how to MS Teams

Remediating a Messy Microsoft Teams Deployment: Part 1

Michal Pisarek April 12, 2021


The ongoing pandemic has pushed many companies to adopt new ways to collaborate, consequently Microsoft Teams was widely and rapidly adopted across the world to adapt to the changing work environment. Do you identify with a similar adoption pattern of Microsoft Teams in your organization?

Are you unable to get a handle on your Microsoft Teams deployment? Don’t worry, this is a rather common challenge that organizations face due to a hasty rollout. In this 2-part blog series, we walk you through the pain points and common symptoms of a messy MS Teams implementation and how Orchestry can help you regain control.

It doesn’t take long for Microsoft 365 to become a mess as the platform is designed for you to be able to put in as much content and resources as quickly and as abundantly as possible. Therefore, with a lack of governance policies, you could be dealing with unruly sprawl and several other hindrances to productivity across the platform.

Who is to blame?

Note, at this point is that you can’t play the blame game for someone to pick up the slack and magically fix your MS Teams environment. Fingers can be pointed towards IT for not being proactive enough or Microsoft for not providing better management tools or end users for not knowing how to best utilize teams, but that is not going to help. In order to regain control of your environment and keep it in check, collective steps need to be taken by every stakeholder to ensure optimal results. Microsoft Teams is still a new tool and everyone adopting it needs to take time to understand its many nuances. An efficient way to get everyone to take responsibility and participate in remediation is by enforcing adequate governance policies.

Is there a solution out there?

Microsoft Teams is a larger and more far-reaching platform than one would think. There is no doubt that it can be hard to manage without proper pre-deployment planning in place. But if you rolled it out without much thought and are dealing with significant issues along the way, this is where Orchestry steps in to do the heavy lifting. Providing a balanced and transparent governance approach to MS Teams is a core capability of the tool. We will cover more about this later in the blog, but it is worth mentioning that you will be equipped with powerful guardrails with Orchestry instead of figuring things out on your own in the wild west.

Even when already fully deployed on Microsoft Teams, be aware that time is of the essence here. The longer you delay remediation or the more time you take to realize that your environment needs help, the costlier it is going to be. Make it an immediate priority to resolve your MS Teams issue as the cost will only grow exponentially down the line.

Messy MS Teams Implementation Symptoms

Let’s dive straight in! We are going to walk you through some of the most common symptoms that indicate a messy Microsoft Teams rollout and provide you with some effective strategies on how you can alleviate such problems.

Symptom 1: Microsoft Teams Duplication

Microsoft Teams’ duplication is fairly simple to understand, it is when people create the same team over and over again. This happens because if someone requests a private team, then no one else really knows it exists unless they are added to it. So, it is common that other people might create the same team as they think it doesn’t exist yet. This can take place multiple times over if users are unaware of what already exists in the platform and a lot of it has to do with how MS Teams is structured.

If you are in IT and you are getting frequent requests from users to merge two or more teams, then you are suffering from teams’ duplication or sprawl. It might sound like this is also the solution to your problem, but we can tell you that merging teams is not an easy task.

Additionally, team duplication creates more issues for your environment than just having the same team multiple times over. It is possible that when there are duplicate teams for a project, team members are likely to be working on different versions the whole time and do not even come to realize it until days later. This totally hampers the overall productivity of the team and only adds their workload.

As we mentioned before, merging teams is not easy! It is a cumbersome process to bring all the conversations together and you can risk an even messier situation than before if this is not executed properly. Also, managing multiple teams is of course difficult and duplication only adds more to the list of teams. Moving on, there is no set way to determine which team is the primary or the correct team.

ms teams remediation - duplicate teams
Image: MS Teams Remediation for Duplicate Microsoft Teams teams

Remediation Option #1: Leveraging Out-of-the-Box MS Teams Tools

Too many organizations make teams private for no real purpose or reason. Unless it is absolutely necessary to keep that MS Teams team private, do not do it. Otherwise, no one knows the Microsoft Teams team exists, which is a common factor to why duplication happens.

Another way to cut down on duplication is enforcing some naming policy so that it is easy for users to look up similar Workspaces or existing MS Teams teams before requesting a new one. Again, this is all in an effort to avoid the dreaded sprawl and duplication.

A more effective way is to maintain a repository of all MS Teams teams that users can refer to before provisioning a new one. This repository could include the names of Microsoft Teams teams that they otherwise don’t have access to just so that they know they exist. This can be done through PowerShell or Microsoft 365 Lists.

Duplication can be a real killer for MS Teams deployment; best to take remediation steps as soon as possible.

Remediation Option #2: Orchestry Microsoft Teams Workspace Directory

There are third-party, integrated tool options that can make Microsoft Teams remediation a breeze. As such, Orchestry happens to offer the Informative Workspace Directory as part of its core capabilities. This Workspace Directory is a complete repository of all collaboration assets in your environment, be it Microsoft Teams teams, SharePoint Online sites, and SharePoint Communication sites. It is an essential findability capability that every Microsoft Teams environment needs. Additionally, it comes with powerful filtering options that make the search experience more efficient to maximize productivity in Microsoft Teams.

