Looking for effective ways to manage Microsoft Teams without hindering user productivity? Microsoft MVPs share their Teams management tips, so you can stay in control of your environment.
In this era of distributed work and remote collaboration, Microsoft Teams is integral to how we work. As Teams usage continues to rise, so too do the administrative challenges faced by IT departments.
Case in point? When a ton of things are being created every time Teams is used, this uncontrolled team creation can lead to the dreaded sprawl from a lack of proper governance and end-user training. Not to mention the risks of external sharing.
However, Teams is just one piece of the larger Microsoft 365 puzzle. While the ecosystem of integrated apps, tools, and services that make up Microsoft 365 propels organizations forward, it also makes IT management difficult.
We’re hearing many IT admins are looking for advice on the best way to manage their Teams. So, to help answer your questions, we reached out to our friends in the Microsoft community to see what guidance they could offer.
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Microsoft Teams is powered by how people collaborate
With people making choices about when, where, and how they work, Microsoft Teams is the answer for millions of businesses that have moved towards fully remote or hybrid work. And in response to this continued growth, Microsoft is continually investing in the release of new features and updates to help with new ways of working.
Because of the integrated nature of Microsoft 365’s productivity suite, you need to focus on implementing an effective Teams management plan.
If you keep self-service features enabled in Microsoft 365 and Teams (and we strongly recommend that you do!), users benefit from the freedom and flexibility that boosts user adoption and reduces the risk of shadow IT. But, with new teams, groups, and modern SharePoint team sites being created at a record pace, how can you successfully manage all of that content?
Further reading: 10 Microsoft Teams management tips for IT admins
You want to administer Microsoft Teams in a way that will support your business needs while enabling secure and productive collaboration. That’s why it’s important to know your company’s objectives so you can maintain an organized and efficient Teams environment.
Microsoft Teams management tips according to Microsoft MVPs
The Microsoft MVPs we talked to shared the following tips to help ensure your Microsoft Teams stays manageable.
- Take control of new teams being created—Benjamin Niaulin
- Keep it simple—Andy Huneycutt
- Set clear objectives—Luise Freese
- Keep security risks in check—Joanne Klein
#1: Take control of new teams being created
“Every time you create a new team, there’s a lot that happens in Microsoft 365 behind the scenes.
When you create a team, on the backend, you also create a Microsoft 365 group and the associated SharePoint document library and OneNote notebook, along with ties into other Microsoft 365 cloud applications.
If you’re not careful, you could wind up with more teams than you’ll know how to handle.
You want to take control of new teams being created.
If possible, put champions in charge who have training or some level of understanding of the technology.
Then, figure out how to scan through all existing teams and clean them up or rearrange them.”
#2: Keep it super simple
“Too often organizations try to roll out Teams and focus on the big picture—which can lead to frustration and low user adoption.
Don’t overload users with significant shifts in how they work and overwhelm them with new features.
Keep it super simple. Provide users with short how-tos for Teams basics like how to join and participate in meetings. Give them a checklist for basics like showing/hiding important teams, managing notifications, sharing a file, replying to a conversation, etc.
It’s also important to train owners on how to maintain the self-service of their teams and encourage them to concentrate on managing members and access.
As an IT admin, you should minimize redundancy wherever possible in your currently deployed Teams. Look for teams that are no longer in use, how many owners/members, etc. Combine where it makes sense and remove what’s not necessary.”
#3: Set clear objectives
Luise Freese (@LuiseFreese), Microsoft 365 Consultant and Office Apps & Services MVP
“The first thing you need to do is define your organization’s objectives for successful Teams management.
Think through the various objectives that may work for your company and convert your goals into actions. For example, the objective of avoiding sprawl isn’t just for the sake of lowering the number of teams—if you have too many teams in your environment, it’s highly likely they have overlapping use cases or are abandoned.
Enforce governance by imposing a group naming convention and a lifecycle to make users aware that a team is an active place to collaborate, and not a data graveyard.
It’s important to talk to users and identify their needs so you can find ways to facilitate workflows and apps that support their goals. If users don’t find everything they need in Teams, they will look elsewhere. Being user-focused is, therefore, a good strategy to mitigate shadow IT.”
#4: Keep security risks in check
Joanne C. Klein (@JoanneCKlein), SharePoint/Microsoft 365 Consultant, Office Apps & Services MVP
“One way to address Microsoft Teams security and compliance is to leverage Data Loss Prevention (DLP). This feature marries the definition of sensitive content in your environment with the appropriate action to protect and ultimately prevent data from “getting into the wrong hands”.
The appropriate action taken with an information worker can range from mild (a friendly policy tip reminder) to more severe (outright blocking an action).
DLP can impact information workers, so there needs to be a lot of planning, testing, and guidance to strike an acceptable balance between the security, risk, and privacy demands of the organization and the collaboration needs of information workers—something that varies widely from one organization to the next.
Because DLP needs to prevent data loss “all up” across an organization, it must work ubiquitously across all locations and endpoints where information workers are working with content that has the potential for loss.
In Microsoft 365, DLP works across many locations and services for this very reason – Teams, Exchange, SharePoint, OneDrive, Office applications, Windows 10 endpoints, on-prem file shares, on-prem SharePoint, and even non-Microsoft cloud apps.
For instance, a DLP policy could prevent privacy information from being shared with a guest in a team’s chat by informing the sender of the action they’re attempting to do via a (near real-time) policy tip. The advantage of in-the-moment DLP policy tips is it helps information workers do the right thing where they’re working.
Whether the DLP policy has blocked the action entirely or allowed it with justification, it helps an information worker be aware of the rules and regulations they must adhere to throughout their workday; a critically important behavior to adopt for a compliant modern workplace.”
We hope these tips from our passionate community of experts will help you make the best out of the Microsoft productivity suite. If you’re looking for more inspiring insights from the pros on how to leverage Teams to its full potential, we recommend that you check out our free guide: Win as a Team!