Microsoft 365 and SharePoint Online Cookbook

By Gaurav Mahajan , Sudeep Ghatak
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  1. Overview of Microsoft 365

About this book

Microsoft 365 in an integrated suite that provides intelligent tools for managing everyday organizational tasks like content management, communication, creating reports, and automating business processes. With this book, you'll get to grips with popular apps from Microsoft, with a focus on enabling workspace collaboration and productivity using Microsoft SharePoint Online, Teams, and the Power Platform to name a few.

In addition to guiding you through the implementation of Microsoft 365 apps, this practical guide helps you to learn from a Microsoft consultant's extensive experience of working with the Microsoft business suite. Starting with a quick overview of the M365 ecosystem, the book covers recipes for implementing SharePoint Online for various content management tasks. You'll learn how to create sites for your organization and enhance collaboration across the business and then see how you can boost productivity with apps such as Microsoft Teams, Power Platform, Planner, Delve, and M365 Groups. Using a step-by-step approach, you'll also find out how to use the Power Platform efficiently, making the most of Microsoft PowerApps, Power Automate, PowerBI, and Power Virtual Agents. Finally, the book focuses on the SharePoint framework, which helps you to build custom Teams and SharePoint solutions.

By the end of the book, you'll be equipped with the skills required to set up Microsoft 365 and SharePoint Online and be ready to enhance business productivity using a variety of tools.

Publication date:
June 2020

Overview of Microsoft 365

Microsoft is the reigning leader in business collaboration and productivity. Over 400,000 companies worldwide use Microsoft products and services. Over 100 million monthly active users use SharePoint. A recent Gartner Report ( places Microsoft as the leader in the provision of content services platforms that focuses on the following key areas:

  • Content management: A content management solution (also sometimes known as Enterprise Content Management or ECM) lets you store, manage, and optionally share an organization's content, which includes documents and/or web pages. Microsoft's first true CMS came with WSS 3.0, a product that later came to be known as SharePoint, which soon became a widely popular document- and content-management platform. While SharePoint serves as the document management solution for a team,OneDrive for Business is meant to host and manage employees' personal files.
  • Collaboration: Collaboration is the exchange of information and ideas between collaborators within or even outside an organization. More recent advancements in technology allow for those collaborating to be located across different geographical locations and still be able to effectively work together as if they were collocated.SharePoint and Teams,coupled with your ever-favorite Office apps, such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and so on, are a few of theMicrosoft solutions around to help boost business collaboration.
  • Communication: Communication is vital to every business. It reflects the culture of an organization and helps align the goals of individuals within an organization toward a common objective. To effectively communicate with employees, organizations should offer multiple channels for both formal and informal communication. Besides communicating the organization's vision and goals, these channels can be used to update their employees on news, events, and policies to prepare them for a crucial situation, ensure safety, or effectively listen to the opinions and ideas of other employees. Microsoft has several apps that offer communication channels for different engagement levels, such as the following:
    • Outlook:For formal communication
    • Teams: For instant communication
    • Yammer: For communication between interest groups
    • Kaizala: For first-line workers
  • Process automation: Business-process automation is the use of technology to execute repeatable tasks or processes. It helps accelerate and standardize business processes, thereby improving the quality of the outcome while reducing costs at the same time. You can streamline both simple and complex processes, such as employee onboarding, accounts payable, contract management, time management, and more. Microsoft provides the following selection of apps, grouped under the Power Platform umbrella, to help you build business process automation apps. Power Platform lets the experts in the subject build no-code business solutions using the following:
    • Power Apps: To build online forms
    • Power Automate: To automate repetitive processes
    • Power BI: To analyze and visualize data
    • Power Virtual Agents: To build chatbots
  • Productivity: Besides the applications mentioned previously, there are several other applications that target specific use cases, which can be broadly divided into the following categories:
    • Office Online: Outlook, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint to author and share content
    • Project and task management: Using To do to manage personal tasks, Planner to manage simple project tasks, and Project Online for more complex scenarios
    • Digital forms: Using Power Apps to build online forms and Forms to build surveys
    • Video streaming: Using Stream to upload and manage videos

All these products and services are now integrated and offered as a unified service called Microsoft 365 (earlier known as Office 365). With Microsoft 365, Microsoft has allowed organizations to provide these services to their employees through a subscription model. It comes with different plans tailored equally well for large, medium, and small companies. We will see the different plans and licensing models later in this chapter.


