Questions from Records and Governance in Microsoft Teams” webinar with Rob Bath 

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Can you auto-archive Teams which are inactive for 3 months, for example? 

Currently, Microsoft Teams doesn’t provide the capability to automatically archive inactive Teams – although, this feature has been requested on UserVoice¹.  

As such, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Microsoft introducing this feature in the future. However, if you can’t wait that long, it’s worth pointing out that the Graph API provides the ability to archive a Team – this effectively means that Team archival could be triggered automatically by bespoke processes / logic, potentially allowing organisations to build their own processes for invoking the archival of Teams. 

If you have a mixture of E5’s and E3’s (but predominantly E3’s) can you apply E5 information management benefits from an E5 user, to be implemented across all licences? 

This is a huge question as there are so many functions that could be considered information management benefits. I’m also not a licensing expert – but will try to answer as much as I can. I think typically, most of the functionality discussed during the webinar will be available to organisations in your situation. However, certainly some of the more advanced features will require everyone to have an E5 (or other premium licence), for example, applying Data Loss Prevention capabilities to Teams chat / channel messages, or automatic application of sensitivity labels. 

With regards to the retention capabilities, Microsoft has just released a helpful new guidewhich summarises the features provided with each licence: Microsoft 365 licensing guidance for security & compliance². 

If I understand it correctly, you will need premium licences for all users if you wish to: 

  • Automatically apply retention labels or polices (via default labels, sensitive information types, matching keywords/phrases, or via trainable classifiers) 
  • Trigger the start of retention from an ‘event’ 
  • Make files immutable for the duration of their retention periods 
  • Apply retention labels via defaults on libraries / folders (this is something I’ve only discovered since the webinar – also see a more detailed answer to a question on this specific topic below) 
  • Undertake a disposition review at the end of retention 

Setting retention polices seems to be something that can only be done by people with relevant permissions – for a big organisation, that would be ICT. How can records managers deal with data within their own department’s Team if they do not work as part of ICT? 

Much of the architectural thinking behind Microsoft 365 seems to assume that organisations work as single, centrally managed entities. However, I have worked with plenty of different organisations in all sectors that simply don’t work this way. I regularly find myself challenged with needing to partition or sub-divide the tenancy, so that different parts of decentralised organisations can make use of features that have been designed to be run by a central team. In fact, this is something I raised with the teams working on the new Managed Metadata service and on Project Cortex’s topicsback in January.  

With regard to records management features, it’s perfectly feasible for retention labels/polices to only be pushed to specific sites/teams. Effectively, this means that if you implement a central process that allows workspaces to be requested, approved and then created, part of this process could well be to apply different retention based on which part of the organisation  is requesting the given site/team. 

However, at the moment, there is only one ‘disposition area – and there isn’t currently a way of filtering the files that are subject to reviews at the end of the retention. In other words, anyone granted the ability to undertake disposition reviews will be empowered to make decisions on content from right across the organisation.  

I’d recommend that decentralised organisations who have chosen to use a single tenancy should consider setting up cross-department committees to oversee the configuration of some of the shared admin services. For example, why not get governance and retention specialists from across a distributed organisation together to oversee decisions about functionality in the Compliance Center rather than ICT? 

Any advice for FOI and DS Rights for chat/post history & FOI/SAR? Ideally, we don’t want chat history because it’s a nightmare to have to consider it! 

If information is recorded, whether in email or chat, it’s subject to FOI/SARs. As such, if you are allowing your staff to use the chat or communication functionality, you really need to find a way of ensuring that these messages are searchable and easy to export.  

One approach I’ve heard is to set your retention for chat to the absolute minimum you can – effectively deleting conversations (in accordance with guidelines) and keeping as little as possible.  

Content Search is the best tool to use for fulfilling a Subject Access Request in Microsoft 365, and can be used to find and export content stored in Teams chats and conversations – if you’re interested in finding out more, I wrote a blogpost on ‘How to facilitate Subject Access Requests in Office 365 last year. 

