Microsoft 365 governance

3 ways to find inactive Microsoft Teams

Check out this post to find the best method to detect inactive Microsoft Teams and avoid clutter.

Microsoft Teams have become more and more popular these days with a growing number of teams used in companies around the world. With their growing popularity, it is even harder to deal with Teams governance. In this post we’ll focus on one part of it – how to detect inactive Microsoft Teams.

How to find inactive Microsoft Teams

We are going to showcase three methods of identifying inactive teams – so you can choose the one that best suits your environment and governance policies.

1. Microsoft Teams Usage report in Office 365

1. Navigate to the Microsoft Teams admin center.
2. Click Analytics & reports, then select Usage reports.
3. Navigate to the View reports tab, click the Reports drop-down menu, and select Teams usage.

Teams usage report navigate

4. In the Date range drop-down menu, select the Last 7 days or Last 28 days.
5. Click on the Run report button.

Teams usage report date

The chart shows a summary of usage in the selected period. You can see:

  • The number of total active users
  • The number of active users in Teams and channels
  • Active channels
  • Messages
Teams usage report graph

Although useful in some cases, the Teams usage report is not flexible enough to comply with the governance regimes of different organizations. Some companies have to retain legal or HR content indefinitely or for an extended period, which can go as far as 180 days. So, viewing usage for the past 7 or 28 days is limiting and doesn’t fit the extended retention policies of those companies.

Similarly, there’s a problem with the data retention of event-based teams. It could be that a project in your organization has been put on hold for a month or two, with plans to continue later. The Microsoft Teams usage report doesn’t necessarily show a true state of which teams are obsolete.

The other blind spot of the Teams usage report is that it only shows data for active teams and channels. As you can see in the example below, it shows the data for five active teams.

Teams usage active teams

The report doesn’t include inactive teams. Therefore, you will need to compare a list of all teams (see the image below) with active teams to conclude which of them haven’t been active in a selected period.

all teams report

Now, imagine that instead of the 17 teams and five active teams you need to compare thousands of teams in your global corporation. It would take you a serious amount of time to do all that work.

2. PowerShell Scripting

PowerShell can be a highly effective reporting method if you have skilled developers and a tightly set governance plan that’s well integrated with your IT department.

On the downside, PowerShell scripting leaves a lot of burden on IT. It requires time, engagement, and skills – from scripting and interpreting the report, to deciding which teams should be archived. The workload on the IT department slows down the cleanup process. Consequently, it makes the Teams user adoption slower than your organization’s growth.

Either way, here’s our PowerShell script that will help you find inactive teams.

3. Inactive Content report in Syskit Point

Syskit Point’s Inactive Content report shows all your inactive teams in one place. The central report is very convenient for several reasons. As opposed to the Teams usage report, you have your numbers right away – you don’t need to manually compare active teams with their total number. Second, you don’t have to wait for the IT guys to deliver you the intel they scraped with PowerShell scripts.

Export teams report

Point calculates Microsoft Teams inactivity based on three factors: messaging activity in a team chat, file activity in a team-related SharePoint site, and Outlook conversations. That being said, Point doesn’t mark a team inactive if it has at least one of those three activities. That way, the possibility of wrongly labeling a team inactive is minimal.

If you own at least one team, you can see your inactive teams in this report and take responsibility for their governance. You don’t need admin rights. That way, the process of Microsoft Teams cleanup is much faster and entirely in your hands.

You can select a custom time frame, after which Point marks a team as inactive. This way, you are more flexible and compliant with your extended retention policy.

export team reports

Another big plus is that you can customize the report by selecting the data you want to check. When you’re satisfied with the report, you can export it to a PDF or Excel file. Take it for a ride and try it for 21 days for free.

Inactive Microsoft Teams – the less the merrier

Now that we’ve dealt with the technical part, let us give you a few grains of wisdom about the importance of it. Below, we listed a couple of reasons why separating your inactive Microsoft Teams from those you use regularly is good for the health of your tenant.

1. Security and Compliance with governance policies

Any inactive resource – such as a team, is a blind spot where an unwanted file share or edit can slip in, becoming a risk to the security of your tenant. A governance plan is a regulations bible. It is a set of rules that every user should follow to keep important content secure. Therefore, setting up a Microsoft Teams retention and archiving policy should be a crucial part of any governance plan.

2. Higher productivity and better collaboration

Eventually, any organization is bound to end up with a stack of teams that have served their purpose. It’s just the course of life for some teams, like project or event-related teams. Without proper cleanup, your users will end up with a clutter of teams complicating their everyday collaboration.

3. Stronger user adoption

Having a tidy workspace is the first reason for using it. Just think about your work desk – if it’s full of papers and tidbits lying around, you won’t be able to use it, and your work will suffer. The same rule applies to Microsoft Teams. If you’re a member of a lot of teams, some of which you never used or didn’t use in a long time, it’s harder to filter out the relevant activities. You will end up missing important messages and eventually abandoning the tool and using an alternative.

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