Teams access

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Microsoft Teams is in the throes of its first big shakeup.  On 11 September 2017, Microsoft announced the release of ‘Guest Access’ to Teams.  This means you can now invite users outside of your organisation to join in and access Team conversations.

This is a major achievement for Microsoft, as indicated by its frequent delays to release. However, external sharing was already available in two other Office 365 products: Groups and Yammer.  So why the big push to add it to Teams?

The simple reason is to allow full communication without borders to foster a more efficient workforce. A bigger reason is so Microsoft can wrap Skype technology into Teams; providing a full end-to-end business communication platform to replace Skype for Business.  The idea being, Groups was good for written communication and collaboration, and Skype for Business was good for verbal communication, so the best of both worlds would be to combine the two as a total communication platform that allows everyone to communicate in the way they feel most comfortable.  This seems like a great idea, right?… Well, yes and no.

Teams change

On one hand, yes, having a total communication platform sounds great.  But the problem with Teams (and for that matter Groups) has never been the tech, it’s always been about the governance.  To be an efficient Business tool, a system must be both useful from an end user perspective (and Teams certainly is that), but also manageable from a corporate perspective.  And by “manageable”, we mean something your organisation can control, monitor and, in some cases, replicate.

Governance

Teams unfortunately does not provide this at all.  There is no governance regarding the information held in Teams.  The conversations are free-form and you would expect that from a communication tool.  But Teams also allows you to store data, but it gives you no means to categorise that data. It doesn’t standardise its value and content either .

So, what happens to the documents and conversations once the team has moved on to the next topic?  Nothing is the answer.  It sits in the Team area, siloed away from all the other information in your organisation because no one has provided any metadata to the information that would allow it to be discoverable to the company as a whole.

Furthermore, because you can’t enforce governance on the Teams site, there is nothing to ensure that data will be moved into a more useful part of your company’s information architecture.

While Teams is becoming one of the most functionally rich utilities that Microsoft has come out with recently, it flies in the face of many of the best practice rules that business analysts and Microsoft itself have been advocating for years.

So, while it’s a big step forward for instant team communication, companies need to take a measured and potentially cautious approach to rolling out Teams.  It could become the next black hole for company data!

If you’d like to know more about teams, Groups, Yammer and the rest of the apps within the Office 365 suite, you can download our free eBook here.

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