NB It’s worth pointing out that Content Search is a little trickier if you are using Private Channels! 

Silhouette of man searching in library

Undertaking a Subject Access Request (SAR) can be a painful experience, particularly for smaller organisations, and for those experiencing the process for the first time.  Office 365 provides some useful tools to help make the technical side of identifying and exporting… 

Can you recommend any further reading/online guides on information governance in MS Teams? 

Governance in Microsoft Teams is a bit of a niche subject – there is some content out there to take a look at: 

Microsoft Teams is rapidly becoming a central part of the collaboration story within many organisations. As a direct replacement for Skype for Business, it’s obvious to see why.
Teams really merges two different types of functionality into a single application…

I am interested in how Teams could function with an existing SharePoint architecture. Could/should Team site be synched to the existing SharePoint structure sites? 

This is a great question – and one that can really be debated both ways.  

Firstly, with regard to your existing SharePoint architecture, it really depends upon the type of sites you are usingI’m going to assume that you are using the Modern UI (as if you are still using the Classic UI, I would strongly urge you to ‘modernise’ before you consider Teams). In the Modern UI, there are two types of SharePoint sites: Team sites and Communication sites. Only Team sites can ever be associated with a Team (or Microsoft 365 Group); it isn’t possible to connect a Communication site to a Team.  

As such, if your existing architecture uses Modern Team sites, then yes you can choose to connect a site with a Microsoft 365 Group, and then create a Microsoft Team that is associated with the given Microsoft 365 Group. 

I guess the second part of your question is really the ‘should’ – this is much more difficult to answer (as really it will depend upon what you are using your sites for and how your colleagues collaborate with each other). For example, you might decide that you want to have a Microsoft Team for each SharePoint site (irrespective of what the site is used for), or alternatively, you might decide to only provide Teams for each ‘project’ but not for say ‘departments’ or ‘committees’ etc.  

This almost comes back to the discussion I started at the end of the webinar, about whether Teams are only for temporary communities (such as projects), or whether Teams are also suitable for more permanent groups (such as departments) – I’m not sure there is a definitive answer to this yet, what works best will likely vary between organisations.  

Are there any best practices for processes around decommissioning sites in MS Teams? 

In my experience, organisations often overlook the end of the lifecycle when releasing new technology – and Teams is certainly no exception to this. While I think there isn’t a clear best practice here – it’s pretty clear that doing nothing certainly isn’t recommended – so let’s look at the options. 

I guess there are two schools of thinking: 

  • Retention should be applied to content in Teams, this means that: 
    • Teams are archived as read-only, rather than being deleted 
    • Content is retained in the context it was created 
    • Restricted access – information that is siloed in an ‘archived’ Team can only be accessed by members of the Team’s associated Microsoft 365 Group  
    • Typically aligns with the thinking that Teams can be used for all forms of collaboration (i.e. both temporary (e.g. projects), and permanent (e.g. departments) 
  • Content of value should be moved out of Teams when the Team is decommissioned: 
    • Requires a process for moving valuable content out of Teams when teams are deleted.  
    • Content loses the context of the content it was created with.  
    • Potential permission issues – information moved outside of a Team could be revealed to people who could not view it when it was stored inside the Team 
    • Typically aligns with the thinking that Teams should only be used for temporary collaboration (e.g. projects), and more permanent ways of working should be conducted exclusively in other locations (e.g. SharePoint Online). 

At the moment, I’m not sure whether either of these approaches will eventually be seen as best practice – but I could personally argue it both ways and feel it’s important for each organisation using Teams to consider themselves as part of the guidance they provide to users. 

Any advice/good practice for organisations with a pre-established SharePoint architecture?  E.g. transfer Teams content to existing SharePoint sites after X time? Or do most people leave Teams content in place for its whole retention period? 

