How to Restrict the Creation of Regular Microsoft Teams Channels

Easy Policy-Driven Control for Teams Channel Creation, Except Regular (Standard) Channels

One of the odd things about Microsoft Teams management is that no central administrative control exists to stop team members creating regular channels. Settings in Teams policies can stop people creating private channels and shared channels, but Teams policies blithely ignore regular channels. For instance, if you look at the details of a Teams policy in the Teams admin center (Figure 1), settings are there to control the creation of private and shared channels, but nothing for regular channels.

Teams policy to control the creation of private and shared channels

Teams channel creation
Figure 1: Policy to control Teams channel creation, but only for private and shared channels

You could argue that shared channels are new and exploit a cross-tenant access mechanism that requires administrator involvement. But there’s no similar justification for private channels, so why do Teams policies differentiate between them and regular channels? It’s just odd.

Every team can support up to 200 regular channels (and 200 shared channels and 30 private channels). Before making any changes to control channel creation, you might like to run this script to discover just how many channels exist. It’s possible that everything is highly structured with just enough channels in place to host discussions. On the other hand, many organizations find that users (and owners) often create channels that rapidly become disused and unwanted. There’s no doubt that if a team has too many channels (possibly with confusing names), it creates a challenge for users to know which channel to use when they want to start questions. Users can post to multiple Teams channels, but that creates challenges of its own.

Restricting Regular Channel Creation

To restrict the ability of team owners to create a channel, a team owner must use the Manage team option to update the member permission that controls the ability to create and update channels (Figure 2). Going back to my previous point, it’s bizarre that the settings also control a setting for private channels.

Team-specific settings to control channel creation
Figure 2: Team-specific settings to control channel creation

Another setting under Guest permissions controls if guest members are allowed to create channels. If you disable channel creation for members, you also disable it for guests. However, you can enable channel creation for tenant members and disable it for guests. Team owners are always able to create new channels.

Although it’s nice to be able to disable channel creation on a per-team basis, it throws all the work onto team owners. The likelihood of every team owner remembering to disable (or enable) channel creation in line with organizational policy is remote.

PowerShell Solution to Restrict Teams Channel Creation

It’s easy to solve the problem with PowerShell. This script:

  • Connects to Microsoft Teams.
  • Finds the set of Teams that allow members to create channels.
  • For each team, uses the Set-Team cmdlet to update the setting to stop members creating channels.

Write-Host ("Finding Teams that allow members to create channels...")
[Array]$Teams = (Get-Team | Where-Object {$_.AllowCreateUpdateChannels -eq $True } | Sort DisplayName)
If (!($Teams)) { Write-Host "Can't find any teams that allow members to create channels - exiting" ; break }

Write-Host ("{0} teams found that allow members to create channels" -f $Teams.Count)
$i = 0
ForEach ($Team in $Teams) {
   $RetryCount = 0
   Write-Host ("Processing team {0} {1}/{2}" -f $Team.DisplayName, $i, $Teams.Count)
   Try {
     $Status = (Set-Team -GroupId $Team.GroupId -AllowCreateUpdateChannels $False) }
   Catch {   
     If ($RetryCount = 0) {
     Write-Host ("For some reason, Teams wouldn't let us update the channel setting for {0}. waiting for 2 seconds and then retrying" -f $Team.DisplayName)
     Sleep -Seconds 2
     $Status = (Set-Team -GroupId $Team.GroupId -AllowCreateUpdateChannels $False)
     $RetryCount = 1 }

The script works and it will stop users being able to create new regular channels. However, it’s a pain to have to run it on a regular basis to pick up and update new teams. A simple solution for this problem is to move the script over to Azure Automation and run it on a scheduled basis using a managed identity.

Odd Aspects of the Teams Admin Center

All I can say about the Teams admin center is that it continues to be a work in progress. The portal has improved dramatically over the past few years, but some loose ends remain. Not being able to control the creation of regular channels by policy is a loose end that Microsoft should clean up. Eventually…

Learn more about how the Office 365 applications really work on an ongoing basis by subscribing to the Office 365 for IT Pros eBook. Our monthly updates keep subscribers informed about what’s important across the Office 365 ecosystem.

2 Replies to “How to Restrict the Creation of Regular Microsoft Teams Channels”

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.