Included in Microsoft’s February wrap-up announcement of new features in Teams is this gem:
Automatic creation of an org-wide team
Streamline the process of bringing everyone together in your small to medium-sized business. All new tenants with 5000 users or fewer will start with an org-wide team. Learn more about org-wide teams and related best practices here.
Org-wide teams are useful ways to share information like organizational announcements with everyone. Currently, these teams can only be created by administrators if a tenant has 5,000 users or less (the threshold increases to 10,000 in November 2020). A tenant is limited to five org-wide teams. In one way, an org-wide team might be regarded as filling the role that Yammer often plays in larger organizations.
On the surface, it seems perfectly reasonable for Microsoft to create an org-wide team for new Office 365 tenants to get their collaboration juices flowing and encourage people to use Teams. But it’s a horrible idea for many reasons. Here’s a few that come to mind.
Don’t Mess with My Directory
First, Microsoft doesn’t own the tenant directory and should not create user-visible objects in the directory without prior approval from the tenant. Microsoft has been down this road before in 2017 when some bright spark came up with the notion to create Office 365 groups for managers and their direct reports. That idea died quickly after customers pointed out that they didn’t want a heap of new groups created by Microsoft.
Anything that uses tenant data (and this feature does because it must read information from the directory to create the org-wide team) should be an opt-in feature.
Office 365 is a Journey
Second, new Office 365 tenants often grow into the array of functionality available in the service. They might start by moving their current email workload to Exchange Online, then embrace document management with SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business, then tell users about Planner and To-Do, and so on. It’s up to a tenant to decide what they use from Office 365. After all, tenants must train and support their users.
Throwing Teams into the Office 365 mix without asking first is asking for trouble. A tenant might be committed to Yammer as its collaboration platform, or have decided that Slack is a better choice for chat-based communication. Or even decided that they’d prefer to stick with email until the new-fangled cloud technology is better understood.
Communication Barriers Exist within Organizations
Third, it’s entirely possible that organizations don’t want to have org-wide communications and see no need to “streamline… bringing everyone together.”. Or that they want to control org-wide communications using different methods (like email). Do organizations with many frontline workers automatically want everyone to communicate via Teams? It’s an open question.
A company might even want to use techniques like information barriers to control the flow of communications between different parts of the organization. Users will then be ejected from the org-wide team because of policy violations, which nullifies the reason to have an org-wide team.
Microsoft’s automated processes to create new org-wide teams have zero knowledge of the culture, structure, and organization of a new tenant, which is a very good reason why they should leave cross-organization communications for the company to decide.
Good Ideas Sometimes Turn to Dust
Good ideas that seem to be based on impeccable logic often don’t survive the transition from brainstorming sessions to actuality. I know Microsoft wants to popularize Teams and drive its user base to much higher levels. But doing stuff like this is not the right way to proceed. I hope Microsoft sees the light and withdraws this poorly thought-through idea.