Microsoft Teams Governance

Microsoft Teams is the go-to solution for our modern virtual collaboration needs. While you’re busy enhancing productivity with Teams, it’s easy to forget vital practices for overseeing and regulating your Teams environment. Managing Microsoft Teams brings an array of risks and challenges. Even though Teams streamlines project management, numerous organisations run the risk of being overwhelmed by the multitude of teams and their related site content, leading to sprawl.

Governance in Teams

Governance encompasses the policies, roles, responsibilities, and processes that shape how your organization’s business divisions and IT teams collaborate to achieve their objectives. Each organization has distinct needs and aspirations that impact its governance strategies.

Governance for Microsoft 365 extends to collaboration tools like SharePoint, Teams, Planner, Stream, Outlook, Yammer, and Office 365 Groups (supported by Azure Active Directory (AAD)). Your organization may necessitate stringent controls on tool usage, including naming and classification protocols (for sites, groups, files, calendars, etc.), guidelines on adding guests as team members, and creator permissions.

You have the flexibility to configure these aspects and more. Our team is here to steer you towards valuable customer evidence, documentation, blogs, articles, and videos – conveniently located below. Maintaining this interconnectedness and security is crucial for a unified experience. 

Microsoft 365 collaboration leverages an intelligent framework for seamless connections between individuals and relevant content, facilitated by the Microsoft Graph, a unified team identity across applications and services, and robust security and compliance through centralized policy management.

What is MS Teams Governance, and why should I implement it?

A Microsoft Teams governance strategy outlines how you handle users’ access and data in alignment with your business standards, ensuring data security. It’s crucial to establish a Microsoft Teams governance plan from the outset rather than rushing it. As Teams incorporates Office 365 Groups, OneDrive, SharePoint, and other Microsoft 365 services, settings, and policies expand into Microsoft 365 governance. 

Having an effective plan for governance in Teams is crucial for the daily management and usability of Teams. By establishing clear governance principles, you secure a consistent approach to using Teams that is communicated and expected by all. For instance, users won’t duplicate teams and channels when they understand the creation criteria. They will adhere to specific naming conventions for channels to avoid confusion among other users about the channel’s purpose. This practice can save time when users transition between teams and projects.

Tools for Microsoft Teams Governance

Navigating the tools for Microsoft Teams governance requires understanding both the technical aspects and best practices to ensure a secure, efficient, and compliant working environment.

1. Request & Approval Workflow

One effective way to avoid Teams being created without control is by setting up a system for requesting and approving them. This process ensures that every new team request goes through a review before getting the green light. Not only does this method maintain order, but it also guarantees that each new team has a clear purpose that aligns with the broader goals of the organization.

By centralising requests, companies can better enforce naming standards, manage memberships, and ensure adherence to governance policies. This proactive approach minimises duplication and sprawl, making it simpler for users to discover and engage with the right teams and content.

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2. Microsoft Teams Governance Policies

Combining your lifecycle settings with naming conventions can help you establish effective governance policies. Lifecycle settings assist in managing the lifespan of teams and their content, automatically deleting or archiving a team that is inactive.

This ensures a relevant and clutter-free digital environment. On the other hand, naming conventions facilitate easy identification and categorisation of teams and content, enhancing user navigation.

Integrating these strategies creates a robust framework for your Teams environment, promoting organisation and efficiency while aligning with governance standards. This approach forms a foundation to combat sprawl and maintain operational control.

3. Teams Templates & Provisioning

Creating templates in Microsoft Teams enables administrators to provide a consistent structure and set-up for new Teams. This allows for customization of channels, apps, settings, and more. With just a few clicks, administrators can establish predefined templates to ensure that every new Team aligns with the organisation’s governance policies and standard operational procedures.

This streamlines the Team creation process and minimizes the risk of inconsistency and non-compliance within the Microsoft Teams environment. Templates can be adapted to suit various project types, departments, or workflows, offering flexibility while maintaining a standardized approach across the organization.

