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Increase collaboration and autonomy for end users

In this checklist, you’ll get actionable advice on how to optimize your Microsoft 365 while improving employee experience and freeing up your IT team’s time.

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About the checklist

Microsoft 365 offers so many great features for facilitating collaboration among end users, but managing it is no easy feat. At ShareGate, we aim to take the complexity out of Microsoft 365 and help IT pros achieve all their potential.   

We created this checklist in collaboration with Microsoft MVP Vlad Catrinescu to offer you concrete steps to take to help you manage your digital workplace, particularly for organizations that want to enable self-service to boost end-user productivity while mitigating security risks.  

Get governance and security tips to help you increase collaboration, without negatively impacting security.


What is the Microsoft Modern Workplace? 

The Microsoft Modern Workplace is designed to help organizations increase productivity, collaboration, and mobility, while also ensuring security and compliance. It provides a unified, cloud-based platform that enables users to work from anywhere, on any device, and collaborate seamlessly with colleagues and partners. 

Microsoft Teams, SharePoint, and so much more is included in the Microsoft Modern Workplace.  

With the rise of remote work, the flexibility that the Microsoft Modern Workplace offers has never been more important or necessary. And the whole digital workplace has been resting on your shoulders now more than ever. We know you’re holding down the Microsoft 365 fort like a real IT hero, but that even heroes need some trusty tools to help them out. That’s why we created this checklist!

We believe one of the best ways to leverage all the benefits of the Microsoft Modern Workplace is to enable self-service. When self-service is enabled in Microsoft 365, end users can create and manage their own resources, allowing them to collaborate and work the way they want to. Of course, it can also leade to huge Teams graveyards that could be raided by external collaborators, which is why you should have a strategy and tools in place to help you manage your self-service environment.

When self-service is disabled, end users are often waiting on IT to create their teams or groups, and as these tickets pile up for IT, it can result in bottlenecks that impact productivity—both for end users and the IT team that could be using their skills for more value-add projects. At ShareGate, we believe you deserve a chance to work on your valuable IT work rather than just answering never-ending piles of requests.

To really take advantage of all that the Microsoft Modern Workplace has to offer, we recommend enabling self-service. And you deserve to enable it with a strategy and resources that will help you manage it with risks to security or sprawl.

Common risks IT admins face that hinder productivity in Microsoft 365

While many of Microsoft’s recent updates and new features have worked toward the goal of facilitating productivity, there are still risks for both governance and security when you give end users more freedom.

Shadow IT

Shadow IT is when end users choose to use tools not supported by their organization’s IT team. This is common when self-service is turned off—end users opt to collaborate with unauthorized tools because it’s faster and provides more freedom than having to create a ticket for every team they want created. 

When company data is shared through, say, a Google Doc when the IT team doesn’t have security policies in place for the Google Suite, it means that data can more easily get into the wrong hands.  

Two of the best ways to mitigate the risk of shadow IT is to turn self-service on and ensure your end users know how to use the tools available to them.

End users unfamiliar with tools due to lack of training

Without proper education and training on the tools and services offered to them, end users may not know how to use Microsoft 365, leading to the creation of duplicate resources, accidental deletion of resources, or other mistakes that make it harder to find what you’re looking for in your tenant. Can we agree this isn’t what you want? Agreed.

Vera Van Es, Functional Microsoft 365 Administrator at Arkin, said that when her organization started using Microsoft 365, their end users created groups and teams, but didn’t think to delete them when they became obsolete.  

Trying to manually figure out which teams should be removed was incredibly time consuming. “By the time you’ve finished tracking down one batch of inactive teams, you have to start over again, because everything will have changed already,” said Vera. 

Once they automated the process of finding inactive teams and collaborating with owners to decide whether they should be kept or removed with ShareGate, Arkin found that 27% of their teams were inactive, and 98% of those were removed, freeing up space in their storage and making it easier for end users to find the resources they need.  

Now Arkin’s IT team has clear visibility into their Microsoft 365 environment, and their end users take more responsibility for the resources they create.

Technical issues leading to downtime

Misconfigurations or poor configuration choices can lead to poor performance, downtime, or even security vulnerabilities. This can lead to losses in productivity while IT works to resolve the issues. And your plate is already pretty full, isn’t it?

Microsoft 365 services can also experience outages or disruptions that can impact productivity when IT spends time troubleshooting during these times.

Poor data management and security practices

Without the proper security policies in place, there can be issues with data backup and recovery protocol, poor password management practices, unauthorized access, phishing attacks, malware, and data breaches.

These security risks can drive IT resources away from productivity tasks and impact end users’ ability to do their jobs, particularly if they’re working remotely. With the right management strategy, you can avoid these risks, improve productivity, and sleep soundly at night know your organization’s data is secure.

What’s in this checklist?

The Microsoft 365 Modern Workplace checklist to boost end-user productivity will provide you with actionable steps to ensure you have control over your Microsoft 365 environment while giving your end users the autonomy and flexibility to do their best work.  

The checklist is divided into the following sections: 

  1. Steps to prevent security risks – How to secure Microsoft 365 once you’ve enabled self-service 
  2. Steps to prevent sprawl – How to monitor and manage your organization’s data 
  3. Steps to educate end users – How to ensure end users are using the right tools, the right way, right from the get-go 

How to optimize Microsoft 365 for end-user productivity with this checklist 

In addition to the specific steps in the checklist, ensure you have governance frameworks based on Microsoft best practice to optimize your Microsoft Teams, SharePoint, OneDrive, and other Microsoft 365 tools. You’ll also want to make use of Microsoft’s OOTB security and compliance features.  

Once you’ve enabled self-service, some of the most important things you can do are offer support and training to your end users and automate time-consuming management tasks. With ShareGate, supporting end users and leveraging automation can lead to some great collaborations with end users when it comes to managing Microsoft 365 data—taking some of the burden off of IT.  

When Neda Ilic, Senior Product Owner Microsoft 365 at BCAA, started using ShareGate, her team was able to quickly find inactive and orphaned teams as well as externally shared links and guest access. But the IT team didn’t know whether to keep or remove these items once they found them.  

Luckily, ShareGate could help with that too. ShareGate sent automated messages to end users, and they responded. BCAA removed 26% of inactive teams, 33% of external sharing links, and 10% of guest users, but the best part is that end users performed 92% of those tasks.  

The IT team saved time through ShareGate’s automation finding the inactive teams, externally shared links, and guest users. Then they saved even more time by having ShareGate ask team owners to act on those resources, since they’re the ones who actually know whether they’re still needed.

Assess your Microsoft 365 maturity

With this checklist, you’ll have a concrete set of actions to optimize your Microsoft 365 environment, allowing you to boost productivity for both end users and your IT team. So you can lead your business and its employee experience to new heights. Work both faster and better.

If you want to get a better understanding of how your organization is currently managing its Microsoft 365 environment, use the Microsoft 365 maturity assessment tool. This free assessment is designed to help you get a sense of how well your organization is managing security, governance, adoption, shadow IT, and sprawl. You’ll receive an overall score, detailed results, and personalized resources to help you in any areas that could use improvement.

Map Compass

Increase productivity for end users and IT teams in M365