Microsoft Teams is a powerful collaboration tool that can significantly enhance productivity and collaboration within an organization. However, if you don’t have a comprehensive governance plan, it can lead to chaos and confusion, jeopardizing security, compliance, and overall efficiency.
A well-crafted governance plan can help mitigate these risks and ensure that Teams is used to maximise its benefits while minimizing its drawbacks.
Before we start, if you’d like to learn how to create an effective governance and compliance strategy from Jasper Oosterveld MVP, check out this Collab365 Microsoft Teams governance training.
Here are some of the things that can go wrong if you don’t govern Teams properly:
- Disorganization and clutter: Teams can quickly become disorganized and cluttered, leading to a frustrating user experience. Users can struggle to find information or collaborate effectively without clear team and channel creation guidelines.
- Security breaches: Teams can be a target for cyber-attacks if not governed properly. Weak passwords, unauthorized access, and insecure file-sharing practices can lead to data breaches and other security issues.
- Compliance violations: Teams can be used to share sensitive or confidential information, making it important to ensure that regulatory and compliance requirements are met. Without a governance plan, users may not know how to comply with regulations, putting the organization at risk of fines or legal issues.
- Lack of accountability: Teams can be a breeding ground for lack of accountability, with unclear responsibilities and roles. Without a clear governance plan, it can be challenging to hold team members accountable for their actions or to identify who is responsible for specific tasks or decisions.
- Inefficient collaboration: Without clear guidelines for how Teams should be used, it can be challenging to collaborate efficiently, leading to unnecessary delays and communication breakdowns. This can cause frustration for users and result in missed deadlines or lost opportunities.
- Decreased productivity: When Teams is not governed properly, it can overwhelm users, leading to decreased productivity. It can be difficult to manage notifications, find the right information, or keep up with the constant stream of messages.
In short, without a governance plan, Microsoft Teams can quickly become a chaotic and inefficient tool that creates more problems than it solves. Creating and implementing a robust governance plan is essential to ensure that Teams is used to maximise its potential and benefit the organization.
1. A primer on Microsoft Teams
Before creating a governance plan for Microsoft Teams, it’s essential to understand what Teams is and how it works clearly.
Microsoft Teams is a cloud-based collaboration platform that brings together chat, meetings, file sharing, and other tools in one place. Teams also utilises several other Microsoft services, including SharePoint, OneDrive, and Exchange Online. In addition, it’s straightforward to utilise Apps in Teams using the Power Platform and 3rd party apps.
Here are some critical components of Teams:
- Teams: A team is a collection of people, content, and tools centred around a specific project or goal. Teams are created for collaboration among groups of people who work together regularly.
- Channels: Channels are subdivisions within a team that focus on specific topics or projects. Channels can be created to organize discussions, files, and meetings.
- Chats: Chats are conversations between two or more people within Teams. Chats can be one-on-one or in a group setting.
- Files: Teams allows users to store and share files with their colleagues. Files can be stored in SharePoint or OneDrive and accessed directly from Teams.
- Apps: Teams allows users to integrate with other apps and services, such as Trello, Asana, and Salesforce.
- Meetings: Teams includes various meeting tools, including audio and video calls, screen sharing, and recording.
It’s also essential to understand how data is stored in Teams. Teams data is stored in several services, including SharePoint, OneDrive, and Exchange Online. Any governance plan for Teams should also consider the governance policies for these other services.
By understanding the components of Teams and how data is stored, you can better understand the impact of governance policies on your organization’s use of Teams.
2. Identify Stakeholders
To create an effective governance plan for Microsoft Teams, it’s crucial to identify the stakeholders affected by the plan. This includes individuals and departments within the organization who will use Teams regularly.
Some examples of stakeholders to consider might include:
- IT department: IT will likely be responsible for the technical implementation of the governance plan. The IT team must ensure that Teams is configured correctly and that the appropriate security and compliance measures are in place.
- Legal and compliance teams: Legal and compliance teams must be involved in the governance plan to meet regulatory and compliance requirements.