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Teams Governance Best Practices

To ensure a structured and compliant collaboration environment, it is critical to adopt Microsoft Teams governance best practices.

Decide who can allow external access

Deciding whether to allow external guests to Teams plays a key role in your governance strategy. Teams lets external guests join and access the team, chat, files, and apps directly. With guest access, you have a simple on-off choice to make. Are you going to permit all your users/teams to add guests from other organisations? By default, Microsoft now enables all users to invite a guest to join their team. You can manage this globally in Active Directory or the Teams Admin Centre.

Alternatively, you can handle this on a team-by-team basis using sensitivity labels, offering a personalised approach to guest access that fits your organisation’s security and compliance needs. This choice impacts not only how your teams collaborate with external partners but also how you oversee data security and privacy.

Define administrative rights

Appropriate permissions are essential for effective governance in Microsoft Teams. They act as a barrier against uncontrolled platform expansion by restricting who can create and manage Teams workspaces. Without these controls, any user could create new Teams, adding members or co-owners without following protocols, potentially jeopardising the structure of your Teams environment. However, excessive controls may burden IT departments with oversight, causing delays and reducing user engagement.

A balanced approach is advised. Clearly outline policies for initiating new Teams and designate authorised personnel to ensure purposeful team creation aligned with organisational goals. Mandating at least two owners per Team can prevent workflow disruptions, ensuring continuous team management and project progression.

Create a naming scheme for teams and channels

Enhance the discoverability and organisation of your Microsoft Teams spaces by implementing naming conventions. Achieve additional consistency by prefixing teams according to specific attributes. For instance, commence all teams related to projects with “Project”. You can further distinguish them by assigning abbreviations for various departments or locations. Ensure the conventions remain concise and keep a log of the abbreviations you utilise. Leverage MS Teams add-ons to automatically establish URL and naming conventions based on predefined templates. Additionally, enrich your team names with metadata. In this scenario, the tool can handle standardisation without user intervention.

 Establish policies for archiving content

When a user clicks “delete” on content, it’s removed from the Teams channel, seemingly disappearing from everyday access. However, for the Teams administrator, understanding what happens to this seemingly vanished content is a crucial part of governance. In the realm of Microsoft Teams, deleted content isn’t immediately purged from the system. Instead, it’s kept in a hidden “Recycle Bin” where administrators can access it for a set period, usually around 30 days.

This allows for the recovery of mistakenly deleted items, ensuring that important information isn’t lost forever. Understanding the lifecycle of Teams data — where it goes when deleted and how long it remains there before final deletion — is essential for administrators to effectively manage and govern their Teams environment. This knowledge helps them comply with data retention policies and ensures the platform remains a secure and organised space for collaboration.

Automate Microsoft Teams governance processes

Assisting your users in adhering to the best practices for Microsoft Teams governance can pose a challenge. With Teamwork Analytics, you have access to Microsoft Teams automation tools to target, prompt, and guide your users towards best practices. Automations can send adaptive card notifications directly to users within Teams. Examples include:

  • Ensuring a minimum of 2 owners per team
  • Reminding Teams owners about guests
  • Notifying owners of inactive teams for deletion or archiving
  • Informing owners or members of a deleted team

Automation extends beyond governance. It can also enhance user adoption and assist users in refining their calling and meeting experience. This fosters a proactive environment where users receive continuous education and reminders about governance rules, ensuring a more secure and organised Microsoft Teams experience.

 Manage the availability of a third-party application

Once your internal and external usage policies are in place, consider the third-party apps you currently use (or may use in the future) in Teams. Third-party apps refer to any apps you use alongside Microsoft Teams – and possibly even within the Teams platform itself. Allowing your teams to install their own apps has the advantage of enabling access to their daily tools without needing to raise a ticket every time. However, the downside is that they gain the ability to install any third-party app.

It’s crucial to determine and communicate whether users will have permission to access these apps or if they need to request access each time they require a new app. If possible, ensure that your requirements gathering sessions with department heads involve identifying the apps that everyone requires access to prior to deployment. Microsoft Teams boasts a collection of over 600 third-party apps available in its app store. Among these third-party apps are popular ones such as Trello, Zoom, Webex, Freehand, RingCentral, Cacoo, Lucidchart, Mural, Wrike, Givitas, and more than 500 others.

