Introducing Microsoft Teams Sprawl

Whether we are dealing with a hybrid workforce, remote team on a global scale, or plan to start reopening your offices back to normal times, the chances that most of our workforce will be dispersed for the foreseeable future remains high. Microsoft Teams Sprawl

So, what does this mean for small-to-large organizations? Enterprise collaboration platforms are the lifeline of your business. The way we digitally communicate needs to be highly effective, seamless, and appropriately managed for users.

For those already leveraging the Microsoft 365 platform, Microsoft Teams has surged in popularity amongst all their apps. Teams is currently built on SharePoint and is an all-in-one productivity platform with advanced chat/collaboration features, video meetings, file storage, and application integration. It unites all of Microsoft 365 products, and its extensions also enable integration with many non-Microsoft services.

Despite the extraordinarily agile functions of Microsoft Teams, the rapid shift to Microsoft Teams has resulted in unforeseen challenges like sprawl, document versioning chaos, IT fatigue from teams’ requests, etc. One of its biggest challenges that most organizations are dealing with is “sprawl.”

Microsoft Teams sprawl can be disharmonious for employees and lead to poor collaboration and confusion within a workplace, especially during our continued remote working status. If you are dealing sprawls now, you run the risk of operating in a fractured or disorganized workplace that is notorious for causes the following:

  1. Employee productivity decreasing within Teams and heightened security risk/threats.
  2. Employees using outdated and incorrect content or channels.
  3. Employees are feeling disconnected from their team and organizational mission.

Overall, sprawl has severe consequences for your people, performance, and profits. If your organization had to make a quick transition to Microsoft Teams or ramped up its commitment to that app, you might not have placed a structured Teams governance policy and strategy to fight sprawl.

Tackling and fixing sprawl within your organization requires adoption, planning, governance, and sophisticated tools. This article will explore three ways to assist you in dealing with inactive, duplicate, and unknown teams. But before we dive into ways to fix sprawl, let us break down what sprawl is and how it occurs.

Microsoft Teams Sprawl

How Does Microsoft Teams Sprawl Occur?

Specifically, Teams sprawl is the uncontrollable overflow of unused, outdated, and duplicated channels or content within Microsoft Teams.

Sprawl often happens without us even realizing it. When you kick off your Microsoft Teams plan, you start with a clean slate and very few teams and channels based on your current projects. The first few months after deploying Teams, everything is very well kept, and you are aware of all channels being created.

Your organization, content, file inventory, communities, teams, groups, and sites grow over time within Microsoft Teams. This is the result of digital adoption, productivity, and team collaboration. However, as your Microsoft Teams platform substantially grows in usage, volume, and variety, it becomes challenging to manage and understand how the technology is leveraged, which channel/content is best, and who can control it.

After a few months, your Microsoft Teams experience is not the same. You spend more time digging through channels and content to find the right one. You cannot find what you are looking for. You are constantly using the wrong version that others in your team do not have access to. Your team slowly begins to start feeling disconnected, and tasks take longer than expected. Welcome to the start of Microsoft Teams Sprawl.

Microsoft Teams

How to Fix Microsoft Teams Sprawl?

It would be best to determine how you would like Microsoft Teams “the product” to support your business goals from the very start. Keep in mind that, Teams will look different for every organization. Once you define what success looks like through Microsoft Teams, you can develop a Teams governance strategy that focuses on the technical and cultural components. Here are a few ways to get started:

  1. Complete an Audit of Your Environment and Consider Template Options

Understand what collaboration and communication efforts are occurring within your environment and identify the number of teams you require, along with the lifecycle of each team. This will enable users to get started with the appropriate Microsoft Teams template options. Templating is an effective way to get quickly adopt Teams while maintaining consistency across the organization. By doing an in-depth audit you can catch onto any major or minor sprawls that may exist in your environment however, this approach may be very time-consuming. These modern Teams templates may be of interest to you – Orchestry Templates

  1. Drill Into the Independent User Stories 

The independent user stories approach is a task-based method outcome that will narrow down the expected requirements of your environment. This allows you to understand the needs of your users or teams before diving into a Teams deployment solution as well as refine your requirements to guide your governance. This approach will require you to gather various data and information from different users to get a good understanding of the best course of action.

