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A guide on how to migrate to better Teams governance
Mon, 4th Dec 2023

Microsoft Teams has revolutionised the way people work. The platform’s features allow for a lot of flexibility in how people collaborate and access resources. However, many organisations are discovering, after a few years of experience, that flexibility needs to be balanced with control.

An increasingly common concern among IT administrators is Teams sprawl, which sprawl manifests itself in different ways. Often, it can lead to security and compliance issues, while productivity can be impacted when users have trouble navigating the platform.

Sprawl can cost real money if teams, files, and channels grow without periodic pruning.

An organisation can use a planned migration to address issues in its Teams environment. When the organisation is already preparing for a change, it’s a good time to formalise policies that support improvements in Teams management.

Governance means establishing and communicating policies that help users understand their role in maintaining a healthy Teams environment.

Fortunately for users, my company has a tool that already migrates conversations, channel memberships, channels and users’ teams. 

Those items, coupled with document permissions, will ensure the work users have already done at their source tenant will remain intact and transition over seamlessly to the destination.

Many organisations have spun up Teams without formal governance policies. Others are studying how they are using Teams and addressing behaviours that would have been impossible to anticipate when it was first adopted. Common Teams governance policies include:

Naming and classification. Establishing standard naming and classification conventions makes teams easier to find and helps avoid duplicates. Naming can also be used to identify teams that are no longer relevant to active projects.

Creation. Just because tech can give all users the ability to create teams doesn’t mean they should. Often, it makes sense to limit who is able to create a team. This can vary by department, and it doesn’t have to be centralised in IT.

Lifespan. People can be very enthusiastic about creating teams, but usually, they neglect to delete them at the end of a project. A governance policy can require expiration dates for teams along with a periodic review to identify any that are inactive or irrelevant. The organisation can also specify which types of teams to archive in order to preserve their content.

Data retention. An organisation likely has retention policies to address compliance requirements and data security. These policies should also apply to Teams and SharePoint files.

Access control. If IT starts by defining Teams users by type, such as creator, owner, member and guest, they can then outline the process for managing team membership. They should also include protocols for adding and removing guests like vendors and partners and for determining who gets access to which features and files.

An organisation may be hesitant to spring a new governance scheme on staff if management thinks it might stir up confusion. That’s why a migration presents such a good opportunity. Management will likely discover things during pre-migration planning that will guide new policies, which will also help to communicate reasons for making the change.

For example, if people are complaining that they’re having a hard time finding information, let them know they’re being heard by instituting better naming and classification schemes. Here are some steps to consider as part of your migration planning:

Ask the experts. Start by learning from IT team members about the frustrations or concerns coming their way. They may be hearing about hard-to-locate files, out-of-control teams, hard-to-use resources, and under-used features.

A team may also have concerns about privacy, security and compliance. They probably also have a good idea of which departments are the team power users versus which are lagging. A good first draft of governance policies can come from the inside. But don’t stop there. And keep in mind the old adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Assess the environment. A migration should include an assessment of the environment so users can determine the type and volume of workloads that they will be moving. This gives the information needed to get the right number of licences, figure out the duration of the migration, and decide if it makes sense to archive items ahead of time.

All this is standard pre-migration work. But you, an organisation, can also use a pre-migration assessment to identify issues that can be addressed with better team governance.

Ask more experts. Choose a stakeholder from each department or business line who can give insights about how their colleagues use Teams. Ask what kind of challenges they’re having and what problems need solving. Use this group to vet different policy options so management can gauge how users will respond.

Once the new governance policy is launched, these representatives can provide clarity to their teams about how certain rules will work.

Communicate well and often. Once the new Teams governance policies are documented, make sure they get to every user, along with instructions about the migration itself.

This might involve working with HR or Marketing to target people through town halls, emails, messaging or team meetings. Most IT teams with migration experience know they have to send multiple communications, sometimes over different channels, so everyone is made aware.

Migrating Teams delivers a great opportunity to establish a new Teams environment that reflects the lessons learned in the old environment. A proactive approach to governance enhances security and compliance and helps control Teams sprawl.

But most of all it helps users to get the most out of Teams through added efficiency and greater productivity. To learn more or to get started on a migration project please contact my company, we’re happy to help.