Firstly, with regard to pre-established SharePoint architectures, it’s worth noting that there has been quite a considerable evolution in what is currently considered best practice today, vs. the type of architectures that the SharePoint community were recommending only 5 years ago. Effectively, we have moved from a highly hierarchical structure of multiple nested sub-sites, to a flat, almost hierarchy-less architecture. As such, it’s worth bearing in mind, that the architecture that you have applied to your SharePoint content, might no longer be a great architecture to apply today. That’s not to say that your existing structure needs to change (I’ve no idea what your existing structure actually looks like!), more that your decision around how best to incorporate Teams into that structure, might well hinge on how you are currently working. 

With regard to the second part of your question, I think I’d like to refer you to my answer to the preceding question – I can argue it both ways. My view is this is probably a decision that each organisation will have to make themselves, based upon their own unique processes and ways of working. 

How have organisations been managing private chats and private channels? 

In my experience private chats are extensively used in Teams. Most users love the functionality that they provide. Some organisations are starting to raise governance questions around private chats – especially with regard to facilitating FOI/SAR or eDiscovery. Content Search can still be used to find private chat messages, allowing you to facilitate requests for information, however you might want to consider training staff in appropriate use of private chat! 

It’s also worth noting that eDiscovery can only extract certain parts of the conversations held in Teams chat. While it can be used to identify chat messages themselves, including edits and previous versions, it cannot find audio recordings, or user reactions (likes, hearts etc.). 

Private Channels were only introduced last November – so I’m not sure that the dust has yet settled to give a consensus.  From what I’ve seen some organisations are fully embracing Private Channels, while others have decided that they would prefer to use separate Teams instead of allowing Private Channels.  

If you chose to use Private Channels, there are various things you should be aware of with regard to Compliance and Retention: 

  • Each private channel is provided with its own unique separate SharePoint site. As such, with private channels, a single Team can now have multiple SharePoint sites behind it. This means that anything applied to the main SharePoint site behind the team (e.g. Site Columns, Content Types etc) will not automatically be available in the sites behind the private channels (and will need to be re-created there if required). 
  • When you archive a Team, you are also archiving any private channels within the given Team. 
  • When you delete a Team, you also delete any private channels within the given Team 
  • The Owner of a Team can only see private channels that they are a member of. As such, it could be possible for a Team to have private channels that the Team Owner isn’t aware of. 
  • By their nature, private channels silo information (to a greater extent than Teams) 
  • When a user is removed from a Team, they are also removed from the private channel. 
  • A private channel cannot be made ‘public’ (and likewise, a ‘public’ channel cannot be converted to be private. 
  • While you can use the ‘meet now’ capabilities to hold an immediate meeting with the members of a private channel, you cannot schedule meetings within private channels 
  • Messages sent in a private channel are delivered to the mailbox of the channel members, rather than to the group mailbox 
  • Private channels currently only provide limited support for the security and compliance capabilities, although Microsoft is actively working on improving the private channels capabilities in this area. At the time of writing: 
    • Data Loss Prevention (DLP) capabilities within Microsoft 365 have recently been extended to include private channel messages 
    • Retention Policies do not currently work with private channel messages 
    • eDiscovery applied to specific search locations needs to be applied to both the SharePoint site behind the Team and also separately to the SharePoint sites for private channels within the Team 
    • Additional steps need to be undertaken when attempting to include private channel content within a content search (i.e. when facilitating a FOI/SAR) – see: Use Content Search in Microsoft Teams³.

I guess as a word of caution, I’d suggest thinking hard about whether you wish to allow private channels to be used. I feel most of the time it might be better to instead opt for using an entirely separate Team instead. 

We have been recommended that each Team should have more than one Team Owner (in case of staff absence etc.). Is it possible to have more than one owner of a private channel? 

Yes – having more than one Owner for each Team is something I would strongly encourage for everyone. I would likewise encourage some form of process to consider replacing Team Owners as they move on.   

