Microsoft Teams governance: 5 cutting-edge best practices for managing your Teams

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To optimize Microsoft Teams for your specific organization’s needs, we made this list of the top tips for you to build the best Microsoft Teams governance strategy.

You all know Microsoft Teams as the solution to our modern virtual collaboration needs. While you’re out there boosting your productivity with Teams, it’s easy to overlook critical practices for managing and governing your Microsoft Teams environment.  

Managing Microsoft Teams comes with its own set of risks and challenges. Although Teams simplifies project management, many organizations risk finding themselves in a sea of teams and their associated site content, leading to a sprawl of data in their Teams environment.  

The most critical risk associated with managing Microsoft Teams ultimately boils down to securing your sensitive organizational data. Teams have created a hub for collaboration using information sharing and exchange. This exchange can expose your critical data to the dangers of leaking and misusage.

However, enforcing strict security policies to protect data can drive users to shadow IT to complete their tasks. To try and find the balance between ensuring security and facilitating productivity, organizations need to rethink their Microsoft Teams governance strategies. 

So, what should this new governance strategy include? Let’s discuss the best practices to help you streamline your governance strategies while staying more productive than ever.

1. Plan for standardized team creation

While preparing for a Microsoft Teams deployment, one of the initial tasks at hand is planning for team creation. It can be tricky to set team creation controls. On the one hand, you want to give members the freedom to create teams to avoid the threat of shadow IT and prevent end-user tickets from piling up. While on the other hand, you don’t want end users to create clutter with unnecessary or duplicate teams. 

Your organizational requirements will define how you create, name, and classify your teams. Before setting your policies for team creation, your organization needs to make some decisions: 

  • Does your organization require a specific naming convention? 
  • Do you need to restrict the ability to add guests on a per-team basis? 
  • Do you need to limit who can create teams?  

Your answers to these questions will enable you to document your organizational requirements regarding team creation, naming, classification, and guest access. Standard naming conventions and team creation policies can help you make sense of your teams across all apps and avoid multiple Teams components with the same name. 

A great way to ensure teams are created following your standards is to use provisioning templates. Microsoft offers pre-built templates, but those usually don’t fit all of your business needs. You can also build your own templates, which can be a bit time-consuming and can take some technical expertise.

ShareGate offers customizable Teams provisioning templates to help your end users collaborate the way they need to, with your governance policies built right in.

2. Manage external users and guest access from the start

Although collaborating with people outside your organization can bring new opportunities for your business, it can give rise to security and governance challenges. It can be tricky to prepare from the start for governance in projects that require constant onboarding and offboarding of external users and guests. However, this is where your governance can shine by planning ahead for managing external users.  

Before deploying Teams, you should answer the following questions to help guide your strategies for managing guest access in your teams: 

  • Does your organization have a process to review guests and their access? 
  • Who can invite a guest to a team? 
  • What guests can access Teams resources like groups, teams, SharePoint sites, and more? How will your organization control access to these resources? 

Figuring out how you want to handle these scenarios will give you a clear view of your organizational requirements and policies regarding guest access. Once you understand your requirements, you can plan to adjust controls for external sharing on SharePoint, create access packages for bundling project teams, or set roles that can approve or deny guest access requests.

ShareGate provides all these features in one place with its automated guest access and external sharing reviews.

3. Create a rock-solid tagging system

Tags are an excellent collaborative feature of Teams that have helped boost active engagement between members of large teams. However, the tagging system can be difficult to control if the tagging structure enables everyone to create and edit tags.  

In order to ensure efficient Teams governance practices, you need to create and maintain a rock-solid tagging system. You can start by answering these questions: 

  • Who should be able to add and edit tags? Team owners, members, or everyone? 
  • What kinds of tags will suit your project’s needs?
    • Suggested tags: These are default tags that can be set in advance. Default tags are predefined by owners and managed by a preset value for who can manage the default tag. The limit for suggested tags is 25 tags with 25 characters each, which is usually not enough to manage communication between large teams. Although, these tags can be used as suggestions to create a new set of tags.
    • Custom tags: These are tags that users can add for customized grouping in addition to default tags. For example, custom tags for the sales team.
    • Shift tags: These are automated tags that are assigned by Teams’ Shift app in real-time to members who are on shift. 

​Having a documented plan can benefit your organization by creating a hassle-free tagging system that, in turn, improves your Team’s governance practices. It can also be helpful to ensure that end users use proper tags when they create teams. ShareGate simplifies this for you with its team governance features that helps you set tag permissions according to your governance policies.

4. Manage team owners and avoid ownerless teams

Microsoft Teams grants the highest level of permissions to the owner of a team or group. An owner can add or remove team members, add external guests to teams, change team settings, and manage administrative tasks.

In short, an owner is responsible for the governance policy settings for its team. So what happens to a team when its owner leaves the organization or the department? You’re left with a team of members with limited abilities to manage their team. Not ideal! 

To avoid ownerless teams and their cascading administrative hindrances, organizations need to strategize for ownership management as a part of their governance best practices. Teams provides different ways for you to manage ownership in your projects: 

  • Default ownership: The creator of a team becomes its owner by default. The owner can then add members and even promote members to owners.  
  • Role-based ownership: Teams also allows you to set permissions for assigning user roles by selecting a team and adding members to it. You can choose owners from those members based on their roles in your project. 
  • Minimum number of owners: Having more than one active owner can save your organization’s teams from becoming orphaned. There should always be an active owner to manage the team in case one owner leaves. 

There are many ways to try to prevent teams from becoming ownerless in the future. But what if you already have a bunch of ownerless teams in your tenant right now? How do you find them? How do you figure out who the new owner should be? This can be really time-consuming to do manually, but we know of a better way, ShareGate’s automated Teams management features.

5. Team’s lifecycle management

While you plan for creating and managing a team, oftentimes you forget to plan for how to handle teams at the end of their lifecycle. When a project ends, or an organizational goal is met, its associated teams are no longer useful to the organization. You need a team’s lifecycle management plan to handle outdated teams and their content.

Expiration policies in teams   

To avoid cluttering your Teams environment with useless teams, you can set expiration policies for automatically handling unused teams. A team with a set expiration date is notified with a 30-, 15-, and 1-day notice to the team’s owner. Upon expiry, a team’s associated services, including Sharepoint, mailbox, and planner, are also ceased. 

How to archive and delete teams 

In some cases of end-of-term teams, the teams may no longer be useful, but they hold content and conversations that can be helpful for your organization. Under these circumstances, deleting a team is not the right choice.

Fortunately, you can also archive a team, so you can still add or remove members or access its chats and channels. You can find the options to delete or archive teams under the Manage Teams section of the Microsoft Teams admin center.  

For more information on Teams lifecycle management, check out our detailed article on building a Microsoft Teams lifecycle management plan

How to find inactive teams

Manually finding inactive teams and reaching out to their owners is a time-consuming task that IT teams are sometimes too overwhelmed to do regularly. To make this task easier, you can use ShareGate’s automation to find inactive teams and collaborate with owners to resolve them. 

Boost your Microsoft Teams adoption with a solid teams governance plan from the start

While governance strategies aren’t one-size-fits-all, you can start with the most effective ones that best fit your organization’s requirements. Fortunately, you no longer have to set rigid policies to ensure security and governance. You can flexibly enable self-service features in your teams in a secure and controlled way to boost Teams adoption in your organization.  

Want to amplify your Microsoft Teams experience without having to worry about governance and security risks? Try ShareGate, our out-of-the-box Teams Management Solution to automate your Teams governance.

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