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Reduce data sprawl in Microsoft 365 with this online learning course

Increase your Microsoft 365’s security and organization while lowering costs, all by staying on top of sprawl. Learn how to identify and manage data sprawl, even with self-serve turned on. Better yet, secure your sensitive data without it taking up all of your IT team’s time with actionable advice on the policies, processes, and automations that make controlling data sprawl simple and straightforward.

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Course details

100% online

For IT admins, IT managers

34 minutes to complete

Shareable certificate

Offered in English

Do at your own pace!


What you’ll learn in our course for reducing data sprawl

  • What sprawl is and how to identify it in Microsoft 365
  • How sprawl impacts your productivity and security in Microsoft 365
  • The relationship between sprawl and self-service in Microsoft 365
  • Pro-level sprawl management best practices
  • Policies, processes, and resources to help mitigate sprawl in Microsoft 365
  • How automation and provisioning templates can reduce sprawl

Why managing data sprawl matters

Data sprawl refers to the staggering amount and variety of data produced by organizations each and every day. That data includes everything from files and objects, to archives and analytics, and it tends to be spread out across various parts of your organization. 

Freedom and accessibility are at the heart of the Microsoft 365 experience, with flexible collaboration, effortless communication, and self-service features transforming the way that end users work. But with more freedom comes more responsibility—both for end users and IT.  

IT needs to ensure that end users understand how Microsoft 365 tools work, what the impact of mismanaging resources is, and what their role should be in lifecycle management.

Left unmanaged, data sprawl can risk data security, rack up cloud storage costs, and hinder productivity.

Data security risks: If data is scattered across different locations without proper monitoring and control, it becomes more challenging to secure. And if data isn’t properly secured, the likelihood of data breaches increases.

Storage cost increases: Uncontrolled data sprawl can also lead to an increase in data storage costs. When data is proliferating across multiple locations without proper management, there’s a higher likelihood of duplicate data or data that is no longer necessary but still being stored locally.

Productivity issues: When your tenant is full of irrelevant data, it can negatively impact your search functioning, so end users will either waste time trying to find the data they need, or they’ll create more duplicate data.

In this course, you’ll learn how to get sprawl under control now and in the future.

Reduce data sprawl in Microsoft 365 course overview:

This course is part of our Microsoft 365 Maturity Program, and it aims to help IT teams prevent data sprawl by discussing the importance of controlling data sprawl proactively within M365, giving a detailed breakdown of the impacts of data sprawl, and explaining how to reduce and manage data sprawl using policies and automation.

We also discuss how to find the balance between giving end users the flexibility to work the way they need to while putting the proper guardrails in place to ensure that sensitive data doesn’t get into the wrong hands, that data storage doesn’t become costlier than it should, and that data discovery isn’t made more complicated.

With tips from Microsoft MVPs, Microsoft best practices, and suggestions of specific policies and processes to implement, each lesson is designed to help you increase your expertise.

Summary of the course

This course is divided into 6 modules and 10 lessons

Module 1: Welcome to the Microsoft 365 Maturity Program course on sprawl (2 mins)
Module 2: The importance of managing data sprawl in Microsoft 365 (9 mins)
Module 3: The relationship between sprawl and self-service (5 mins)
Module 4: How to manage sprawl in Microsoft 365 (6 mins)
Module 5: Resources to help you manage sprawl in Microsoft 365 (9 mins)
Module 6: Overview: How to reduce sprawl in Microsoft 365 (3 mins)
34 minutes to complete
M365 Maturity Program Cta

Free Assessment

Not sure where to start?

Assess how your unique Microsoft 365 environment is performing for free with our online tool. It only takes 10 minutes, and you’ll get personalized results and tips for improvement.

About ShareGate Academy

ShareGate Academy is ShareGate’s learning platform. We offer free, online courses on all kinds of Microsoft 365 topics, from adoption to sprawl, from Microsoft Teams to SharePoint. ShareGate Academy is here to help IT pros expand their knowledge so they can work smarter, not harder.

