams.”
I’m not quite sure what the definition of seamless communication was in the mind of the writer, but this implementation falls far short of what a reasonable person would imagine.
Some Work to Do
It’s a good idea to allow users to request access to blocked apps. Unfortunately, some more work is necessary before the implementation of the idea is workable. Maybe it was a bad day when I tried things out, but you expect features to work as described, and that’s certainly not the case here. No doubt things will improve when Microsoft gets to straighten everything out.
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