- Human resources: Human resources teams may need to be involved in the governance plan to ensure that Teams is used in accordance with the organization’s policies and procedures.
- Individual users: Ultimately, the success of the governance plan will depend on the buy-in and participation of individual users. It’s important to involve users in the planning process and to ensure that they understand the purpose and benefits of the governance plan.
By involving stakeholders in the planning process, you can ensure that the governance plan is tailored to the needs and goals of the organization and that it is feasible and effective for all parties involved.
3. Define Purpose and Scope
Before creating a governance plan for Microsoft Teams, it’s important to define the purpose and scope of the plan. This involves setting goals for Teams usage and identifying who will use Teams and for what purposes.
Here are some questions to consider when defining the purpose and scope of the governance plan:
- What is the goal of using Microsoft Teams?: Is the goal to improve collaboration and communication within the organization or to streamline specific business processes?
- Who will use Teams?: Will All employees within the organization use teams, or will it be limited to specific departments or teams?
- What are the primary use cases for Teams?: Will Teams be primarily used for chat and communication, or will it be used for file sharing, project management, and other purposes?
- What are the security and compliance requirements?: Are specific regulatory or compliance needs to be met when using Teams?
By answering these questions, you can start to define the purpose and scope of the governance plan. This will help you tailor the plan to your organisation’s specific needs and goals, and ensure that it is feasible and effective.
4. Team Structure and Naming Conventions
One of the first steps in creating a governance plan for Microsoft Teams is to establish a clear team structure and naming conventions. This will help ensure that Teams is organized intuitively and easily to navigate and will help prevent duplication and confusion.
Here are some examples and tips for establishing team structure and naming conventions:
- Create a hierarchy: Establish a clear hierarchy of teams and channels, with higher-level teams focusing on broader topics and lower-level channels concentrating on more specific sub-topics. For example, if your organization has a marketing department, you might create a “Marketing” team with channels for “Social Media,” “Email Marketing,” and “Content Creation.”
- Use descriptive names: Use clear names for teams and channels that reflect their purpose and content. For example, instead of naming a channel “Project A,” name it “Project A – Design Phase” to clarify what the channel is for.
- Avoid duplication: Avoid duplicating team or channel names, which can lead to confusion and inefficiency. For example, if multiple projects have the same name, use a naming convention that includes the project manager’s name or a unique identifier to differentiate them.
- Use consistent naming conventions: Use consistent naming conventions for teams and channels to ensure they are easy to find and identify. For example, use a consistent format for naming channels, such as “Topic – Subtopic,” to make it easy for users to navigate Teams.
- Consider using collaboration templates: Consider using collaboration templates to standardize the creation of teams and channels, and to ensure that they are set up correctly from the start. For example, you could create a template for new projects that includes channels for “Project Management,” “Design,” and “Development.”
By establishing clear team structure and naming conventions, you can ensure that Teams is organized in a way that is intuitive and easy to navigate, promoting collaboration and efficiency.
5. Sensitivity Labels
Sensitivity labels in Microsoft Teams allow organizations to classify and protect sensitive information and control how it is shared within and outside the organization. Sensitivity labels can be applied to Teams, channels, and files, and can be used to control access, retention, and encryption.
Here are some tips for using sensitivity labels effectively in Microsoft Teams:
- Define sensitivity levels: Define sensitivity levels that align with your organization’s information classification policy. For example, you might have labels for “Public,” “Internal,” “Confidential,” and “Highly Confidential.”
- Apply sensitivity labels consistently: Apply sensitivity labels consistently to Teams, channels, and files to ensure that sensitive information is protected consistently throughout the organization.
- Control access and sharing: Use sensitivity labels to control access and sharing of sensitive information within and outside the organization. For example, you might apply a label restricting external sharing to Teams containing highly confidential information.
- Configure retention policies: Configure retention policies based on sensitivity levels to ensure that sensitive information is retained for the appropriate period and that it is deleted securely when no longer needed.
