Get More from Microsoft Teams with an Effective Governance Strategy
Over the past two years, companies adopting Microsoft Teams skyrocketed as many organizations moved to a fully remote workforce due to the pandemic. For many, it was the first time having to do remote work. This caused growing pains and an adjustment period while businesses and employees had to navigate “the new normal”. Tools like Microsoft Teams became imperative during this time but using Microsoft Teams governance was not as prioritized as it should have been.
Many businesses weren’t using Microsoft Teams to its full potential due to a lack of governance which had a negative impact on adoption and the overall user experience. Having an effective Microsoft Teams governance strategy is important not only to manage risks around privacy and security, but also to make your Microsoft Teams environment easier to manage and drive user adoption.
In this article, we’ll cover how to get more from Microsoft Teams with an effective governance strategy.
What is Microsoft Teams Governance?
At its core, establishing governance refers to determining how an organization functions internally. So, establishing Microsoft Teams governance means determining how Microsoft Teams will function within your organization. This affects how you manage users’ access and data in compliance with your business standards, as well as ensuring the security of your data.
When is MS Teams Governance Needed?
An effective governance strategy is necessary if you’re planning on rolling Microsoft Teams out to your organization and wish to support productive collaboration and communication across the workforce. By having Microsoft Teams governance, you ensure your organization has a pre-determined, unified way of using Teams. This is then communicated clearly to all users to ensure the policies are being adhered to.
What Happens if You Don’t Have Microsoft Teams Governance in Place?
Not having an effective Microsoft Teams governance strategy in place can cause “Teams sprawl” which can negatively impact the overall user experience and cause lower adoption rates.
Teams sprawl (also referred to as content sprawl) happens when users can create as many Teams as they like with no governance or processes in place. While some organizations want to make it easy for users to create new channels for collaboration, it more often than not leads to numerous rarely used or abandoned Teams and way too many channels or completely empty channels. As a result, you’re left with data sprawled everywhere.
Between data being attached to chats, in channels, and Files tabs, your users end up spending too much time trying to search for information (if they ever find it at all). This causes a big drop in adoption and usability because Microsoft Teams becomes a blocker rather than a facilitator of productivity, collaboration, and communication.
Perhaps even more importantly, a lack of governance can result in a data security risk. Why? Because when new Teams are constantly being created by users, IT loses control and is unable to ensure that sensitive data isn’t falling into the hands of the wrong audiences.
What Does a Microsoft Teams Governance Strategy Involve?
We’ve covered the why now let’s move on to the what. To roll out an effective Microsoft Teams governance strategy, there are many things that need to be considered.
First, your governance strategy needs to cover who can create Teams. As mentioned above, you can be left with rarely used, dead, or duplicate Teams if it’s a free-for-all and everyone is able to create them. An important part of Microsoft Teams governance is managing the creation of Teams. Deciding who can create Teams goes hand in hand with granting access to specific users and defining what users’ roles and responsibilities will be within Teams. Having clear guidelines of who owns what within Teams will keep everything organized and running smoothly.
In addition to this, governance plays a part in defining the structure of Teams. This means ensuring that all the features of Teams are being put to adequate use so that you can see the most return on your investment. There are many powerful features within Teams and it’s important your organization is taking advantage of all of them.
Your governance strategy should also include policies for managing content within Teams. For example, naming conventions. There should be clear guidelines for naming channels so that when authorized users create a channel, other users will understand what the purpose of that channel is. Not only does this make things easier to understand, but it can also be a huge time saver in the long run.
Content management governance in Teams goes beyond just naming conventions. It covers external guest access and ensuring that only the necessary data is being shared with external guests. It also covers Teams’ lifecycle management. What we mean by this, is providing rules around what data can be kept in Teams; content retention, archiving, and deletion.
Ultimately, governance makes it clear to everyone, which Team they should be working in.
What Are the Benefits of Implementing an Effective MS Teams Governance Strategy?
Throughout this article, we’ve covered a few of the ways having an effective Microsoft Teams governance strategy can positively impact your organization. We wanted to reiterate the top benefits of Teams governance and how having an effective governance strategy can help you get more from Microsoft Teams.
1. Boost User Adoption Rates
Microsoft Teams is a tool that facilitates productivity, collaboration, and communication. Teams governance allows for a thoughtful and uniform way of using Microsoft Teams and clearly defines user roles and access. This makes it easy and seamless for users to work within Teams. Without governance, Microsoft Teams can quickly become a blocker and make information difficult to find. Or worse, it could put sensitive data into the hands of the wrong person.
