The nation has been through a rollercoaster of a year so far, with plenty more uncertainty ahead. Many of you will have had first experiences of homeworking, some of you will still be doing it, others will be back in work environments wondering if they’ll once again be sent home. While we’ve made it through a national lockdown with minimal preparation, not everything may have been managed quite how it would have been with months, or even years, of planning.
To many businesses and schools, Microsoft Teams has felt like the saviour of 2020. User numbers have soared and while the typical Microsoft products have been second nature to many of us our whole working lives, Teams is a much newer application. Using this tool we’ve all become so reliant on to best effect should be a key priority, so here are our top 8 tips for managing Microsoft Teams.
- Limit Team Creation Rights
It’s important to avoid your Teams space becoming a confusing free for all. Anyone can create a new Team by default, but Microsoft does allow you to limit this functionality to admins or groups of users.
- Uphold a Naming Convention
If multiple different users are creating Teams and Channels they may all have different ideas of what to call them. Having a policy in place for how to name/re-name things going forwards is a good place to start.
If you need to enforce a more rigid convention, Office 365 does have an automated naming policy feature which combines a fixed word and pre-defined Azure Active Directory attributes. Teams itself also allows you to create a list of blocked words to discourage doubling up on department names and making the purpose more obvious. For example, the Team for Sales may have a channel within it for ‘Monthly Meetings’. Anyone looking at this Team knows it related to the Sales department, so the word ‘Sales’ could be blocked to avoid naming a channel ‘Monthly Sales Meetings’.
- Create a Meeting Policy
Meetings in Teams are hugely useful, but they do come with some features that are easy to overlook. Teams allows you to record and transcribe your meetings. It’s important to check if this meets your company policies, and clearly inform all attendees if this is happening.
Meetings also come with a lobby feature where you can control who has direct access into meetings (e.g. employees at your domain only), and hold everyone else until the organiser grants access.
- Create Message Policies
Every company’s culture is different, for some, like M-Tech, we have dedicated social Channels giving us an outlet to share our personalities, gather the Friday fast food order (it’s not every week, honest!) and have a laugh together as and when appropriate. For others, work communication tools are just that, and content must abide by strict company guidelines. Setting out a clear policy can mean there’s no ambiguity as to what should and shouldn’t be shared.
Depending on your industry and individual setup, you may find you need to block users’ abilities to edit and delete their messages. This isn’t a Teams specific setting but can be found in the Office 365 Security & Compliance Centre.
- Manage Your Data Life Cycle
If you set up Teams in a hurry, or without many restrictions in place, your environment could now be extremely cluttered, with a number of Channels no longer used.
Each Team is covered by the name security settings as your Sharepoint sites. It’s therefore possible to set a group expiration if there’s no activity (defined in Teams as a Channel visit). You could set expiration dates for a year in the future if there’s been no activity. For two-fold peace of mind, group owner/s receive an email notification 30 days before deletion, with the option to renew, and admins are able to restore groups for up to 30 days after deletion. You can perform similar life cycle management for Messages.
- Restrict External Access
By default, Teams allows anyone in your organisation to engage with any external party who is also running Teams. Third parties can therefore call, chat or set up meetings. There is also the ability to change this to ‘Allow Specific Domains’. This feature is important both for remote workers and in educational settings, where there needs to be control over communication.
- Restrict Guest Access
Although closely linked to external access, this is slightly different and potentially more hazardous. This feature allows anyone in the organisation to invite anyone with an email to access Team chats, meetings and files. While this may be useful if closely collaborating with a third party on a certain project or area, it shouldn’t be turned on by default to protect your organisation’s valuable data.
- Manage Third Party Applications
Teams allows any user to install and integrate a supported 3rd party application. Where this can be hugely beneficial to some departments for moving seamlessly between applications, it isn’t necessary for others. Restrictions can be set over who and what apps can be integrated to avoid confusion.
New Features in Microsoft Teams
A whole host of new Teams features were announced in September 2020 at the virtual Microsoft Ignite Autumn conference, including:
- Breakout rooms in meetings
- Webinar registration and reporting
- Teams Panels – a new category of devices for meeting spaces
- A new single click calling experience
- Teams templates
- A new search results experience
- Wellbeing and productivity insights
- Bulk policy assignment
- Call quality dashboard enhancements
- Approval flows
- Azure API management capability
- And much more…
Take a look at the full list of announcements directly from Microsoft.
Hopefully these tips can help to secure different areas of your Microsoft Teams environment, while keeping it a hugely beneficial tool for collaboration. If you’d like our help with optimising either your Teams or Microsoft 365 as a whole, please get in touch and we’d be happy to chat.