Power Virtual Agent is Unresponsive in Microsoft Teams

You send your chatbot in Microsoft Teams a message and then you wait. You wait, wait, and wait. Then wait some more. Then you send another message and start the entire process over again. Sooner or later your frustration gets the best of you and you start spamming the keyboard with characters, hitting enter over and over again, hitting your chatbot with a barrage of messages that will surely wake it up, but no matter how long you wait, no matter how many messages you send, your chatbot doesn’t respond.

If you’ve come to this blog post and the above scenario describes your problem, I’m 100% confident this post is going to solve your issue, but please read carefully, as there’s one key ingredient you must bring: patience.

The Solution:

When you create a premium bot with PVA and add it to Microsoft Teams, you end up with 2 options for sharing it with your colleagues (I’ll skip who you’re sharing it with, as I’m assuming you’ve already confirmed you target audience has access, either by adding them directly and/or allowing all org-wide users to access your bot).

  1. You’ve gone to: Your bot -> Settings -> Channels -> Microsoft Teams -> Availability options (in lower right-hand corner) -> Copy link and shared that URL.
    If this is all you’ve done, your bot is essentially just a one-off, non-global Microsoft Teams app and you can share that link as much as you want, and as long as the user you’re sharing it with has access to the bot, you’re good to go
  2. You’ve gone to: Your bot -> Settings -> Channels -> Microsoft Teams -> Availability options -> Show to everyone in my org -> Submit for admin approval
    At this point, you have to wait for an admin to approve your request, and once it’s approved, your bot is now a fully fledged, org-wide Microsoft Teams app, and that’s exactly where the problem starts.

Issue Explained:

To be clear, you’re only going to have this issue when your Power Virtual Agent bot is approved and in your org-wide store, and it could happen when it’s approved, or could it happen sometime down the road after it’s been approved for weeks or even months.

What causes the issue? It’s Microsoft Teams apps Permission policies (Microsoft Teams Admin Center -> Teams apps -> Permission policies)

If you have multiple app permission policies, you’re going to have to check them all, but for each of them, when you click into the policy, you’ll see 3 categories of apps:

  1. Microsoft apps
  2. Third-party apps
  3. Custom apps

The one we’re concerned with is “Custom apps,” as those are the ones built by your organization. This is an area in the policy where you get to determine which org-wide apps can be accessed by your users, and by having your new chatbot approved, you’ve just made it an org-wide app, which makes it susceptible to this part of every active policy. Let’s review the 4 options for setting these policies:

  1. Allow all apps
  2. Allow specific apps and block others
  3. Block specific apps and allow all others
  4. Block all apps

The latter 3 are the troublesome ones, as all of them could be blocking your PVA app. The most likely culprit of the 4, however, is “Allow specific apps and block others.” When your new bot is approved, unless your Teams administrator specifically adds it to all of the policies that use this option, your new bot in essence has just become blocked. This could be a bot that you’ve shared directly from the “Copy link” option mentioned above, when it always worked, and this new org-wide app will even look like a second app that you can install, since its essentially a wrapper around the original bot / app, but both apps point to the same underlying bot and that’s why someone who had installed the first one and/or the org-wide one, will be blocked when caught in the above policy web.

The Most Important Part of this Post:

When you make any change to a Microsoft Teams app permission policy, it can take DAYS for the cache to clear and the policy update to take effect. This can result in your bot working for a bit after you make it an org-wide app (before the policy kicks in and blocks it) and the very same delay can happen when you update the policy to fix it.

Matt Jimison

That gets us back to the top of the post where I mentioned the key ingredient: patience. You have to be willing to wait out the time it takes for the updated policy to take effect or be prepared for an alternate approach (such as deploying the bot as a “new” app). I personally have witnessed one of these changes taking nearly 48 hours to take effect.

One other thing worth noting – if most of this post sounded like your issue, but your org-wide app / bot has been in place for some time, it’s likely that the culprit is a change recently made in the Microsoft Teams app permission policies, so make sure to check with your Teams administrator.

Bottom line? Be patient, and the fix will come, but if you’re in a time crunch, understand other options may be more viable for resuscitating your broken bot.


Matt Jimison

Microsoft 365 Geek - Husband, father, lover of basketball, football, smoking / grilling, music, movies, video games, and craft beer!

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