Course contributors

Elle Crosby

Elle Crosby is the Senior Content Producer at ShareGate. For more than 3 years, Elle has been sharing IT knowledge through ShareGate blogs, eBooks, webinars, and more by demystifying Microsoft 365, SharePoint, and Microsoft Teams operations. 

Samuel Martineau

Accompanied by Samuel Martineau, Solutions Architect at ShareGate, Samuel is presenting and spreading the importance of having a clear Microsoft 365 management strategy at conferences and in ShareGate’s Microsoft 365 Maturity Program.

Benjamin Niaulin, Microsoft MVP

The Microsoft Maturity Program is approved by Microsoft MVP and VP of Product at ShareGate, Benjamin Niaulin. Benjamin crafts products to help organizations adopt new ways of working with the tools the Microsoft cloud provides. Benjamin has been a Microsoft Certified Trainer since 2008, and is a Microsoft Regional Director and Office Servers and Services MVP.

Manage data sprawl in Microsoft 365 Course FAQ

What topics are covered in this course?

In this course, you’ll learn:

  • How sprawl can clutter your tenant and cause data security issues
  • How to enable self-serve without having sprawling data
  • How to spot and prevent sprawl
  • Policies and processes that help reduce sprawl
  • How to leverage automation and provisioning templates to make staying on top of sprawl easier on your IT team

Is this course self-paced, or instructor-led?

It’s self-paced. We know you’re busy, so you can work your way through this course in whatever timeframe works best for you. Plus, you’ll have unlimited access! So, if after completing the course you want to revisit a particular section for a refresher, you’ll always have that option.

What are the prerequisites for the course, and who is the intended audience?

There are no prerequisites for this course! This course was created for anyone who works in IT, but especially those who are responsible for managing their company or organization’s M365 environment.

Does the course cover specific Microsoft 365 applications, such as SharePoint or Teams?

It does! Because your end users are probably (hopefully?) doing most of their collaboration within Teams and SharePoint, these are some of the key areas to focus your efforts of reducing sprawl by setting up guardrails to remove duplicate data and operating systems to prevent data breaches.

Does the course cover compliance and security aspects of data sprawl?

It does! Compliance and security are some of the reasons why reducing data sprawl is so essential. In this course, we cover the risks associated with sprawl for non-compliance and security. We also discuss some of the policies and resources you can use to simultaneously reduce sprawl and secure your tenant, such as data loss prevention systems and role-based access controls.

However, if you want to dive deep into security, ShareGate Academy has a specific course on this topic. You can enroll in Improve security in Microsoft 365 for free today!

Does the course material include case studies or real-world examples for protecting sensitive data?

It does! This course was built on the expertise of real IT professionals. In addition to the IT gurus who work at and are customers of ShareGate, we also collected data, learnings, and best practices from Microsoft MVPs and peer-reviewed studies.

Does the course provide strategies for identifying and removing redundant data?

It does, and thankfully those strategies aren’t just about manually classifying and storing data! In Module 4, How to manage sprawl in Microsoft 365, there’s a section dedicated to spotting data sprawl. In Modules 4 and 5, we discuss the different tools IT teams can use to improve their data governance.

By educating end users and employees on how to properly use Microsoft 365 tools and how to manage the resources they create throughout their lifecycle, you can significantly reduce your cloud storage costs.

But, of course, there are other types of data in our cloud storage systems, like customer data and other sensitive information that IT may need to take more responsibility for. In these cases, using automated solutions can really help IT identify and remove redundant data, like inactive teams, freeing up your cloud storage platforms and increasing your risk management.

Does the course provide guidelines on creating effective data management policies to prevent data sprawl?

It does! In module 5, Resources to help you manage sprawl, there’s a section dedicated to policies and processes you can implement that will help you prevent data sprawl today and manage it more easily in the future.

Assess your Microsoft 365 maturity for free

ShareGate’s Microsoft 365 maturity assessment tool is a free, online tool consisting of a series of questions to help you identify areas of improvement in how your Microsoft 365 environment is being managed.