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Why restrict users from creating Teams?

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While the answer may seem obvious – you get too many teams – it’s not as simple as that. Having many teams is not a bad thing per se. In fact, it’s quite the opposite: it means your users are actively using the tool. They collaborate more through the platform and the capabilities it offers.

What seems to be the issue then? Well, the problem arises when the appearance of these teams jeopardizes your organizational data security and hampers the collaboration process instead of improving it. Let’s elaborate a bit on that.

Teams sprawl

You do need certain control over team creation when you start witnessing Teams sprawl. Microsoft Teams sprawl happens when your employees create countless teams that don’t fulfill their purpose: collective work on a specific project. Here are some examples of teams that constitute Teams sprawl:

  • ‘Team’ teams
  • Test teams
  • Too many teams on the same topic
  • Teams with few members
  • Teams with only General channel

Security concerns

Due to confusion over which teams to use for collaboration, now that there are so many of them, your employees might feel tempted to resort to other tools to get their job done. Not only does this affect your adoption efforts, but it also raises data security concerns. Unauthorized apps can get access to your sensitive information, posing data security risks.

Loss of productivity

If your employees start creating multiple teams on the same topic, their collaboration efforts will be inconsistent. Elements of the same work might end up being stored in different teams, causing discrepancies, file duplication, and loss of productivity.

Compliance issues

Some organizations have internal compliance regulations that prohibit the use of certain apps, characters, and words for naming teams/files/folders, etc. Without any supervision and governance in place for naming policies and team creation, these rules can easily be broken.

Potential risks of restricting team creation

Sounds like resting team creation is the only way to go, doesn’t it? However, doing so can take its toll on the organization. Here are some issues that you risk running if you restrict your users from creating teams.

Low adoption and poor collaboration

Restricting team creation, as well as other capabilities that go with it if you do so through limiting Office 365 group creation, will inevitably affect collaborative work in your organization. Your employees won’t be able to use the platform in the way they see fit, limiting their experience, and creating resistance to using the app. This will inevitably slow down your Microsoft Teams adoption efforts.

Extra workload on IT

Given that your users will no longer be able to create teams on their own, your IT team may get overwhelmed with the number of requests for team creation.

Shadow IT

Consequently, your users might prefer to use other tools where they are free to work in the way they want. As you can see, both uncontrolled and restricted team creation may trigger the spread of shadow IT in the organization.

How to restrict users from creating new teams

Limit Office 365 group creation

Currently, there is no native solution that allows you to restrict team creation only. There’s a way to do it, however, by limiting Office 365 group creation.

Limit group creation to admins only

This method will prevent anyone in your organization, except for admins, to create groups.

Note that apart from a team in Microsoft Teams, Office 365 group includes other resources such as Planner, Power BI, shared Outlook inbox, SharePoint document library, Yammer, Stream, and a OneNote notebook.

You can disable Office 365 group creation throughout your tenant in Azure AD PowerShell for Graph.

The drawback of this restriction is that should you decide to permit team creation rights, you will need to do it on a per-user basis. Therefore, the next method may be a better option.

Restrict group creation to certain users

You may choose to have a group of people in your organization who will have permissions to create Office 365 groups. That will be your security group.

Note that you can only have one group in your organization that can control group creation. But you can add other groups as members of this group.

You can create your security group in the Microsoft 365 admin center. The next step will be to run PowerShell commands in Azure AD. You can find detailed instructions here.

While limiting Office 365 group creation is one of the options to prevent users from creating new teams, it might not be the best one. You still run the risks of slowing down the adoption and productivity as well as overloading your IT.

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