In our new how-to series, we’ll delve into the details of ShareGate Apricot – what it is, how it works, and why it’s the simplest and most user-friendly tool on the market when it comes to securing and managing Microsoft Teams.
When we first introduced ShareGate Apricot (back in 2019!), we called it your new personal assistant for Microsoft 365 Groups and Teams governance–and it’s lived up to its reputation. Since then, we’ve introduced more features to our simple and easy to use tool to help you better manage and secure both your groups and teams. In the first article of this series, let’s take a step back and look at what ShareGate Apricot is all about, the problems it solves, and how it can really make a difference in your lives, that of your users, and for your overall organization.
What is ShareGate Apricot?
It’s simple–at ShareGate, we believe people should have the freedom to collaborate, create, and use the tools at their disposal however they want as that’s how we do our best work. And as IT admins, you play a pivotal role in putting in place clear governance policies that guide users towards safe and productive collaboration in Teams. In fact, giving people more freedom is the path to great Teams adoption.
That’s why it was, and still is, very important for us to create a simple and user-friendly software that helps you guide people to use Teams properly, while providing the visibility and control that’s needed to give users just the right amount of freedom. Simply put, we believe that you can have your cake and eat it too!
How we do things differently
ShareGate Apricot is an automated governance tool for Microsoft Teams that helps you to better manage and secure Teams. What it isn’t is a replacement for your Microsoft 365 admin center or Microsoft Teams admin center. Instead, ShareGate Apricot complements what you already use by offering you user-friendly, intuitive, and automatable tools to manage your teams throughout their entire lifecycle , from creation to sunset, while protecting your business’s sensitive data by ensuring the right people have access to the right things.
We do this by:
- Giving you visibility on all your teams and their related activities in a centralized place
- Scanning your tenant daily to automatically detect potential issues
- Helping you set policies to guide people to use Teams the right way
- Helping you fix problems faster with the help of team owners
Improved collaboration with team owners means you can spend more time reviewing and putting in place the appropriate governance policies that help keep your Teams environment organized and secure.
What can you expect with ShareGate Apricot?
By now, you might’ve noticed some recurring themes: efficiency, automation, and simplicity. We know that as IT admins, you’ve got a lot on your plate, so we strive to provide you with tools that can help you do your job more efficiently and accurately. That’s why with ShareGate Apricot, you can expect to:
- Have visibility on all your teams – from a single source of truth
- Reduce sprawl by easily cleaning up old teams
- Understand why users create teams, and how they use them
- Ensure the right people have access to the right things
To top it off, your ShareGate subscription includes access to ShareGate Desktop, our best-in-class Teams and SharePoint migration tool, so you can easily reorganize your Teams environment and move teams and channels exactly where you want.
The problems we solve
Instead of trying to tackle every Teams problem out there (yes, we know there are quite a few), our product team focuses on the six that have the biggest impact on your ability to properly manage and secure Teams: inactive teams, orphaned teams, team purpose, team sensitivity, external sharing and guest access.
Over time, teams run their course, thus becoming inactive. Without proper monitoring, these inactive teams quickly pile up in your tenant, making it increasingly hard for you to keep track of each team’s status.
With Microsoft’s tools alone, it can be challenging to keep track of the status of your teams, and to take action on teams that have become obsolete. Allowing inactive teams to remain in your tenant creates clutter, and can lead to sprawl, making it hard for users to find what they’re looking for. This in turn can negatively impact people’s usage and adoption of Teams, which is the opposite of what you want!
Luckily, cleaning up inactive teams with ShareGate Apricot is a breeze as it allows you to enlist the help of team owners and prompt them to take action by either keeping, deleting, or archiving their inactive team.
An orphaned team is a team that exists without a team owner, so no one is accountable for it. Without an owner, there’s no one to make decisions on whether to approve or deny membership requests, decide what to do when the team has turned inactive, or to manage the team’s settings.
Identifying ownerless teams or deciding which team member should be promoted to owner can be both time-consuming and labor intensive. However, with the help of ShareGate Apricot you can identify and take action on orphaned teams in a couple of clicks.
Many organizations adopted Teams in the last year out of necessity, without a clear governance strategy. The result has been an uptick in team creation while many IT admins remain in the dark about the purpose behind these teams.
If this resonates with you, you might be struggling to understand the purpose behind the teams in your environment and if they represent a risk for your business. Microsoft’s current self-serve team creation process only requires minimal information from the user, namely a team name and whether it’s public or private. This isn’t enough to help you better understand just how people are using and adopting Teams.
That’s why ShareGate Apricot released purpose tags that help categorize every team in your tenant, so you can use this information to customize your governance policies.
Do you know how sensitive each team’s content is? the sensitivity level of each team’s content? What about who has access to your organization’s sensitive data?
That’s the type of information you need to better mitigate risk and to avoid sensitive information falling into the wrong hands. With the current tools, you probably don’t have the information readily available and can’t enforce stricter rules for teams that contain more sensitive information.
With that in mind, ShareGate Apricot’s sensitivity policy allows you to customize and apply the following security settings – privacy, external sharing and guest access – based on each team’s needs, in order to give users the right amount of freedom while keeping your tenant secure.
You also want to keep on top of what files have been shared with whom, and when. As external sharing tends to be time-sensitive, you want to make sure that you’re only granting access to those who need it, and revoking access once the job is done. And let’s be honest, it shouldn’t be as complicated as it is now for you to know who should or shouldn’t have access to files that are shared externally.
With ShareGate Apricot, you can easily access a list of externally shared files, revoke access in a click, and schedule automatic sharing reviews. This way, owners decide who should still have access to the files shared within their team.
Similarly, you want to make sure that guests in each team still have a valid reason to be there. Since you’re not part of the team, it can be challenging for you to know who should or shouldn’t have their accesses revoked.
Because this is an essential step to securing your Teams environment, we’re building features into ShareGate Apricot to enable you to schedule regular reviews and that will prompt your team owners to decide who should have access, at the frequency you want. No need to pay extra for this feature by buying additional Azure AD Premium P2 licenses. Stay tuned for its release this summer!
And you best believe that we’re not stopping here. We’re continuously evaluating and working on new features to deliver the best possible Microsoft Teams experience as part of your ShareGate subscription, such as duplicate teams detection, membership reviews, internal sharing reviews, and problems related to provisioning.
In the next article of this series, where we’ll take a closer look at how you can get more visibility with the help of ShareGate Apricot. Keep your eyes peeled for it!