Everything you need to know about managing Microsoft Teams. Understand the processes involved and the implications on the rest of your Microsoft 365 environment.
Collaboration is to Microsoft Teams what caffeine is to coffee. It’s the whole point. And, like a fine medium roast, Teams has become a workday staple, boosting the productivity of millions worldwide.
One reason for Teams’ high adoption rate is that users can collaborate how and with whom they want, especially when self-service is enabled. But when teams multiply, it causes a knock-on effect throughout a company’s Microsoft 365 account, which is when things can get out of control.
As an antidote to this anarchy, we’ve created a guide to help you set up, maintain, and manage your tenant in a way that works for you, your business users, and your organization.
Table of contents
- How do you create a team from scratch in Microsoft Teams?
- What are the roles and permissions in Microsoft Teams?
- Before you get into the Microsoft Teams admin center: What to set up first
- How to collaborate with guests and external users in Microsoft 365 and Teams
- 5 Microsoft Teams management pro-user tips
- Take your Microsoft Teams management training further
- A Microsoft Teams management tool that works for you
How do you create a team from scratch in Microsoft Teams?
There are several ways to create a team in Microsoft Teams. You can build one using an existing Microsoft 365 group, team, or SharePoint site, or you can form a team from scratch.
Good to know: Whenever a team is created, a corresponding Microsoft 365 group (including a group inbox and calendar in Outlook, a SharePoint site, and OneNote) is automatically created.
To create a team from scratch:
1. Click Teams on the left side.
2. Select Join or create a team at the bottom of your Teams list.
3. Select Create team.
4. Choose From scratch.
5. Then decide what kind of team you want it to be: a private or public team (a private team is limited to a specific set of people. A public team is open to anyone in the organization to join).
5. Name your team and add an optional description.
6. When you’re done, select Create.
Congratulations, it’s a team! As its owner, you can now add members, create channels, and assign roles and permissions.
What are roles and permissions in Microsoft Teams?
Every member in Teams has a role (either owner, member, or guest), and each role has its permissions set by a Teams administrator. For example, team owners can add or remove members and change certain team settings, members can chat and upload files, and guests can participate in teams but may not have access to sensitive data.
Assigning roles and managing permissions in the Microsoft Teams admin center is key to maintaining a secure and structured tenant that suits your organization’s needs. So, before you create a team or channel, it’s a good idea to think about who gets how much access and to what.
Tip: Delegate a few owners to manage a team; it lightens the workload, guarantees member accountability, prevents orphaned (ownerless) teams, and boosts content security.
Before you get into the Microsoft Teams admin center: What to set up first
Implementing beginning-of-life best practices is key to a clutter-free tenant. So, take a beat to develop a solid framework for a governed environment, considering how the creation, collaboration, and classification processes can be streamlined to maximize security and minimize sprawl.
The three C’s of stress-free teams:
- Creation: Before creating a team, ask yourself what its goal is, who belongs in it, whether it will contain sensitive information, and who gets what permissions. Next, set up templates to maintain consistency and instill a naming convention to make your teams easy to find.
- Collaboration: Ensure secure collaboration with external users. It’s essential to have settings and policies that protect company data. You can configure your guest access and link-sharing settings to adhere to your organization’s best practices while happily capitalizing on collaboration.
- Classification: Categorizing your teams according to purpose and sensitivity makes them easier to locate, leverage, manage, and protect your valuable data. Use Microsoft’s sensitivity labels or ShareGate’s sensitivity tags to avoid confusion about what can be shared and with whom.
Think about how you want to manage your teams
Your Teams user adoption is growing, meaning more teams are being created and more to manage. Your business users are the biggest part of your governance strategy, so think about why and how they create their teams. Consider what issues may arise for them so that you can apply the right governance policies and security settings from the get-go.
- Brainstorm a governance plan with some key members of your organization, so you’re all on the same page about your Teams priorities.