Plus, when Self-Service Provisioning with Orchestry, a user goes through an automated workflow request process that displays all existing Microsoft Teams teams or SharePoint sites that have similar names. This provides the transparency users need to avoid contributing to duplication and sprawl.

microsoft orchestry's workspace directory
Image: Orchestry Informative Workspace Directory of Microsoft Teams teams and SharePoint Online Sites

Symptom 2: Inconsistent Microsoft Teams Naming

Not having a naming convention around for your Workspaces, including Microsoft Teams teams, leads to chaos. When there are no rules or policies governing the naming of MS Teams teams, there is no clear indication of the purpose, geography, category, etc., which can, in turn, lead to further duplication. This is all too common because there is no concrete Out-of-the-Box (OOTB) way to ensure that users are complying with a particular naming convention.

Further to this problem, if there are multiple teams using acronyms for names you are likely tumbling down the slippery slope of duplication and sprawl. You definitely need a naming convention to be enforced and followed to avoid acronym choices that can also help define the purpose of the Workspace and/or who it is created for by just by the name.

As discussed, poor MS Teams naming can cause confusion leading to duplication, in turn yielding multiple versions of Workspaces with no way to verify which Microsoft Teams team should be used.

ms teams remediation - inconsistent naming
Image: MS Teams Remediation for Inconsistent Naming Conventions

Remediation Option #1: Leveraging Out-of-the-Box MS Teams Tools

Microsoft does have some tools to help with inconsistent naming. In Azure AD P1 there is a Group Naming Policy that you can apply but it is very limited as it is applicable at the group level. Another way to manage naming issues is by fixing the old MS Teams teams/Group names, but this only makes the process laborious. An effective way is providing MS Teams training to users so that they are aware of naming conventions and problems that arise from not using them.

An important tip is for organizations to definitely have a knowledge manager associated with every Microsoft 365 implementation. The knowledge manager is someone who has the information architecture design laid out and encourages active collaboration, feedback, and training to ensure the naming convention is implemented and obeyed.

Remediation Option #2: Orchestry Microsoft Teams Workspace Governance

What should a naming convention look like is a common concern for organizations? We have one simple suggestion – your naming convention should be such that MS Teams team names are a clear indication of their purpose. It should be clear enough so that it only takes a glance to know what is going on. With Orchestry’s Transparent Workspace Governance, naming policies can be applied to each Workspace Template to enforce consistency. Different naming rules can be applied to different kinds of templates.

For instance, in every project workspace, there is going to be a ‘PRJ’ prepended to it, or for every department team it is ‘DEPT’, and all this can be automated through Orchestry. Moreover, Workspace requests can go through an approval process where the approver can change the name if necessary.

Image: Orchestry Workspace Naming Policy

Symptom 3: Lack of MS Teams Ownership

This problem arises because typically a team requires one owner and the Microsoft Teams default is to set the person who requested the team as the owner, but when this person leaves the organization or becomes inactive, the team is abandoned.

You know you are suffering from this if the IT department is flooded with requests to do things in a Microsoft Teams team that should be taken care of by an owner. If you already lack a governance policy to enforce more than one owner then it is possible that you have orphaned teams in your environment.

Lack of ownership of course leads to misuse of teams as a lot of owner-related tasks cannot be performed and members are unable to make the most of that MS Teams team. This creates additional hurdles down the road, such as a lack of accountability for the content in the Microsoft Teams team, as the role of the owner role is beyond administrative.

Additionally, all members suffer from the inability to identify a sponsor for key decisions, not to mention, the increased workload of IT to perform the tasks of an MS Teams team owner can be very cumbersome.

Remediation Option #1: Leveraging Out-of-the-Box MS Teams Tools

There is not much you can do with OOTB capabilities apart from training and fixing things after a MS Teams team has been abandoned. The only way to really manage ownership is by controlling who can create or request Microsoft Teams teams.

Remediation Option #2: Orchestry Microsoft Teams Workspace Templates & Self-Service Provisioning

Orchestry enables Self-Service Provisioning as part of its capabilities, which gets users to define a minimum number of owners and members every time they request a Microsoft Teams team. With Orchestry, you can even set default owners and members for particular Workspace Templates, for example, a particular PMO will be the default owner in every project workspace or make an IT department member the default owner of some of these teams so that they are well aware of what is being created.

microsoft teams and microsoft 365 workspace provisioning with default owners
Image: Orchestry Microsoft 365 Workspace Provisioning with Default Microsoft Teams Owners

Regain Control of Microsoft Teams with Orchestry

If you are floundering in a sea of MS Teams and SharePoint Sites, then Orchestry is the tool for you. Grasp some crucial insights specific to tackling MS Teams and SharePoint Site sprawl as shared by industry experts in our event:

With powerful governance and provisioning features like that of Orchestry users are better able to organize their MS Teams environment. Intelligent workspace creation across the platform is enabled with Orchestry, allowing users to clean up a messy MS Teams deployment.

For more details on a Messy Microsoft Teams Deployment Symptoms #4 -6 that help recognize MS Teams implementation issues, take a look at Part-2 of the series.

About the Author

Michal Pisarek Image

Michal Pisarek

Orchestry CEO, 7X Microsoft MVP

Seven-time Microsoft SharePoint MVP, former Co-Founder of Dynamic Owl Consulting and of BONZAI Intranet, this serial entrepreneur, international speaker, Office 365 thought leader, and former professional chef brings the great depth of product, leadership, and user experience expertise to Orchestry, working with Fortune 500 companies to deliver maximum efficiency of their Microsoft 365 investments.

When Michal takes a day off occasionally, you will find him experimenting in the kitchen, inventing a new cocktail or learning a new language while enjoying all that Vancouver has to offer with his wife, daughter, and furry companion.


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Last Updated: July 28, 2020

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