- Encrypt sensitive information: Use sensitivity labels to encrypt sensitive content stored in Teams, channels, and files. For example, you might apply a label that encrypts all files containing confidential or highly confidential information.
Using sensitivity labels effectively in Microsoft Teams ensures that sensitive information is classified, protected, shared and retained according to your organization’s policies and compliance requirements.
6. Compliance and Retention Policies
Compliance and retention policies are critical components of a governance plan for Microsoft Teams. Compliance policies ensure that Teams is used in a way that complies with regulatory and legal requirements. In contrast, retention policies provide that data is retained for the appropriate period and deleted securely when no longer needed.
Here are some tips for creating effective compliance and retention policies for Microsoft Teams:
- Understand regulatory requirements: Understand the regulatory requirements that apply to your organization and ensure that your governance plan for Teams complies with these requirements.
- Define retention policies: Define retention policies for Teams data based on regulatory requirements and your organization’s information management policies. This might include specifying retention periods for different types of data, and identifying when data should be deleted or archived.
- Automate retention policies: Use automation to ensure that retention policies are enforced consistently across Teams data and that data is deleted or archived when it reaches the end of its retention period.
- Monitor compliance: Monitor Teams usage to ensure compliance with regulatory and legal requirements and take appropriate action if non-compliance is identified.
- Provide training and support: Provide training and support to users to ensure they understand compliance and retention policies and can use Teams to comply with them.
By creating effective compliance and retention policies for Microsoft Teams, you can ensure that Teams is used in a way that complies with regulatory and legal requirements and that data is retained appropriately and deleted securely when no longer needed.
7. Security and Privacy
Security and privacy are critical considerations in any governance plan for Microsoft Teams. Teams’ data can contain sensitive and confidential information, so it’s important to ensure that appropriate security and privacy controls are in place to protect this data.
Here are some tips for creating effective security and privacy controls for Microsoft Teams:
- Enable Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): Enable Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) for all Teams users (via their Microsoft 365 accounts) to provide an additional layer of security and reduce the risk of unauthorized access.
- Control External Access: Use sensitivity labels to control external access to Teams data and configure external sharing settings to ensure that only authorized external users can access sensitive information. (see next session)
- Monitor and Audit Access: Monitor and audit access to Teams data to identify potential security breaches or unauthorized access. Use security tools like Microsoft Defender to detect and prevent security threats.
By creating adequate security and privacy controls for Microsoft Teams, you can ensure that Teams data is protected against unauthorized access or breaches and that privacy is maintained in accordance with your organization’s policies and regulatory requirements.
8. External Access
External access controls are an important consideration in any governance plan for Microsoft Teams. These controls ensure that external users access Teams data appropriately while protecting sensitive information from unauthorized access.
Here are some tips for implementing external access controls in Microsoft Teams:
- Control external sharing: Use sensitivity labels to control the external sharing of Teams data and configure external sharing settings to ensure that only authorized external users can access sensitive information.
- Monitor external access: Monitor external access to Teams data to identify potential security breaches or unauthorized access.
- Provide training and support: Provide training and support to users to ensure that they understand external access policies and can use Teams in a way that complies with these policies.
- Consider guest access: Consider enabling guest access for external users who need to collaborate with internal users on specific projects or tasks. Configure guest access settings to ensure external users have appropriate access levels to Teams data.
By implementing adequate external access controls in Microsoft Teams, you can ensure that external users have appropriate access to Teams data while protecting sensitive information from unauthorized access.
9. Teams’ Templates
Teams templates are a valuable tool for standardizing the creation of Teams, channels, and other collaboration tools in Microsoft Teams. Using Teams templates, you can ensure that Teams is set up consistently and according to best practices and that time is saved in the creation process.
Here are some tips for creating effective collaboration templates in Microsoft Teams:
- Identify common use cases: Use cases for Teams and channels within your organization, such as project management, departmental collaboration, or cross-functional teams.
- Create templates for each use case: Create collaboration templates for each common use case, ensuring that they are tailored to the specific needs and goals of the use case.
