Microsoft Teams is making our work much easier, enabling us to be more productive, collaborate efficiently and always stay up to date with our teams. Especially these days when it’s harder to stay connected while working remotely, Teams is an absolute must-have. At the same time, working with any digital collaboration tool comes with its challenges. You want to make sure you configure Microsoft Teams in a way that will support your business needs while ensuring security and end-user buy-in.
In this article we will share with you some of the most frequent Microsoft Teams challenges and possible solutions.
1. Teams sprawl
By default, any user in the organization can create teams. Therefore, when there’s no supervision and governance in place regarding teams creation, you may end up having hundreds and even thousands of teams. When these teams don’t serve collaboration purposes and simply cluster your storage space, it turns into teams sprawl. Good examples of such can be ‘Test’ teams, ’Team’ teams, too many teams on the same topic, teams with few users and those with only General channel.
There are a few strategies to minimize teams sprawl:
Communicate on the use of Teams
Oftentimes the main reason for teams sprawl is adopting Microsoft Teams in a rush. The team in charge of adoption doesn’t communicate properly on the use of Teams, doesn’t share best practices or provides training, leaving users in figure-it-out-by-yourself mode.
To combat teams sprawl it’s essential to communicate to the entire staff the difference between teams and channels, channel conversations versus chat messages, and common use cases. This will ensure they understand well how to use Microsoft Teams and minimize teams sprawl.
Prepare an Adoption Strategy
If you’re planning to deploy Teams and are looking for ways to establish the right governance beforehand, the best solution will be to prepare an Adoption Strategy. It consist of formulating your vision and acquiring support of executives, establishing governance, preparing use cases, determining KPIs, organizing communication and training plans and recruiting Champions.
Use SalesTim templates
They key to minimizing teams sprawl is by setting up governance policies that will control teams creation policies while answering the needs of end-users. This can be achieved with Collaboration templates by SalesTim. Their various governance capabilities ensure your teams are pre-defined and well-structured.
Naming convention capability will allow to better organize future teams, making them easier to navigate.
Approval workflow enables you to choose a person or a group of people who would approve or deny requests for teams creation
Audience targeting makes sure only certain groups of people in the organization can see and access templates
Permanent ownership and membership allows to monitor teams and private channels activities.
Learn more about teams sprawl.
2. Guest access
One of the greatest features of digital collaboration tools such as Microsoft Teams is the ability to invite guest users to teams. You can work with them together on documents, organize meetings, share information, and make important decisions together.
At the same time, granting someone access to your company’s internal documentation can be tricky. The challenge here is to make sure you can still collaborate with your prospects, clients and partners in Microsoft Teams without risking sharing too much.
To avoid potential exposure of sensitive information you can configure guest access settings in the Microsoft Teams admin center. We do not recommend disabling this capability completely if your business and operations require collaborating with external users. However, you can grant them with minimum privileges, just enough to work on matters of mutual interest.
For example, if you’re concerned about accidental leaks of information during video meetings, you may choose to disable the screen sharing capability.
During the team creation process, you can set up a sensitivity label for the team. That way, if you know that this team would contain highly sensitive information, you can set up the sensitivity label as ‘confidential’. This will mean that members of the team won’t be able to invite guest users. The team will only be available to people inside the organization.
3. Integrating Microsoft Teams with other cloud storage services
Every time you create a team, a SharePoint Online site is created as well, along with some other services. When your team members share documents in a channel or upload them to the Files tab, these files automatically appear in your Document library in a SharePoint site.
If in your workplace employees use other cloud services, such as Google Drive, Dropbox, ShareFile, etc. there’s a way to integrate them with Microsoft Teams. This way, all your documentation will be stored in one location or structurally organized in several clouds.
Add cloud storage
In the Microsoft Teams admin center, under Org-wide settings go to Files and choose which file sharing and cloud file storage options will be available for your users.
Then, go to a Teams channel, click on Files tab and Add cloud storage. Then select which cloud storage you’d like to use. You will be redirected to the login page of the app you chose.
You can also add a directory to a specific team or channel in Microsoft Teams. The cloud service will be shown as a folder in the Files tab.
4. Files management
With all the information uploaded and shared in private chats and Microsoft Teams channels it can be quite a challenge to manage files properly. If your users upload a document directly in a chat, the file appear in the Files tab in General channel instead of a proper folder. Meanwhile, if you upload a file in a channel conversation, it will go to Files in that channel. Of course, you can then manually move files to the right location, but it’s an unnecessary step. Moreover, if you do it too late, you may end up with hundreds of files dispersed in your Document library.
