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Perfect Lifecycle Management in Microsoft Teams

In order to avoid sprawl in Microsoft Teams workspaces, lifecycle management for IT departments is indispensable.  

With the pandemic, Microsoft Teams was introduced in many companies unplanned - in other words, "out of necessity".  

The rapid introduction of Microsoft Teams in corporate environments has led to the creation of many teams whose lifecycle management has been neglected. 

And even for those companies that have successfully introduced Microsoft Teams, not all tasks have been completed.  

That is why the lifecycle management of Microsoft Teams plays a major role in keeping the platform up to date. 

What is Lifecycle Management in Microsoft Teams? 

Lifecycle Management in Microsoft Teams is the process of managing & tracking Microsoft Teams workspaces from creation to archiving and deletion. 

The IT department has a lot of responsibility and needs to find answers to the following key questions for Microsoft Teams operations

How should the teams in Microsoft Teams

  • be requested and created? [Phase 1: Creation] 
  • be managed and operated during the collaboration? [Phase 2: Management]
  • be cleaned up after the collaboration? [Phase 3: Decommissioning]
In addition to this, there are hundreds of tasks that can be done within each phase. Lifecycle management tasks can be done manually, through scripts or through 3rd party governance tools, depending on the decision.
 

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Three life phases of a team in Microsoft Teams

Phase 1: Creation of Microsoft Teams Workspace 

A Teams Workspace or Teams team is always created when there is a concrete purpose it is to fulfil or a concrete project is started. 

In this phase, it is first necessary to define the goal and determine the responsible persons in the team.

Then apps and channels are made available. 

Finally, the users are added or invited. 

Phase 2: Operational phase, management 

Regardless of whether a project lasts a few weeks or many months, as long as employees use the team and the goal has not yet been reached, the team is in this active phase. 

For project-based teams, this phase is easy to identify because of its clear conclusion. For teams whose purpose is more structural, organisational or business process related, the phase may be less clear.

In this phase, the IT department manages and monitors the Microsoft Teams team. 

Phase 3: End, archiving and decommissioning 

Once the purpose of the team has been fulfilled, the end of the project is to save the relevant content and end its active use.

Content and information can be deleted or archived, depending on which accesses should or must be possible and which retention criteria may need to be applied.

External users must also be removed at this point at the latest. 

Download Checklist: Optimal Governance for Microsoft Teams

Check all relevant aspects step by step to ensure optimal governance for Microsoft Teams

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5 problems that come up without lifecycle management in Microsoft Teams 

1. "Is this art already or can it go?" - How to find out what is still relevant and what is not

During the maintenance and monitoring phase, pay special attention to the activity in each team to identify when teams and groups are inactive over the 90-day period.

If you identify unused teams in this way, the first thing to do is to consult with the team owner(s) to see if the purpose of the team has already been fulfilled.

If the purpose is fulfilled, the team moves to the third phase of the life cycle.

Test teams, for example, also most likely do not contain relevant content

What to do if the team is no longer active, but the content is still relevant?

In this case, it is necessary to identify with the person responsible whether 

another team will continue to work with the results and files in the future 
the files should continue to be findable and available with read access 
all data is subject to the same retention periods.

What to do if the team is no longer active, but the content is still relevant? 

In this case, it is necessary to identify with the person responsible whether

  • another team will continue to work with the results and files in the future
  • the files should continue to be findable and available with read access
  • all data is subject to the same retention periods.  

2. "I thought this was no longer needed." - Who should be allowed to decide what can be deleted?

Who is authorised to decide on deletion or archiving depends on the nature of the information and data.

The IT department rarely has the necessary insight and overview of what can be deleted, but performs this function as part of maintenance or at the end of the team lifecycle.

For files, records and formal company data, be sure to involve legal and compliance officers.

For project teams, project management officers (PMOs) are best placed to assess this.

Management should have the authority to decide what information should be deleted for ad hoc teams.

The responsibility can also fall to the management of the business department. 

The IT department cannot make this decision without consultation. 

Reusable, valid information and documents should not be deleted but stored in your knowledge management system so that other staff can benefit from the outputs.  

3. “Don't keep a cat from catching mice” -staff changes and changing roles in the company

If employees change within the company or even leave the company completely, this inevitably affects the use of teams.

Removing unauthorised Team users is part of the responsibility that can be placed on the Team owner. However, if the change affects a team owner themselves, these teams are quickly forgotten or left to fend for themselves without supervision.

A process for staff changes should be defined to prevent orphaned teams. 

4. "Nobody wants uninvited guests" - Who has access to data. 

Manage guests carefully. Add users with guest access only when explicitly necessary and ensure that access ends as soon as the business need in question is no longer present.

The same applies to granting external access, i.e. the access rights you grant in your partner network, for example.  

5."Nothing is as constant as change" - What are the signs for a restructuring and automation of governance? 

  • Access to files should not be synonymous with access to all content in the team. Does this occur frequently for you, 
  • Do you frequently encounter the need for guidelines and policies, then it is time to determine the exact needs and set the framework.
  • You have few but very large teams. As a result, the purpose of the team is not concrete and an end is not defined. Here, too, you should regularly check what can be deleted and what should be kept. 

