Road to Successful Office 365 Governance – Discover, Report, Protect



Recently we talked about how we’re over a year into the COVID-19-fuelled shift in how we do business.

Organizations have had reacted and adapted to online and remote ways of working. Employees are now used to real-time collaboration, anywhere and anytime.

Technology such as Microsoft 365 has helped make this the ‘new normal’ for many. However, it’s easy to forget just how far we’ve come in a relatively short space of time.

As recently as 2019, 365 million desktop computers were used in offices globally, according to Gartner. Then in 2020, close to 1 billion people, over 1 in 8 of the global population, moved to a working from home model.

Now in 2021, lockdowns are lifting or easing in many countries. This gives rise to hybrid working for IT leaders, with workforces based between the office and home. Naturally, this trend asks plenty of questions around Office 365 governance.

Enabling remote work with cloud-based Microsoft technologies

According to Gartner, 70% of organizations invested in the form of cloud technology in 2020. Furthermore, 77% of CEOs were found to believe digital transformation will accelerate. With the C-suite strategy firmly committed to this change in work, let’s examine how this plays out in terms of communication and collaboration tools.

In the USA during 2020, there were two joint-leaders:

Leader technologies USA 2020

Zoom and Microsoft are both way ahead with 36%, with Microsoft’s share split across Teams (19%) and Skype (17%). Google Hangouts comes in at 9%, with Slack at 7%.

Best practices for succeeding with an Office 365 roll-out

Let’s now look in greater depth into the adoption of these five tools. Slack published some insights into what organizations needed to put in place in order to succeed. Three common themes came through:

  • Agility
    Able to adapt quickly to change. Being more open to risk and ready to make decisions faster.
  • Flat structures
    Communication between teams and team leaders flows fast. Users are able to choose the most appropriate tools for working together.
  • Asynchronous
    Communication is kept asynchronous to minimize the impact of losing face-to-face interaction.

There’s something else that links these three themes. Time. A resource many people now have more of, thanks to the reduction in commuting to offices. The waste of resources was something highlighted by Richard Buckminster Fuller, architect and system theorist:

Richard Buckminster Fuller Quote

Now, 40+ years from that statement, the post-covid reality has made organizations look again at how we use time. The result, say 90% of respondents to a Gartner survey, is to continue allowing employees to work remotely and flexibly. Twitter has said workers could work remotely “forever”, while Spotify is offering NY/SF salaries to employees working anywhere in the world.

Hybrid work trends at Microsoft, Google & Dropbox

This sentiment is fueled by how employees are now connecting, creating, and collaborating. After all, the tools and technology available means teams don’t have to be in the same room, time zone, or even the same continent.

Then again, for some activities, the office can still be the preferred option. Creatives may prefer to feed off each other’s energy in a room together. Decision-makers might want to seal a deal in person. Employees might simply want to meet up with co-workers to build team spirit.

These and other scenarios are why we also see the rise in “hybrid work”. This is where organizations are offering ways to bridge the physical and digital worlds.

Microsoft allows employees to work from home 50% of the time. Dropbox has become a remote-first company and provides Dropbox Studios for group-based work. These have been designated for “collaboration and community-building, and employees will not be able to use them for solo work.”

Google has also reacted to hybrid demands by evolving its G Suite offering. Now rebranded as Google Workspace, the collaboration platform is described by IDC as “an integrated workspace” with “less application switching”. In other words, it’s designed to ease the switch between home and office working.

Slack identifies three key drivers of a hybrid model:

  • Mobile, smartphones, and laptops
    The rise in devices for employees to use in the office, at home, anywhere, and anytime
  • Cloud computing and VPN
    The availability of secure and authenticated infrastructure for organizations to fulfill governance and compliance requirements
  • Collaboration platforms
    The accessibility of colleagues and conversations, recorded and stored to build knowledge and act as a reference

IT leaders out there, you face many challenges around issues such as Office 365 governance. The good news is, these challenges can be met.

Collaboration in Microsoft Teams

In April 2021, Microsoft Teams had 145 million active daily users, according to Statista. This compares to just 13 million in July 2019:

MS Teams Active Users

As adoption continues, with Microsoft the dominant office-based tool, we can expect Teams-fueled collaboration to continue and become the norm. What does this mean for the future? According to Microsoft, there are three key things to focus on:

  • Communicate
  • Collaborate
  • Co-author content

At the center of this is Microsoft Teams. Where conversations and video calls can take place with teams, customers, and external partners. And where content can be placed in one central space for collaboration to happen.

While we’ve focused on the world of work, these benefits can just as easily be applied to academia. Microsoft Teams has become a popular choice for schools and universities continuing education throughout the pandemic, with students able to continue their education remotely.

There are also hardware developments coming, from advances in microphones and cameras, all certified for Teams and built for working in a hybrid environment. As time goes on, with more applications, workloads, and use cases, this means new questions around office 365 governance.

Access reporting recommendations for Office 365

Of course, you need to know who has access to which documents, sites, and teams.

While it’s easy to create content in Microsoft Teams, it’s also easy to create information overload or duplication. Content can soon sprawl and overlap with existing teams and content. A team may have completed a project, and the related documents need to be archived for Office 365 governance reasons.

You can manage all this by using your organizational structure or your project structure. Model your access reporting in this way for IT, governance and compliance, to check the right people have access to the right content.

Access reporting also helps you manage any access with external users. After all, alongside collaboration, you also need control. Helping you understand who the users are and how much access to systems they need. And giving you insights into how relevant assets are being used.

Tools for Office 365 governance

If that sounds like a lot to think about, help is at hand. These processes can be automated when using tools such as SysKit Point, which offers an Access Review Wizard for your environment.

SysKit Point Office 365 Governance

You’re guided through all the steps needed for successful Office 365 governance. You get a detailed yet straightforward overview of all shared content across Microsoft Teams, SharePoint Online, Microsoft 365 Groups, and OneDrive. Plus, you’re shown a review summary showing what’s been updated.

To ensure Office 365 governance is done the right way, explore SysKit Point with a no-obligation demo today.

Hey there! I’m Toni, the Co-Founder and CEO of Syskit, creators of Syskit Point and SPDocKit. Welcome to Toni on Tech, where we explore the ever-evolving world of software, technology, and business.