You can manage which third-party apps are permissible within your organisation through the Manage apps section in the Teams Admin Centre. Navigate to Third-party apps and switch the setting on or off accordingly. Additionally, you can choose to automatically allow newly published apps or disable this option to handle them individually. This method can help strike a balance between empowering users and retaining control over the external tools they can utilise within the Teams environment.

What the Checklist for Microsoft Teams Governance includes?

This Microsoft Teams Governance checklist has been crafted to streamline Microsoft Teams adoption while securing your Teams environment, boosting efficiency, and aligning with your organisation’s goals.

1. User Management

  • Evaluating User Scores for External Contacts: Set up a system to assess and ensure compliance when including external users. Verifying email addresses and assigning suitable permissions are crucial stages to securely handle external partnerships.
  • Team Membership per User: Keep an eye on the number of Teams each individual is part of regularly. This practice helps prevent Team duplication and ensures that users are not overloaded with too many groups, which could hinder productivity.
  • Managing Inactive Users: Maintaining a clean and organised Teams environment is key. Handle inactive users by deactivating or deleting their accounts, and transfer ownership of their resources to active users to uphold seamless workflow continuity.
  • Administration of External Users: Effective management of guest users is essential. Confirm they possess the correct permissions and remove them from your Teams platform once their collaboration is no longer required. This action safeguards data and maintains an efficient user base.
  • Utilising Sensitivity Labels: Make use of sensitivity labels to categorise and safeguard your organisation’s data within Teams. By establishing clear labels, users can readily comprehend the confidentiality level of documents and conversations, fostering a culture of security and compliance.

2. Teams Assessment

  • Managed Teams: Check that all teams are managed according to the established guidelines. This involves ensuring teams have clear purposes, follow naming conventions, and adhere to data management policies.
  • Teams Without Owner: Identify teams lacking assigned owners and promptly assign responsible individuals. Having designated owners for each team is vital for accountability and efficient management.
  • Inactive Teams: Regularly review team activity to identify inactive teams. For these teams, consider strategies such as retirement or archival to maintain an organized Teams environment focused on active projects.
  • Small Teams: Monitor very small teams to ensure they are used effectively. Sometimes, merging small teams with similar purposes can boost collaboration and reduce fragmentation.
  • Large Teams: Additional oversight and management strategies may be needed for large teams to ensure effective communication and prevent information overload. Implementing best practices for large teams can sustain their productivity.
  • Public Teams: Thoroughly review public teams to ensure they meet the organisation’s standards for appropriateness and compliance. Public teams can enhance broad collaboration but present risks if not managed correctly.

3. Naming Conventions

  • Naming OneNote: Please follow the organization’s standards for naming your OneNote notebooks within Teams. Consistency in naming conventions makes it easier for users to find and access specific notebooks related to their projects or teams.
  • Naming Planner Boards: Make sure Planner boards have clear and consistent names. This helps quickly identify boards relevant to tasks or projects, improving task management efficiency.
  • Email Nicknames: Use appropriate and professional email nicknames when communicating in Teams. Avoid personal or informal terms to maintain a professional atmosphere and ensure clear communication.
  • Team Names: Stick to naming conventions for Teams to ensure clarity and consistency throughout the organization. Avoid special characters and ensure proper capitalization. This makes it easier to search and organize teams, creating a structured and user-friendly Teams environment.

4. Teams Lifecycle Management

  • Creating Teams: Begin by establishing and adhering to a structured process for team creation. Ensure that each team is named in line with organisational standards and is assigned the appropriate policies from the start. This initial step is crucial for laying the groundwork for a manageable and compliant Teams environment.
  • Active Usage and Management: Regularly conduct checks to update, review, and maintain teams to keep them active, relevant, and compliant with governance policies. This process involves monitoring team activity, updating team details, and consistently applying policies.
  • Retirement or Archiving: Create clear guidelines for retiring or archiving teams that are no longer required. This procedure should outline steps for preserving essential data, informing team members of the change, and officially retiring or archiving the team following organisational procedures. Properly retiring or archiving teams helps prevent clutter and maintains a focus on active collaboration spaces.

