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3 Questions to Ask Before Deploying Microsoft Teams

AGAT Software team

The ways organizations collaborate vary these days more than ever. The generational divide in the workplace has many employees working with a mix of device types and preferring different modes of interaction. Employees expect modern communication facilities that traditional enterprise-wide collaboration tools just aren’t up to.

Microsoft Teams is Microsoft’s answer to competing platforms such as Slack and Atlassian’s HipChat. It provides the slick user experience that employees have come to expect, from their regular usage of personal communications platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Telegram.

The core feature of Microsoft Teams allows users to set up teams, each of which is essentially a hub for group chat rooms, which are called channels.

However, Microsoft has been pushing the platform as being more than just a chat hub. Teams is integrated with Microsoft’s online office suite, Office 365. That means it’s tied to other Microsoft Office services, such as Word and Excel, as well as its cloud storage and sharing services such as SharePoint. PowerPoint, OneNote, Planner, Power BI and Delve are also integrated with Teams.

Trying to solve every collaboration and communication need to ensure engagement and productivity with a single tool is probably not the right approach. At the other end of the spectrum, having too many tools and too many options can also impact adoption, productivity and business efficiencies. Organizations need to find a balance – and use the right tool for the job. Microsoft Teams is an ambitious solution which can bridge existing ways of collaborating with more modern modes, notably chat.

Teams Security – what’s lacking?

As Microsoft Teams gains more feature parity with Skype for Business and eventually replaces it as the dominant intelligent communications platform, it’s important to consider three obstacles your IT team may face when deploying this application.

1) Security and Compliance Challenges

Comparing Microsoft Teams to Skype for Business isn’t really a one to one comparison. Skype is primarily used for calls, meetings and instant messaging, and though you can share documents through a chat, content sharing has never been its primary focus. You have SharePoint for that.

Teams, on the other hand, is inherently content-centric. With SharePoint running in the background, Teams easily brings together content and communication.
This type of collaborative environment creates challenges for security since you not only have to consider how to secure communications, as you would with Skype for Business, but also how to get a handle on document storage and sharing. And let’s not forget about compliance and retention. The content that users create and store within Teams should still follow your corporate retention policies.

The demand for mobility is high, and since Teams is also built to be easily accessible on any device, that means that anyone in your organization may access any content anywhere. So how do you stop a user from downloading a proprietary presentation onto their personal device and then sharing it freely?
IT Security needs to think about not only protecting the network and the device, but also the content that’s shared on the platforms that are now widely available. This is where solutions like DLP (Data Loss Prevention) tools come into play. By creating policies controlling the sharing of sensitive information, IT can ensure that important data never gets into the wrong hands.

SphereShield allows integrating Teams with existing DLP policies and blocking or replacing any sensitive data.

If your business manages confidential information, you’re probably already thinking about how to manage and protect data that needs to remain HIPAA and GDPR compliant. With the multitude of third-party applications that can connect to Teams, such as a CRMs loaded with contact information, you need to be prepared with a solution that keeps your organization in compliance with data protection regulations.

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Though Teams offers some DLP capabilities, those aren’t on par with existing DLP solutions by vendors who Specialize in this field. Companies with existing DLP policies should look into integrating them into Teams, instead of creating new policies.

2) IT Administration Challenges

Everyone’s favorite word: governance. It’s an important one. When laying the foundation for a successful Microsoft Teams experience, your IT team needs to determine how to handle the creation of Office 365 Groups and how to manage the teams that may expire or become irrelevant in your organization.

According to Microsoft, “By default, all users with a mailbox in Exchange Online have permissions to create Office 365 groups and therefore a team within Microsoft Teams”. That means the IT admins are no longer the only ones in-charge of creating groups and setting up their permissions.

However, there’s an easy solution to tighten these permissions and not give up control. You can set up a group for specific users and grant only those users the rights to create other Office 365 groups. Controlling which users are permitted to create and manage groups allows you to delegate authority without compromising security or compliance.

3) End User and Change Management

Employees need to have a thorough understanding of how and when to use Teams versus other Office 365 applications, ideally with Teams as their first choice.

It’s also important to have a plan for how you’ll roll out the Teams client to your end users’ machines. Using your security and asset management system, you should be able to do this through a group policy, Microsoft Intune, or Microsoft Systems Center. The last thing you want is for your support queue to overflow with tickets from users who can’t find the application on their laptop.

You can ease Teams adoption pain by enabling it side-by-side with Skype for Business. Especially until complete feature parity exists, we highly recommend running them simultaneously so that end users don’t become frustrated and resistant to Teams as a whole.