When deploying SharePoint, Microsoft Teams and OneDrive many organisations tend to leave the platforms open allowing anyone to create sites, teams or channels. While at first this might seem harmless, left unmanaged this can lead to a much greater problem of content sprawl.  

Without specific guidance and training, there tends to be poor adherence to any formal information architecture (data classification, tagging, labeling, navigation). With the volume of unstructured data growing at an exponential rate as collaboration moves toward video and chat-based tools, you need to ensure governance and processes are in order to prevent issues down the line. In this blog we share some of the key areas you need to look out for.

Uncontrolled site creation

By default, anyone can create a site usually without oversight, planning, or any kind of formal training. This can often result in dozens/hundreds of rarely used or abandoned sites. This can lead to a poorly performing search experience, and your intellectual property (content and conversations) spread across multiple locations each with a maze of chats, files, and channels.

Not using your data

By definition, sprawl means that your data (your intellectual property) is spread across various sites. When data is not optimised, classified and organised, it cannot be used effectively. When data is not used effectively, it can negatively impact discovery, collaboration, and innovation. Make sure you are using the analytics to identify content in your tenant that has no users.

Unused Teams and Sites

As everyone can create sites, it is very common for users to create duplicate teams/sites that they use for a short while. These teams/sites are then forgotten about and left therefore contributing to the issue of sprawl. Take Microsoft Teams as an example, creation of a new Team automatically creates an Office 365 Group, which is an Azure Active Directory security group, and includes the automatic provisioning of several digital assets, such as a SharePoint team site and an Exchange shared calendar. Whether or not these assets are used, they are created and can rapidly expand the volume of content sprawl.

No retiral policy

Many SharePoint sites get created to support a particular project or team, when the project has been completed the site should enter a reduced phase and at some point, in the future, be retired. Ensuring you have rules and processes in place to make this happen is key or every project ever run in your company will still have its own SharePoint site.

Incorrect ownership

Left unmanaged, incorrect ownership can wreak havoc within your Microsoft ecosystem. Let’s say a user requires access to a site/team and the owner is unable, this can delay user access to resources and workspaces they may need access to. 

It’s also worth noting that when a team/site is created if the owner changes roles or leaves the business the groups they were responsible for may be left with an incorrect owner or in some cases no engaged owner at all. This contributes to sprawl because the sites become hard to remove and likely new versions are created by remaining users as a work around.

In our experience very few organisations begin their planning process with sound governance policies in place. Instead, many begin to act when the issues start to cause real problems within the business. To prevent sprawl from happening or getting worse we recommend you act now. If you’d like more information on how to manage sprawl within your organisation, contact our team of experts who can help.