The infrastructure business is changing!

Gone are the days when companies had dedicated data centers or server rooms with racks and racks of servers. Outsourcing the maintenance of infrastructure to a cloud provider has proved beneficial in several ways. Let's see how!

Traditionally, companies built data centers to store sensitive, competitive, and critical information. The facility had to be well protected with both physical and virtual security and access measures. Other running costs included server licenses, hardware costs, higher than normal power consumption, and facility maintenance costs. Usually, such companies also needed to invest in building a disaster recovery center, which served as a secondary backup—a precautionary measure, should the primary data center go down.

Although it seems that having a private data center makes sense for a company, given that it has full control over it, in reality, it is both risky and challenging to safeguard your applications from cyber attacks and other potential hackers. Even financially, it doesn't make sense to keep servers running around the clock when the usage of the applications is low, such as during a local holiday season. On top of that, you would need dedicated staff that is responsible for applying patches, installing updates, and ensuring that all applications are running smoothly.

This is where cloud computing and hosting comes to the rescue!

The term cloud refers to the infrastructure and/or services that are hosted and maintained by a provider and that can be accessed over the internet. Microsoft, Google, and Amazon are some of the well-known cloud providers, but there are certainly many more that provide various cloud services. There are primarily three service models that the cloud providers offer:

  • Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS): In this model, instead of purchasing and maintaining their own computing hardware, organizations borrow the necessary infrastructure from one or more service providers by paying a fee. They then install and maintain the required software on this infrastructure.
  • Platform-as-a-service (PaaS): In this model, in addition to the infrastructure, the service provider also provides the operating system and development tools required to build applications.
  • Software-as-a-service (SaaS): In this model, the applications are provided by the service provider. These applications can be accessed over the internet. The responsibility of upgrading the software and fixing the bugs lies with the service provider.

The evolution of Microsoft 365

The journey ofMicrosoft's productivity suite started in the '80s when it was first introduced by Bill Gates as Microsoft Office, with three applications: Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Since then, Office applications have captured the corporate world and home users alike. Anyone who has ever used a PC has had some experience with Microsoft Office at some point. It is hard to imagine a world without Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. These applications have transformed the world since the day they were launched.

While one team in Microsoft was busy improving the already popular office suite of applications, another team was busy shaping an enterprise-scale collaboration and content-management platform called SharePoint.This platform offered online document storage and enabled collaboration between teams. In addition, and since its days of inception, SharePoint was built to be a highly extensible and customizable platform that allows developers and non-developers alike to extend its capabilities by building business solutions on top of it. SharePoint was initially released as a standalone application for installation on a server (there are several companies that still use it on-premises)before becoming available on the cloud as SharePoint Online and as a member of the Microsoft 365 family.

Advancements in SharePoint have given birth to other technologies and tools that have now evolved into fully-featured products in themselves. The following are just some of those products:

  • OneDrive for Business: Older versions of SharePoint included a service called My Sites. My Sites were personal sites for every SharePoint user, a place where they could store their personal files. My Sites have now been replaced by OneDrive for Business.
  • Microsoft Teams: Teams has beenthroughseveral pit stops before becoming Microsoft 365's default communication tool. In 2011, Microsoft acquired Skype, a free piece of software that enables you to make VOIP calls and host video conferencing. After the acquisition of Skype, Microsoft replaced thebusinesscommunication tool namedLyncwith a corporate version of Skype, called Skype for Business. Skype forBusinesshas now been deprecated and replaced by Microsoft Teams.
  • Power Automate: SharePoint as a platform had a workflow solution referred to as SharePoint workflows. The workflows were designed using a free tool called SharePoint Designer. Although SharePoint workflows were powerful, managing them was hard because of the lack of a visual tool. SharePoint workflows got deprecated with the advent of Power Automate, which had a nice web-based visual designer that was so easy to use that even non-developers could build workflow solutions themselves.
  • Power Apps: Microsoft Infopath was a popular tool for designing, editing, and distributing electronic forms. Infopath forms could be connected to a variety of data sources and often used along with SharePoint to extend the capabilities of SharePoint list forms. Infopath has been deprecated and replaced with a web-based forms designer known as Power Apps. Again, with this move, Microsoft has tried to make designing forms easier for non-developers.
  • Power BI: In 2006, Microsoft acquired ProClarity and launched Performance Point as a BI solution. It was discontinued in 2009 and paved the way for Power BI.

