July 13, 2021
min read
Kas Nowicka
Kas has spent the last decade working with Microsoft’s cloud solutions and sharing governance, adoption, and productivity best practices with the MVP community.

Microsoft 365 User Account Management 101: Managing Users

While user account management in Microsoft 365 is necessary, it’s a topic that many IT admins shy away from discussing. It can be rather boring at times, and some IT admins may feel as though they’ve already got a good grasp on the topic, but oftentimes, that’s not the case.

In order to improve, IT admins managing Microsoft 365 user accounts must be able to understand why account management is of the utmost importance to the security of their organizations’ IT infrastructures and what they can and can’t do as a Microsoft 365 admin.

Every IT admin manages user accounts a little differently, but in order to get into your own rhythm, you need to get the basics down first.

Why Successful Account Management for Microsoft 365 Users Should Matter to You as an IT Admin

Employees come and go. It’s an expected outcome of running a business with employees. When managing IT for a smaller organization, it’s a lot easier for admins to manage Microsoft 365 users. You’re usually “in the know” when someone is hired or fired; however, IT admins managing complex IT infrastructures for larger enterprises are sometimes some of the last people in the chain to find out about personnel changes. If you’re an IT admin managing Microsoft 365 users for a larger enterprise, this may unfortunately present you and your team with many problems down the road, many of which could’ve been prevented if you’d just been kept in the loop.

First and foremost, it’s a security nightmare. For instance, after people leave your organization, they, as you know, may still have access to company data through Microsoft 365, especially when IT admins aren’t informed about employee departures. When you’re unable to successfully manage Microsoft 365 users, your organization’s security posture is weakened, and that’s a vulnerable place to be in when cybersecurity attacks are increasing by the day.

It’s up to you to not only successfully manage Microsoft 365 accounts but also implement account management best practices in your organization (let’s save the latter for another time).

You’ve Got Options: There Are Several Different Ways for IT Admins to Manage Microsoft 365 Users

While IT admins manage Microsoft 365 users differently, they all have access to the same tools. It all depends on how you’d like to manage your users. There are several ways for IT admins to manage Microsoft 365 user accounts.

The first three ways of managing Microsoft 365 user accounts become available as soon as you purchase Microsoft 365: the Microsoft 365 Admin Center and PowerShell.

  • Microsoft 365 Admin Center — Accessing the Microsoft 365 Admin Center is simple. First, sign in to Office.com with your work account. Select the app launcher afterward and look for Admin (if you’re the admin, it should be visible on your screen). You can review your possible actions from there.
  • Azure Active Directory Admin Center — With more features than the Microsoft 365 Admin Center, the Azure Active Directory Admin Center is typically where tenant admins go to manage users and groups.
  • PowerShell — You can also use PowerShell automation to manage Microsoft 365 accounts. This option enables IT admins to manage Microsoft 365 from the command line. Using PowerShell scripts ensures consistency when adding users to your Microsoft 365 subscription. Connect to Microsoft 365 using Azure Active Directory PowerShell for Graph or Microsoft Azure Active Directory Module for Windows PowerShell.

Common Admin Tasks When Managing Microsoft 365 Users

Not everything about user account management is about protecting your systems and networks, but a good portion of it is, and when the basics are overlooked, it leads to careless mistakes and preventable outcomes down the road.

There are a variety of administrative tasks to consider when managing Microsoft 365 users.

Some of the top actions IT admins can take include the following:

  • Creating a user — Again, there are several ways for you to create user accounts, but if you’re adding users individually, one of the more common ways is to use the Microsoft 365 Admin Center. You can add a user from there and complete the necessary details, including name, domain, password settings, assign product licenses, and more.
  • Deleting a user — Another common admin task when managing Microsoft 365 users is deleting a user. Are you using directory synchronization? If not, you can delete a user by using the admin page or Windows PowerShell. On the other hand, if you’re using directory synchronization, then your only option is to use local Active Directory when deleting a user. You can restore a deleted account for approximately 30 days after having deleted it.
  • Admin roles — Whomever signs up for Microsoft 365 becomes the account’s global admin, so you may not want to pass that task along to someone else in your organization. (The global admin of your Microsoft 365 subscription essentially has unlimited control over all your account’s subscriptions and services). Besides global admin, there are four other admin roles to choose from: billing admin, password admin, service admin, and user management admin.
  • License management — It’s also up to the Microsoft 365 admin to assign licenses to users, which you can do by accessing either the Active users page or the Licenses page.

Managing Microsoft 365 users doesn’t have to be complicated. When you’re aware of what you can and can’t do, and why effective account management is imperative to your success as an IT admin, everything else falls into place. Refreshing yourself with the basics is a good place to start.

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Created by M365 experts, for M365 experts.