In hindsight, Microsoft’s launch of its Teams product in 2017 could not have come at a better time for the company. Intended as a successor to the Skype for Business product and a direct competitor to Slack, Teams had a couple of years to mature before the era of COVID-19.

The response to the pandemic caused many organizations to ask their office staff to work from home. This trend caused a spike in demand for online collaboration and communication tools, and by early 2020 Teams had a sufficiently compelling feature set to capitalize on it.

That rising tide lifted all boats, and competitors such as Slack and Zoom took off as well. But Teams had some things going for it that those alternatives didn’t; the most important was its native integration with the ubiquitous Microsoft Office product suite as well as the cloud-based Microsoft 365 ecosystem. As a result, Teams now has more than 270 million users (up from 20 million in 2019) across over 1 million organizations.

That phenomenal growth–in the capabilities and complexity of the product, as well as its user base–has not been without issues for subscriber organizations, such as:

  • Sprawl: Many organizations’ Teams environments have hundreds or even thousands of team spaces and thousands of internal and external user accounts; many of these spaces and accounts are inactive.
  • Cost control: Complex licensing for variousTeams components means that many companies are overspending on their Teams environments.
  • Security concerns: The ease with which users can share files and other content both inside and outside the organization is just one of the Teams features that raises security risks if not properly controlled. 

What started in 2017 as a semi-cool Slack alternative is now an essential tool for millions of users around the world.The growth of these and other issues means that all organizations using Teams must exercise better governance of the Teams environment.

All About Governance

What do we mean by “governance”?

At a high level, IT governance is the set of policies and procedures that an organization uses to optimize the efficient use of IT resources and help the organization achieve its goals. At CoreView, we expand a bit on this idea with our four pillars of governance:

  • Reporting/attestation: Identifying the systems and data in need of governance.
  • Policy enforcement: Employing manual or automated protocols to ensure the systems and data maintain their compliance with governance policies.
  • Risk assessment: Using historical trends to prioritize new events and maintaining an accountability record.
  • Communication: Keeping the workforce and organizational leadership educated and informed regarding governance best practices.

Why Microsoft Teams Needs Better Governance

Microsoft Teams has a special need for better governance. As organizations have come to rely on Teams as their primary communication and collaboration tool, many would find it difficult to function if it were not available or its functionality was limited. Protecting its integrity and reliability is now of paramount importance for many organizations.

Even small implementations of Microsoft Teams can have extraordinary complexity. Teams combines many Microsoft 365 elements into a single ecosystem, including Active Directory groups, Exchange mailboxes,SharePoint sites, and OneDrive folders, along with audio, video, and text communication tools, with nifty features such as virtual whiteboard, automatic audio transcription, and more.

These components all have their own unique security risks, and their interdependencies make governance a difficult task at best.

Top Governance Tips for Teams

At CoreView, we have five basic tips for improving Teams governance:

  • Take Inventory: Understand your Teams and Microsoft 365 landscape. What components do you have, and what business processes do they serve?
  • Harden security: Use the Sensitivity Labels feature to identify content that should not be shared outside the organization, make sure each team space has primary and secondary owners, and apply other security best practices.
  • Ensure continuous compliance: Use attestation policies to ensure each team site has a real human owner and an actual business need. Enforce a team space lifecycle policy to control sprawl.
  • Perform audits: Track the activities of external and guest users. Have the status of any given team space available at a moment’s notice. Perform audits on a continual basis–not just once per year or in response to a security issue.
  • Have fun! Find ways to make Teams governance fun and exciting. Leverage automated tools to reduce the burden.

How CoreView Can Help

As the leading provider of Microsoft 365management tools, CoreView can simplify your Teams governance tasks and make them easy and fun. CoreView’s powerful suite of tools automates much of the work, enabling you to analyze, administer, optimize, secure, and audit yourMicrosoft 365 environment with intuitive, graphical reports and dashboards that give you a real-time, holistic view of your environment. 

CoreView’s security tools, in particular, help identify security risks before they become issues or breaches. CoreView has the flexibility to automate the enforcement of your governance policies.Understanding and managing your Teams environment has never been easier.

For more information about how CoreView can enhance your Microsoft Teams governance, and to schedule a demo, contact a CoreView consultant today.

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