- To jumpstart your Teams management strategy, check out our top 10 tips for managing Microsoft Teams.
Microsoft Teams management can equal training
You don’t have to manage everything alone. Entrusting your users to take informed actions on Teams can promote trust, growth, and unity. The key is to implement a solid lifecycle management plan that includes educating your end-users on how to navigate Teams and create groups securely and effectively.
Encourage users to build more manageable digital workspaces with these team creation tips
- Before creating a team, think about the goal or project and who in your organization can help achieve it.
- Add teams gradually. Start with a small number of teams and members, then add more as you go.
- Fewer, larger teams with more channels are better than lots of little teams. Remember, the purpose of a channel is to help focus discussions.
- Name your channels and teams something informative, intuitive, and easily searchable, such as department names or project titles that convey the team or channel’s purpose.
- Add tools (such as OneNote or Planner) as tabs to a channel so that members have everything they need to collaborate effectively.
- Use private channels for focused collaboration with a select group of team members. Use shared channels to collaborate with people outside the team. Reserve the general channel for project overviews, onboarding, and announcements.
In addition to these tips, discover how navigating the Microsoft Teams admin center can help empower end users in your organization.
Use a Microsoft partner service to manage Teams
You can’t manage what you can’t see. Fortunately, Microsoft 365 management solutions like ShareGate can give you a clear, consolidated overview of your Teams environment.
ShareGate helps you keep track of all the teams your users create and protect your sensitive data by providing the tools to set parameters and manage your teams throughout their entire lifecycle.
With ShareGate, you can:
- See all your teams and their related activities in one centralized place.
- Scan your tenant daily to automatically detect potential issues.
- Receive help setting customized policies that guide users to follow your organization’s best practices in Teams.
- Fix issues fast with the help of team owners.
- Future-proof management by staying ahead of the game in collaboration with users.
- Use provisioning templates to help users create the teams they want within the guardrails you’ve set.
- Flexibly move Teams content whenever, wherever.
Common Microsoft Teams admin issues
Even the most seasoned Teams administrator can encounter issues, from ensuring best practices and Teams app overload, to compliance and redundant teams. Fortunately, there are tips and tools to help you navigate these common snags.
Setting up guardrails for self-service
Enabling users to create their own teams through self-service can reduce the number of tickets you receive. It’s also a great way to encourage user adoption and autonomy. But letting people create their own teams, invite guests, and share info can lead to security issues. Restrict member settings too much and you’ll not only be up to your headphones in tickets, but users might turn to unapproved external apps (did someone say shadow IT?). You can strike a balance by placing restrictions that empower users while still adhering to best practices.
Don’t go soft on self-serve: People evolve through learning, so give users the freedom to experiment and the tools to do so securely.
One way to set up healthy boundaries that protect data security in Microsoft 365 while encouraging user autonomy is to use provisioning tools like templates. With these, you can set up structured processes that help your users make and manage their own teams in a way that best serves them, you, and your organization.
When your list of Teams tasks is longer than War and Peace, it’s time to delegate. Through entitlement management on Azure Active Directory, you can assign a project manager to keep track of their team memberships and take charge of approving requests. You can also use access reviews to remind group owners to ensure their teams are still active and members are current employees.
Governance tip: Use a Microsoft 365 management solution like ShareGate to see who shared what with whom, find orphaned teams, remove access to files, or schedule a periodic review for owners – all in one location.
End of lifecycle
A team that’s served its purpose is full of data that clutters your tenant and makes it hard for users to search for what they need. Having a way to find and keep, archive, or delete tired old teams is key to overcoming this.
Solutions like Azure AD Premium and ShareGate can do the heavy lifting for you, automatically identifying and presenting you with a full list of inactive teams so you can clearly see what needs to stay or go.
For tips on how to keep your Teams up-to-date and easy to navigate, check out our Microsoft Teams lifecycle masterclass.
