Our Blog

where we write about the things we love



Taming feral Teams: how to get the most out of Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams has proven itself as an effective tool for collaboration no matter where your employees are based. However, out of the box functionality only goes so far, and the real power of the platform comes alive when you tame your teams and make it your own.

Taming Feral Teams: how to get the most out of Microsoft Teams

Recent times have had an unprecedented impact on the way we work, with businesses establishing remote working setups almost overnight.

This pace of change has shown us just what we can accomplish when we’re required to, but it’s also brought up a lot of questions around how to not just work remotely but continue to work effectively and collaboratively from different locations.

Our recent webinar, Taming Feral Teams, focused on Microsoft Teams, the unified communication and collaboration platform, highlighting the best ways to use the tool, the role of governance and management, and how to make use of its benefits without compromising on security or control.

If you’re short on time and are looking for ways to improve fast, we have a Microsoft Teams Health Check datasheet to help you to better understand your current situation and what changes you can make.

A spotlight on Microsoft Teams 

Spurred on by the massive increase in remote working, Microsoft Teams now has 75 million daily active users, a significant increase from its 44 million as of March 18 this year. It’s safe to say the platform has been stress tested and Microsoft has responded in kind, extending the features and capability available to handle the added pressure.

Even so, the out of the box functionality only goes so far, and a lack of thoughtful setup or control from IT can lead to a feral Teams implementation. This results in teams that are lots of duplication, a lack of ownership and oversight, inactive Teams, external users being added to groups that contain internal or sensitive information, data sprawl with no defined classification scheme, and information being very difficult to find.

It can be overwhelming to know where to start, but there are some direct and effective steps you can take to update your structure and organisation, compliance and governance, and lifecycle management to ensure you’re getting the best out of the platform.

Start simple: lifecycle management for Teams

At Empired, there are certain best practices we follow. Some of our core building blocks are around policies, ownership, lifecycles, security, monitoring, compliance and governance.

To start simple means to define key owners, establish processes that can be followed by all employees, define naming conventions, and have checks and reports in place.

We consider these building blocks for the entire Microsoft Office 365 ecosystem. When it comes to Teams we look specifically at lifecycle management, how to balance productivity and governance, and how to navigate the entire setup process so it’s quick and streamlined.

There are three stages of lifecycle management we must consider. Initiation is where we create our teams, activate relevant templates, name and classify the team, and ensure we’re setting a foundation which follows best practice.

During a Team’s active stage, considerations should include retention policies, managing security, and moderating all that takes place while employees are working together. Finally, our sunset stage focuses on the expiration policy, and eventual archival and deletion of the team.

Add controls: applying governance to Teams

Regardless of what stage you’re at with your implementation, governance is a crucial step that can’t be understated. While the initial situation and business needs differ, and it can be difficult to strike the balance between maintaining productivity and putting adequate controls in place, we’ve seen first-hand the power of implementing holistic and robust governance practices.

Right out of the box Microsoft includes basic tools, but these don’t provide specific guidance or tailored processes for a business. For a greater level of governance you can add additional functionality such as provisioning processes, templates, automotive expiry and archival, admin reports, granular external sharing, information architecture, and a hub for governance. An adoption-centric approach to defining tools and then including automation can make a world of difference.

Empired’s governance hub includes information for your entire team with details around guidelines, recent policy changes, top questions, how to get the most out of Teams and more. It can also include a tracking department, the ability to request teams, and the ability to link in other tools such as Power Apps or SharePoint.

At Empired, to start on the governance journey we recommend a three step approach. First, start by analysing and reviewing your Teams implementation. Look for poorly named Teams such as those that include ‘TEST’ or ‘DEV’, review when channels were last used, approach owners, and agree to an off-boarding process.

Secondly, document your process of how users create Teams consistently, how to manage lifecycles and the associated data, how to secure and retain data and information in alignment with company data security and compliance policies, and how to collaborate and share data externally.

Thirdly, look at designing Team templates and SharePoint site designs to constantly create Teams for your most common use cases, such as projects, business units or functions, and organisation-wide Teams.

For all of these steps you need a leader. Identify a sponsor and the key people that need to be involved in defining and putting governance in place, and promote the activity as a team effort - after all this will work best if everyone is on board.

In an ideal world, effective governance encourages collaboration within a well-managed platform, helps users find and store information, secures data from leaving the organisation, manages information sprawl by effectively managing risk, and reassures IT that users are being empowered. On the other hand, poor governance leads to data inconsistency, data loss and data sprawl, and poor adoption and lack of confidence.

Customer story: flybuys and Microsoft Teams

Australian-based flybuys is a 25 year old brand that has recently gone through a significant amount of change. Empired is currently working with the company on an external collaboration project with a spotlight on Teams, and Anthony Martino, IT Operations Manager, was a special guest on the Taming Feral Teams webinar.

Anthony discussed the company’s transition out of Australian supermarket chain Coles, the significant growth of the flybuys team, a change in location, the implementation of a host of new tools, and, of course, moving everything to a remote working setup earlier this year.

flybuys has a cloud-first policy and is currently using Microsoft Office 365 as its workplace collaboration solution. Furthermore, the company has its Flex policy in place to enable remote and flexible working. As a result, technology and processes were already in place when all flybuys staff turned to working from home. Since March, the company has been using Teams as a central place to connect and collaborate with internal parties. The external collaboration project is also currently in soft launch.

Anthony says having all staff working from home brought up different challenges, from making sure employees were used to the platform, to ensuring people could find information in the file structure system. However, of Teams he says, “It just worked.”

Since March, flybuys has also established ways to creatively use the tool, such as running weekly huddles for employees to showcase passions and updates, and using the video chat feature to launch the company’s new permanent office, including a ribbon cut and live tour of the building.

Going forward, Anthony says there are more improvements to be made. The company will be working in a hybrid model, with some employees in the office and some working from home. As such, Anthony says it’s important for the entire team to stay connected on Teams and loop relevant parties into meetings and conversations. As for the external collaboration project, the focus of this is to secure access of information and the full lifecycle of teams. Once this is in place the full launch will be rolled out.

Three top ways to tame your Teams

We want to leave you with three ways in which you can tame your Teams.

1. Run a health check to audit and clean up existing teams.

2. Define your team and SharePoint site creation process. Start with a manual process and then fully automate to speed up and streamline the process.

3. Establish your approach by setting up top three Team and Site templates for functions or departments, projects and general teams. Define the templates, tabs, channels and metadata, and make them available to be reused.

At Empired we can assist with defining your governance approach, implementing a framework, automating policies and ensuring adoption to maximise investment. We also work with you on continuous evolution to ensure your processes and tools adapt as you do.


This blog is part of the #ReimagineWork series. For more experts' insights, clients' experiences and to download our datasheets, click the banner.

For more experts' insights, clients' experience and to download our datasheets, click the banner #datareimagine

Posted by: Vanessa Larsen, Senior Modern Workplace Consultant | 16 June 2020

Tags: communication, Collaboration, Digital Transformation, COVID-19, #ReimagineWork

Top Rated Posts

Blog archive

Stay up to date with all insights from the Intergen blog