Microsoft Teams Data Sprawl is Inevitable. Here’s How to Manage It - Photo by Charles Deluvio on UnsplashWith the pivot to widespread remote work, Microsoft Teams adoption soared in the last year. Teams now boasts 145 million daily active users, according to Microsoft. This is an increase from 75 million users in April 2020.

The platform is ideal for collaboration. However, its increased adoption brings new challenges in managing Teams environments. Welcome to the challenge of managing Teams sprawl. If companies haven’t experienced challenges with Teams sprawl, they likely will soon.

The Impact of Data Sprawl on IT Networks and Systems

Teams data sprawl hurts several areas of business operations, including security, information accessibility, employee collaboration and productivity, and cost management.

From a security standpoint, it’s critical to understand all the information that is housed within your Teams environment. The IT department needs to know what data is being saved, how it’s being saved and who has access to it. For instance, most organizations don’t have insight into the number of external guest users that have access to their Teams environment. Those guest users could have the ability to delete a channel and its information, which poses a considerable security risk.

Information accessibility affects productivity, and data sprawl makes it more challenging to locate files or documents. Extra time spent hunting for data hinders productivity. If a file is created in a private chat where other employees are not included, that file will be inaccessible to those employees, even through the search function.

Confusion breeds chaos. If an employee is not sure where to save a document or which channel to post a question, they may use the wrong channel or avoid asking the question altogether. Or they may create a subgroup in which that information isn’t accessible to the greater organization.

Sprawl also affects cost management. For enterprise organizations managing thousands of teams and channels, excessive storage means exorbitant monthly fees. With Teams’ increased usage, there is no shortage of ways in which data sprawl can spin out of control.

Establishing Governance to Curb Teams Sprawl

Sprawl grows in spaces that lack thoughtful governance. Without policy settings and established best practices, a Teams environment quickly becomes unmanageable.

The quickest way to curb sprawl is to establish rules and processes around creating new teams and channels. These practices and parameters help declutter the Teams environment. They also enable the organization to set a new baseline for better collaboration and productivity.

Processes and policies need to fit your organization. For instance, if a company locks down the ability to create a new channel or team, people might find new ways to connect. They may create private group chats that could potentially involve many employees. However, this is problematic for IT. A private chat can fall out of the IT team’s purview, limiting their visibility for system monitoring. In this case, rigid governance policies that make usability difficult can interfere with business. Instead, let your company’s goals drive the process, governance and best practices created around Teams.

Ensure that the policies you establish will work with how your organization operates. It helps foster employee collaboration in a way that can be tracked from an IT perspective. This will help ensure that Teams is used most effectively and keep user adoption high.

Ongoing Monitoring for Successful Teams Management

Visibility is essential for effective governance, and maintaining governance is an ongoing task. Companies cannot set and modify best practices and policies without clearly assessing, analysing and acting upon their Teams environment.

As organizations evolve and grow, effective visibility means consistent real-time monitoring, not a one-off snapshot. This type of regular, ongoing review of your environment gives you actionable information to detect sprawl. Usage statistics, the types of devices used, and the creation of new chats and channels directly contribute to sprawl.

Use business intelligence dashboards to collect this information for the IT department. It makes it easy to see areas for improvement and track changes in the Teams environment over time. Real-time monitoring is critical to creating and enforcing best practices.

To reduce dormant, abandoned or single-use channels, consider proxying the creation of new channels through your company’s IT department. It helps ensure policies are in line with your company’s overall Teams guidance. IT can make sure new channels are appropriately named. This ensures there’s no confusing overlap with other channels or teams. This way, the right team members are included, and the team or channel has the correct owners.

Available Tools for Enhancing Teams Environments

Once policies and governance practices are in place, IT tools help actively manage Microsoft Teams sprawl and ensure the environment is optimized for collaboration and productivity across the organizations.

Automated assessments for Microsoft Teams, such as those offered by BitTitan Voleer, provide a detailed report on the amount of data stored, the number of teams and channels, and insight into what can be consolidated and archived. As a result, it helps free up storage space in the environment. It also allows you to assess if any private channels should be switched to public or vice versa.

Teams sprawl is a problem that can quickly spiral out of control. However, with some planning and the right tools, your Teams environment can stay efficient, nimble, and organized. This will ultimately help and not hinder the advancement of your business.

BitTitan LogoBitTitan® empowers IT service professionals to successfully deploy and manage cloud technologies through automation.  MigrationWiz® is the industry-leading SaaS solution for mailbox, document, public-folder and Microsoft Teams migrations between a wide range of Sources and Destinations. Voleer is a solution that centralizes and automates IT tasks, helping empower IT service professionals to streamline daily operations and eliminate redundancies. Since 2009, BitTitan has moved over 25 million users to the cloud for 46,000 customers in 188 countries and supports leading cloud ecosystems including Microsoft, Google and Dropbox. The global company has offices in Seattle and Singapore. To learn more, visit or the BitTitan blog.


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