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Prevent the collaboration free-for-all! Get governance in place for Microsoft Teams

We’ve been vocal about the rise of Microsoft Teams as a collaboration tool, and think that for most clients it is a better tool than Slack or Skype for Business. In fact, Teams is deceptively simple for such a complex tool, and if users are left to their own devices (pun intended) there are countless troublesome doors for them to open.

That’s why we strongly encourage our clients to create a Governance Policy that sets the rules from the start. Without clear guidelines, Teams can grow out of control to become both unmanageable and unusable.

These policies might seem overwhelming, as again, there a lot of doors and companies must decide whether to keep them open, lock them up, or find somewhere in between.

We use a “straw man” Governance Policy as a starting point to make the choices clear and the development of guidelines as painless as possible. Here are a few common questions that our plans address as we create a secure, productive environment for Teams:

  • What’s the best way to officially keep track of individual Teams?

Did you know that when a Teams space is created, a modern SharePoint is created, too? Did you also know that as a SharePoint administrator you cannot access a modern site, including those created by Teams, if you were not the one who created it? This makes tracking and administering Teams all the more difficult, but governance can solve these and many other potential dilemmas.

The problem of tracking sites goes beyond Teams: successful SharePoint governance as a whole depends on maintaining a Site Catalog. Typically, the Site Catalog contains information on every SharePoint site, both in the Intranet and in collaboration areas like Teams. The Catalog tracks the business purpose of each site, the department or group, the business owners, special customizations or permissions, site URL, site name, Status (Active, Archived, Deleted), and governance-related notes.

With a Site Catalog, Teams Admins can quickly track trouble spots or assist Team Owners and company leadership when needed. Without it – well, good luck!

Here’s a glimpse of a basic Catalog structure we recommend:

  • How can external users be effectively managed?

We believe that the default for governance should be that if external sharing is necessary, a Teams Space Owner must request that functionality from the Teams Admin. If approved, the Admin can use PowerShell to allow that Team to invite external users. The Teams Admin should then provide to the Team Space Owner a written policy on managing those external users (which can be a template document). Each month, the Teams Admin can also see details through Sharegate’s external user report.

Importantly, we like to stress that Team Owners should never allow guests to invite users or otherwise take on an Owner role.

  • When to retire old spaces and how?

As part of the monthly governance report, Admins will see Team spaces that have been idle. For Teams that have been unused for more than 6 months, the Admin should notify the Team Owners that the space will be archived or deleted in a set timeframe unless there are objections. If there is no response, the Admin should archive or delete the Teams space

There is a wide range of other questions we routinely address, including:

  • Should users self-create teams, or is IT approval required?

  • Where can I archive information?

  • How can we control which apps a Team can add?

  • Should we allow private chat, voice and video meetings?

  • How can we create templates to simplify launching a new Team?

  • Documents reside in a behind-the-scenes modern SharePoint site. What retention and data loss prevention policies do I need?

  • Persistent chat from Teams lives in Exchange. What are my retention policies or data loss prevention procedures for this information?

The beauty of Teams is its flexibility and ease of use. The challenge is governing how users can utilize the tool in a way that allows them to do their best work together without jeopardizing the integrity of the company’s overall communications and security.

A clear Governance Policy helps keep the house in order, reduces confusion and lessens the IT burden, and is the right place to start before users start breaking down the doors.

If you have questions about SharePoint, Teams, and OneDrive, contact us to learn more about how we approach Governance Policies and more.

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