Governance in Microsoft Teams and throughout Microsoft 365 is complicated, to say the least. As many organizations scrambled to deploy Microsoft Teams to support remote and hybrid workforces, governance is often overlooked. Discover a deep dive into everything you need to know to successfully govern Microsoft Teams right from day one.
What is Pragmatic Governance in Microsoft Teams?
Governance is the process of defining the people, processes, rules, and structure within Microsoft Teams. Traditionally, it has been a very IT-driven process that is often associated with locking things down. However, it’s important to find the balance between IT being satisfied while still ensuring that end users have the freedom to collaborate.
We believe that your Microsoft Teams governance should be dynamic and frictionless for users, while still delivering robust management. In this remote/hybrid work environment, it’s essential to help users through the plethora of choices available when creating Microsoft Teams, SharePoint Sites, and across Microsoft 365. When you take a user-focused approach, good governance will drive lasting adoption.
Watch our on-demand webinar which covers the basics of Proactive Microsoft 365 Governance to drive Adoption to get yourself started on the right foot.
What Does a Typical Governance Plan Involve?
Every organization is different, so there is no one-size-fits-all approach to governance in Microsoft Teams. However, a typical governance plan would normally include:
- Roles: Defining different roles for different use cases and responsibilities. For example, IT, End User, AAD Admin, Team Owner, or Team Member.
- Responsibilities: Determining what each role can do and what they are responsible for. For example, the Team Owner is responsible for requesting Teams and making sure the correct owners are assigned.
- Processes: Defining processes involved in creating, archiving, deleting, and managing workspaces in MS Teams.
- Access and Ownership: Determining who can access the teams and channels and who owns collaboration assets, files, etc.
- Policies: Defining policies for managing content or other attributes of a team in Microsoft Teams, such as taxonomy or labeling.
What Can Governance Help You Achieve?
Effective governance in Microsoft Teams will greatly benefit your organization and end-users. With good governance you can:
- Ensure Compliance – whether or not you work in a highly regulated industry, good governance can ensure you stay compliant legally, socially, or culturally.
- Drive Adoption – delivering capabilities to end-users with appropriate controls in place can not only improve user experience but also drive usage and adoption.
- Manage Sprawl – providing well-planned governance can stop sprawl by limiting who can create what, so you don’t end up with unwanted and abandoned Workspaces.
- Stop Information Leaks – applying data loss and prevention policies into Microsoft Teams stops information from being shared with inappropriate parties.
- Simplify End User Experience – Removing features that are rarely used or are unnecessary can make Microsoft Teams easier to use and navigate.
- Ensure Performance – Reducing the number of unnecessary MS Teams or SharePoint Workspaces can improve Microsoft Teams’ performance.
How Much Control Should You Enforce With Governance in Microsoft 365?
Every organization takes a different approach when it comes to governance. We have worked with organizations across a spectrum of control levels, from those with tightly controlled governance policies to those with very limited control.
In a tightly-controlled, lockdown governance approach, most features in Microsoft Teams would be locked down through policies and configuration options. Users can request features to be enabled through training and the creation of new Teams is closely controlled.
On the other end of the spectrum lies the limited control, ad-hoc governance approach. An organization with limited control may have no governance policies in place, meaning that collaboration is fast and agile. However, this may be risky for organizations.
If you are just starting out with Microsoft 365, looking to establish Microsoft Teams as your primary collaboration platform, and want to implement a Microsoft Teams Governance plan, you will appreciate our comprehensive free Guide: Microsoft Teams Governance Pre-Deployment Planning.
Regardless of where you start, what we have found is that most organizations are looking for ways to move toward the middle of this spectrum.
Why Should You Bother With Governance?
Imagine buying an iPhone and having every single possible App from the App store downloaded and enabled on it. It would be impossible to manage or to find what you needed.
The same goes for Microsoft 365. Out of the box, the majority of features and settings are enabled in Microsoft 365, Microsoft Teams, and SharePoint. So, it’s important to get to know your users, understand their needs and discover what exactly they need access to.
You can then use simple configuration options to narrow down what users have access to. These are really simple solutions that don’t require any custom code and are easy to change at a later date, should your requirements change.
Governance in Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Teams
Each time you create a new Microsoft Teams Workspace, a Microsoft 365 Group is automatically created. Therefore, when you are governing Microsoft Teams, you are actually governing Microsoft 365 Groups.
There are a bunch of settings you can use to govern and configure Microsoft Teams within the Microsoft Teams Admin Center.
Here are three main types of settings you can apply to Microsoft Teams:
- Team-Based Settings – these are typically set in the Teams Admin Center to be implemented globally across all teams in Microsoft Teams, or by user-specific Teams or Groups.
- Group Settings – these are settings that apply to the Microsoft Team itself from the Microsoft 365 Group settings. These can include naming conventions and expiration policies.
- Security and Compliance – these are settings that protect your organization’s data and ensure compliance.
Within the Microsoft Teams Admin Center, there are two categories of settings: settings, and policies. Settings are global and apply to everybody, whereas policies can be applied to users or groups of users.
Take a look at the variety of Microsoft Teams governance controls in the image below.
Microsoft Teams Governance Options:
When looking at governance options within Microsoft Teams, there are a number of configuration options available. Most organizations focus on:
- Who Can Create What – including SharePoint Sites, Microsoft Teams, Shared Libraries, or Microsoft 365 Groups.
- Naming Conventions – including prefix-suffix naming policies, fixed strings, user attributes or custom blocked words.
- Configure Guest Access – including who can add guest users, turn sharing options on or off, turn guest access to group files on or off, or configure external sharing for SharePoint.
- Configure Expiry – including setting expiration duration and choosing which Microsoft 365 Groups policy will apply.
