Microsoft 365 governance

Mistakes in rolling out Microsoft Teams can be avoided – with proper Teams governance

With constantly changing settings, it's easy to get confused by your Teams governance. Discover the solutions to most common issues.

Because many organizations adopted Microsoft Teams quickly in response to the pandemic, many experienced similar issues with rapid adoption. One example is that there are hundreds of configuration settings in Microsoft Teams, which can get overwhelming.

For example, setting up External Access and Guest Access in Microsoft Teams are very different settings with very different uses, but they sound very similar and can be confusing.

Couple that with Microsoft constantly updating and changing settings as well as rolling out new features also complicates things. Don’t get me wrong, I love the rapidity of new stuff coming out quickly, but it can also play havoc with your Teams governance and management.

What are some of the problems then with rolling out Microsoft Teams? I’ve divided them into four basic groups.

Microsoft Teams features and functions

Most people think of Microsoft Teams as a replacement for Skype for Business and thus focus on the IM/Chat and Meetings that Microsoft Teams provides, but this is just a very small aspect of the functionality of Microsoft Teams. It ignores the entire concept of a Teams Workspace that we can create to message in channels and collaborate on files as one simple example. It also ignores that Microsoft Teams can entirely surface applications from M365 or other systems.

New applications are enabled by default, and your users can pick and choose what they want to install and use. Staying on top of new features and functionality is important but very challenging for organizations.

Microsoft Teams guests and external users

As I mentioned earlier, external users can access teams in multiple ways.

External Users are contacted via chats and are people who are outside of your organization. They can even be using commercial Skype as opposed to Microsoft Teams. We can limit these connections, but by default, they are open.

Guests are users that are invited into specific Teams Workspaces. They have limited abilities in that workspace but can chat, edit files, and interact with apps in the workspace.

Relatively new are Shared Channels, which allow users to create a channel that can be shared externally but doesn’t require a user to log into your environment. These guest features make use of Azure guest accounts in Azure AD, and those accounts, once created, are not automatically removed when they are no longer required.

Management and control of these users and the locations that they can access is a pitfall for organizations.

Microsoft Teams hierarchy

Most organizations, when they launch Microsoft Teams, either allow for end users to create Teams Workspaces or they lock that down, and IT created all of the workspaces.

In either case, most organizations create Teams Workspaces based on existing departments and groups in the organization.

This makes sense to people because that was often how SharePoint and file shares were organized. They create a department share, and then members of that department use that location to collaborate with other members of their department.

The issue here is that this type of organization, while it aligns with the organizational structure, doesn’t align with how people work. Microsoft Teams is about tightly coupling communications and collaboration around specific tasks, and often, that isn’t aligned with department boundaries.

The solution is to look at processes as the basic organizational unit for Teams Workspaces.

For example, think of new employee onboarding. This involved the new employee, their manager, Accounting, Human Resources, IT, Facilities, and perhaps other people across the organization. Instead of a team for HR, Accounting, IT, etc., that might have a channel for onboarding and rely on email or voice communications to align work, there was a single Teams Workspace for the new employee where they can find all of their Day One Paperwork, they can chat with HR and Accounting, and any applications they need access to like timesheets can be surfaced as well.

Microsoft 365 and Teams governance

The control of your environment over the long term is the last area that we need to address.

We can run a clean-up of our environment and get it configured exactly as we want it, but as soon as we are done, we will start to diverge from our designed configuration.

New sites will need to be created.
New features and functions will be deployed.
Our business needs will change with the rapidly changing environment.

This means that we need to ensure that we have an ongoing effort to maintain governance for our tenants. A good governance plan will facilitate regular review of our environment for new features as well as new business requirements. It should also include how we plan to communicate changes to our end users and how we will make training available to them as well.

We also have a plethora of questions that we are going to have to think about and decide if we want to change the default configuration around. Some of these are:

  • Can end users create new workspaces?
  • How are we going to provision workspaces?
  • Who will manage the permissions of workspaces?
  • How will workspaces be archived/deleted?
  • What workspace templates will be created?
  • What apps will we allow to be used?

As mentioned before, empowering non-tech-savvy users to take ownership and control over their resources doesn’t happen overnight. They need to know the subject and have the right tools to execute these tasks easily and properly.


So, the question for most organizations is how do we get a handle on our Microsoft Teams implementation and avoid some of the common mistakes that have plagued organizations?

It is a process, not a project, so be prepared for the long haul.

If you don’t have an inventory of your Teams and SharePoint sites, you will need one, and keeping it up to date is critical as well. You need to define your governance requirements and map the settings to those requirements. Documenting this mapping and understanding that it will need to be updated over time is important. Yep, that means that not only will you need to shudder and write some documentation, but you will also have to double shudder and keep it up to date.

Lastly, I strongly encourage you to align your Teams workspaces with your business goals, which implies that you will be creating Teams Workspaces based on processes instead of your organization chart. When you add it all up, avoiding those mistakes is a lot of work, but it is worth it overall. Good luck!

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