Policies

  • Utilising Established Templates: Create teams using pre-existing templates that already contain necessary approval processes and compliance policies. This guarantees that every team aligns with organisational standards from the outset, reducing the likelihood of non-compliance issues later on.
  • Policy Development: Formulate clear, detailed policies outlining relevant guidelines and standards for behaviour within Microsoft Teams. These policies should encompass various topics, such as acceptable use, data protection, and collaboration principles, ensuring all team members grasp their responsibilities.
  • Controlled Teams Ratio: Maintain a high ratio of controlled to uncontrolled teams within the organisation. This method involves having most teams created and managed under stringent governance policies, allowing a smaller proportion the flexibility to operate with fewer restrictions. Striking this balance is essential for nurturing innovation while upholding security and compliance.
  • Policies per Template: Implement the appropriate number of policies per team template, avoiding redundancies. It’s crucial to ensure each team possesses the necessary policies to function effectively without unnecessary constraints. This governance approach streamlines team management and boosts productivity.

Sensitivity Labels Usage

  • Structured sensitivity labels: Implementing structured sensitivity labels allows for clear categorisation of teams and channels based on the confidentiality and sensitivity of shared information. This practice helps regulate access and ensures data handling complies with organisational security policies.
  • Ongoing Management of Labels: Regularly review and update sensitivity labels as required to uphold effective data protection and compliance. Continuously monitoring and adjusting sensitivity labels ensures categorisations remain accurate in response to any changes in team or organisational operations.

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FAQs

What does governance do for Teams? 

Governance in Microsoft Teams creates a structured framework to efficiently and securely manage and operate Teams within an organization. It includes establishing and enforcing policies, naming conventions, lifecycle management practices, and usage guidelines to ensure compliance with organizational and regulatory standards. Effective governance helps maintain order and productivity within Teams, preventing data leaks and keeping the collaborative environment organized and clutter-free. It fosters a culture of accountability and professionalism among users.

What is the governance structure of a team in Microsoft governance?

The team governance structure in Microsoft Teams is crucial for effective management, security, and compliance. Here are the key elements:

  • Roles and Permissions: Team members have defined roles like owners, members, and guests, each with specific permissions that determine their access and actions. This hierarchy enhances team security and efficiency.
  • Policies and Compliance: Teams must follow policies on security, data protection, and acceptable use, aligning operations with organizational standards and legal requirements.
  • Lifecycle Management: Guidelines cover a team’s entire lifespan, from creation to retirement or archival, ensuring relevance and compliance.
  • Naming Conventions: Guidelines for naming teams and channels promote consistency and professionalism, aiding information retrieval.
  • Sensitivity Labels: Classify information in teams and channels by sensitivity and confidentiality levels to regulate access and protect data.

What is the governance plan of Microsoft 365? 

The governance plan for Microsoft Teams provides resources for efficient management, security, and compliance with the Microsoft 365 environment within an organisation. This plan covers various key aspects, including:

  • Security and Compliance: Guaranteeing that all Microsoft 365 services adhere to necessary security measures and compliance standards. This involves safeguarding data, preventing threats, and managing sensitive information effectively.
  • User and Identity Management: Establishing policies for user authentication, access control, and identity verification to prevent unauthorized access and protect organizational data.
  • Data Governance: Enforcing policies and practices for data retention, encryption, and loss prevention to securely and efficiently handle the lifecycle of organizational data in Teams.
  • Device Management: Supervising and securing corporate and personal devices accessing organizational data through Microsoft 365, ensuring they comply with the organization’s security protocols.
  • Training and Awareness: Offering continuous education and resources to employees on how to securely and effectively utilize Microsoft 365 tools, fostering a culture of security and compliance.
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