- Set Policies – including Retention, eDiscovery, and Data Loss Prevention policies.
- Use of Templates – including Teams templates, SharePoint site design, and themes.
- Monitoring Usage – including Microsoft Teams, SharePoint, and Microsoft 365 Admin Centers, plus Microsoft 365 adoption content pack, and Groups report.
But, how can we apply these settings in real-life scenarios? The graphic below outlines three different organizations with very different governance needs to highlight how you can use governance in real-world situations.
Microsoft Teams Governance: New Teams Creation
With these three fictitious companies in mind, one of the first things that you may want to consider is Microsoft Teams’ creation. A big part of this is deciding who can create new Workspaces within your organization. Limiting the number of people that can create new assets can go a long way to controlling sprawl, however, it can be a good idea to ensure there is a certain amount of self-service to avoid your IT department from being swamped by new Workspace requests. A lot of organizations also implement some form of the approval process when users create new teams in Microsoft Teams.
To learn more about the different out-of-the-box Teams, Group, and SharePoint site provisioning options within Microsoft 365, read our blog, which will help you assess the options and decide which one is best for your organization.
So, how would each of these organizations approach Microsoft Teams’ creation governance?
- Lockdown Corp – would disable the creation of new Microsoft Teams through the native UI and would use a tool to control the request and approval process of new teams for complete control.
- Balanced Industries – would only allow some users to create new teams in Microsoft Teams. These would be users that have gone through training and are site owners.
- Start Up Inc – is happy for its Microsoft Teams users to create as many new teams as they’d like, so keeps the default option. If they have any issues, they can address them at a later date.
Microsoft Teams Governance: Default and Available Applications
Another important factor to consider for Microsoft Teams governance is what apps you want to make available to users by default in the left-hand bar in Microsoft Teams. On top of deciding which apps you’d like users to have as default, you also need to decide which additional third-party applications you’d like to allow users to install from the Microsoft Teams app store.
To control what applications users have as default, or are able to download from the Microsoft Teams app store, you will need to take a look at the following settings within the Microsoft Teams Admin Center:
- Organization-Wide Settings – these settings provide the opportunity to either allow or disallow third-party or custom applications.
- App Permission Policy – these settings allow you to either block all Microsoft, third-party, or custom apps or select which apps you’d like to make available to your users.
- App Set Up Policy – This allows you to enable or disable the option to download custom apps and to allow pinning. It also allows you to select which apps are pinned, or made available as the default, to Microsoft Teams users.
Another great way to control what applications are available to the end-users is to leverage Advanced Templates in Microsoft 365. We have put together a great resource on the different types of templates available in Microsoft 365, how they can benefit your organization, and the customizations available for the out-of-the-box templates.
Microsoft Teams Governance: Naming Policies
When people don’t name Microsoft Teams teams consistently, the tool can quickly become very difficult to navigate. Implementing a naming policy can be very beneficial to ensuring consistency, and improving the usability of Microsoft Teams as a result. You can enforce a naming policy within Microsoft Teams by implementing out-of-the-box prefix-suffix naming conventions to Microsoft Teams names. You can also set blocked words if there are words that you do not want to appear in Microsoft Teams’ names.
Archiving in Microsoft Teams
Over time, certain teams within Microsoft Teams may no longer be needed by your users. In these circumstances, it can be beneficial to archive unused Microsoft Teams teams to maintain an organized environment that’s easy to use and navigate. To archive a team, simply navigate to the Microsoft Teams Admin Center, select the relevant team by clicking the team name, and select ‘Archive’. Unfortunately, there isn’t currently a way to automatically archive after a given period of inactivity out-of-the-box, but you can look to Orchestry for it!
Read our blog that covers Lifecycle Management with Orchestry, which includes creating and enforcing Archival and Renewal policies.
When you archive a Microsoft Team, all activity within that Workspace is archived including conversations in private channels. If for any reason you need to re-activate an archived team, you can simply do so in the Microsoft Teams Admin Center by selecting the team and choosing the ‘unarchive’ option.
Common Questions About Microsoft Teams Governance
There are a number of factors that you need to consider for successful Microsoft Teams governance, and although we have highlighted a number of the most important elements, you may have further requirements depending on the needs of your organization.
With that in mind, here are some of the most common questions we are asked about governance in Microsoft Teams.
Microsoft Teams Governance With Orchestry
When rolling out Microsoft Teams within your organization, don’t just stick to the default settings. Take some time to think about the needs of your organization and how you want your users to use Microsoft Teams. Putting time into pre-planning and governance will help you avoid problems further down the line, such as Microsoft Teams sprawl.
Thankfully, tools such as Orchestry are here to make work simple in Microsoft 365, Microsoft Teams, and SharePoint Online. Orchestry’s Workspace Governance features were built by Microsoft 365 MVPs with years of experience and expertise in establishing effective and transparent Microsoft 365 Governance. Now, this experience is available to you, so you don’t have to become a Microsoft 365 expert to get the highest return on your investment in the platform and effectively move the needle on the modernization of your digital workspace and digital transformation.
With Orchestry, you can put your Microsoft 365 governance and everyday IT tasks on autopilot.
- Define your own Provisioning & Lifecycle Management Policies, role & permission assignment for Microsoft Teams, SharePoint, Team Sites, and Communication Sites specific to your organizational needs.
- Set up guardrails for the users by applying the right Policies and governance standards to the right Workspace templates and existing content.
- Govern the creation of Workspaces through a single interface.
- Sit back, relax, and watch Orchestry automatically engage content owners to clean up, organize and govern your tenant.
Orchestry users save on average $15,000 in costs per Teams/Group/Site template, governance, provision, and administration.
Read our blog to learn more about how Orchestry can streamline your Microsoft 365 governance and save you time, effort and money.
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