To make your (and everyone else's) life easier
Microsoft Teams is everywhere. Many of us are members of so many Teams it can feel overwhelming and dare I say it, messy. It is a fantastic tool for collaboration, project and document management and meetings, but without some rules in place, its likely to get out of control.
Here are some tips to not only save your sanity but help protect your company’s assets.
1. Audit the list of existing teams
Ask your Teams admin for the list of current Teams, their owners and the date of last activity. Tons of Teams were created just to see what they were and then they were abandoned. Duplicate Teams were unknowingly created. Teams that could have been Channels were created. You get the point. Contact the owners and see what can be deleted, archived or combined.
The risk of not cleaning up is two-fold; from a user adoption perspective, unnecessary spaces can cause confusion over where files and conversations should really be stored causing reluctant users to get frustrated and leave. From a data management perspective, extraneous spaces can cause duplicate and/or hard to locate files. We don’t ever have to look far to find stories of incorrect versions of deliverables being shared and complete rework when a file can’t be quickly located.
2. Use a workspace request form
Now that (hopefully) your Teams inventory has been whittled down to necessary spaces, create a request form (you could use Forms in Office 365 for this). The form should ask for business justification as well as an inventory of any other spaces the requestor already owns. This will allow the reviewer/approver to see if a new Channel in an existing Team will suffice or uncover an already existing Team. It’s also the perfect time to check if a stand-alone SharePoint Site already exists for this team, and if so, should this Team be an additional workspace or is a migration in order?
3. Carefully consider how much guest access is required
Since it’s still just SharePoint handling the document management piece of Teams, consider whether your external guests just need access to files or if they really need to be a full-fledged member of your Team. If it’s mostly for file sharing, consider creating a new Library on the associated SharePoint site, adjusting just those permissions and then pinning the Library in the Team. This makes it seamless for your members to access the Library and guests won’t have access to any other Teams data.
4. Make the most of that wiki on the general channel
That wiki tab comes standard on every Channel. Due to its content still not being indexed and searchable, I only use it on the General Channel. It states a few things for our Team:
5. Use OneNote (better)
OneNote gets used often in Teams, but rarely in a manner that takes full advantage of its capabilities. Like Teams can run amok, OneNote tends to get messy quickly if not intentionally planned.
As part of your Teams wiki, consider making it required that all members take meeting notes directly into the shared OneNote (or copied in ASAP). While we have the best of intentions, the act of running from meeting to meeting can lead to delays in sharing and lost pieces of paper. The built-in ‘Meeting Notes’ feature in Teams leaves a lot to be desired, as it’s just a Wiki that we can’t search or easily port to a new space.
I also include emails as part of the OneNote; to be clear, these are for communications that need to be stored for future reference, not ones that still require collaboration and reply. I see a lot of emails being sent to a Channel for safe keeping. Depending upon the retention policies of your organization, this could lead to deleted posts when the Team is deleted. It’s also not portable, so if a Teams restructure is needed, emails sent to OneNote can be packed up and moved rather than recreated or left behind.
6. Limit tab & channel creation
As an Owner in Teams, you can lock down Tab and Channel creation to Owners only. If you’ve taken the time to carefully consider what Channels and Tabs should exist to help your team be productive, it’s worth considering not letting well-intentioned users create sprawl.
7. Lock down private channels
I know I’m not the only one caught by surprise when discovering that a Private Channel spins up yet another SharePoint site that is in no way linked to the SharePoint site that came with the original Team. Or that every member can spin up to 30 Private Channels per Team. Talk about sprawl and confusion. This is in no way to imply that Private Channels will never be needed; if a subset of an existing Team needs a private space to chat and collaborate and it’s either a Private Channel or a whole new Team, by all means get them a Private Channel.
Private Channels should go through the same request process as a new Team. The toggle should be switched to ‘off’ until a request is made and approved.
8. Lock down third party cloud storage providers
Unless your organization is approved to use Dropbox, Google Drive, Box or Citrix to store company assets, ask your admin to lock down these options. Visible to every member in every Team is the link to add more cloud storage. If these options are available, it increases the risk that unapproved and unmonitored platforms can be holding sensitive company information.
That’s it for now. I hope you’ll check out our webinars, live or on-demand, where we discuss governance, Office 365 and end user adoption.
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