Over the years, Microsoft has made other strategic acquisitions, such as Yammer and Mover, to consolidate its Microsoft 365 offering. They were soon joined by other online services, such asStream, Planner, Sway, To do, and so on.

Hopefully, that provides you with some context on howMicrosoft 365 evolved. The next section explains why Microsoft 365 is right for any organization.


What is Microsoft 365?

Microsoft 365 is a SaaS and PaaS offering by Microsoft. It is a collection of several products, services, and platforms, each tailored for a specific use case. Microsoft 365 applications can be accessed online at In addition to online applications, it also lets you download the license-based client version of certain applications, such as Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, and PowerPoint), OneDrive, Teams, and so on.

Moving to Microsoft 365 provides you with the following benefits:

  • One subscription service for everything: Microsoft 365 provides you with an ecosystem of applications. Every application is designed to cater for a specific use case. You get applications that let you build electronic forms and business process automation, create insights into your business data, and so on. This saves you buying multiple point solutions for every use case.
  • No installation required: All Microsoft 365 apps are accessible through a web browser, including the ones that have a web and client version. Client versions are available for some applications, such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Teams, Power BI, and so on. Although the web versions provide limited features compared to the desktop version, the web versions are catching up with their client counterparts pretty rapidly.
  • Choose your own device: Microsoft 365 runs on PC, Mac, and Linux machines. It is compatible with all major browsers, such as Microsoft Edge, Internet Explorer 11, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, and Safari 10+. More information on the operating system and browser compatibility can be found at
  • Mobile friendly: All Microsoft 365 services are responsive (meaning that they adjust to the viewing area of the device) when viewed on mobile browsers. Most of these services also have a mobile app that lets you leverage the native mobile features (such as camera and GPS). To read about the mobile compatibility of the various Microsoft 365 apps, visit
  • Always get the latest: Microsoft 365 is continuously being updated with new features and capabilities. Users do not have to worry about upgrades; they can experience improvements as soon as Microsoft updates are released to their organization's tenant. Your organization can try new features before they are released to the general public by opting in for Targetedrelease. Your IT administrator can designate a set of users to try out these new features before these get rolled out to the rest of the company. You can read more about Standard and Targeted release here:
  • High availability: Microsoft 365 offers 99.9% uptime. The information at shows uptime data across the world over the last three years. Microsoft notifies you at least five days before any scheduled maintenance job. You also receive notifications in case of unplanned outages. Administrators can check the status of the Microsoft 365 services from the administration Service Health portal during partial outages.
  • State of the art security: One of the main reasons why companies are reluctant to move to the cloud is that they are not sure how secure their data is. Some of these security concerns are as follows:
    • Who can access my data: Your data belongs to you. There are well-laid policies and checks to ensure that no one can access your data without permission. There could be exceptional scenarios where the government or law enforcement agencies can request your data. To read more about this, refer to
    • Protect data from hackers: All Microsoft 365 data is stored in highly secured environments. However, to further secure your Microsoft 365 environment, Microsoft has laid out certain security guidelines ( that should be followed. These guidelines reduce the risks of hacking, if not eliminating them completely.
    • Dataownership:Even though your data is saved on Microsoft infrastructure, they do not own your data. If you cancel your Microsoft 365 subscription, your data gets deleted from their servers after 90 days. During this time, you can renew your subscription or back up the data from Microsoft 365. You can read more about data ownership at
    • Compliance and information security: Microsoft 365 also provides features such as data loss prevention and device management that let you store your company's data and information without the risk of information leakage. It offers additional capabilities surrounding data compliance and information security. Since these are very highly specialized areas, focused on the administrative side of Microsoft 365, we have not covered the topics in this book. If you are an administrator and implementing Microsoft 365 for your organization, we recommend that you should familiarize yourself with these areas. You can read more about Microsoft 365 compliance features here: You can read here more about the Microsoft 365 security features here:


Microsoft 365 has several subscription plans for the following entities:

  • Small and medium businesses: In this category, there are Basic, Standard, and Premium plans. The Basic plan offers Office apps (Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote) for online, mobile-only use, and grants 1 TB storage per user. The Standard and Premium tiers include the corresponding desktop Office apps along with additional services.
  • Schools: Microsoft offers plans to schools under the "Education" banner. The plans are A1, A2, and A3. A1 offers Office apps (Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote) for online and mobile-only use. The A2 plan additionally provides access to the corresponding desktop apps. Power BI is only available with the A3 plan.
  • Nonprofit organizations: This category includes a basic and a standard plan. The primary difference between the two plans being that the standard plan lets you download Office Apps for desktop whereas the basic plan lets you access office applications only on the web.
  • Home users: For home users, Microsoft offers a one-time purchase or two subscription-based plans (family and individual) to choose from. The one-time purchase plan lets you use only three apps (Word, Excel, and PowerPoint) on a single device. Family and individual plans offer additional apps.
  • Enterprises: Enterprises can choose between the E3 and E5 plans. The E5 plan is the premium version that includes all Microsoft 365 apps and services.
  • First-line workers: The first-line workers are the first ones to represent your organization. Microsoft 365 offers the F3 plan to help such workers stay productive. The F3 plan offers Office web and mobile apps, OneDrive for Business, and a few other Microsoft 365 services.
  • Standalone plans: Besides the plans mentioned above, some services are also available with Standalone plans. These can even be included in plans that do not offer these services by default. The standalone plans are listed here:

You get access to a set of applications in Microsoft 365 based on the subscription plan assigned to you by your organization. To get access to other applications, you can either request your administrator to upgrade you to a higher plan or assign you a license for that specific application. We have mentioned the license requirements in the Getting started section of each recipe.

The Microsoft 365 plans get updated from time to time. You can check the plans by browsing to and looking under Productsmenu in the top navigation or referring to this page


Microsoft 365 Apps

Microsoft 365 comprises the following key applications and services (in alphabetical order):