One thing I’ll also raise here is IT oversight for Teams. In the Microsoft Teams admin center, administrators can see Teams and Channels – even if they cannot see those teams and channels via the Teams client itself. This is great for smaller organisations, but does leave a gap in enterprises, who wish to delegate technical oversight to different parts of the organisation, but cannot grant these local admins with access to the central Admin centers (as this would empower them to oversee everything in the tenant).  In this scenario, you might need to consider making sure that local IT admins are always added as Team Owners, in addition to, say, the Project Manager (albeit this only works if local IT Admins are trusted to see all of the content within the Teams that they are responsible for overseeing). I wish there were a tidier solution to this! 

Private channels can indeed have more than one owner. 

I am new to Office 365 and SharePoint. I’m trying to understand the relationship between our existing SharePoint and Teams?

Microsoft 365 can take a little getting used to – it’s a vast platform, with multiple workloads that can really empower your organisation. However, trying to take it all in at once can be rather daunting! 

 I think it’s best to see Teams almost as a front-end – surfacing information that is technically stored elsewhere:

Each Team (within the Teams part of Microsoft Teams) always has an associated SharePoint site – which provides the backend file storage. All content that you can see in the ‘files’ tab of a Team’s channel is actually stored in the ‘Documents’ library within the associated SharePoint site. Inside this ‘Documents’ library, you will notice that there is a separate folder for each of the channels within your Team. 

NB, private channels don’t work in the same way as ‘public’ channels – with each private channel actually being stored within a separate SharePoint site. As such, a Team that uses private channels can technically be associated with multiple SharePoint sites at the back end. 

How do we manage the challenge of improving people’s digital skills if we don’t allow them to experiment with the technology? 

Personally, I find that I learn best when confronted with actual challenges in real-world scenarios. However, I think it’s fair to say that everyone responds to different types of skills-transfer in different ways.  

I feel that many of the main concepts of Teams are simple and intuitive enough for many people to pick up with minimal guidance. However, there will still be some people who need additional support. 

I’d personally recommend that people learn on the technology itself, but I suggest that this is supported by short, bite-size training collateral (ideally 2-3 minute videos, rather than weighty user guides)I’m not sure that any form of training course is required; it might be in some organisations, however, typically I think investment might be best focussed on repeatable collateral, such as ‘how to’ guides and short videos. 

One suggestion I will make is to consider installing a copy of Microsoft 365’s learning pathways – which provides training information that is regularly updated by Microsoft themselves, in a customisable format. This allows you to pick and choose the information you want to share with your staff and add your own collateral / messaging into the mix. See: Microsoft 365 learning pathways⁴.

How are people managing the dual environment aspect when some staff are using Microsoft 365 and some aren’t, with regard to duplication of file storage?

It’s natural that organisations will have multiple systems, and often be in a state of evolving from one environment to another. However, as a rule of thumb, I’d recommend having clear, concise guidance to support each technical capability (e.g. “we use OneDrive for xxx”). When you find yourself in a dual environment situation, the first thing to do is probably to assess the strategy, to see why this has occurred, and discover whether there is a plan to transition to a simplified state. 

One technique I’ve seen organisations use is almost to maintain separate guidance for ‘pre’ and ‘post’ transition users, making sure that the communications make it clear to each person which state they are currently in. Obviously, all of the compliance and governance will also need to be duplicated, with say, eDiscovery, retention and subject access requests needing separate processes for each separate environment 

However, inevitably, when your information and staff are split across disparate systems, information sharing, collaboration and communication will all be more complex – very often seeing people resort to increased use of email as a primary tool.  

If you find yourself in a situation where the strategy looks like the dual-environment situation is likely to last more than a year, it might be worth looking into hybrid solutions in Microsoft 365 – for example, you could potentially set your environment to incorporate on-premise file share content into Microsoft 365 search results. This won’t solve all of the issues you might face with sharing and collaboration, but it could help simplify some scenarios. 

How have other organisations actually approached manual labelling of Files from Teams? It’s a big bucket to tackle!

As I think I said during the webinar, I’ve never seen anyone get excited about classifying content. Apart from a few highly specific examples, where users understand that precise processes need to be followed, typically, staff see tagging content as an overhead – and very often this results in unreliable classification. 

