Background image

How to minimize Microsoft Teams sprawl by cleaning up inactive teams

Howto3 Featured Howto3 Featured

In the third blog of our how-to series, we’ll look at how you can reduce Teams sprawl without restricting users’ ability to contribute, using ShareGate Apricot.

It’s no secret that the usage of Teams has grown exponentially in the last year and a half, and with the hybrid workforce here to stay, there’s no sign of it stopping. Its surge in popularity has also led to the development of unforeseen challenges for IT admins such as dealing with duplicate teams, managing team creation, and sorting out idle resources. The main challenge we’ll be tackling in this post is the issue of “sprawl”. Left undealt with, sprawl can negatively impact user adoption, as well as their ability to collaborate on projects, and to find the resources they’re looking for.

Microsoft does not provide any native solutions to this issue, but you may find the answers you’re looking for in a third-party tool. In this article we’ll explore how ShareGate’s tools have been designed to minimize sprawl and help you keep your environment under control.

How to prevent Teams sprawl

Some believe that the best way to prevent Teams sprawl is by limiting the end-user’s ability to create teams or by putting in place a provisioning process that requires approval by IT admins before a team gets created. Unfortunately, this doesn’t really solve the problem because some users might get frustrated with the lack of flexibility and decide to use a third-party tool that’s not approved by the organization as it might be quicker and simpler. If there’s a will, there’s a way!

Sadly, in your case, that’s not what you want, because not only would that affect user adoption of Teams but it could also lead to another potential issue – shadow IT. Preventing team or group creation altogether might seem like a viable solution, but along with dealing with shadow IT, you’ll still be left to figure out a solution to manage teams and groups that are no longer in use.

And should you really do something about it? Yes, you should. While new teams and groups are created daily, old ones that have been forgotten or have served their purpose continue to live on in your environment. Without access to the necessary information to take action on these teams and groups, you run the risk of making the wrong call. If you accidentally delete a team that was only temporarily inactive, you’ll get a request from an alarmed user trying to figure out what happened to their team. If that happens once, that’s alright, but if it happens to multiple teams, on a regular basis, then you end up wasting valuable time. On the other hand, if you don’t do anything, your tenant becomes increasingly cluttered, making it hard for you and your users to find the resources that you need which can easily lead to frustration.

Let’s look at how most of you currently deal with inactive teams and groups using Microsoft’s tools.

How to find and manage inactive teams with Microsoft’s tools

Before you can clean up inactive groups and teams, you have to identify them. Unfortunately, there is no straightforward way for you to do this with Microsoft’s tools and multiple admin centers. Instead, you’re faced with two options:

  1. Pulling usage reports from Teams and other Microsoft apps that need to be manually reconciled
  2. Running PowerShell scripts that need interpreting.

Let’s be honest, no matter which one you choose, they’re equally time-consuming. Now let’s say you’ve pulled and interpreted the usage reports from Teams, SharePoint and Outlook or via PowerShell, what do you do next? You get in touch with each team owner and ask them what they want to do with their inactive team or group. If you’re lucky enough, they’ll get back to you in a timely manner with a clear answer. Chances are you’ll instead have to run after owners and repeat this until they get back to you. Finally, once equipped with their answers, you manually delete or archive those that are no longer needed from either the Microsoft 365 or Microsoft Teams admin center.

Every time you want the latest information about inactive teams and groups in your tenant, and how to manage them, you’ll have to go through these steps. Repeating this process on a periodic basis sounds like a drag! There must be an easier way, and that’s a challenge we’ve successfully tackled at ShareGate.

Use ShareGate to manage your Teams sprawl quickly

Cleaning up inactive teams and groups in order to prevent Teams sprawl shouldn’t be complicated or time-consuming. In fact, it should be easy peasy!

That’s why from the moment you connect your tenant to ShareGate Apricot, it crawls your teams and groups to identify the ones that are inactive. With a single click, easily filter to see them in one centralized place. Since teams and groups are automatically crawled on a regular basis, there’s no need for you to schedule running PowerShell scripts or reports to then manually reconcile.

You have the option to delete, archive or keep inactive teams or groups yourself. Unlike in Microsoft, when you archive a team with ShareGate, it is actually removed from Microsoft Teams, and not left in “read-only” mode. That way, users cannot see nor access it anymore – truly cleaning up your environment!

But if you’re like many of our users, you don’t necessarily know what should be done. Rather than leaving it as is or risk choosing the wrong option, you can directly contact owners via email or our Teams chatbot. Owners should take responsibility for the things they create, and there’s no better way to remind them of that than by asking them to clean up their own idle team or group. Since their decision takes effect immediately, meaning there’d be nothing left for you to do, why not have ShareGate automatically contact owners to act, whenever their team or group turns inactive?

The ability to collaborate with owners is so crucial, as they are the ones who know best which decision should be taken for their team or group. Otherwise, you’d easily spend your days keeping track of teams and groups that’ve turned idle, chase after owners and manually implement their decisions – a vicious cycle with no end in sight.

If you’re ever faced with inactive teams or groups who also happen to be orphaned (without an owner) easily promote a member to owner, directly from our app. That way, you can rest assured that there is someone responsible to decide on behalf of the team or group. Otherwise, it could stay indefinitely within your tenant, contributing to Teams sprawl, and no one wants that.

If you’re ready to clean up your Microsoft Teams without having to restricting users’ use of the app, make sure to try out ShareGate Apricot for free! And if you already have a ShareGate subscription, you’ll be happy to hear that ShareGate Apricot is included. Simply activate it today and you’ll be surprised at how much time and energy you can save while keeping your tenant organized.

In the next article of this series, we’ll take a look at how ShareGate Apricot can help you better understand why users create teams and just how much of a risk they pose to your organization.

Recommended by our team

What did you think of this article?