  • Calendar: This app lets you view your daily, weekly, or monthly schedule, book meetings, share meetings, and event times. It also lets you view your organization's shared calendars and the calendars of your colleagues.
  • Delve: This app uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to display information relevant to you based on what you work on and who you work with. The information is pulled from different applications within Microsoft 365, such as SharePoint, OneDrive, and Teams. Delve is covered in Chapter 9, OfficeDelve.
  • Dynamics 365: Microsoft Dynamics 365 offers customer-relationship management and enterprise resource-management services. It lets you build business applications for your organization. It comes with purpose-built data models that can then be customized as per your needs.
  • Excel: Excel is one of the most popular programs that are used for organizing and manipulating data. It lets you connect to various databases and also visualize data using pivot charts and tables. With Microsoft 365, you can access your Excel spreadsheets in a web browser.
  • Forms: Microsoft Forms lets you create surveys, team quizzes, and opinion polls by designing simple electronic forms using several input options. The responses received can then be analyzed individually or collectively within Forms or by exporting the responses in Excel. To learn more about Forms, check out Chapter 20, Appendix.
  • Kaizala: Kaizala is a chat-based secured phone app that lets you have secure conversations with internal staff, as well aspeople external to your organization.
  • MyAnalytics: This app provides insights into your work habits by looking into your interactions with people. It also lets you mute notifications that might distract you and book time to focus on your daily calendar.
  • OneDrive: OneDrive lets you save and share your files in one place. You can share these files securely with your colleagues, vendors, or partners. Your OneDrive files can be downloaded on any device and synchronized with the cloud to ensure that your work is never lost. You can find more details on OneDrive in Chapter 7, OneDrive for Business.
  • OneNote: OneNote is a note-taking app that can capture and organize your notes into notebooks, sections, or pages. It lets you take handwritten as well as audio notes. To learn more about OneNote, check out Chapter 20, Appendix.
  • Outlook: Outlook lets you stay on top of your emails. It has features such as spam detection and auto filter. It also has features such as attachment reminders, attendee tracking, and the ability to attach a document as a link (as opposed to a duplicate copy).
  • People: People lets you maintain a list of your contacts. This includes internal staff, as well as all your friends, family, and acquaintances.
  • Planner: Planner lets you manage your tasks by organizing them into plans, assigning them to individuals, and notifying people. You and your team can track tasks on a planner board and track them to completion. The planner is covered in Chapter 17, Planner.
  • Power Automate: Formerly known as Flow, this app lets you automate business processes by using conditional logic and connecting a host of data sources. Power Automate is covered in Chapter 13, Power Automate (Microsoft Flow).
  • Power BI: This app lets you visualize data using built-in and custom visuals, lets you build dashboards and share these with others. Power BI is covered in Chapter 15, Power BI.
  • Power Virtual Agents: This service lets you design chatbots for your organization that can integrate with other Microsoft 365 services. PVAs are covered in Chapter 16, Power Virtual Agents.
  • Power Apps: This app lets you develop electronic forms that let you interact with your organization's data. They can be built for both web and mobile. Power Apps have been discussed in Chapter 12, Power Apps.
  • PowerPoint: Using PowerPoint lets you build presentations using visual effects and animations and share them with your colleagues. PowerPoint has both a client and a web version and supports coauthoring.
  • SharePoint: SharePoint is a platform for your organization to boost team collaboration, document, and content management. It lets you securely share content and information with your colleagues and partners. Chapter 2,Chapter 3,
    Chapter 4,Chapter 5, andChapter 6discuss SharePoint in detail.
  • Stream: Stream is your company's own video portal, where your staff can upload and share videos of classes, meetings, presentations, and training sessions. It also lets you categorize videos under channels. To know more about Stream, check out Appendix.
  • Sway: Microsoft Sway is a professional digital storytelling app for your organization that helps produce rich marketing material and presentations to be cataloged and shared. SeeAppendix for more information.
  • Tasks: The Tasks app lets you manage tasks in Outlook. It lets you assign due dates to tasks and marks them as complete.
  • Teams: Teams is your collaboration hub with a chat-based team workspace that lets you work collaboratively with your colleagues. It allows you to have group chats, online meetings, calling, and web conferencing. Chapter 11, Microsoft Teams covers Teams in details.
  • To Do: This app lets you manage, prioritize, and complete the most important things you need to achieve every day. See
    Appendixfor more information.
  • Whiteboard: Whiteboard is an app that lets you use your device as a whiteboard to ideate and exchange ideas. It supports text, shapes, and free-form drawing.
  • Word: This app lets you create professional documents and share them with your colleagues. The app has a client and a web version and supports the co-authoring of documents.
  • Yammer: Yammer is your organization's social network thatdrives employee engagement in your organization. Yammer has been covered in Chapter 12, Yammer - The Enterprise Social Network.

Signing in to Microsoft 365

Microsoft 365 uses a single sign-in for all its apps and services. The initial sign-in page for Microsoft 365 can vary slightly depending on the device that you are signing in from, and the app which you are signing in to. However, you will see a consistent Sign in option on all such apps and devices. For example, the initial sign-in page when you use a browser to sign-in to Microsoft 365 through its landing page at looks like this:

This Microsoft support article walks you through the login experience when signing in from apps on various devices:

The login experience becomes consistent after you click the Sign in button. Clicking this button will first prompt you for an email id. For your work or school subscription, this will be your corresponding work or school email id. If you have a personal Microsoft account, then this will be your personal email id.

For work or school accounts, entering the email id and clicking Next will take you to your organization's sign-in page, where you will need to enter your usual password for your organization. Then click Sign in again. Note that you may be asked for more information here depending on whether your organization has configured additional security.

If you are navigating to one of the Microsoft 365 services from the browser, you will also be asked if you would like to Stay signed in?. Confirming Yes to this prompt will mean that you will not need to sign in again every time you access an app or service using the same browser. You can also select Don't show this again to reduce the number of times you are prompted to sign-in. Please be sure to do this only on a device that belongs to you and is not shared with others.

That's it! You are now ready to benefit from all the Microsoft 365 apps and services using this one sign-in. Next, we will explore the various components of the Microsoft 365 user interface in a bit more detail.


