Microsoft Teams Governance Planning Guide

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By: Melissa Hubbard
Content Contributions By: Jared Matfess

microsoft teams governance

Teams is Microsoft’s newest collaboration tool designed to improve the speed and ease of collaboration in a chat based workspace. Tabs and Channels within Teams help content remain organized and also for Teams to use external tools all within the Teams app. The benefits will only be realized, however, if time is spent planning the administration and management of the service, prior to making it available to your users. One of the biggest drivers for rolling out Teams within an organization is to create one location where teammates can interact, share content, and conduct meetings. Having a solid governance plan will enhance user adoption and ensure organizational assets are secured. Without a governance plan there are pitfalls that will negate these benefits.

Pitfalls to avoid:

Creating too many Teams causing confusion for end users about where to collaborate on what. 

Losing content and frustrating end users when Teams end up needing to be split up, consolidated, or disbanded due to lack of planning and governance. 

Failing to pay attention to features that may not be in compliance with your organizations regulations prior to roll out then needing to disable them after they have already been adopted.  

Confusion and underutilization from not providing training and materials to Team Owners and Team Members. 

Developing a governance plan does not need to be a huge and overwhelming undertaking. it just needs to be complete and communicated effectively. The time you invest in up front planning will pay dividends when the service is widely adopted within your organization. Here are topics every organization rolling out Teams should cover as part of their governance planning:

A. Roles and Responsibilities

B. Organizational Structure for Teams and Channels

C. Permissions and Security

D. Process for Creating and Managing Teams

E. Features to Enable and Disable

F. Training

Roles and Responsibilities 

The first step to success is defining the roles and responsibilities necessary to support the service. Many large organizations and government agencies create governance boards for technical leadership and decision making regarding collaboration tools use and maintenance. If your organization or agency has found this model to be successful then Teams should be no different. If leadership and IT staff are too busy or are uninterested in being involved, this will slow down collaboration. There is another choice. Having a designated collaboration specialist(s) to facilitate and streamline collaboration and be the liaison for decision making is a good option. Whether you have a board or collaboration specialist, having an advisory and decision making entity for collaboration is important.

By default ALL users will be able to create Teams and Channels. This has both pros and cons. Allowing everyone to be able to create a Team allows for fluidity of work and an agile approach for organizations. A con of this is that if too many Teams are created or there is an overlap in content, it quickly becomes confusing to know which Team to work from. Unless all users are going to be effectively trained to only create Teams when there is a business need and to follow a process which tracks and documents new Team creation and ownership, it is best to change this default setting. The Groups dashboard in the Admin Center can be used by Office 365 Administrators to manage Team Owners and Members. In order to prohibit all users except those designated to create Teams, follow these instructions: Control who can Create Teams

There can be up to ten Team Owners per Team. Having two or three people to manage a Team is usually best so toes aren’t stepped on. It is important that Team Members know who the Owners are for the Teams they use for collaboration as well as where to go for support and questions.

Every organization is different and has its own needs, but here are some fundamental roles and responsibilities which address some of the core needs for supporting Microsoft Teams:

Microsoft Teams Roles

Organizational Structure for Teams and Channels 

Teams is meant to be the online version of an open office space where you can chat, hold ad hoc meetings, use tools, and collaborate on content in one location. People participate in more team based work than ever before, therefore the need for streamlining this collaboration is more important than ever before. The organizational structure of your Teams should align with the business need to collaborate with a group of people. You do not necessarily need a new Team for every new subject matter. It is perfectly okay for there to be some content within a Team that not every Member actively participates on. Channels are meant to keep conversations organized by subject, discipline, or project. A costly problem is to create Teams when it is unnecessary, because users will end up being in so many Teams that they do not know where to work on what. Also, when someone is part of too many Teams the notifications become overwhelming. Oftentimes Channels can be used instead of having a whole separate Team. Planning the organization rationally prior to roll out will help avoid confusion, duplication of work, and frustration by end users. Again all organizations are different but here are some tips to planning Teams and Channels:

  1. Teams provide a permissions barrier on content. Channels are used to provide context and organize content within a team, but EVERYONE in the Team will be able to access all content within the Team. If you simply want a way to organize content within an existing Team use Channels do not create a new Team.
  2. If there is a new focus or special interest group in your organization, add a Channel under the Team that owns this function. The only reason to make this a separate Team is if the content needs to be restricted.
  3. Have a standard naming convention for your teams.
  4. Think about your organizational chart, team functions and how content is currently being collaborated on. If your organization has clear departments that work together, it probably makes sense to have a team per department. If your organization’s teams are based on accounts, cases, or projects then each of these may need a separate Team.
  5. There is the ability to use existing email distribution list to add Team Members, however when you add new members to the distribution list they will not automatically be added to the Team. Only do this for initial set up then manage membership from within Teams.

Note: There is no way to move conversations, meeting content, channels or tabs between Teams. The files can moved but depending on how many there are and if any metadata fields have been added to the SharePoint library this could be a high level of effort. 

Here are some examples of how Teams can be organized by project and/or functional areas:

Teams Organization by DepartmentTeams Organization by Project

Permissions and Security

Depending on the type of work and content your organization deals with, permissions and security may be the most important piece of governance planning. By default when creating a Team, the privacy setting is set Private. This means that only Team owners and members can access the content. There is also an option to make a Team public so that anyone within the organization can join. This is notably different from Yammer which defaults to being public. The reason for this is that Teams really aren’t meant for organization wide collaboration, they are meant from a group of people within an organization that work together closely. Teams cannot be turned on solely for some parts of an organization and not others, it is tenant wide. However, Office 365 Administrators can turn off the Teams license for individual users.

