Episode 44: Designing a Smart M365 Governance Plan at Kohler

Ryan Hafeman hs
Ryan Hafeman10/13/2021

In this episode of #shifthappens, Dux Raymond Sy, AvePoint Chief Brand Officer, sits down with Ryan Hafeman, Associate Systems Analyst at Kohler, to discuss the importance of smart governance in using collaboration tools like Microsoft 365. Hafeman explains how Kohler, a diverse company with 20,000 licensed users of Microsoft 365, manages its use of the platform by setting up guardrails that block access to sensitive data and files while enabling remote work.

Hafeman emphasizes that governance is key to effectively using collaboration tools, especially in a remote work environment, and that good governance requires setting up guardrails to protect sensitive data and enabling employees to access the functions they need to do their work.

This is more important than ever during the pandemic. Hafeman explains his organization was already adopting Teams before the pandemic hit, and this allowed them to transition to a work from home scenario. He also mentions that they had put governance in place to manage the growth of Teams workspaces, and thankfully, all the teams that were created were captured in governance.

The discussion then moves to the use of an extended solution like AvePoint Cloud Governance for Teams deployment. Hafeman explains that they chose AvePoint because they were accommodating and willing to do test runs or proof of concepts, and there really wasn't a lot out there in terms of governance solutions. He mentions that retention and renewal processes were important considerations, as they didn't want outdated files to plague their Office 365 tenant. They wanted a mechanism that was driven automatically and interacted with the owners of these workspaces to ensure their tenant stayed clean and secure.

He provides further clarification on the concept of governance, which falls into three pillars: governance around the creation of workspaces, governance around managing workspaces, and governance around protecting data. He emphasizes the importance of proper content being put in Teams workspaces, the right people being invited, and the sharing of content being appropriate.

Hafeman goes on to name three buckets of governance every organization needs to consider, which are: getting rid of unused workspaces, archiving them, or keeping them for compliance reasons. He also emphasizes the importance of accountability and visibility in governance, including the ability to see what exists in a company from a team's perspective. He also talks about some of the positive business impacts of governance – such as giving users a better understanding of what they own and what they have access to – as well as challenges that organizations face, such as figuring out what access new associates should have.

Another challenge that governance can solve is the challenge of creating and managing workspaces in Microsoft 365, specifically on the difficulty for users to understand when to use Teams, SharePoint sites, Yammer communities, and so on. Hafeman mentions it is important to provide clear descriptions and instructions to users on the intended purpose of each workspace. When it comes to managing external sharing and guest access, especially in large organizations with multiple vendors and partners, Hafeman stresses the key is to find a balance between security and usability. A way to do this is to set up guardrails and mechanisms to prevent any potential risks associated with sharing content.

None of this will work unless it’s implemented properly. Hafeman emphasizes the need for clear communication when turning off features, and providing users with answers to why certain changes are being made. He also stresses the importance of providing knowledge on how to complete certain tasks and avoiding overwhelming users by taking a crawl, walk, run approach to introducing governance solutions. His advice is to partner with the business to understand their needs and use cases and provide the necessary support and capabilities to help them get their jobs done better. The goal is to have Microsoft Teams and SharePoint be tools that users continually use, while ensuring effective governance and prioritizing security.

Overall, the key takeaway is that governance is a critical part of successful Microsoft 365 adoption and requires a thoughtful and strategic approach that considers user needs and behaviors. Clear communication, education, and a focus on partnership with the business are all essential for achieving effective governance.

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