There are quite a few blogs that cover the topic Teams governance. There are also numerous tools and applications that relate to technical governance aspects. This blog is not about the technical side of this process (well, most of it isn’t). It’s about my experience implementing such technology and configuration to improve Teams governance within the organization.
What is Teams governance?
Let’s start by explaining what Teams governance is. Teams governance aims to strike a balance between users’ access to the powerful features that Teams provide, minimizing information protection risks, and ensuring that information access and lifecycle is continuously monitored and audited. Implementing Teams governance helps prevent uncontrolled growth. It ensures that there are processes in place to manage the information stored in Teams in accordance with business, data security, and compliance requirements.
Realizing the risks.
The first step to improving the governance of Teams is to realize the risks of maintaining the unstructured environment. The lack of a clearly defined information architecture will only lead to a further increase in the number of areas of cooperation created by staff. Inconsistency in how teams are managed and how SharePoint sites are used can lead to poor document management practices. This has a negative effect on the findability of information. Without a defined lifecycle for information stored in teams, data can be stored beyond legal requirements. Records can be deleted where they should be kept. By granting all teams unlimited access to staff and guests without additional controls (multiple authentication, conditional access policies, access control), this can result in only internal information being shared with guests, downloaded to personal devices, which can lead to data loss.
Get the right people on board.
Highlighting the risks to the right people, securing sponsorship for redesigning the future state, and redefined information architecture is essential to the success of this type of engagement. Defining and implementing the rules for teams typically requires team engagement in information management, IT, and corporate communications.
Greenfield and brownfield environments.
Implementing governance processes for organizations where users have unlimited access to team collaboration is much more difficult than implementing the same processes for greenfield environments. A large number of existing teams are typically associated with users who don’t fully understand the concept of teams. Often, users create new teams instead of creating channels, using group chat, or scheduling a meeting. To make Teams manageable again, technical processes must be deployed to manage the creation of new Teams, and a way must be found to work with the company to archive, consolidate, delete, or update existing Teams.
Support the users during the change.
Educating and supporting users during the change is essential. Microsoft 365 includes several collaboration tools and apps; quite often, these collaboration tools can offer similar functionality (e.g. OneDrive and Teams can both be used to store and share files). This can be confusing for users and often they will make the wrong choices. Defining common collaboration scenarios, communicating those scenarios in an easily digestible way, encouraging and promoting good examples of data management, and onboarding users in Teams are all good steps to help users better understand Teams.
Every organization is different and there is not one solution that can meet all the challenges. There are some quick wins that would improve team management with minimal effort, but having a well-defined governance strategy is key to regaining control of teams. This will also ensure that the organization is prepared to support Teams growth in the future.