Don’t let Microsoft Teams run out of control
It feels like nothing can stop the march of Microsoft Teams. Microsoft has declared it their fastest growing enterprise application with around half a million organisations using it. A figure that is set to rise. Microsoft also continue to invest in Teams, adding new features, folding in other capabilities like Skype for Business, and evolving ways to integrate with the rest of Office 365 and even third-party applications.
Individually within separate organisations, Teams adoption is also going well, helping to drive communication, collaboration and workflow. In some organisations Teams usage is positively exploding with people keen to try out the tool; many are finding it fills an essential gap for team communication and coordination, an area where other online tools have been less successful in the past.
Can Teams really run out of control?
This is great news for digital workplace teams and IT functions that have been tasked with promoting Teams. But Teams can also prove to be too successful. When Teams does go truly viral and where use is not being co-ordinated or managed in any way, it can lead to issues that ultimately may damage the overall success of the platform and the business value it delivers. These issues include:
- Teams being used for purposes that it’s not best suited for, when a Yammer community or other collaboration tool would be better suited for a particular use case
- Spaces that get set up initially, often to see what the “fuss” is all about, but then never end up getting used
- A duplication of Teams spaces that are used for the same purpose, causing confusion for users and limiting collaboration
- A proliferation of so many sites that individual users find it very difficult to keep on top of all their site updates and increasingly difficult to find what they need
- A lack of clarity and confusion at the individual site level about what a Teams space has been set up for
- Problems with who should be responsible for managing an individual Teams space if somebody leaves the organisation
- People getting invited to Teams spaces that shouldn’t be, resulting in individuals seeing sensitive content or being onboarded early onto Teams while it is still being rolled out
Does this really matter?
As any advanced enterprise technology gets rolled out there are inevitably going to be a few issues encountered, and a few bumps in the road can be expected. At first, as digital workplace professionals focus on adoption, they may care less about issues such as site proliferation; these issues are not necessarily serious. However, in the medium to long term, all the above issues highlighted can become real problems.
Individual users will find it hard to find individual Teams sites, but also the discussion threads and files within them. They will also find the overall ease of use of Teams starts to depreciate, with extra time and effort spent keeping up with too many sites. The overall management of the platform will also become much harder. For example running any compliance processes across so many sites. Adoption of other collaboration and digital workplace tools may also suffer as Teams is perceived as the ‘only tool in town’.
Introducing appropriate governance
In the same way that email inboxes have become unwieldy, network file shares have become dumping grounds and SharePoint sites feel like a digital wild west, it’s all too easy to let Teams run out of control. The answer is to introduce some light governance that can help to prevent Teams running out of control, but without the governance becoming a barrier to usage or painful to manage.
By governance we mean some of the polices, processes and rules that need to be put in place to make Teams work in the best way for users, team and the whole organisation.
Some digital workplace and collaboration professional feel uneasy about putting “governance” in place because they worry it will stifle innovation and collaboration. It may also create an administrative overhead that they simply cannot manage.
It is true that too much governance can lead to issues. For example, if you are over-prescriptive about the use of Teams (and actively police it to check people are using it properly), need three levels of approval to actually create a Teams space and then have a policy to delete any Teams space that hasn’t had anything added for two months, you will very quickly run into problems. Teams will become unusable and people will inevitably turn to other solutions.
But putting in an appropriate level of governance will lead to a better-managed platform and a better user experience of Teams.
What sort of governance does Teams need?
What governance measures are needed for each organisation varies, but we have observed the following as what works well:
- On an organizational level, every Teams space has an owner who understands what their responsibilities are, with clarity over who is responsible for inviting individuals to a Teams space
- A clear handover process is in place whenever a Teams owner leaves your organisation.
- A search facility or process so individuals can search for other Teams before they create a new space, ensuring there is no duplication of sites
- The ability to drive a consistent naming convention for Teams, supported on an organizational level.
- Standard templates with meta data, with an overview of all existing Teams and Workspaces
- A site provisioning process that may also take in other examples of collaboration sites (e.g. a community site) depending on the use case, so that the best type of space is created for different needs
- A clear policy and process to make sure that Teams get decommissioned at the right time.
The net impact of all these governance measures will be:
- A reduction in the creation of duplicate and unnecessary sites
- The use of better tools for different use cases e.g. Yammer for wider community sites
- Better findability and easier overall management of Teams.
How we baked governance into Wizdom
Knowing the importance of governance of Microsoft Teams and governance in general we’ve sought to hard bake governance features into the Wizdom product. Several of these are perfect for controlling Teams, including:
- A provisioning machine that enables users to easily create teams that live up to standards for roles/permissions and metadata.
- The ability to create a template for Teams that includes the right default features based on use case, in a custom-made solution e.g. including Planner if Teams is being used for a project.
- A form that ensures the right information including site purpose and nominated owners and roles are captured and are also available centrally to review by the digital workplace team
- A central register of sites for digital workplace teams, making it easier to enable processes relating to the archiving of sites or handing a site over to a new owner
- The ability for viewers to link to the Teams spaces they are members of within the Wizdom intranet (there are different ways to achieve this)
- And, of course, a Wizdom intranet can be used to distribute resources on the best way to use Teams or as a channel to ask questions to experts.
Don’t ignore Teams governance
If Teams feels like its starting to get out of control, then do something about it. It’s never too late to introduce some governance, perform a clean-up operation and make life easier for everybody and avoid bigger problems further down the line. You can use many of the features of Wizdom to help you, particularly with our powerful provisioning engine. If you’d like to discuss Teams governance and how Wizdom can help, then get in touch!
The original article was published here