- Include key elements: Include key elements in the collaboration templates, such as predefined channels, files, apps, and sensitivity labels.
- Make templates easily accessible: Make the collaboration templates easily accessible to users, such as by including them in a SharePoint site or Teams wiki.
- Update templates regularly: Update the collaboration templates regularly to reflect changes in your organization’s needs and goals and ensure they remain effective and useful.
By using collaboration templates in Microsoft Teams, you can standardize the creation of Teams and channels and ensure they are set up consistently and according to best practices.
10. Review and Update
Once you have created a governance plan for Microsoft Teams, reviewing and updating it regularly is important to ensure it remains effective and relevant. This involves monitoring Teams usage, identifying areas for improvement, and updating the governance plan accordingly.
Here are some tips for reviewing and updating your governance plan for Microsoft Teams:
- Monitor Teams usage: Monitor Teams usage regularly to identify areas where the governance plan may need to be updated or improved.
- Solicit feedback: Solicit feedback from Teams users to identify areas where the governance plan may be causing frustration or inefficiency.
- Update policies and procedures: Update policies and procedures as needed to reflect changes in your organization’s needs and goals and to ensure that the governance plan remains effective.
- Communicate changes: Communicate any changes to the governance plan to Teams users. Provide training and support to ensure they understand the changes and can comply with the updated policies and procedures.
By regularly reviewing and updating your governance plan for Microsoft Teams, you can ensure that it remains effective and relevant and that Teams promotes collaboration, efficiency, and compliance.
11. Planning for Training and Support
Effective training and support are essential to a successful Microsoft Teams governance plan. By providing training and support to users, you can ensure they can use Teams effectively and efficiently and comply with the governance plan.
Here are some tips for planning for training and support in Microsoft Teams:
- Define training objectives: Define clear training objectives for Teams users based on their roles and responsibilities. This might include training on creating and managing Teams, collaborating with others, and using Teams apps and features.
- Develop training materials: Develop training materials tailored to different user groups’ needs. This might include written guides, video tutorials, and interactive training sessions.
- Provide ongoing support: Provide ongoing support to Teams users to help them resolve any issues or questions. This might include a helpdesk or support team available to answer questions and assist.
- Measure training effectiveness: Measure the effectiveness of training programs to ensure they achieve their objectives. This might include gathering user feedback, monitoring usage metrics, and evaluating training outcomes.
- Communicate training and support: Communicate training and support programs to Teams users clearly and concisely. This might include emails, newsletters, and other communications highlighting the availability and benefits of training and support.
By planning for effective training and support in Microsoft Teams, you can ensure that users can use Teams effectively and efficiently and comply with the governance plan.
Need help with staff training?
Look at the Collab365 Academy if you need to help train staff on Microsoft Teams and the Power Platform. We can also offer custom training suited to your needs if required.
12. Identifying Necessary Integrations
Microsoft Teams offers many apps and integrations to help your organization streamline workflows and improve productivity. As part of your governance plan for Teams, it’s important to identify the necessary integrations to support your organization’s goals and objectives.
Here are some tips for identifying necessary integrations in Microsoft Teams:
- Identify business needs: Identify the business needs that can be addressed through integrations with Teams. This might include productivity tools, project management apps, or communication tools.
- Evaluate existing tools: Evaluate the existing tools that your organization is currently using, and identify any integrations with Teams that could improve their functionality or effectiveness.
- Research available integrations: Research the available integrations in the Teams app store, and evaluate their suitability based on your organization’s needs and requirements.
- Consider security and compliance: The security and compliance implications of integrating external apps and tools with Teams. Ensure that any integrations comply with your organization’s security and compliance policies.
- Prioritize integrations: Prioritize the most important integrations for your organization based on their potential impact on productivity and efficiency.
By identifying the necessary integrations for Microsoft Teams, you can ensure that your organization can take full advantage of the app’s capabilities and functionality and maximise productivity and efficiency.
