Modern work Microsoft 365 governance

A 5-step journey to Microsoft governance rollout in 2024

In our day-to-day work with companies of various sizes and industries, business leaders and IT professionals are sharing with us that there's a growing need for simplifying governance and improving their security posture.

We’ve seen all the good, the bad, and the ugly. In most cases, these requests primarily arise from IT teams responsible for data security, IT management, and compliance. We encounter two main scenarios: the security-first approach and the collaboration-first approach.

If the preferred approach is security, collaboration flexibility required by employees and business leaders falls victim to strict governance policies and cybersecurity measures. If business demands collaboration flexibility, organizations surrender a proper overview of their workspaces and data, creating vulnerabilities and misalignments in the tenant that can have disastrous repercussions.

In this article, I will cover the journey organizations need to take to roll out governance and share the best practices that work successfully. I’ll start with the advantages of establishing an empowering IT team and the advantages we see versus an operational IT team. And we’ll talk about how a cross-functional governance team drives positive business outcomes. You can skip to that part immediately by using the table of contents on the left.

Let’s deep dive into the key driver that led to one of the biggest IT challenges today.

What led to the Microsoft governance Kobayashi Maru scenario

When organizations must choose between security or collaboration, they’re in a Kobayashi Maru position. In Star Trek, the Kobayashi Maru is a training exercise presented to cadets to test their character in a no-win situation.

One of the biggest drivers that led companies in this unenvious situation has been a rapid and forced digital transformation. When the pandemic hit, many organizations migrated to the cloud. In the haste of digital transformation, enabling business continuity, collaboration in hybrid conditions, and survival in the volatile market were primary focuses. During that time, Microsoft governance fell into the background, and now companies are faced with another set of business-critical projects, i.e., creating and implementing long-term governance

Syskit researched digital transformation’s effects on IT admins and their attitudes toward governance. The research shows that 70% of IT professionals felt burnout symptoms, making it evident that lowering the IT team’s workload might actually seem like a good idea. 

That’s just one of the reasons that at Syskit, we believe in a third approach – Delegated Management, a paradigm that doesn’t limit collaboration capabilities while ensuring workspace security.

Is it possible to reconcile collaboration and security?

I’ll be frank: there is no silver bullet to a successful governance rollout, but the good news is that it is possible to find a middle ground in enabling users to collaborate flexibly and adopt fantastic products and features Microsoft developed to increase productivity. And do all that in a secure manner. In the following text, you’ll find governance rollout best practices and the guide that will direct you on your journey to becoming an empowered IT team.

Governance rollout journey

1. Self-assessment – are you an operational or an empowering IT team?

As I mentioned, IT teams typically are the primary drivers of creating and implementing an IT governance strategy. If we take a step back and analyze today’s IT teams, we usually see two types: the operational and the empowering IT teams.

Operational IT teams traditionally have a tight grasp over Microsoft 365 governance and administration. They focus on maintaining control, ensuring security, and handling day-to-day tasks such as support tickets, reporting, and hands-on M365 management. These teams often find themselves overwhelmed by the complex and ever-changing nature of Microsoft technologies, needing help to keep up with constant updates and innovations. This reactive approach to governance puts organizations at risk of security breaches, compliance issues, poor employee experience, and a backlog of support tickets.

On the other hand, empowering IT teams assume a proactive and collaborative approach to governance within their organizations. They prioritize defining processes, automating governance tasks, and enabling end users to participate in workspace management actively. These teams understand the importance of bridging the gap between IT and other business stakeholders, focusing on creating a seamless digital experience for employees while ensuring compliance and security. By embracing a proactive mindset and empowering end users, these teams drive innovation, enhance productivity, and improve overall organizational efficiency.

If you’ve made it this far, the chances are your journey to an empowered IT team has already begun – Kudos to you and everyone on your team!

Although establishing an empowering IT team may sound like an “easier said than done” task, with the right tools, it doesn’t have to be such an unnerving task. If you ensure your IT team remains in control, has visibility in their environment, if they can create reports in a matter of minutes instead of hours and days, if they can slowly and gradually start involving owners and can delegate manual tasks to content owners, they will slowly but surely free up the time to approach the security and governance holistically and proactively. This type of team will become an evangelist team for cross-functional governance and Microsoft adoption. If you have any doubts about whether IT admins would react negatively to these changes, you’re in for a surprise. Our research confirmed that IT admins want to include end users in governance and move to a more efficient M365 management.