Download Checklist: Optimal Governance for Microsoft Teams

Check all relevant aspects step by step to ensure optimal governance for Microsoft Teamsvalprovia-governance-checklist-eng-1

 

Download Checklist now  

Step by step guide for structured lifecycle management

1.planning  

planning  

Analyse or forecast the needs within your organisation in the three phases of the lifecycle. 

Creation phase:  

Relevant issues for the creation phase that you can consider: 

  • Request from a team  
  • Approval of a team's creation request  
  • Classification of a team  
  • Creation of a team  

You should pay particular attention to whether you: 

  • Categorise your teams collaboration spaces such as Department Teams, Project Teams, Community Teams.
  • want to define templates for the respective Microsoft Teams collaboration spaces
  • Define the structures for your templates (channels, apps, SharePoint site collection structure or information architecture)
  • want to share access with external users
  • need url & naming conventions
  • Allow the SharePoint Site Collection content to be shared with other users.
  • when creating/requiring the teams, want to categorise and classify the teams

Here you can find a checklist for planning Microsoft Teams Lifecycle Management.

Management phase: 

Relevant topics for the management phase that you should consider: 

  • Managing the members and external users of a team  
  • Managing the metadata of a Teams workspace
  • Managing the channels and apps of a Microsoft Teams workspace
  • Applying the changes to the existing teams  

Creation / creation of teams can be fully automated. 

Creation / creation of teams can be fully automated. 

Check whether you can or want to develop your own automation solution for this. Developing your own can be costly and complicated.

An alternative is a 3rd party governance tool. This makes the costs predictable and you can shorten the timeframe of your governance implementation project. 

If a 3rd party solution and in-house development are not relevant for you, manual governance remains.

Owners of the team are given site collection administrator rights on the SharePoint side. Check whether this is desired in your company.

You also need to define who is allowed to invite members and external users to the teams and confirm their access request.

If company policies or information architecture change during the operation of teams, create a plan on how you will update the structure of the existing teams. 

Decommissioning phase: 

Relevant topics for the decommissioning phase that you should consider: 

  • Archiving a team
  • Removal of teams from the Microsoft Teams Client
  • Deletion of a team  

Plan what criteria you want to use to archive your Teams workspaces. Archiving a team can be done by: 

  • Creation date
  • Activity
  • specific metadata such as project end date  

take place.  

It is also important to define if the end users can archive the rooms themselves or if the archiving has to be done by the IT department.

Likewise, you need to define the same process for deletion. Who is allowed to delete Teams and when can Microsoft Teams Workspaces be deleted. 

2. creation with templates 

Using templates supports the standardisation of teams on your Microsoft 365 platform.

With the standardised templates, you support your end users to get into work topics faster.  

Since end users won't struggle with setting up teams, your employees will be more productive and can focus on the task at hand.

Approval can also be mapped with templates. Companies choose to have approval processes or not, depending on their company culture and Teams Workspace type.  

There is no right or wrong. If you need approval processes, the best way to standardise them is through templates.

Teams are then created in a standardised way with an approval workflow. In the process, already determine which two team owners will be the contact persons for the IT department in the future. 

The name and url conventions are ensured by templates.

Channels and apps are set up and made available in a standardised way. 

Only apps available in the company are used. 

Channels with the same name for a uniform structure are created throughout the company.

Sensitivity labels are assigned based on requirements and purpose. Unauthorised access can thus be systematically prevented.

Retention labels are assigned based on requirements and purpose. Retention periods are thus ensured.

An expiry date is set. In this way, those responsible are automatically informed in good time and can extend the operative team phase if necessary.

It is very important not to neglect the SharePoint site collection of the Teams room. In Microsoft Teams, you often find either too few or too many documents.  

The more you work on the information architecture of the SharePoint Site Collection, the better the findability of the documents will be.  

Define SharePoint Content Types and Site Columns and actively use them to keyword the documents.

3.Operational phase, monitoring, controlling 

The Teams Admin Center or Microsoft Teams governance software helps you to regularly monitor the activities of all teams.

Monitor the activity, the number of team members, team owners and external users. If there is only one team owner, you should (have) set a second one. 

Also check the visibility and sensitivity label status of each team. They can tell you whether the team is being used according to the rules.

As a rule, a period of 90 days of inactivity in a team is a good indicator that the end of the team life cycle has been reached with the final tasks. 

4. Deletion, decommissioning, archiving 

For IT, this is where a particularly large amount of time and effort has to be spent.   

Therefore, plan sufficient resources for the archiving and deletion of teams that are no longer needed.  

If you do not take this phase in the lifecycle sufficiently into account, you will quickly be threatened with sprawl and chaos in the collaboration platform, which can drastically limit productivity as a result. 

Download Checklist: Optimal Governance for Microsoft Teams

Check all relevant aspects step by step to ensure optimal governance for Microsoft Teams

Download Checklist now  
 
valprovia-governance-checklist-eng-1

Conclusion

Most of the work for IT departments in terms of managing teams arises in the third and final lifecycle phase. 

But already in the pre-planning and creation in the first phase of the lifecycle, the course can be set in such a way that maintenance in operation is significantly simplified.

This has the consequence that

  • clarity is maintained for all employees in the various teams
  • Collaboration and productivity are promoted
  • Security and compliance guidelines are adhered to