Avoid turning Microsoft Teams into the Wild West

21-06-2021 The use of Microsoft Teams has gone up exponentially since the COVID19 pandemic started. This goes for use of chat, online meetings and general collaboration in teams. But how can you take charge of Microsoft Teams and get the overview you need?

A lot of organizations have moved collaboration into Microsoft Teams when working in project teams, task-related teams or more ad hoc based teams. Here, features such as document sharing and task management have supported online collaboration. Some have gone further and even use Teams to collaborate with external partners or customers.

The decision to move collaboration into Microsoft Teams has given rise to get a handle on what kinds of teams are being created.

Microsoft Teams makes it very easy for an employee to create a team for a project or cross-organizational task that just occurred at a meeting. This situation occurs when Microsoft Teams is set to allow all employees to create teams freely.

From a management perspective, however, the organization may have difficulty keeping track of which teams are being created and for what purposes. The use of Teams  can end up in a "Wild West" situation, especially if the employees prefer creating new teams every time new projects or tasks arise.

To avoid this "Wild West" situation, management can resort to a "lock down", and this means that employees can no longer create new teams. Instead, the individual employee must ask their IT help desk to create the required team for them. This creates an administrative burden, which only becomes greater if an approval from the manager is also required.

Get a business-oriented approach to Teams

It is this situation that has led us to develop IntraActive Governance. With IntraActive Governance, the management of the company gets the chance to take a business-oriented approach to collaborating in Teams.

Microsoft Teams is the replacement for Skype, but Microsoft Teams offers so many other tools than just chat and online meetings. This means that management very consciously must find their position on how Microsoft Teams should be taken into use in the organization and what expectations they have for the employees' use of this collaboration platform.

Two important features of IntraActive Governance are the Template Builder and the Governance Overview. The first function has a proactive function - "How will we work with Teams", while the latter has a more retrospective angle - "How is our Microsoft Teams usage".

The template builder

The template builder allows you to define and design different Teams templates with different functions and business rules built-in. Here you can define Teams templates for internal projects, customer projects, department teams etc. and define rules for approval process, types of channels to be created, document templates, rules for minimum number of owners of the team etc.

With the Template Builder, key stakeholders in the organization have the opportunity to implement functionality in Teams, which from business perspective realizes how to support collaboration in the organization and how to ensure ownership and transparency in the "collaboration spaces" that are created.

Governance overview

The governance overview makes it possible to get an overview of how the use of Teams is in the organization. It is possible to get an overview of e.g.

  • Number of active teams
  • Number of inactive teams
  • Number of archived teams
  • Number of teams with missing owners
  • Number of teams with guests
  • Number of teams with missing owner
  • Number of teams with missing template

With this overview, the administrator can take action and initiate processes that advise team owners that their team is inactive and may need to be archived. It is also possible to ensure the quality of the ownership of teams and ensure that there are owners on a team and if not, escalate it to a manager, project manager or the like.

This form of Governance has both the aspect of cleaning up, but at the same time also of ensuring that key policies and rules are complied with. When there is a notification of owners of teams, IntraActive Governance offers the option that it is done manually via the administrator or that you use automated processes such as notification to team owners that the team is archived or deleted.

Be amazed at the use of Microsoft Teams in your organization

When we install IntraActive Governance at a customer who has been using Microsoft Teams for a while, the customer often gets quite a surprise. An example is the customer below who is having a great number of teams that are inactive. Maybe there has been no chat activity in the team for 90 days or no documents have been opened or edited during this time period.

When installing IntraActive Governance in a Teams environment, where Teams has been used extensively, you need to clarify the history and introduce the rules you now want for the different types of Teams you want to work with. Another task is getting these rules applied to the existing Teams you have and finally you need a cleanup proces where you either archive or delete Teams that are no longer of value to the organization.