All of the same security related principles of the Office 365 Trust Center apply to Teams. There are controls in place for data loss prevention, auditing and retention policies, eDiscovery, data spillage management, and data deletion for chats and channel messages, OneNote content, OneDrive for Business files, and SharePoint content.  Use this link for more information on the Trust Center as well as an Office 365 security white paper

Update** The ability to give Teams access to external users was released in September 2017 after being highly requested. Azure AD is used to add and manage guest user accounts through Azure AD B2B Collaboration. Sign in and access reports for guest users are available to help monitor usage.

Process for Creating and Managing Teams 

By default there is a maximum of 500,000 Teams within an Office 365 tenant. It is hard to imagine any organization needing that many Teams, but never the less it is a limitation to be aware of. Teams should be kept to a minimum business need in order to avoid users being overwhelmed by being a member of too many Teams, receiving too many notifications, and not knowing where to do what. If Teams are going to be aligned by department or organizational chart, they should remain fairly static except for reorganizations or addition of special projects that need separate permissions. For the most part Channels can be created to differentiate content within a Team. If you are an organization that is making separate Teams per project, case, or account then having a quick and easy way for end users to request a new Team will be very important. You should document your Team owners and also have an easy way for end users to request a new Team Owner. Having a Team Owner list on a SharePoint site that everyone in your organization can navigate to will be helpful.

Note: If your organization is already using SharePoint, good site owners will probably make good Team owners.  

Features to Enable and Disable

A great thing about Teams is that Office 365 Admin Center tenant-wide settings allows for the customization of the Teams experience and features based on your organization’s needs. If you think there are any features you do not want enabled for your organization, make the decision prior to roll out. End users will not be happy if they get used to functionality that is subsequently taken away. Here are some settings you will want to especially take note of:

  1. Email Integration

By default every Channel created will get a shared email address. The benefit of this is that by integrating Exchange and Teams, members can email the channel instead of a group distribution list and it will become a thread right within the Team. This keeps group emails in one location so when new teammates join or decisions are questioned, everyone can review the thread. It also saves end users from having to switch between outlook and the Teams app.

Also by default anyone can send emails to the channel email address. It is configurable on a per Channel basis to restrict only Team Members or email addresses from within certain domains to be able to email the address. Changing the email settings for only a few Channels will confuse end users so really only do this unless there is a specific business reason and make sure all Team Members are aware.

Get Email Address

Note: Unfortunately there is no way to change the email address for a Channel. Teams automatically generates it for you. If you do not know the email address for your Channel, follow these steps: How to Find Out your Channel Email Address

2. External Apps and Cloud Storage

Within Teams there is the capability to connect with other apps so that Team Members can get the functionality from apps they use in daily work without having to leave the Teams app. You have the ability to disable use of external apps, it is enabled by default. You can also enable side loading apps. If your organization uses cloud storage options such as Google Drive or Dropbox, teams can be configured to allow for upload and sharing files from the cloud storage services. There is the ability to disable some cloud storage options but keep it enabled for others.

Teams Apps

3. Messaging

If an organization does not want Team Members to be able to chat privately within the Teams app, it can be completely turned off. There are also many options to control the messaging experience including the memes, stickers and gifs. The most important messaging setting to note is that by default users can edit and delete all of their own messages. There is a setting to allow for Team Owners to be able to delete all messages. There may be a need to turn this on if Team Owners want to clear out “fluff” messages from their team however this is something you would definitely want to educate Team Owners about with training.


4. Meetings

The Skype for Business integration with Teams allows not only for Team Members to schedule voice and video meetings but also for ad hoc meetings within a Channel allowing for end users to join at leisure when they notice a meeting going. If your organization already has invested in a method for virtual meetings that you prefer end users to use, you may want to disable these features.

Calls and meetings


Your governance plan will only be effective if everyone within your organization understands their roles, responsibilities, and how to use Teams. Team Owners particularly will play an important part in user adoption and evangelism. Basic concepts all users should understand:

  1. How to access their Teams
  2. What Channels are and how to use them
  3. How to have private chat, group chat, and create and contribute to conversations
  4. How to access and share files
  5. How to schedule and attend meetings
  6. When notifications are received and how to manage them


Related Links:

Jared Matfess’s Blog

Document Management Using Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams Tech Community

11 responses to “Microsoft Teams Governance Planning Guide

  1. Great post! I have used very similar thinking for planning SharePoint collaboration environments for the past 3 versions of SP. The same ideas apply very well to Teams. This is very helpful!


  2. The backend SharePoint sites created for my teams sure appear to be site collections, which makes sense given the unique permissions. But I cannot find them in Office 365 SharePoint Admin Center under site collections. Am I missing something? Or is MS hiding these on purpose?


    • If ypu click on the ellipse next to the channel name and do not see “Get email address” then it means channel emails are turned off at the tenant level.


  3. Pingback: Microsoft Teams is Hot! – Martinus SharePoint Online·

  4. Pingback: Avoiding a Microsoft Teams Nightmare·

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