I’m not sure that training helps too much either – unless there is a clear benefit to the user, typically manual labelling falls by the wayside. 

This is compounded in the case of Retention Labels, because unlike SharePoint columns, Labels cannot be made mandatory – any user who can modify the content can choose to de-select a retention label and apply ‘None’ instead. 

Automated application of retention labels provided as part of the advanced governance capabilities, are great, and provide excellent capabilities, but are all designed to label specific matching content – rather than label all content. As such, by themselves, automated approaches to applying retention labels will typically result in much of your content remaining un-classified. 

The most reliable approach, I feel, is to make use of setting default retention labels on libraries and folders. This approach effectively means the majority of your content gets an appropriate classification by default, hopefully with staff only needing to manually label by exception. The challenge with this approach is to ensure that defaults are applied to libraries. This itself can be undertaken manually, but in larger organisations this really needs to be applied to structures as part of the initial Team (or Site) request/creation process (either manually, or automatically).  I’ve even gone as far with one of my clients of building logic to automatically intercept the creation of new libraries and Team channels – so that there is a process to get the person creating the new container to choose the most appropriate classification for it. 

Does defaulting Retention Labels require an E5 licence for all members of the team? 

Since the webinar was run, I have finally been able to find a definitive answer to this question – and unfortunately, it’s not good news. Buried in a pdf that can be found on the docs.microsoft.com site is the following definitive answer: 

The ability to “Apply a default retention label for SharePoint/Teams/OneDrive for business libraries, folders, and document sets and Microsoft 365 Groups” requires all of your users (who can edit content that has a retention label applied to it) to have one of the following licences: 

  • Microsoft 365 E5 
  • Microsoft 365 E5 Compliance  
  • Microsoft 365 E5/A5 Info Protection & Governance 
  • Office 365 E5 
  • Office 365 Advanced Compliance  

I have to say, I’m disappointed with this change. Applying default labels is possibly the most useful way of accurately and consistently making use of retention capabilities in Microsoft 365Seeing this feature uplicenced effectively takes away much of the benefit of using retention labels if you aren’t lucky enough to have premium licences for all of your users. 

I have been told today that chat’s minimum retention is going from 3 days to 1 day. Is this correct? 

I have to say I’ve never really looked at the minimum durations before, but certainly on my tenant, I can set the minimum retention for Teams Chat content to 1 day: 

Many organisations rely on Teams for non-corporate content. What about an initial bottleneck where the owner is asked whether the Team is created for a corporate activity. If Yes, we apply Robert’s strategy If No, then all content is destroyed after a time? 

Personally, I’d suggest considering tightening your guidance and perhaps trying to advise users to avoid using Teams for non-corporate content. However, if you have decided that you wish to allow this, then I still feel that the strategy of reviewing, approving and consistently building Teams is far better than to allow your Teams to be created without controls in place.  

I guess my view is that the bottleneck is only as big as you make it – if you remove the need for approval, or if you largely automated the request / provisioning process, you can reduce the length of the delay down to under half an hour (from first request, to having a Team that is ready to use). NB, it takes a bit longer (1 hour) if you want to automatically apply retention labels too).   

I have heard some people propose the opposite solution – where Teams are created immediately (via out of the box self-service), and only after they have been created are processes started to subsequently apply compliance settings. The primary reason I don’t advocate this approach is that it doesn’t really allow you to apply your own naming conventions (and forces you to rely on Microsoft’s ‘group naming policy’), and also leads to the Team being configured after users having access – which can be confusing for users when the Team that they have just started using has changes applied to it (possibly different structures, metadata, permissions, tabs etc.). 

Do you know whether the recent licence changes mean that Discovery for chat and channel messages is now available in E3? 

