About admin roles

Your subscription comes with a set of admin roles that you can to users in your organization. Each admin role maps to common business functions and gives people in your organization permissions to do specific tasks in the admin centers. For more information, see Assign admin roles

Things to consider...

Because admins have access to sensitive data and files, we recommend that you follow these guidelines to keep your organization's data more secure.

Recommendation Why is this important?
Have 2 to 4 global admins Because only another global admin can reset a global admin's password, we recommend that you have at least 2 global admins in your organization in case of account lockout. But the global admin has almost unlimited access to your org's settings and most of the data, so we also recommend that you don't have more than 4 global admins because that's a security threat.
Assign the least permissive role Assigning the least permissive role means giving admins only the access they need to get the job done. For example, if you want someone to reset employee passwords you shouldn't assign the unlimited global admin role, you should assign a limited admin role, like Password admin or Helpdesk admin. This will help keep your data secure.
Require multi-factor authentication for admins It's actually a good idea to require MFA for all of your users, but admins should definitely be required to use MFA to sign in. MFA makes users enter a second method of identification to verify they are who they say they are. Admins can have access to a lot of customer and employee data and if you require MFA, even if the admin's password gets compromised, the password is useless without the second form of identification.

When you turn on MFA, the next time the user signs in, they'll need to provide an alternate email address and phone number for account recovery.
Set up multi-factor authentication

Need more details about what these roles can and cannot do?

In the Microsoft 365 admin center, go to Roles > Roles, and then select any role to open its detail pane. Select the Permissions tab to view the detailed list of what admins assigned that role have permission to do.

If you don’t have access to the Microsoft 365 admin center, or if you’re looking for the cmdlets associated with a role, see Administrator role permissions in Azure Active Directory.

What about the Azure Active Directory roles?

The Microsoft 365 admin center lets you manage over 30 Azure AD roles. However, these roles are a subset of the roles available in the Azure portal. If you have a large business, there might be roles in the Azure portal that meet your organizational needs.

For a list and description of all the Azure Active Directory roles, see Administrator role permissions in Azure Active Directory.

A user who is assigned an admin role will have the same level of access to cloud services that your organization has subscribed to, regardless of whether you assign the role in the Microsoft 365 admin center or the Azure portal, or by using the Azure AD module for Windows PowerShell.

Delegated administration for Microsoft Partners

If you're working with a Microsoft partner, you can assign them admin roles. They, in turn, can assign users in your company - or their company - admin roles. You might want them to do this, for example, if they are setting up and managing your online organization for you.

A partner can assign these roles:

  • Full administration, which has privileges equivalent to a global admin.

  • Limited administration, which has privileges equivalent to a helpdesk admin.

Before the partner can assign these roles to users, you must add the partner as a delegated admin to your account. This process is initiated by an authorized partner. The partner sends you an email to ask you if you want to give them permission to act as a delegated admin. For instructions, see Authorize or remove partner relationships.

Assign admin roles

Activity reports in the Microsoft 365 admin center