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PHOTO: Chunlea Ju

A multi-function communication platform like Microsoft Teams is an essential tool for today’s work environment — not just a fancy piece of tech. Nearly three-quarters (70 percent) of professionals globally telecommute at least one day a week, while 43 percent of U.S. employees do so on occasion. These workers, and their teams, require seamless 24/7 access to the same information to remain successful.

But managing an organization-spanning Microsoft Teams environment is no easy task. Major governance measures must be in place to contain sprawl, secure internal data and ensure efficiency. 

Here are the 10 most important factors to consider when setting up your Microsoft Teams governance.

1. The Creation Process for New Office 365 Groups and Microsoft Teams

Starting from scratch with your governance plan means striking the right balance. The more ownership stakeholders have over Office 365 Groups and Microsoft Teams, the more successful your implementation will be. But this also needs to be a controlled process. The ability to create collaboration spaces should only be afforded to certain people, which may include:

  • Your IT department, which can approve the functions available to each subset of users.
  • Business owners, who have ultimate responsibility for your company’s data security.

While content owners and stakeholders understand their processes and collaboration spaces, they shouldn’t necessarily be trusted to manage integrated applications like Microsoft Teams.

Related Article: Office 365 Governance: Establish Your Team

2. The Purpose Behind New Groups and Teams

As with the creation process, it’s best to place restrictions around the criteria behind collaboration spaces. We at AvePoint have seen organizations with 2,000 users that have 2,500 Office 365 Groups — a recipe for increased risk and costs, and plenty of confusing clutter. Chaos already plagues far too many organizations — 32 percent of employees across multiple industries, and 37 percent of those in IT specifically, have avoided sharing documents because they feared they would never find them again. 

Users need to justify their Groups and Teams to avoid these logjams, but it also shouldn’t feel like an authoritarian process. Work to reach an agreement with users and stakeholders around best practices for new collaboration spaces.

3. The Roles and Stakeholders Who Determine These Criteria

The earlier you identify and win over stakeholders and internal thought leaders to help build and gain company-wide buy-in for governance processes, the better. Everyone in your organization benefits from a thorough understanding of not just the what behind your new policies, but the why. You’ll need the right partners to help communicate that.

Speak with a wide variety of stakeholders to establish trust and gain insight into the struggles faced by end users. These individuals will feel appreciated and understood, and will disseminate that goodwill throughout the organization for accurate, long-lasting adherence to procedures.

Related Article: Microsoft Teams: The Good, The Bad, The 'Is it Ready?'

4. Managing Access and Ownership

Keep detailed records of which person or people have access and administrative rights to your Office 365 Groups and Microsoft Teams to avoid “shadow IT” traps — projects that are managed outside of, and without the knowledge of, the IT department. Ask yourself:

  • Does your department have the appropriate resources to monitor and keep track of roles and access within Groups and Teams?
  • Do they understand the power of admins (new), owners, members and external members in Microsoft Teams?
  • Are stakeholders, as well as IT, legal and security teams, able to ensure information remains in the appropriate applications and collaboration spaces?

5. The Applications and Services Users Are Allowed to Add

A plethora of applications are available that can enhance cloud applications and platforms. But you must also consider the increased risk of third-party services.

Fortunately, IT departments control the applications and integrations that can be added to their Microsoft Teams at the Team level. For example, you may not want to enable external sharing. Should users then be able to connect their Microsoft Teams to other cloud storage solutions? Ask the right questions, and plan your policies and processes carefully.

Related Article: Why Your Microsoft Teams Governance Plan Needs a Lifecycle Model

6. Structuring and Enforcing Properties and Naming Conventions

It may feel overly restrictive to control how users name individual Groups and Teams, but think back to those employees who struggle to find a document. The same scenario happens when users can’t find the Group or Team they need. And your IT department can’t apply policies or maintain data lifecycles if they don’t know why a Team exists or what information it holds. You’ll save time in the long run by automating properties, naming conventions and lifecycle management from the very beginning — even if it makes you feel like a Grinch.

7. Policies for Saving, Archiving and Deleting Content in Teams

While Microsoft Teams is a fairly new format for collaboration, people will share files and documents, which will still be stored within the Team’s SharePoint sites. You need to address standard questions around content lifecycle, records management and data protection/data loss protection. Your plan should include language around:

  • Accurate document labeling.
  • Enforcement of content-level security, taxonomy, disposition and automation.
  • Classifications and labels that reflect the information within documents and files.

Office 365 tools such as the Security and Compliance Center and the SharePoint Records Management Center can help with these processes, and third-party vendors in the Microsoft ecosystem also can provide support here.

Related Article: Why You Need a Data Archiving Strategy

8. Which Previous Business Processes Microsoft Teams Will Replace and Enhance

While it may not hold the same name recognition for your team, Microsoft Teams will soon replace Skype for Business. As employees collaborate more in Microsoft Teams and understand its functionality, they will advance to features like chatbots and AI, as well as workflow and PowerPoint integrations.

Before unleashing the full power of Teams, implement a change management strategy for training users on new business processes that increase efficiency and reduce risk. Team members will feel empowered and be ready to keep up with the rapid pace of change.

9. Training New Users on These Processes

Training is just as important as strategy when it comes to successful implementation. Build out your internal training program early, and develop relationships with business users and stakeholders. They will become knowledgeable evangelists for new rollouts and help you understand the needs of day-to-day users, making life easier for everyone.

10. Integrated Applications That Reduce IT and Business User Burden

When it comes to training users and implementing business processes, giving users control over how they can securely interact with technology reduces the burden of IT workers to understand and adapt to every single business workflow.

Applications like Flow, Forms and Sway make it even easier for users to create simple workflows, distribute information and collaborate. When incorporated with Microsoft Teams, these solutions create a more straightforward, streamlined and simple experience.

With all the tools provided by Office 365, the implementation of security and governance controls is the winning move in facilitating a successful, scalable adoption and governance strategy.