  1. Complete a Process Mapping Plan

The next step is the process mapping plan that helps represent all business processes and user group activities to determine the corresponding deliverables. Overall, taking the time to complete process mapping, understanding team responsibilities, or reviewing the relevant content is necessary for ensuring your digital workplace success. It ultimately reveals what major activities are being performed, the outcomes, and who is accountable for each team to define your business objectives and pivot if necessary.

  1. Establish Microsoft Teams Governance Policies

Governance is all about establishing policies and creating a blueprint of what you are building and how it will run. Team governance may vary from one company to another, but some basic areas need systematic procedures and policies that are relevant across all companies.

    • Administrative Rights: The administrative rights can be categorized into three levels: administrator, owner, and member so, you can clarify which user has what classification of rights.
    • Member Rights: Establish who can create, modify, edit, delete, or request teams. A tip for better managing member rights: enable teams’ creation to a subset of people and a predefined list of third-party apps that team members can integrate. By restricting the actions that certain members can execute, you can manage company-wide MS Teams’ organization by avoiding IT fatigue from heavy sprawl.
    • Naming Convention: Create a company-wide policy for naming teams that standardizes the naming system. Keep a log of approved abbreviations and set indicators for easy sorting and searching in the future.
    • External Access and Authorization: Administrators can determine if and when external access should be granted to any user.
    • Policies For Archiving Content: Archiving or deleting are simple ways to eliminate irrelevant or outdated teams in the software.

If you are unsure which governance policies are best for your organization or need help setting and monitoring these Teams and SharePoint policies, feel free to reach out to a Klarinet expert today – Click Here

  1. Assign Responsibilities to Specific Stakeholders or Leaders

For many non-IT executives, understanding their enterprise platform and how it is being used is not the biggest prioritize from the beginning. These non- IT executives may know the workspace channels that exist and when they were created, but not much beyond that.

Most of the time, non-IT executives do not know that they need to proactively manage the lifecycle, adoption, and compliance aspect of Teams. Improving how people work within and across these workspaces is a vital role of departmental leaders. However, executives’ ability to support their employees’ digital workplace experience is obstructed by their limited understanding of Microsoft 365’s complex platform, especially Teams. In our recent webinar, we cover how your organization can demystify the Microsoft 365 and Teams platform and empower your team leaders to take accountability within their environment.

Executives’ lack of insight and governance leads to unknown, unaware, or unmanaged sprawl. Transitioning to “managed sprawl” requires assigning department or team leaders the responsibility of governing Teams. Otherwise, your digital workplace will slowly but surely be clustered with old and irrelevant content or channels in each department.

  1. Provide the Right Tools & Training for Microsoft Teams

Most of the time, the IT department will inherit the responsibility for addressing the technical management of Microsoft Teams within their organization. However, let us not put all this on their plate.   Once your governance strategy is in place, it is time to ensure that all relevant stakeholders follow it. Implement a procedure to make sure all Teams’ users have adequate knowledge and training of the software. Investing in proper training and tool skill development of team members can go a long way toward supporting a smooth transition and adopting Microsoft Teams. Having Microsoft Teams experts who provide ongoing managed service, support, and training can be very beneficial.  Klarinet Solutions brings 15+ years of Microsoft 365 digital workplace expertise to plug into your existing IT team and provide the specialized resources you need, when you need them.

  1. Leverage ‘Orchestry’ – Microsoft Teams Third-Party Tool

The sudden shift to remote work is causing most organizations to fall into a chaotic Microsoft Teams’ environment. Despite being the fastest and largest growing digital workplace tool, it can be hard to get a grip on the sprawl, lifecycle, provisioning, and governance of Teams.

There are now over one hundred million active Teams users. That is one hundred million employees creating more teams every day. The more organizations ignore sprawl, the worse it gets. Someone or something must clean up these teams after our employees are done with them. As we look to reopen offices, it will be necessary to clean up and modernize their Team’s environment before the hybrid workforce comes into full effect.

Klarinet Solutions has had vast experience dealing with Teams sprawl warfare. Together with Orchestry, we deliver an easy-to-use interface with intelligent governance, practical information, and innovative strategies to make the most of your Microsoft Teams. If you would like to release some of the pressure from your team by leveraging a third-party tool, like Orchestry, contact us now.

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