How managing Google Groups is getting easier for G Suite admins

Here's what G Suite administrators need to know about recent and upcoming welcome changes to Google Groups.

G Suite: What is it, and how can it benefit businesses? Still in the dark about Google's cloud-based office software suite? Here's a quick introduction to G Suite.

If your organization uses G Suite, Google Groups can make several tasks simpler. Each group has a unique email address you use when you want an action to apply to everyone in the group. You can email to communicate with the group, invite the group address to schedule a Google Calendar event, or share a file or a folder with the group address on Google Drive to collaborate on content.

SEE: Google Drive: Tips and tricks for business professionals (Tech Pro Research)

Google announced several improvements to Groups between late 2018 and mid-2019. Administrators that have active Groups may want to review Groups settings. Here's what G Suite administrators need to know about Google Groups.

How to configure Google Groups

Before users can use Google Groups, a G Suite administrator must take certain steps. The administrator can choose to configure either Admin Console Groups or Groups For Business. Groups for Business offers more features and flexibility, while Admin console Groups provides simple sharing and administrative controls (Figure A).

Figure A

Screenshot showing details of (left) Admin console Groups, and (right) Groups for Business. The link to the support page is in the body text of the article.

You can access Admin console Groups for simple sharing and administrative controls or enable Groups for Business for additional features.

With Admin console Groups, a G Suite administrator can create and manage Groups that allow everyone in the group to easily email everyone else in the group, share content on Google Drive with a group, and invite everyone in the group to an event. The G Suite administrator is able to manage who can access content, as well as who may manage membership. All of this can be adjusted in G Suite Admin console configuration controls.

Google Groups for Business allows people in your organization to create and manage their own Groups. Once a G Suite administrator enables the Groups for Business service, people can create additional types of Groups, such as a collaborative inbox or a forum. Groups for Business also gives people with permission the ability to moderate messages and search group content.

If companies plan to use Google Groups solely to communicate with sets of people, simplify calendar invitations, and share content, then Admin console Groups will work well. If you're in a large enough organization, however, G Suite administrators may want to upgrade to Groups for Business to enable other people in the organization to create and manage Groups. After Groups for Business is enabled, a G Suite administrator may still access and adjust many Group settings from the Admin console.

Refinements to Admin console Groups

Google enabled access to commonly used Group controls within the G Suite Admin console in December 2018. These settings provide a cleanly designed grid with checkboxes to allow an administrator to adjust Group access and membership permissions (Figure B).

Figure B

Screenshot of Admin console Groups creation process; shows grid with various permissions and checkboxes.

A G Suite administrator may create Groups and manage settings in a refined grid with Admin console Groups. Additional settings allow control over who may join the group.

A March 2019 update added refinements to the Admin console Groups navigation elements in order to make Group management and controls easier to adjust.

Streamlined settings in Groups for Business

Google announced in February 2019 that streamlined settings for Groups for Business will arrive on May 6, 2019. The changes will simplify the system from 20 settings to three roles and remove a few options. (Figure C).

Figure C

Screenshot of the new 3 Groups for Business settings: Manage members, Moderate Content, and Moderate Metadata.

Google announced in February 2019 that streamlined settings for Groups for Business will launch in May 2019.

The settings simplify permissions that allow people to manage members, moderate content, and moderate metadata. The sheer number of Groups settings made it easy for an administrator to overlook an adjustment or to accept default Groups settings when confronted with so many choices.

If G Suite administrators are reading this before or around May 2019, and you use Groups for Business, you may want to review your settings to understand the changes. Google provides an overview page ("Changes to Groups settings on May 6, 2019") that includes a link to a Group Settings worksheet. The page details exactly how the team intends to simplify the system from 20 settings to three roles, while the worksheet helps identify potential permissions to change.

SEE: Google Cloud Platform: An insider's guide (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Google cautions that "some members might gain or lose permissions unexpectedly." G Suite administrators and group owners will want to be prepared to adjust Groups for Business settings appropriately. Google also provides a sample message that G Suite administrators might send to group owners.

Your thoughts?

If you're a G Suite administrator, which Google Groups do you use: Admin console Groups or Groups for Business? If you use either of these, what do you think of the recent refinements to settings in Admin console Groups or the streamlined settings for Groups for Business? Let me know either in the comments or on Twitter (@awolber).

Also see

Two circles: (left) Admin console Groups, with text "refined admin grid"; (right) Groups for Business with text "Streamlined Settings, May 2019"
Illustration: TechRepublic/Andy Wolber