Six tips for governing Microsoft Teams

Governance. Not something I’d usually be inclined to call a hot topic but here we are. It seems in 2020 anything really is possible. Six months into the pandemic, it’s quite amazing to pause and look back at everything that’s happened so far. Organisations of all sizes have moved at breakneck speed to achieve the transformation that would normally take years.

But it’s important not to lose sight of the fact that there’s still a lot of work to do. One task that’s on this list for many is establishing or refining a governance model that helps organisations continue to safely adapt to ever-changing circumstances.

After hearing stories from people across industries, Stephen Monk (CEO of Engage Squared) and I decided to host a webinar about why governance is important, the trends we’re seeing, and how to implement a sustainable governance model.    

We covered a lot of ground over the hour. In all honesty, we could probably write a book about the topic. To help you get started, here are six key takeaways from our session:

1. Teams governance isn’t just about IT

Good governance needs to support three core components, strategic objectives, people management and IT management. Each component is important, and all three must work in unison to drive value and ROI. Contrary to popular belief, governance should help businesses be more flexible (not less), especially during times of disruption. It should help organisations to keep moving forward.

Whatever you do, make sure you consult with key people from across your business, so that your decisions and actions are informed by how people work and your future direction.

2. There’s no one-size-fits-all

Some businesses have too much governance (which morphs into bureaucracy), others not enough. There’s no one-size-fits-all, not even one best-practice approach. The governance that’s appropriate for you will vary depending on the needs, culture, regulation environment and objectives of your organisation.

3. Governance of Teams doesn’t happen in a vacuum

Teams is not an app by itself – the infrastructure that sits behind it is critically important when thinking about compliance and governance. You can’t just manage it in the Teams client environment or even the Teams Admin Centre. You need to think about how O365 fits as a part of that and the various aspects that sit as part of O365. You need to think about the whole platform.

That means you need to care about M365 and Azure AD, MFA, licensing, group settings, identity, and access management. On top of this, you need to think carefully about the controls you place within the Teams client, for example, managing messaging (like who can @mention a channel or Team), guest access to meetings, integration of third-party apps, and calling.

4. Not everything needs to be locked down

Some things can be sorted by engaging with the business, by crafting the right communications, and embedding the right messages (or behaviours that staff need to adopt) into training and education.

Good governance should feel like bowling with guard rails up. The guard rails are there to protect me from falling into the ditch, but ultimately, it’s my actions that help me get a strike.

So, think about governance as having two equally important parts. First, putting in place the right configuration settings to keep us safe (the guard rails). Second, giving people (our metaphorical bowling balls) the right knowledge to adopt behaviours that help achieve real outcomes (in bowling terms, a strike!).

5. Governance of Teams should include Evergreen management


Earlier this year, we worked with one of our clients to quantify the number of scheduled updates likely to roll out across their entire Microsoft ecosystem (O365, Windows 10, Pro Plus etc.) in 2020.

We estimate there will be somewhere north of 350 changes of Microsoft 365 in 2020. Across their entire digital workplace portfolio (other SaaS products they’ve invested in) we found more than 600 product updates. The number of changes will only continue to grow.

In the last few months, we’ve seen new announcements and new updates scheduled for Teams and other applications within O365. While many of these updates are low risk/welcomed additions, they still need to be reviewed internally by your organisation to make sure the appropriate steps can be taken to successfully implement and communicate about the change.

So, make sure to consider your ‘governance rhythm’. That means being proactive about how often you, or others, meet to check in about what’s coming on the M365 roadmap, and how you’re going to continuously work with the business to keep getting value out of your investment in the Microsoft stack.

6. Most importantly, good governance shouldn’t get in the way of people doing their job


Microsoft 365 is a shared service. Back in March, Microsoft announced that Teams alone has 71 million daily active users (a number that’s likely grown since then). As each day passes, there are new learnings and new improvements made to the platform based off the feedback and behaviours of more than 71 million people!

It goes without saying that Microsoft have thought a lot about the controls that are built in. There are plenty of basic to advanced governance, security, and compliance options in Teams. But just because they’re there, doesn’t mean you should use all of them.

Whatever you decide to turn on, it needs to make sense for your people. It needs to help amplify the great work they’re doing while protecting the interests of the business.

If it doesn’t, you risk staff feeling frustrated and turning to easier solutions (cue shadow IT) to get their work done.

Where to from here?

This list is just the beginning. There’s plenty more that can be shared to help you establish the right model. If you, like many, are looking for more detailed guidance, I recommend listening to the full webinar, which you can access on-demand here.

Or get in touch engage@engagesq.com

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