Law firm best practices: Archiving within Microsoft Teams

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If your law firm is like most, Microsoft Teams has become an indispensable collaboration tool for your partners, associates, and clients. But without the right Teams governance controls in place, you risk creating sprawl — the proliferation of unused, outdated, or duplicative teams and data.

Left unchecked, this sprawl can choke the very efficiency you sought with Teams, as your associates and partners waste time looking for the specific team they need or the most up-to-date files. In addition, users may become reluctant to use the platform, finding the disorganization frustrating. These users may then switch to less secure methods of collaborating, such as sharing files via email.

Sprawl can also pose a security threat. For example, the longer an inactive team exists, the greater the risk that an undesignated user may access the team’s data.

In extreme cases of sprawl, your law firm also runs the risk of hitting Teams’ various limits, including the number of teams a user can be a member of.

To avoid the negative effects of Teams sprawl, your firm needs to follow effective information governance — which includes archiving teams after all associated work concludes. Check out the best practices law firms should follow when archiving teams.

1) Archive teams when their work is done

The most effective way to combat sprawl is for team owners to archive a team when the work associated with that team is done. In both Microsoft Teams and Intapp Workspaces, archiving teams is a straightforward process.

2) Implement automated reminders to renew or archive teams

To further ease the archiving process for team owners, automated, scheduled reminders can prompt team owners to archive teams after a certain period of time has elapsed.

In support of this best practice, Intapp Workspaces includes a default setting that sends team owners automatic reminders a year after a team has been created.

“After a year, the owners will receive an email asking them to renew the team,” explains Warren Weintrop, a Principal Consultant at Intapp. “If they want to, they can renew it; otherwise, they can archive it. There’s a couple of additional reminder emails that come through 14 days apart, and, if the team owner doesn’t act, there’s an automatic escalation to someone else.”

Your law firm can adjust the default setting in Intapp Workspaces so that team owners are asked to renew or archive their teams after a shorter or longer period has passed, depending on your preference.

Microsoft Teams in its native form doesn’t allow for automated reminder messages about archiving teams after a certain period.

3) Ensure that files in archived teams automatically flow back into your document management system

If your firm doesn’t archive teams after all associated work is concluded, you risk losing track of valuable work product. Imagine, for example, that one of your firm’s lawyers has written a legal analysis based on a recent matter that can be widely adapted to other cases. Or perhaps a team has created new contract language that your firm will need for similar transactions in the future. If these valuable work products are left in abandoned workspaces, your professionals will waste time searching for them later and may have to recreate them from memory — assuming anyone who worked on them is still at the firm.  

Your firm can avoid this problem by 1) requiring team owners to archive their teams when their work is done, and 2) ensuring that all files and chat messages in the team automatically flow back into your document management system (DMS).

Unfortunately, native Microsoft Teams doesn’t offer automated transfers, nor does it let users easily check files into and out of the DMS. But Intapp Workspaces can automatically move an archived team’s files and chat messages into your DMS, thanks to its content connector function.

While Intapp Workspaces does not support exporting any related content from Microsoft Planner or OneNote into the DMS, it integrates with both applications for easier information management and tracking.

4) Don’t treat Microsoft Teams as your document management system

One final best practice you should consider is to avoid using Microsoft Teams as your DMS, as doing so will almost certainly cause sprawl. You will also increase the risk of hitting the various limits Teams imposes, including the number of channels per team (200) and the number of teams a user can belong to (1,000).

Instead, use a purpose-built DMS that meets your industry-specific needs and helps your firm comply with document retention policies. Intapp Documents, for example, lets you turn Microsoft SharePoint into a matter-centric legal DMS, and integrates with Intapp Workspaces and Teams so you can maximize your investment.

Control all aspects of information governance with Intapp Workspaces

Archiving teams is only one part of a sound information governance policy. To effectively combat sprawl, you need other governance practices in place. With Intapp Workspaces, law firms gain comprehensive governance controls for Microsoft Teams and automated, rules-based lifecycle management, tailored for the specific needs of law firms.

Schedule a demo to see these capabilities in action.