Good to know: According to Bloomberg, large companies deploy an average of 187 apps, and nearly one-third of them are redundant or add little value. Don’t suffer through unnecessary clutter; Marie Kondo your unnecessary apps.
eDiscovery and compliance
In its Compliance Center, Microsoft offers search tools like Content Search, Core eDiscovery, and Advanced eDiscovery to help organizations find data quickly and efficiently. These are mostly used for compliance and legal issues, but some are concerned that organizations sifting through private chats and pulling up user-activity reports is an overreach.
Build trust with your users by creating a “Teams policy” that details what and how data is collected. Follow that up with a tutorial on your organization’s best practices for Teams user behavior. This can build consistency and transparency in your organization and help avoid non-compliance.
To avoid some these common admin issues, here are 4 best practices for managing Microsoft Teams permissions.
How to collaborate with guests and external users in Microsoft 365 and Teams
Working with guests and external users on Microsoft Teams can enrich a project and fast-track objectives. But it can also pose a security threat when best practices aren’t followed. Determine who can be invited and what they can do by configuring your external and guest access settings in the Microsoft Teams admin center or Azure external collaboration settings.
External access vs. guest access: What’s the difference?
External access allows users to find, call, and chat with people outside their organization. External people can only be added to a team if they’re invited as guests.
Guest access lets you invite people from outside your organization to join a team. Guest access is better for project-based or structured work where access to documents and other team resources is needed.
Security tips for collaborating with guests:
- Avoid sharing sensitive content in your standard channels by directly inviting a guest in Teams shared channels.
- Consider working with private channels for internal collaboration.
- Enable multi-factor authentication.
- Assign sensitivity labels using Microsoft Information Protection (MIP) sensitivity labels or ShareGate’s sensitivity tags.
5 Microsoft Teams management pro-user tips
There are some Teams tasks we perform countless times a day, like shooting off a quick chat message or finding a file. To help streamline all the tasks, Teams is continually adding and updating shortcuts. Here are a few of our favorites:
Keep cool and /command using Microsoft Teams commands
Slash commands are shortcut commands. By simply typing slash (/) and then the command into the Teams search bar, you can perform an action in a fraction of the time. All you need to do is:
- Hit “Ctrl” + “E” to get to the search bar.
- Type “/”. A list of available commands will appear.
- Choose a command from the list or type in your specific command.
- /chat lets you send a quick message to a team member.
- /call allows you to contact someone via voice or video call.
Rapid post finding
- /mentions lets you search a post from those that mention you with “@”.
- /unread pulls up unread items from your feed.
- /saved lets you view your saved items, including posts from channels and private chats.
Speedy status change
Don’t rummage through your profile settings to change your availability status. Instead, use /away, /available, /busy, or /dnd (do not disturb) to set your status.
Get tasks done faster
- /join lets you see a list of public channels within your team and jump to the one you want to join.
- /files + file name lets you open a specific file from Teams or OneDrive.
- /wiki followed by the message you want published allows you to write a personal note on your wiki.
Find out who a teammate is
- /who opens a chat conversation with the Who chatbot, which pulls up information on someone, like who they report to, or their posts and channels.
- /activity will show a team member’s recent public activities on Teams.
- /org reveals the organization to which someone belongs and their position.
Use Meeting reactions 😮😂👏❤️👍
Teams meetings are made more inclusive and engaging by enabling users to raise their hands to ask questions or react to what’s being shared with an emoticon.
On a desktop or tablet, select Reactions in meeting controls during a meeting. If you’re on a mobile device, tap More info to open Live reactions.
Use Team templates
If you want to maintain order in your tenant, templates are a must. Templates allow you to define the structure of new teams as you’re creating them, ensuring that the settings you want are always applied. They’re a great way to get a team started quickly while maintaining security and structural parameters.
Currently, there are three templates provided by Teams: the Company-Wide, Executive Team, and Departmental templates. If these aren’t ticking your boxes, you can make your own custom template with Microsoft Graph or ShareGate.
