Departmental Teams

Tags ms-teams

To prevent the unchecked proliferation of teams (i.e. "teams sprawl"), we have adopted new guidelines for handling requests for new teams. We are utilising a feature of Microsoft Teams called "private channels" that allows us to partition an existing team into sub-teams. Teams are made up of channels, which are the collaboration spaces within each team in which the actual work is done. These dedicated sections within a team allow to keep conversations, files, and other content to be organized by specific topics, projects, disciplines, etc. For more information on team channels, please see Team Channels article.

Each department has two teams: one for internal collaboration (i.e. "internal team"), and one for collaborating with users outside of the department and students (i.e. "external team"). Instead of creating a new team for each collaboration, a private channel will be added to one of these two teams, depending on the intended audience.

The internal departmental team is made up of employees of the department, that is faculty and staff, but does not include students. It should be used for intra-departmental collaboration and sharing of internal files. When people join or leave the department, the team membership list is adjusted, and new  people have access to all public channels and removed people have no access to public or private channels.  

The external departmental team is designed for collaborating and sharing with guests and partners. It can include any types of users, including students, or even people without UWin Accounts (i.e. people from outside of University of Windsor).

  • Members cannot create channels.
  • Only private channels should be created in this team by designated owners. Each private channel has its own membership that is a sub-set of the external team membership.
  • Only owners can post in the General channel. 
  • No files should be uploaded to General channel.

If you are the owner of your departmental team, follow these steps to create a new private channel:

  1. Click on the ellipsis icon (three dots) next to the team's name

  2. Select Add channel from the pop-up menu; if you do not see this option, it means you are not the owner of this team
  3. Give your channel a name (max. 50 characters)
  4. Enter a brief description for this channel (optional)
  5. Change privacy from settings from Standard to Private
  6. Click Next
  7. Enter names of people who should be members of this channel
    NOTE: Only people who are already members of the external team can be added as members of the private channel.

Before a person can be added as a member to the private channel, they have to be first added to the external team as a member:

  1. Click on the ellipsis icon (three dots) next to the team's name
  2. Select Add member from the pop-up menu
  3. Start typing person's name, then select the person from the list of search results
  4. Click Send request
    NOTE: Your request will be sent to the person or people designated as owners of this team who will need to approve it before the person can be added to the private channel.


While we require everyone to use channels within existing teams for new collaborations, as it will reduce the administrative overhead associated with a large number of teams that would have to be maintained, we recognise that there are some cases where a new stand-alone team is warranted. The following are our guidelines for a new team creation; At least one of these have to be met for us to make an exception:

  1. The collaboration requires separate channels for organizing documents and/or conversations that has members that possibly are a subset of the team. For example, a large committee that has sub-committees, or a large research group with various projects under a common management.
  2. There is a need to divide team members into subteams through the use of private channels, for example for discussions or group assignments.
  3. A situation where an underlying group is required for email distribution, multiple document libraries or lists.
  4. Scheduled channel meetings with students or people outside of your department are required, which due to the current limitation of Teams cannot take place in a private channel.

If in doubt, please feel free to book a consultation to discuss the best procedure to handle your collaboration activity using the IT Services Bookings page and choose Microsoft 365 Consultation.

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Article ID: 131397
Fri 4/9/21 9:30 AM
Tue 10/3/23 3:05 PM

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