New in ShareGate: Understand how users collaborate in Teams

Image of turquoise background, the ShareGate logo, and the text for Group purpose written

In this release, we’ve launched a new Teams chatbot that helps you understand why users create their teams—so you can organize your teams by business purpose, and get a better handle on how your users collaborate in Office 365.

Creating a new team in Microsoft Teams is easy: all you have to do is decide to make it public or private, pick a name, and you’re done. There’s an optional field where you can input a description, but who fills that out? As a result, organizations can end up with a large number of teams and very little information about them—making life a lot harder for IT.

The thing is, not all teams and Office 365 groups are created equal; some contain highly sensitive data, while others are created for less business-oriented reasons. That doesn’t mean a team for sharing beer tasting notes shouldn’t exist in your environment—it just means you probably don’t need to apply the same rules of engagement to the beer club that you would for an HR team that discusses employee salaries with external head hunters.

Ideally, governance policies should be customized based on each team’s purpose and level of data sensitivity. But that’s easier said than done with the admin controls available in Office 365. More often than not, you have to settle on a one-size-fits-all policy that applies to all of your teams and groups—making it impossible to apply rules in a flexible and granular way.

While it might sound tempting to simply shut down self-service or put a provisioning process in place, those measures add friction for end users—which can negatively impact adoption and result in users turning to other, unapproved tools.

That’s why the ShareGate team has been working hard to develop a solution that allows you to provide more freedom to some teams, while helping you enforce stricter rules for the ones that could pose a greater risk to your business.

Introducing ‘Group purpose’ in ShareGate

Wouldn’t it be nice if you knew why users created their teams? ShareGate now helps you categorize your teams and Office 365 groups by purpose, so you can understand how they’re being used.

This is the first phase of a series of releases that will ultimately enable you to apply custom policies based on a group’s data sensitivity and purpose.

Categorize teams by business purpose

After talking to many of our customers, we compiled a list of the most common reasons users create teams to collaborate with colleagues.

We built this list of ‘Group purpose’ categories as a starting point—you can edit or add to these options as you wish to fit the needs of your organization:

  • Department: Used for an ongoing project or collaboration between employees who are part of a specific department (i.e. marketing or HR).
  • External project: Used for projects that involve collaboration with people outside the organization (i.e. collaboration with an external vendor).
  • Internal project: Used for projects that involve collaboration with people inside the organization (i.e. implementation of a new system).
  • Office location: Used to gather employees working in different geographic locations (i.e. New York office)
  • Particular topic: Used to communicate and collaborate on specific initiatives or topics (i.e. planning the holiday party).
Manage how you want to categorize your teams and groups.
Manage how you want to categorize your teams and groups.

Each category should also include a description. Make sure the description clearly defines the corresponding category, as it will be presented to team owners later to help them when they’re making a choice.

Enter a description to help team owners make a selection.
Enter a description to help team owners make a selection.

Once you’ve established the different group purpose categories for your organization, you can manually add one to each team or overwrite a selection made earlier by an owner.

Manually select or change the purpose for each of your teams.
Manually select or change the purpose for each of your teams.

Automatically collect information from owners with our Teams chatbot

Figuring out why someone created a team can be a challenge. If they called their team “Marketing”, you can probably infer that it’s going to be used by the marketing department. But if a team is named “Baby Yoda”, your guess is as good as mine. You’re going to have to ask the people who know best: the owners of each team.

The best way to collect information like this from owners is directly in Teams. That’s why we’ve come up with a solution that integrates seamlessly with their flow of work—and doesn’t involve users logging into a third-party tool or filling out another form to request a team. Simply flick a switch and let ShareGate’s Teams chatbot do the hard work for you. It’s that simple.

A conversational bot integrates seamlessly with users’ existing workflow, helping reduce friction and context-switching to keep productivity at its highest possible level.

Here’s how it works: Shortly after an owner creates a new team, our chatbot reaches out and asks them for its reason of creation. The bot will present them with the options you’ve pre-populated, as well as each one’s description, to make it easy for them to make an educated decision.

image of Teams chatbot on a mobile device.
Owners pick the purpose that best fits their team’s needs.

Once the team owner makes their selection, our bot relates that information back to you in ShareGate.

Note that no matter where an Office 365 group is created (Teams, SharePoint, Outlook, Planner, etc.), owners will still receive a notification in Teams to select their group’s purpose. That way, you’ll collect this information from all your groups—not just the ones created in Teams.

You can find more details on the ShareGate Teams bot in our support documentation.

Organize all your teams by ‘Group purpose’ in one central location

ShareGate shows you all of your teams and Office 365 groups in one place, where you can organize and filter them by business purpose. That way, you can get a better understanding of how your users collaborate in Teams and Office 365.

View all of your teams and Office 365 groups in ShareGate.
View all of your teams and Office 365 groups in ShareGate.

Up next on the product roadmap

It’s hard to believe it’s been just over a year since we launched ShareGate! In that time we’ve:

Our next release planned for Q3 will focus on helping you understand the data sensitivity of each team and enabling you to apply custom security policies based on it.

For example, if you identify a team that contains highly confidential data, ShareGate will automatically enforce stricter privacy settings, such as ensuring the team is set to private and turning off external sharing. Those security policies will be fully customizable based on your organization’s individual needs. And just like group purpose, you’ll be able to collect information about group sensitivity in Teams via our friendly chatbot.

Once group sensitivity launches, we’ll be looking to release more governance customization capabilities over the summer. Stay tuned!

ShareGate is easy to setup and even easier to manage—no clunky interface, no coding, and no Azure AD premium subscription required.

If you’re a ShareGate customer, then we have great news! Your subscription now gives you full access to ShareGate at no extra charge! Activate your ShareGate account by signing in here. Make sure to have your ShareGate license key handy—you’ll need it complete your activation.

If you’re ready start categorizing your groups and teams according to business purpose, take a look at our documentation to learn how to set it up!

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