Microsoft 365 user interface

Microsoft 365 comes with a very simple and intuitive user interface. You are presented with a landing page that looks like this when you first log in to the Microsoft 365 home page at

Let's look at the various sections of this page in a bit more detail.


Page header - the suite bar

The suite bar appears on top of all Microsoft 365 apps. This one component consistentlyspans across all the Microsoft 365 applications. The suite bar has the following links:

  1. The set of squares on the extreme left is known as the Microsoft 365 App launcher (also called the waffle). It is the Start menu equivalent to Windows 10. The waffle displays the frequently used Microsoft 365 apps. In addition to the Microsoft 365 apps, your organization can add their own apps in this section. You can then navigate to your apps from here. In addition, you will also see your recent documents if you scroll all the way to the bottom of the App launcher. You can also click All apps towards the bottom of the app launcher panel to be taken to a page that shows you a listing of all the apps that you have access to:

  1. The Microsoft 365 Search box in the middle lets you search across your organization's entire Microsoft 365 tenant. Search allows you to find relevant content from across all SharePoint sites and OneDrive for Business. We will cover Search in much more detail in subsequent chapters, but it is worth mentioning here that Search will always only show you content that you have access to.
  2. Next to the Search box are three Microsoft 365 icons:
    1. Notification icon: Notifies you when you receive an email.
    2. Settings icon: This is explained in the following section.
    3. Help icon: To get help on Microsoft 365. The help icon is the context-aware, in clicking this icon will show you help relevant to the area or page that you were browsing when you clicked it.
  3. Towards the extreme right is the profile picture (or your initials, if the picture is unavailable). You can update your contact details by clicking on the profile picture and then selecting My Office Profile. You can also view your subscriptions and license information and update your account details (privacy settings, password, and so on) from here.

Settings icon

The Settings menu is represented by the gear icon. The settings icon lets you change your personal preferences, including your notification settings and your password for Microsoft 365, as shown in the following screenshot:

You can update the following from here:

  • Your personal Microsoft 365look and feel (if your organization allows this)
  • Certain Microsoft 365 notifications preferences
  • Your organization account password
  • Additional security and privacy settings

Further, the settings panel is context-aware, meaning that the settings that you see in this panel will depend on the Microsoft 365 workload or app within which you are working. For example, when you are viewing the settings panel from within a page in SharePoint, you will see settings that are relevant to that specific page or area in SharePoint. We will cover the settings for individual apps separately in the chapters for these apps.


Page content

While the header consistently appears across all the Office 365 workloads, the content for the individual apps varies depending on the type of app. The Microsoft 365 home page contains the following sections (from top to bottom).


Apps section

This section displays all the apps that you have access to based on your assigned licenses:

The Install Office option in the top right-hand corner lets you install Office applications (such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint) on your machine. This link is visible only if your subscription plan lets you install Office applications.



The next section displays all the documents that might be relevant to you. Microsoft 365 uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to create a personalized list for each user based on the projects that you are working on and the people you are working with:

The section below the Recommended section displays the documents you have been working on or those that have been shared with you. Microsoft 365 lets you pin a document from the Recent tab and it will stay here forever until it's deleted.


OneDrive and SharePoint locations

Towards the bottom of your Microsoft 365 homepage are your recently accessed OneDrive locations and frequently accessed SharePoint sites or sites that you follow. You can see more listings by visiting the individual applications by either clicking Go to OneDrive or Go to SharePoint:


Microsoft 365 admin interface

Microsoft 365 is a very powerful platform, but with power comes responsibility. The Microsoft 365 Admin Center lets you manage various aspects of the platform. Only designated administrators in your organization can access the Admin Center. They can access it through the Admin app after they log into

The following screenshot shows the landing screen of the Microsoft 365 Admin Center:

You can perform the following actions from the Microsoft 365 Admin Center:

  • Add or remove users in your organization's Microsoft 365 environment.
  • Manage app licenses for these users.
  • Manage organization-wide admin role assignments.
  • Create and manage Azure Active Directory groups and mailboxes.
  • Manage app licenses and billing information.
  • Log a support ticket with Microsoft Support.
  • Register your company domain with Microsoft 365.
  • View usage and compliance reports and perform audits.
  • Monitor Microsoft 365 health and performance.
  • Administer and govern individual Microsoft 365 apps using the corresponding admin center.