13. Defining a Backup and Recovery Strategy
A backup and recovery strategy is an essential component of any governance plan for Microsoft Teams. It ensures that data is backed up regularly and can be recovered quickly and easily in the event of data loss or system failure.
Here are some tips for defining a backup and recovery strategy in Microsoft Teams:
- Identify critical data: Identify the critical data that needs to be backed up regularly, such as chat messages, files, and app data.
- Define backup schedules: Define backup schedules based on your organization’s needs and regulatory requirements. Backups should be performed regularly and should be automated to minimize the risk of human error.
- Choose backup tools: Choose backup tools that are compatible with Microsoft Teams and offer the features and functionality your organization needs. Microsoft 365 offers several backup and recovery tools that can be used to back up Teams data, including OneDrive for Business, SharePoint, and Microsoft Teams.
- Test backups regularly: Test backups regularly to ensure that they are working properly and that data can be recovered quickly and easily in the event of data loss or system failure.
- Establish recovery procedures: Establish clear recovery procedures that outline the steps that need to be taken for data loss or system failure. This might include restoring data from backups, contacting IT support, or implementing disaster recovery procedures.
By defining a backup and recovery strategy in Microsoft Teams, you can ensure that critical data is backed up regularly and that it can be recovered quickly and easily in the event of data loss or system failure.
14. Planning for Monitoring Teams Usage
Effective monitoring of Teams usage is an important component of any governance plan for Microsoft Teams. By monitoring Teams usage, you can identify areas where the governance plan may need to be updated or improved and ensure that Teams is being used in a way that complies with the plan.
Here are some tips for planning for monitoring Teams usage:
- Define monitoring objectives: Define clear monitoring objectives for Teams usage based on your organization’s goals and objectives. This might include monitoring usage metrics, identifying areas of high usage or low adoption, or identifying potential security breaches or compliance issues.
- Select monitoring tools: Select monitoring tools compatible with Microsoft Teams and offer the features and functionality your organization needs. Microsoft 365 offers several monitoring and reporting tools that can be used to monitor Teams usage, including Microsoft Teams Analytics and Microsoft 365 Usage Analytics.
- Identify key metrics: Identify the metrics you will use to monitor Teams usage, such as active users, number of Teams and channels, number of messages sent, and number of files shared.
- Set up alerts: Alerts to notify IT support or other relevant personnel when unusual or potentially problematic activity is detected, such as many failed login attempts or suspicious user behaviour.
- Feedback and support: Provide feedback and support to Teams users based on the monitoring results. This might include providing additional training or support to users who are not using Teams effectively or efficiently, or recognizing and rewarding users who use Teams effectively.
By planning for effective monitoring of Teams usage, you can ensure that Teams is being used in a way that complies with the governance plan and supports your organization’s goals and objectives.
A governance plan for Microsoft Teams is essential for ensuring that the app is used effectively and efficiently in your organization while maintaining compliance with regulatory requirements and protecting sensitive data.
In this guide, we have provided an overview of the key components of a governance plan for Microsoft Teams, including team structure, security and compliance policies, privacy and data handling procedures, and training and adoption programs.
By implementing a governance plan that addresses these components, you can ensure that Teams promotes collaboration, efficiency, and compliance and supports your organization’s goals and objectives.
Creating a robust governance plan for Microsoft Teams can be a challenging task. Without a clear plan, Teams can quickly become chaotic and difficult to manage, putting your organization at risk of data breaches, compliance issues, and other problems.
That’s why we recommend you grab our Teams Governance Training by Jasper Oosterveld, a Microsoft MVP and expert in Microsoft Teams governance and adoption. In this workshop, Jasper provides practical guidance and best practices for setting up a governance plan for Microsoft Teams, based on his extensive experience working with organizations of all sizes.
By watching this workshop, you’ll learn how to create a governance plan that promotes collaboration, efficiency, and compliance while also avoiding the pitfalls that can turn Teams into a mess. Whether you’re a Teams administrator, IT professional, or business owner, this workshop is an invaluable resource for anyone looking to take control of Microsoft Teams and maximize its benefits for their organization.