Note: Teams templates automatically create private teams. You can switch to “Org-Wide” or“Public” before rolling it out to your organization.
Use Power Automate to streamline repetitive Microsoft Teams tasks
The average knowledge worker toggles between apps 1,200 times each day. That’s five working weeks of hitting Alt-Tab each year. Fortunately, Power Automate provides a nifty solution by taking your mundane, repetitive tasks and automating them across over 100 applications (from Teams to Outlook, to Dropbox, and Twitter). This means you can automate alerts and notifications, aggregate and automate your teams’ approval processes, and create and schedule business process flows – all in a couple of clicks.
Record like everyone’s watching
Using Teams to record meetings, interviews, demos, or tutorials is simple. But there are still some technicalities to bear in mind, such as how to ensure your teammates can see what you see while sharing your screen, how to actually stop the recording, where to find your recording, and how to change how long it will be stored.
How to start recording in a Teams meeting
It’s just three quick clicks:
1. Start or join the meeting.
2. Select More actions.
3. Click Start recording.
Tips for recording on Teams
- Live transcriptions are automatically activated once you hit that circular button.
- Even though participants are notified when recording and transcription have started, it’s generally best practice to verbally announce that the meeting is being recorded.
- Use headphones to avoid echo.
- Join the meeting on two different devices so you can see what your audience is seeing. Ensure you’re only presenting on one device and keep your audio and video off on the other.
How to stop Teams recording
Ending a recording is also easy, though there are a few more components to consider.
- Select More actions.
- Then choose either:
- Stop recording: This stops the recording and the live transcription.
- Stop transcription: This stops just the live transcription, but the recording continues until you select Stop recording or End meeting.
Note: Recording continues even if the person who started the recording has left the meeting. So don’t go planning their surprise party until they either stop the recording or everyone has left the meeting.
Where to find Teams recordings
If you recorded in a Teams channel meeting, your recording is processed and saved to SharePoint. If it was in a group chat, it’s stored in OneDrive. Once processed, the meeting recording also shows up in the meeting chat or channel conversation.
Note: Guests can only see the recording if it’s shared with them.
How to manage a recording’s expiration
You can change the expiration date of any given recording in your admin settings under Meetings > Meeting policies. If a recording expires, you’ll have up to 93 days to recover it from the recycle bin before it disappears like a pack of two-ply circa March 2020.
Note: The message saying your recording will expire will still appear in the chat even if you remove the expiration date. Don’t panic; if you’ve selected No expiration, it won’t expire.
Take your Microsoft Teams management training further
You may now be a Teams management pro, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing left to learn. You can take your training even further by brushing up on tips from IT pros and discovering more about management solutions that help you turn Microsoft 365 into the collaborative tool it should be.
Expert resources for IT pros:
- Watch our free, three-part masterclass on how to manage Microsoft Teams across the entire lifecycle, by MVP Jasper Oosterveld.
- Discover how to future-proof your Microsoft 365 and Teams provisioning strategy with MVP Richard Harbridge.
- Check out our blog article on 10 Microsoft Teams end-user training tips for IT pros.
A Microsoft Teams management tool that works for you
Managing Teams becomes increasingly daunting as the platform evolves, user adoption grows, and more features and updates are added. That’s why having a Teams management power tool in your IT arsenal is the key to good Teams governance.
In terms of solutions, a one-stop shop that lets you govern how you want is much simpler than navigating multiple admin centers. That’s where ShareGate takes the lead.
ShareGate lets you customize your preferences, assign roles and permissions, and view your teams – all in one centralized place. It can remind team owners to periodically review their guests’ access, keeping their teams up-to-date and secure. It can even scan your teams and groups daily to automatically detect potential issues and help you rectify them.
All this means fewer fires, a smoother workflow, and a tenant that runs like a Japanese bullet train.
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