Microsoft Teams provides an easily accessible and centralized place for team collaboration, chat, and file sharing. Coming from the public sector when discussing Teams with clients and my own teammates many questions come up surrounding document management and retention. There are concerns about where the files are located, who has permissions to them, and how federal retention policies will be applied to them. There are relatively simple answers and solutions to all of these questions, and the great thing about Teams is that there are options!
Where are the files really located?
When a Team is created, a SharePoint team site is created within the Office 365 tenant. When files are added to a team chat, they are stored in the Documents library of the team site. Teams utilizes something called Channels. For every channel a folder is added to the team site and documents that are part of that Channel are stored in that folder. Each Team has a centralized location for all documents. You can also view files that are associated with each Channel within a Team. If you come from SharePoint world, you can consider a Channel similar to a tag that you can use to distinguish and search content as well as have a separate view of files based on the Channel.
Teams also gives you the option to use alternative cloud storage but still get the powerful Teams collaboration features. For example, files within Teams can be stored in cloud storage providers such as Google Drive, Box, or Dropbox but collaborated on within Teams.
Who has permissions to the files?
When a Team is created it can be set as Public or Private. If it is public, anyone within your organization can join. Anyone that can access a Team can access the files. When documents are shared in private chat or group chat messages, the documents are stored in OneDrive. However, documents shared in the Team conversations are added to the document library and the central Files area for the Team.
When alternative cloud storage providers are being used by a Team to store documents, permissions to the documents are managed by those applications. Someone who does not have access to a document in the storage provider will not be able to access it within the Team.
How can retention policies be applied to documents created within a team?
A great option is to create a SharePoint Record Center site and then use Flow to move finalized documents from the Team SharePoint library to a document repository on the Record Center site based on a metadata field. A field would need to be added to the team library where users can choose when a document is finalized which would trigger the Flow to run and send the document to the appropriate location for records. Flow can also move documents to other document storage services besides SharePoint if an organization already has a different content management tool being used. Also, if there is an audit or investigation occurring within an organization, the Hold site feature can be enabled on the Team site so that documents cannot be edited or deleted. A step by step guide on how to use Flow to move documents from a Team to a Record Center site coming soon!