Since this book is focused more on using the different workloads of Microsoft 365, discussing the admin capabilities is beyond the scope of this book.


Microsoft 365 admin roles

Microsoft 365 has various administrator roles, each specific to the nature of the work that the admin is involved in. These roles can be divided into three broad categories:

Global roles: Users with these roles can access all Microsoft 365 admin features. The two global roles are as follows:

  • Global admin: This is the highest privilege you can get in the Microsoft 365 Admin Center. Global admins can perform all tasks within the Microsoft 365 Admin Center. They can also add other individuals as global admins. This role should be granted with caution.
The person who signed up for Microsoft Online Services automatically becomes a global admin.
  • Global reader: Individuals with this role can view admin features but cannot change them.

Administrator roles: These roles are assigned to individuals responsible for maintaining the different administrative aspects of your Microsoft 365 services, such as licensing, billing, users, helpdesk requests, and so on. Some key roles under this category are as follows:

  • Helpdesk admin: To reset passwords and manage service requests
  • User admin: To create users and groups
  • Compliance admin: To maintain data governance
  • Guest invited: To allow external users to the organization's Active Directory
  • License admin: To assign licenses to users

Admins for a specific app or workload: It is a best practice to assign individuals admin access only to the services that they are responsible for. Some noteworthy admin roles for specific services are as follows:

  • Exchange admin: To manage Exchange Online
  • Groups admin: To manage Microsoft 365 groups
  • SharePoint admin: To manage SharePoint and OneDrive for Business
  • Teams service admin: To administer the Teams application
  • Power platform admin: To manage Power Apps and Power Automate
  • Power BI admin: To administer Power BI admin tasks

There are other admin roles in addition to the ones mentioned here. A full list of admin roles and their descriptions is available at


Let's get started!

Our goal is to empower you to make the most of your Microsoft 365 subscription. Since knowing the Microsoft 365 ecosystem in entirety seems like a daunting task, this book focuses on explaining what each Microsoft 365 application does, how you can use it, and when should you use one over another.

Microsoft 365 runs on a multitude of devices but experience on all devices is similar. However, the recipes in this book have been only been tested on Windows 10 devices and using the Chrome browser. So, you may see some minor variations if you are using a different OS or browser.

While this book covers all the major applications in Microsoft 365 stack, the technology itself is evolving with each passing day. Some services are being deprecated while other services are being added. With this book, we have tried to stay as close to the current offering as possible. We hope that this book will help you in your Microsoft 365 endeavors. As a reminder, we encourage you to reach out to us via [email protected]and mention the book title in the subject for any feedback or concerns that you may have. We always welcome your inputs in helping make this book better.

Best of luck. Let's get started!

About the Authors

  • Gaurav Mahajan

    Gaurav Mahajan is a technology evangelist with a focus on Microsoft 365, SharePoint, and AI. He has over 19 years of technical consulting experience and is passionate about helping organizations envision, build, and deploy solutions focused on solving practical problems. Gaurav has a Bachelor in Engineering, is Stanford certified in machine learning, and holds a PG Diploma in management from the Indian Institute of Management. He is also a Microsoft Technology Solutions Professional (P-TSP) and holds various other Microsoft certifications. He occasionally blogs, and speaks at and organizes technical events, code camps, and conferences. He is a co-chair of the M365 & SharePoint Saturday, Pittsburgh (US) annual conference. In his free time, he likes to travel and spend time with his family.

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  • Sudeep Ghatak

    Sudeep Ghatak has over 17 years of experience working with Microsoft technologies. He started as a .NET programmer, later moving to SharePoint back in 2007. Sudeep currently works as a senior solution architect in NZ and designs solutions based on Office 365 and the Azure platform. He is a certified Solutions Developer (MCSD) and holds a postgraduate degree in instrumentation engineering. He is an active member of the Microsoft community in New Zealand and runs an Azure meetup group. He is also an active speaker and advocate of Office 365 and Azure. He is often seen speaking at user groups and conferences in and around Christchurch, New Zealand. Outside of work, Sudeep loves to spend time with his family and has a strong interest in music and astrophysics. He loves playing guitar and is currently taking violin lessons with his 7-year-old daughter.

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