Upload files to folders
Create all the required folders in Files tab of respective channels and upload files there directly. Then, you can copy the link to the file you’d like to share, and then paste it in a private chat or channel conversation. This will keep your Document library organized and avoid file loss or duplication.
Folders can often do the trick, but sometimes the same documents can fall into multiple categories. With metadata you can categorize your files according to multiple criteria and easily navigate through documentation.
To do so, add a Website tab to the right channel and paste the link to your SharePoint Library. You will get a fast access to all your documents that you can structure in different ways according to their metadata.
Add another Document library with reusable files
Your organization may have hundreds of project management teams and each of them will have their own SharePoint library. Normally, only members of a team have access to documentation stored in that team, which means that if your employees wish to share information different teams, it can become a challenge.
A good idea would be to create another Document library that would serve as a knowledge base for all the teams that require the same information. Taking our project management example, you can keep all the document regarding former project deliverables in this new library and give access to it to all project management teams by pinning it as a tab in each of them. This will facilitate document search and sharing and will allow to keep all the documents on project management in the same location.
5. Microsoft 365 groups management and Microsoft Teams
Each time you create a team, a Microsoft 365 group is created to manage team membership. This group of users have access to shared resources such as an Outlook inbox, calendar, SharePoint library, Planner, etc.
Email name of a Microsoft 365 group repeats its title. From the IT perspective, it can be hard to differentiate among various Microsoft 365 group emails if there’s no consistent naming policy.
Azure AD P1
You can set up naming policies in Azure AD P1. They consist of prefix-suffix (fixed strings or user attributes – GRP [Group name] [Department]) and custom blocked words features (CEO, HR, etc.).
These naming policies will be standardized and applied to all new teams, without taking into consideration the needs of different departments.
Naming policies with SalesTim
With Collaboration templates by SalesTim you can set up naming policies for both your teams and Office 365 group emails at the template level.
You may want to have different naming conventions for different scenarios. For example, for project management teams you may choose to have Project_Project Name_City as a naming convention and Department_Project Name_User ID as an email convention. These capabilities allow you to adapt naming policies to the needs of your organization and find groups easily.
Learn more about naming conventions for Microsoft Teams.
6. Teams lifecycle management
Your teams, just like projects, have a beginning, middle and end. They are created with a certain purpose aligned with a project or a goal. When the goal is accomplished, it’s important to acknowledge that and delete the teams you no longer use. It will prevent users from accessing outdated or sensitive information. Teams are actually deleted with ‘soft delete’ meaning that IT can reverse it for up to 21 days (30 days for Microsoft 365 Groups).
If you work in a large organization with multiple teams created daily/weekly it can be challenging to keep track of all the stagnant teams. There’s a way to automate this process and enable archiving after certain amount of time.
Azure AD P1
You can use Azure AD P1 to set expiration policies for Microsoft 365 groups. Once a group is set to expire:
- It will be automatically renewed if there’s still user activity
- The owner of the group will be notified of the coming group expiration to renew the group if required
- Any group that isn’t renewed will be deleted
- Any deleted group can be restored within 30 days.
To set group expiration open Azure AD admin center, select Group and then Expiration.
On the Expiration page you can specify the group lifetime in days, an email address for groups with no owner and the groups that will be subject to this expiration policy.
7. External sharing
Chances are at some point your users will need to share documents with people outside the organization. To have this process under control it makes sense to enable external sharing in Microsoft Teams and monitor sharing activities.
SharePoint admin center
To enable advanced external sharing settings, go to SharePoint admin center and under Policies select Sharing. Then configure external sharing be selecting the level of permissions.
These configurations will apply at the organizational level. You can also control external sharing permission for each site individually.
More advanced external sharing settings include:
- Limit external sharing by domain. For example, if you don’t want your employees to share information with users from specific organizations or accounts.
- Allow only users in specific security groups to share externally. Only a specified group of people in your organization will be able to share information to external users.
- Guests must sign in using the same account to which sharing invitations are sent. By enabling this feature you will make sure that only those guest that received a sharing invitation will be able to access the system.
- Allow guests to share items they don’t own. By default guest users can share only those files that they created. By checking this box you will allow them to share files they have no permissions for
- People who use a verification code must reauthenticate after this many days. This feature will require your external users to login to view shared files after a specified period of time.
For file and folder link sharing you can choose one of the following options:
The last option ‘Anyone with the link’ is the most user-friendly and enables friction-free sharing. It’s the best option if files and folders that you store in the team are not confidential.
You can configure advanced settings for ‘Anyone’ links for better security.
Learn more about external sharing.
Managing Microsoft Teams can be tricky, and we hope that these tips will help you solve common Microsoft Teams challenges.