Also, by doing this, you will bring down the false dichotomy that companies must choose between collaboration and security.

2. Ensure M365 visibility

Before you start, you must ensure complete visibility over your resources. You can’t govern what you can’t see, and you can’t predict what will happen when enforcing governance if you don’t have the correct information available. You risk blocking business-critical operations or creating loopholes in the system by not covering everything that needs to be covered.

You can do this by using built-in Microsoft tools (admin centers) in combination with writing PowerShell scripts that will help you automate specific system administration tasks. However, this process is extremely time-consuming, error-prone, and needs to be constantly improved. Another option is using our platform. Syskit Point can be deployed in a matter of minutes, even in massive tenants that have hundreds of thousands of end users. It ensures complete visibility of your tenant, along with management and governance features.

It’s easier to implement a governance strategy if you include it in your migration process. But what if you deployed Microsoft 365 a long time ago? The following features will support your governance strategy from the beginning to the end of the lifecycle:

Later in your governance rollout journey, you’ll see how having complete visibility doesn’t only help IT admins in their overview but also workspace owners.

With native Microsoft tools, workspace owners don’t have a centralized overview of their workspaces, permissions, and external collaboration landscape. Also, there is often a serious level of resistance when owners are presented with robust and not-so-user-friendly dashboards. We strived to simplify the dashboard as much as possible. With Syskit Point, owners can quickly see ownership of workspaces, users, and external collaboration specifics.

3. Include end-users and find champions

Include people from different teams to get the full picture of how they use their workspaces, how they collaborate, and with whom. Define what your business is trying to achieve. Collect data from various sources to create a governance strategy based on quantitative and qualitative data.

You can collect three basic types of data:

  • Attitudinal data – Conduct user interviews to understand attitudes about using various M365 workspaces. Are they frustrated with the onboarding of new team members? Do they have ease of access to all workspaces needed to do everyday work?
  • Behavioral data – Collect data by observing real-life situations. How are your users dealing with everyday tasks in a real-life setting? Are they creating duplicate content, and why? How are they sharing?
  • Data from Syskit Point – Use Syskit Point to help you identify champions (end users that can help you in this journey), as well as to help you pinpoint the use cases you should start with. Using our security and compliance dashboard, you can easily see where your organization is misaligned with the industry’s best practices and quickly mitigate those vulnerabilities but also decide where to focus your efforts and why.

Identifying champions within the organization who understand the value of end-user empowerment can significantly contribute to the rollout’s success. These champions act as advocates, helping distribute the workload and building trust among the end-user community.

Encourage champions to share success stories and best practices that inspire others to embrace the new approach. Be simple when communicating, and use real-life scenarios from your business setting.

4. Communicate transparently and educate

The success of every company is based on trust. Don’t transform your employees into insider threats. If your employees have trouble collaborating, be sure they will find potentially dangerous ways outside your environment to do so, resulting in shadow IT. Before you roll out your governance strategy, prepare materials for end-users to familiarize themselves with new processes. Put everything in context. How will a particular policy contribute to simplifying their work or help the company achieve security?

If you are constantly educating your users on how to use Microsoft 365 properly, you’ll:

  •  Increase security,
  •  Increase productivity,
  •  Increase the satisfaction with the tools they’re using,
  •  Increase adoption (and ultimately ROI),
  • Increase digital employee experience overall.

5. Start small

One of the biggest governance myths is that governance needs to be extensive, a monster of a never-ending document that nobody will ever read, let alone implement.

Steps on how to start small:

  • Begin the rollout in a controlled environment or with a specific group of business users. – Set achievable goals and milestones to track progress and measure success.
  • Gather feedback and insights from the initial rollout to refine the approach before gradually scaling up, eventually to the entire organization.
  • Celebrate early successes and communicate the positive outcomes to generate enthusiasm and support for further expansion.

This approach ensures a smooth transition, promotes collaboration between IT teams and business users, and maximizes the benefits of Syskit Point in optimizing workspace management.

Rollout Microsoft governance at scale – Automate and delegate

By this time, users in your organizations have seen the positive impact of collaborative governance, they have seen it’s not such a big deal to manage their workspace with easy-to-use tools, and they understand why governance needs to be a cross-functional effort – GREAT! You’ve proven the value and got the buy-in to focus your efforts on taking a more proactive and collaborative approach to governance. Congrats, you’re one step closer to being a truly empowered IT team!

And remember, Syskit Point is here to help you on your journey to fully automate and delegate workspace management to workspace owners – from workspace creation to its end of life!

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