2. Manage ‘Teams sprawl’
Microsoft Teams governance will nip ‘Teams sprawl’ in the bud before it ever becomes an issue. Information will be easy to find and there won’t be abandoned Teams, duplicate Teams, or too many Teams to deal with. Effective governance will also ensure that the appropriate users will have access to the right information (and the right version of that information).
3. Improve the User Experience
As previously mentioned, governance provides structure and consistency, which in turn leads to ease of use. As a result, governance greatly improves the user experience. Microsoft Teams can become difficult to use if it’s not managed effectively. This can cause users to start using unauthorized programs instead of Teams simply because it’s easier for them to use. Having a governance strategy in place avoids this altogether.
4. Ensure Compliance, Improve Security and Protect Data
With effective governance, IT can ensure that sensitive data is only accessible to the appropriate parties. It enables certain users to access sensitive information only (and hides it for unauthorized users). This helps to protect data and prevent a data leak.
What governance options does Microsoft Teams offer out-of-the-box?
Microsoft Teams provides different configuration options to help your organization successfully govern Microsoft Teams. Every organization has different requirements. Some areas we recommend you start with are as follows:
• Who can create what – giving authorized users the ability to create teams and channels.
• What applications users have available to them and what they can add – ensuring you’re using all the powerful features MS Teams has to offer.
• Naming Convention and Channels/Teams structure – standardized naming for Teams and channels so users understand the purpose of each channel.
• Guest Access – granting limited access to external guests.
Getting started on your Microsoft Teams Governance Strategy
We’ve covered in detail what Microsoft Teams governance is when it’s needed, and the benefits of implementing it. But how can you implement your own governance strategy? Whether you’re just starting out or completely overhauling your MS Teams, we recommend starting with these best practices:
1. Decide Who can Create Teams
Deciding who can and can’t create teams is one of the best places to start when ironing out your MS Teams governance strategy. There are a few options as it relates to team creation:
• You can allow all users to create teams, but then you need to make sure those teams are properly managed after creation, and they meet internal policies.
• You can enable users to create teams directly but in a controlled way. There are third-party apps that allow you to do so.
• Block all users from creating teams. Instead, allow users to submit their team creation requests through an external tool, such as a Microsoft form, and then have IT create the teams off the back of that.
2. Grant Guest/External Access
External access enables your organization to collaborate with people outside of your organization, or anyone with an external email address, using MS Teams. You can choose to allow for all teams to invite an external person, or you can choose to have only certain teams invite external users. You also have the option to completely lock it down so that no teams can invite external users, or simply have a ‘sensitivity label’ that allows the team to decide if they can or can’t invite external users.
3. Define a Naming Convention
Each time a team is created for a project, it’s best practice to establish a consistent naming convention. For example, you can set the standard that every new team’s naming convention has to be the region followed by the project name (e.g., VAN – Video Messaging Feature Release).
There are a few options for applying a naming convention:
• Prefix-suffix naming policy which is a policy available in Azure Active Directory. You can define prefixes or suffixes that are then automatically added to enforce a naming convention for your teams.
• Connecting to a provisioning solution that allows you to automatically enforce a standardized naming convention when creating teams.
• Manually create a naming convention by letting employees apply the correct naming convention you’ve defined in your Microsoft Teams user policy.
4. Control Access & Visibility
Privacy is an important consideration when you’re thinking about Microsoft Teams governance. There are privacy settings available to control the access and visibility of the team and its content. You can choose between private, public, and org-wide. ‘Private’ means that only owners can invite new members. ‘Public’ means that all employees can join the team and the content is accessible to all employees. ‘Org-wide’ means that all employees are automatically added to the team. Based on these options, you can decide which best fits in with your organization.
5. Set an Expiration Policy
It’s inevitable that after some time, your Teams will contain inactive or outdated teams. Azure Active Directory contains a feature to delete inactive teams by setting an expiration policy. You can decide when this will happen by setting an expiration policy based on a certain amount of time (e.g., 90 days). The owners of the team will receive email notifications letting them know that the team will expire in 30 days.
Once a team is deleted, all the content from that team will be moved to a recycle bin. If you need to restore any content from that team, only an admin can perform this action, as long as it’s within 30 days of expiry.
If you are launching Microsoft Teams or are actively using MS Teams and need support getting started with your Microsoft Teams Governance strategy, we are here to help. Get in touch today!