I’m certainly not a licensing expert, but as I understand it, eDiscovery is split into two elements: 

  • ‘Core eDiscovery’ – which is available with an E3+ (officially: Microsoft 365 E5/A5/G5/E3/A3/G3, Office 365 E5/A5/G5/E3/A3/G3, and Office 365 Advanced Compliance)  
  • ‘Advanced eDiscovery’ – which requires a premium licence (officially: Microsoft 365 E5/A5/G5, Microsoft 365 E5/A5/G5 Compliance, Microsoft 365 E5/A5 eDiscovery and Audit, Office 365 E5/A5/G5, and Office 365 Advanced Compliance) 

In the context of Teams, the Core eDiscovery provides capabilities to undertake an eDiscovery investigation to content in Teams chat messages and even private channel messages.  This core capability includes the abilities to search, hold and export. 

Advanced eDiscovery is really an extension of the capabilities provided by Core eDiscovery, providing, for example an end-to-end workflow process to guide the eDiscovery process, and additional review and analytics functionality.  

As such, as far as I can tell, the answer to your question is yes, E3 does provide the ability to run eDiscovery against Teams chat and channel posts. 

Are there any example retention policies and labels that are now being used by organisations for the various O365 workloads that could be shared with the IRMS community? 

As answered on the webinar, there aren’t really any tangible examples that are available to be shared (certainly none that I’m aware of).  

My advice would be to be pragmatic and not try to over-engineer your file plan. Retention labels work best when they are kept simple. Too many retention labels in any given site, and you are likely to find users will start to become confused about which label they should be using. You can prevent much of this confusion by making use of Label Polices to ensure that each site is associated only with relevant retention labels. 

The specific labels that you choose to apply will very much be determined by the nature of your organisation’s work. For example, labels designed for a charity, probably won’t be suitable for a government department etc. Irrespective of industry, there are some clear examples of the more ‘universally’ applicable retention labels, for example ‘Finance’, ‘Hazardous substances’ etc. 

It’s perhaps easier to provide examples of what not to do. Firstly, I’d avoid the temptation to have too many retention labels – too much detail will make implementation and usability a real challenge. Secondly, I’ve seen various organisations naming their retention labels after retention durations (rather than functional activity) – I personally don’t think labels such as ‘7 years’ work well in many organisations. 

What are some pros/cons for advocating use of MS Teams for online video messages vs. say Zoom or others? 

Cards on the table, while I use Teams every day, I’ve not used Zoom that frequently.  

A quick google suggests that Zoom can get expensive (depending upon the plan tier you chose); that features are locked down during calls; and that some user report poor, unpredictable video quality that is blurred or pixelated.  

Teams on the other hand works very well from my perspective – it has superb quality of both audio and video, and if the call drops Teams does a great job of automatically re-connecting. Teams also supports up to 250 users, which is quite a feat. 

The main difference is however that Teams is so much more than just a communications device – as we’ve seen it also rolls together all of the corporate Team-working and file sharing capabilities that simply aren’t present in Zoom etc.  For example, the capability that Teams offers to automatically prevent a user from screen-sharing a sensitive file with someone who shouldn’t view it is the sort of functionality that simply isn’t provided by any other similar software – if anything, for me, Teams has to be the preferred choice for video calls for any organisation that has already invested into Office, or the wider Microsoft stack. 

Is there advice about governance for Teams recordings more generally? For example, is it possible to redact from recordings? 

When a Teams recording is made it is automatically uploaded into Microsoft Stream. A big thanks to the attendee who pointed this out in chat during the webinar, but yes, Stream provides the ability to trim videos: Trim a video in Microsoft Stream⁵.

One thing to point out is that many of the governance capabilities that we discussed are not currently available within Microsoft Stream. For example, at the time of writing, retention labels and policies cannot be applied to videos that are hosted in Stream. 

What is the key advantage of MS Team over a SP site for collaboration? 

There are various advantages of both SharePoint and Teams, so I think that this question can be answered subjectively. Personally, I find the way Teams unifies the experience, pulling content together from multiple workloads into a single experience to be its biggest advantage.  I think if you can keep the number of separate Teams that you are a member of to a minimum, the overall experience can lead to a significant improvement in collaboration.  

