Some companies may have been more prepared for this shift than others. If companies didn’t have tools like Teams at their disposal, they accelerated plans to onboard them to help maintain business continuity. Consequently, Teams saw dramatic results in adoption, jumping to 145 million daily active users in April 2021 and then to 250 million monthly active users in July.
However, the need to deploy company-wide remote operations often superseded the need to implement a Teams governance plan, and unfortunately, resulted in a growing challenge among businesses and enterprises: Microsoft Teams sprawl. Without proper IT planning and oversight, companies may find themselves backtracking to resolve an overwhelming problem of data sprawl.
What is Teams sprawl?
Essentially, Teams sprawl is the uncontrolled overflow of unused, outdated, or duplicated and irrelevant data within Teams. It’s often the result of a lack of administrative policies enforcing data management or a lack of user training and understanding of how to use Teams.
Without proper governance policies in place, users may create single-use teams or channels that are rarely used. Or they may attach data to these channels, stashing files in multiple locations, leading to confusion and clutter. In a company with thousands of users, business leaders must consider how they triage channels and teams. Otherwise, they could be scrolling through countless channels – many of them useless — within their Teams environment.
The problems sprawl can cause
When left unchecked, Teams sprawl may mean big problems for businesses, especially enterprises with thousands of employees. Additionally, during mergers and acquisitions, the situation worsens when the parties want to consolidate data but haven’t effectively managed it.
Suppose multiple versions of the same file exist in Teams. That could mean end users are accessing outdated information or struggling to find the information they need. If employees are unclear where to find what they need, miscommunication can happen internally and with external partners or customers. Users may then start saving all their documents on their local workstations, contradicting the collaborative aspect of Teams and making it harder to find the most current file.
Teams sprawl can also lead to significant data security risks. Mismanagement of membership within teams and channels may result in the wrong people having access to sensitive information, increasing the risk of data leaks. Consider the scenario in which a user invites an external guest to an open channel. That guest might have access to internal information. Or they could duplicate content, add it to a private channel, edit posts, or delete data. It’s critical to monitor user activity and guest accounts that have access to your Teams environment.