We’ve been talking a lot about Microsoft Teams lately. With good reason: it’s a great place to spend your collaboration time. Teams, however, has a dirty little secret. It’s the same secret that other easy-to-get-running applications (I’m looking at you, Confluence) share: you must provide governance. Teams governance is what will keep the tool useful and secure.
What happens when you don’t provide governance? Glad you asked. Let me tell you a story.
It was my first week at a startup that was attempting to build, deploy and manage a wireless broadband network. Our hardware team was in San Francisco. Our base station team was in Toronto. Our radio team was in Ottawa. And our network was being deployed in India. Clearly, we needed a collaboration tool.
As I began asking where I could find design specifications for the base station we were building. I kept getting redirected to “the wiki.” No problem, I can go search and find what I want. This would have been the end of it, except that Hardware Engineering pointed me to one wiki page, Purchasing pointed me to another page, and Base Station Engineering pointed me to a third page. Suddenly, I was like the visitor to the remote village where half the villagers always lied, half always told the truth, and I had to figure out which was which.
Lack of governance—policies and procedures covering how the tool will be used across the lifecycle of a team—will kill any collaboration tool. Creating teams, channels, folders and the like is purposely the easy part. What’s harder is sorting through the content and deciding what should be kept (and where) and what should be sent packing. You keep your sock drawer organized, right? It’s kind of like that.
Microsoft Has Been Busy Building Out Teams Governance
The good news is that Microsoft Teams has recognized this governance need and has built a lot of tools to help manage the Teams governance process. Since many IT folks are still learning about Teams, I wanted to share this video from Microsoft.
Watch This Video Regarding Teams Governance
The video (about 30 minutes long) covers the administrative choices that exist for Teams governance. It uses three organization types (kind of like the Three Little Pigs) to show how different organizations might make different configuration choices, based on each organization’s balance of ease-of-use and security/compliance.
The video is worth watching. It will give you a sense of what the configuration options are, what scope do they have (applicable to just the user through to entire organization?) and why you might set them in a particular way. There’s also information on what you can do via the Admin web page vs. PowerShell vs. the Graph API. Even if someone else is managing Teams for you (hello, CGIAR) this video will help you understand your governance options.
Bonus Teams Governance Tip: Be Sure to Archive!
One lesson we’re learning in our own use of Teams is how to separate “work in progress” content from “final version” content. I can imagine moving content out of the WIP Teams channels and into a SharePoint document library. I’m hoping Microsoft Flow will let me create some kind of automated tool to do that (I’ll let you know.) For sure, we need to get busy archiving Teams and Channels that are no longer active. I don’t want to scroll through a long list of items to get to the active ones I’m working on today.
You Can Do This
As I’ve said before, the best way to get started with Teams is to pick an activity and create a Teams workspace that the (little t) team can use to do the work. With some experimentation and feedback, you’ll have a much better sense of how you want Teams to be used in the organization. Just remember to go back and implement the appropriate governance. Otherwise, you’ll be back in that village trying to sort out who’s telling you the truth.