Did you know that Microsoft Teams is one of the largest and fastest-growing products to be adopted into the hybrid-working-model family? It brings people, separated by distance and time, together – and facilitates effective collaboration and communication in a single interface. However, with this recent increase in Microsoft Teams usage for both small and large organizations, it’s also become evident that there is a lack of Teams Governance.
Do you need governance? What is it and what does it entail? What role does it play for both the organization and the employee? If you’re thinking along these lines, it’s a great start. Not many organizations are aware of the importance of a Teams Governance strategy. This is the foundation of the many challenges that arise, when there is no formal governance framework, processes, and practice in place. The result? You will not get the best out of what Teams have to offer.
What is Teams Governance?
Governance strategies are vital to delivering value that supports the consistency of an organization’s user access, without compromising security and or impacting compliance. Put simply, Teams Governance refers to the system of roles, rights, and accountability, for all information-related processes that exist within an organization’s Teams. When managed correctly, you will be able to maintain visibility over the information you engage with.
Another question you should be asking yourself is what happens when you poorly govern your Microsoft Teams?
Here are 5 challenges you should know about:
1 – Information Sprawl
One of the biggest governance issues has to do with the proliferation of information sprawl. Although you may be using Teams as a centralized sharing and communication hub, your data is still dispersed across a variety of distinct data repositories. This may include your ERP and CRM, network folders, email inboxes, and file-sharing applications.
This results in an employee having to search on various platforms, applications, and workspaces for information – affecting their ability to collaborate and communicate efficiently.
2 – Document Duplication
The world of work is moving at a fast pace. The responsibility of each department sometimes overlaps and working in silos can be an issue. You may find that, in the course of business, documents and channels are duplicated. When this occurs, control over information becomes difficult, your employees are not aligned, and the latest working version may not be where you expect to find it. Consequently, you will experience increasing inefficiencies, wasted time, and missed opportunities, all stemming from fragmented information.
3 – Broken Information Lifecycle
By nature, documents in Microsoft Teams are dynamic. An employee will create, co-author, publish and distribute documents to progress their lifecycle. Where input is needed, someone will be tagged in the document or mentioned on a Teams conversation.
The document lifecycle does not end here. Compliance regulations dictate that organizations manage the information lifecycle to disposition (when a document is destroyed). Depending on the type of information, the organization may be legally required to retain the document for recordkeeping for a period, and then destroy the document. The organization may also want to archive the document to reduce storage costs. Consider what happens when a project ends and whether the project workspace needs to be deleted. Which documents need to be archived? Which documents need to be kept for recordkeeping purposes? Which documents need to be moved to a central location for reuse? Which documents need to be deleted? Getting this right is very difficult without good Teams Governance practices in place.
4 – Compliance
Closely related to the information cycle is information compliance. Managing the lifecycle of your teams is especially important for complying with external regulations or internal company governance policies. Failure to comply with information privacy laws and regulations can create liability for organizations of all sizes. Recent media coverage of fines levied against large international organizations like Facebook and Google for contravention of these data privacy laws have caused reputational damage, alongside the hefty financial burden of the fines themselves. The same liability exists for all organizations that manage client, partner, vendor, and employee data.
5 – Data Leaks
Data security is something that should be a non-negotiable for all organizations – especially as open, remote, teams-based collaboration systems become embedded in our work culture. In this era where we partner with third parties and use Teams to facilitate rapid and effective collaboration, guest access to corporate workspaces is a reality that security professionals need to manage effectively. Teams Governance is critical here – effectively managing the team lifecycle, information lifecycles within the team, and access to both the team workspace and the documents within – provides the granular control needed to avoid liability for the organization.
Best Practices for Teams
- Know that Teams Governance is not a one-size-fits-all, you need to customize your strategy, applying targeted policies.
- Plan governance from inception, this will be easier for you and your team, giving you the opportunity to refine your framework over time. You can set up expiration policies and define your information barriers.
- Train your users effectively. Everyone needs to know what governance is, how they play a role, and what is needed to reach success. Part of mitigating risks, especially for Teams Governance, is informing people so they are responsible for making good decisions with company data.
- Bring in a partner that can help you with effective governance and map out a vision, blueprint, and roadmap, tailored for your organization. Without goals, a plan, and a map to guide the journey, it is very difficult for good governance to happen organically.
Increasing numbers of organizations are using Microsoft Teams to collaborate across the business – but with multiple internal and external teams, it can be difficult to keep track of who has access to what information, what data is available, and more – potentially leading to compliance issues. Having a systematic way to manage the lifecycle of your teams and information can help. You can simplify your information management and Teams Governance, eliminating challenges like information sprawl, document duplications, and the risk of data leaks, through effective planning (in collaboration with a trusted partner), training your employees and refining your framework over time.