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So, you’ve heard all about Microsoft Teams? You’ve seen the ‘Teams’ app tile appear in your Microsoft Office Home page? You’re hearing all about the benefits of this extremely powerful, innovative, fully integrated collaboration and communication offering. And you want to start using it right away, yes?

Great! But, wait just a little longer. Consider these important questions before diving in and implementing ‘Teams’ in your organisation.

What about global settings for Teams in Office 365?

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Firstly, consider how you set up Teams within your Office 365 tenant. Settings applied at the tenant level affect all users and pretty much define how your organisation uses Teams at the most fundamental level.

Teams is initially set up with some default settings. All Business & Enterprise user/licenses are enabled. Users can send email to channels, and use custom cloud storage solutions such as ‘Box’, ‘Drop Box’ and ‘Google Drive’ for example. By default, all users in a Team can add and manage channels. This may not necessarily be desirable as they could change or even delete critical information.

Also consider how global configuration, related to Calls, Meetings and Messaging, is also supplied with default settings. Do you allow private calling / chatting and do you allow users to delete their own messages?

Furthermore, another key consideration is will you allow external guest access? If so, you need to ensure those users can’t delete your internal channels etc.

How about Office 365 Groups relationship to Teams?

 

Diagram showing where Teams sits under Office 365 Groups

Any implementation must fully address the dependency on Office 365 groups, as they are one of the key building blocks. In fact Teams sits inside the Office 365 Groups substrate. It is therefore necessary to understand and highlight the dependencies, policies and other usage scenarios that may exist within your organisation related to the use of Office 365 Groups. Consequently, any deployment of Teams can then take these factors into account.

Whilst it is not possible to cover everything around governance of Office 365 Groups in this blog, the following key points need to be considered:

As well as Teams, Office 365 groups can be created via a myriad of applications including the following:

  • Stream
  • Outlook
  • OneDrive
  • SharePoint
  • Planner

What this means is that other applications or users themselves can create Office 365 Groups that have predetermined name spaces, prefixes or suffixes assigned by your Office 365 Global Administrator. This may either preclude using those names for your Teams, or require you to follow a predetermined provisioning process. In fact, best practice for planning around Office 365 Groups is to take this approach as it will allow you to control who, how and when Office 365 Groups are created. In turn this allows you to apply the correct policies regarding usage, security and life cycles that are appropriate for your organisation.

Understanding these best practices and considerations is fundamental to planning for Teams. That way you can ensure the relationship and dependencies between Teams and Office 365 Groups is maintained and correctly supports the overall policies and usage scenarios for which it will be used.

Microsoft released Teams as the chat-based, fast-paced alternative to exchanging emails. Therefore it’s highly likely that those who simply want a team, and only a team, are the type of users that are less likely to care for emails. However, as we’ve already covered, when you create a Microsoft Team you will also always get an Office 365 Group.

Who should be creating Teams and how?

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One of the biggest barriers to effectiveness and increased productivity is chaos.

Chaos is what ensues when everyone can do what they want, when they want to, without having to think about anything. This approach might work for a small organisation with just a few users, where productivity is not such a big deal, and where those users can manage their own little ‘islands’ of information relatively independently. However, in an organisation with many hundreds or even thousands of users this approach can very quickly result in a complete meltdown. Over time this can generate a ‘sprawl’ of Teams with no clear ownership, a lack of knowledge regarding what information may be contained in them. And whether that information is sensitive or valuable etc!

Having said this, allowing everyone in your organisation to create Teams may make complete sense. In fact this approach can really help to drive adoption, increase collaboration and improve communication. However allowing everyone to do this with no guidance whatsoever and without some basic governance controls in place is a big mistake.

Defining governance policies and delivering user education allows your organisation to deploy Teams in a way that supports appropriate usage, data protection policies and prevents Teams being created in an unstructured manner, resulting in chaos.

How will you plan for your users to access Teams?

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This may seem like a stupid question since your users can probably all see the ‘Teams’ app tile in your Microsoft Office home page. However if we step back and look at the wider picture, some key further questions arise.

Teams can be accessed in several different ways, depending on such factors as:

  • Where the user may be located
  • What device(s) the user may be using
  • What application(s) the user may be using e.g. Teams app or browser
  • What types of users e.g. an employee, a guest etc.

Planning for all the different types of scenarios that could encompass one or more of the above factors is crucial. It will enable your organisation to define a flexible and robust set of access policies. In turn, this will support users in different scenarios and allow your organisation to maximise its investment in Teams.

Mobile Devices

The app allows users to access Teams using a mobile device (e.g. tablet or smart phone etc.). However mobile devices often need to be managed more securely when accessing sensitive data,  due to their susceptibility to be lost or stolen. When supplying mobile devices to users, you should consider implementing a mobile device management solution (such as Microsoft MDM or Intune) to apply default access policies for Teams and to protect or ‘lock-down’ those devices as necessary.

Computers

Likewise, when users are accessing Teams either via the dedicated Windows desktop application, or directly through a browser (using the Teams app tile in the Microsoft Office home page), it is important to consider whether they should be able to gain access in this way from any computer, or only a laptop or desktop supplied by your organisation. This is especially important when considering whether users should be able to access Teams from a home PC or laptop.

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How can Silversands help with Teams?

Silversands has many years’ experience providing consultancy, guidance, recommendations and best practice as a Microsoft Gold Partner.

Silversands is actively involved in helping organisations gain the maximum benefit from their investment in Office 365 (and Teams in particular). We do this by using our expertise to drive user adoption, whilst reducing risk to the business through careful planning.

If you would like to find out more about how we could help you with Teams, or the wider Office 365 suite of solutions (including SharePoint), on-premise or in Microsoft Azure, please complete the contact form below. Additionally, we are active on Twitter and LinkedIn, so please follow us, and look out for our webinars and quarterly events.

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