Microsoft Teams – as easy as 1, 2, 3? Don’t believe the hype!
17 Sep 2020
With the big rush to get everyone working from home quickly, initiatives were rolled out by Microsoft to allow Teams to be implemented rapidly by organisations. Teams usage hit 44 million daily active users, up by 12 million as COVID-19 related lockdown loomed. Many organisations think that it is easy to implement Microsoft Teams, but have not given sufficient thought or consideration to governance in their Teams environment. Teams are created on a whim, with no policy on naming conventions or an understanding of what actually goes on when a Team is created within the 365 ecosystem. It is far more than a medium to conference call and instant message.
With every team created in Microsoft Teams, an equivalent SharePoint site is also created. If the team has been set up with no naming conventions or consideration for who has access to it, there is often no governance behind it. Before you set up and implement your Microsoft Teams platform, you should consider these steps to ensure that your governance around Teams is robust from the moment you adopt it.
Define what administrative rights you will give to your employees
There are three key levels of administration rights contained within Teams:
- Administrator: Can modify teams and define roles for other users
- Owner: Can create, edit, or delete a team, add members, and change their permissions
- Member: Can join teams, create channels, and request to add other members
When it comes to governance, you should decide who will be given administrator and owner access rights. You also need to determine who will be allowed to create new teams within your Teams environment. If you give multiple users this ability, it will be become more difficult to manage this company wide. But if you don’t give enough users the ability to create teams, this can restrict usage and take away from the collaborative aspect of the platform.
You should clearly define when and why a new team can be created within your Teams platform. If you have too few teams and channels, they will soon become very overcrowded by unnecessary discussions, and if you have too many teams, users will not be able to find what they need quickly.
Part of deciding who can create new teams is also defining when and why a new team can be created. Come up with guidance notes that helps users understand when a new team should be created and when simply adding a new channel is more appropriate.
Ensure you have a naming scheme for Teams and Channels
Your Teams environment will quickly become cluttered if you don’t have an appropriate naming scheme for your Teams and Channels. This is a company-wide policy that aims to standardise the way teams named to make them easier to sort through and find. It often includes a set of indicators such as region or country, department, location, or function.
Decide who can grant external access to guest users
While the ability to invite external users to teams is an advantage, it also poses security risks. You may have sensitive information stored in Teams that you want to maintain control over, for example. You should decide as part of your governance whether you want to allow external users to be invited into your team’s platform in the first place, and if you do invite them, what permissions you want to give them once they have been granted access to your organisation’s account.
Manage the availability of third-party apps
While more third-party apps are becoming available for native integration within Teams, administrators should have the ability to determine which apps are available in your organisation’s catalogue for users to add to their team. Like external users, allowing third-party apps also poses security risks and you should only include apps that are essential to your employee’s workflows.
Establish an archiving policy for your content
Within Microsoft Teams there is functionality to allow you to archive teams that are no longer used or are relevant. When you archive a team any documents in it are still available but on a read-only basis, so users won’t lose access to them entirely. You can also restore an archived team if it becomes relevant again at any point in the future.
When establishing Microsoft Teams governance, you need to decide what criteria a team needs to meet to be archived. For example, you may decide to archive teams after they have been inactive for a certain number of days or when an associated project has been completed. Then, decide who will be responsible for staying on top of archiving. This will help ensure that the number of active teams stays at a manageable level.
Automate your Microsoft Teams governance processes
Managing a Microsoft Teams account that runs across a whole organisation is a major undertaking. Even if you set out with a robust Teams governance plan, and many organisations don’t, the volume of your users and content often grows much faster than organisations anticipate.
If you look at automating your Microsoft Teams governance processes, this will take much of the “heavy lifting” out of governance and ensure your Teams platform remains compliant.