Office 365 Governance Essentials: Part 2 – Governance Team

This is part 2 in a series of posts about Office 365 Governance. The first post was about making use of the Weekly Office 365 Changes Digest. In this post, I will talk about how a governance team helps the Office 365 Global Tenant Administrator(s) make decisions about the configuration and use of the tenant.

What is a Governance Team and what does this team do?

A governance team is a group of employees that work together to guide the decisions about how Office 365 is configured and used at their company. They represent, either directly, or indirectly, various parts of the business and technology environment at that company. For example, at the company I work for, our governance team consists entirely of IT people. Those IT people represent different IT concerns such as end user support and desktop configuration, networking, management of business applications, IT-business alignment, and services delivery. Although we do not have members from business departments directly in the team, several team members have deep knowledge of the business and bring that context to the functioning of the governance team. Also, at least one team member sits on an IT steering committee that can also provide guidance on business alignment.

I’m going to assume that you are the tenant administrator/service manager/product owner of Office 365 at your organization. It is your job (among many other things) to call together the governance team and lead them through the decisions you need them to make.

The purpose of having this team be involved in the configuration and use decisions is to maximize the alignment between the business needs and the technology. For example, the CISO’s participation will help ensure that we are aligning the configuration of Office 365 to the organization’s security concerns. At the company I work at, Identity and email administration fall under the networking team. The networking team and the CISO provide critical input into decisions about, for example, external sharing across different Office 365 workloads (such as Forms, SharePoint, and OneDrive). The helpdesk team leader can be a key representative of end user concerns.

How often should a governance team meet? Governance team meeting frequency can vary from weekly to monthly, but I would recommend meeting at least monthly. There are changes that arrive in the tenant each week, and some of these merit discussions with the governance team. In the ongoing operation and support of the tenant, other questions will arise that you will want to bring to the Governance Team. Additionally, if you have a new tenant, you likely have many initial configuration settings that merit discussion.

What do you do in a governance team meeting? You discuss the Office 365 configuration and use questions that will impact how your organization uses office 365.

The overall agenda I use covers these areas:

  1. Old business. Status of changes agreed to in previous meetings (completed, in progress, not started) and why.
  2. New business: Changes that need to be discussed. Some of these are just things you want the team to be aware of. Other are ones that you want their direction or approval of. Approved changes may need to go through the organization’s change control process as part of implementing them.
  3. Future business: Things in the backlog that you want the team to be aware of.

I make my meeting agenda in PowerPoint over the days between the previous governance meeting and the upcoming meeting.

As the Subject Matter Expert for Microsoft’s suite of business productivity tools, you should exemplify how to conduct a well-run meeting. Key to this is having an agenda, starting on time, and ending on time or early. After each meeting, send out meeting notes from the meeting. Make sure to document any decisions made in the meeting. After each meeting, I write up my meeting notes in OneNote and send the notes to the team. Finally, start working on the changes discussed.

The governance team is your key tool for aligning the use of Office 365 to your business. Every organization will make a different set of governance decisions. In my next post, I will discuss some of the different areas that Office 365 governance encompasses.