Previously I have written about how many organizations seem to overlook the importance of Teams structure and templates to manage that structure. The dark side of governance is that we tend to focus on setting up governance policies and forget how naming Microsoft Teams, channels, and tabs could impact long-term productivity.
How could something so seemingly trivial as naming be so important and impactful?
Azure AD P1 has limited policies around naming teams. For example, the prefix-suffix naming policy allows you to add static string or user profile attributes in the Microsoft 365 group name. And I don’t think you should use it when working with multiple templates. The most common thing I still see at customers is a custom provisioning solution.
We could use custom blocked words to improve naming and enforce naming convention in Teams. Some things you could block:
Any modern third-party solution should and will (probably) have the option to tie naming to specific templates. For example, if you create a project team and enter the name “Spring Cleaning”, you should get a “PRJ - Spring Cleaning” team.
Even with trained end-users, they forget to enter the correct name. Some organizations enable post-provisioning governance and send a checklist to the team owner. In theory, it’s a good idea and requires a culture where people remediate or recreate when needed.
In most organizations without proper governance in place, we see a lot of “test” and “demo” teams, many duplicate teams, too long names that truncate the team name, inconsistent use of prefixes - too many or none at all.
Duplicated makes it harder for users to know which one to use. Inconsistent naming makes it harder for users to find the teams they need and see the benefits of Teams. Without acronyms explaining which type of team it is, it’s harder to understand the context and what content to expect.
Users can and will create a Team with the same name if they don’t know it exists. Try to break people’s habit of making teams private and encourage the usage of public teams. There are reasons to have a private team, such as hiding files from search in a management team.
A teams directory is beneficial, and it should show all the teams, even the private ones the user doesn’t have access to. A directory should be a part of any custom provisioning solution or third-party tool and placed close to the ordering form. If you want to take things to the next level, you might even implement a function when ordering the team to display similar Teams (think of what Stackoverflow does when posting a question).
Make sure to use custom blocked words as well.
We have already done the work of templatizing teams based on common attributes, and our favorite example is a project. Think about prefixes as a way to identify these different teams. For example, a widespread scenario uses PRJ for projects and DEPT for departments as a prefix.
Prefixes are helpful for content but make sure that you only use a few acronyms and only use country or region when necessary.
Too long names truncate the team name, and you will have to hover to see the full name. A good rule of thumb is to use a max of twelve characters for prefixes and a total of 29 characters. So once again, make sure only to use necessary and helpful prefixes.
Channels are collaboration spaces within a Team, where people do the actual work. They represent a specific topic, department, or project a team works on, guiding users through their conversations and focus discussions. Channels allow logical separation of conversations and data.
Channel names have a direct correlation with folder names in SharePoint.
Microsoft Teams can integrate applications and documents into your channels through tabs. By default, you get three standard channels each time you create a new channel - Posts, Files & Wiki.
You want to make it easier for the user to find a team to avoid unnecessarily duplicating. We also need to think about only creating private Teams when necessary. A good name helps the users and IT understand who this team is for, who owns it, and the purpose. And also what content is in the team.
With fewer duplicates, IT will have less strain administering merges and removals of teams. And in combination with more healthy governance implementations, the end-users see the benefits of using Microsoft Teams every day.
Thanks for reading