The biggest advantage SharePoint has is flexibility. For example, Teams has a simple, easy to use permissions model; SharePoint’s more complex permission model can be adapted to meet almost any requirement. Another example of this flexibility can be seen in structure – Teams provides a simple, intuitive structure, that can be used straight out of the box, while SharePoint has a much more complex structure, that can be adapted in multiple ways to meet specific requirements.  

Personally, I feel that the comparison really isn’t needed – both have their own advantages and disadvantages, and in most organisations, both Teams and SharePoint will be used as components – the challenge will be to clearly establish which types of activity will be supported by each workload. 

Is there a difference in applying  retention periods for video recording of meetings In Teams? 

Unfortunately, at the moment retention cannot be applied in Stream. As such, unless you download the recording out of Stream and upload it into a workload that supports retention (e.g. SharePoint), then you will not be able to treat recordings of Teams meetings as records. 

NB, I’m hoping that retention capabilities will become available in Stream in the future – as this is the ideal location for storing videos in Microsoft 365. 

As it isn’t possible for a user to individually delete 1:1 and group chats, having a retention policy for them seems to be really important. Is there a view on the length of time it is appropriate to keep chats for and then blanket-delete? (And/or a view on what 1:1 and group chats should be used for?) 

I’m fairly sure that a user can delete their own individual 1:1 / group chat messages, but not messages created by another user. However, yes, I agree, applying a retention policy to chat is likely to be important in many organisations. I’m not sure I’m the right person to ask for advice on the duration for retaining chats though (I’d want to see a records management specialist to seek their guidance on this).  I can certainly see the argument for a short retention period in chat – however, this needs to be balanced with usability (i.e. how far back do people need to refer back to previous chat messages?). 

As with any other type of content, chat is likely to contain both plenty of low-value ‘junk’ that you will want to purge on a timely basis – but given chat is starting to replace email, I’d argue that it will also contain more valuable content that you might want to actively preserve. For example, one organisation I was speaking to has used Teams (including chat) for their response to Covid-19, and is looking for options for retaining (and even exporting) the whole Team to preserve the context of the response for future historical refence.  

So, the problem I see, is that the one-size-fits-all retention policy might not provide suitable fidelity for helping to sort the wheat from the chaff when it comes to Teams chat – and each organisation will need to balance the risk of retention vs timely deletion based on their own usage. 

The other thing that jumps to mind, is that I’d recommend organisations make sure that they have appropriate usage policies in place around Teams, specifically to cover private and group chats. While this won’t resolve the issue entirely, this can at least help to ensure that relevant information is exchanged in an appropriate manner. 

Do you know of any major changes towards Teams coming with the new updates Microsoft are rolling out in July this year, affecting both policies and labels for SharePoint Online and OneDrive? 

As an evergreen platform, Microsoft 365 is constantly being updated all the time, so I’m not entirely sure which July changes are being referenced here. The biggest changes I’m aware of are the recent launch of the Microsoft 365 Records Management solution (which I covered here: Microsoft 365 Records Management vs. Information Governance) and also the future launch of Project Cortex (something I outlined here: Project Cortex What Is It And How Will It Transform Productivity ) 

While both of these bring interesting and powerful new features into the Microsoft 365 suite (especially Project Cortex – which could be a real game changer for knowledge management), I don’t think either will have a direct impact on Teams. 

While I’m not aware of anything affecting retention labels/policies, looking at the roadmap for Microsoft Teams, there are a number of interesting new features that are scheduled for release this summer, including: 

  • New file sharing experience – to allow content to be shared directly from Teams  
  • Suggested Replies – which will provide us with chat options to select from, that promises to make chat even easier to use  
  • Contextual Search – which will allow us to search for content in a given channel or chat by using CTRL + F (similar to the way search works in Office suite applications). 

Don’t hesitate to reach out and ask me any further questions you might have about Teams or the wider Microsoft 365 platform.