Consultant Data Management: 8 Tips for Using Microsoft Teams to Collaborate Efficiently, Safely, and Effectively

A group of coworkers sit at a large desk and talk

Effective consultant data management requires a thoughtful, proactive approach to data integration; when engagement teams receive direct shared access to the data they need, they’re empowered to increase productivity, streamline workflows, and make thoughtful, well-informed decisions safely and securely.

Leveraging Microsoft Teams for consultant data management, engagement teams can establish single-source-of-truth data management protocols, where all team members access a centralized hub and unified interface for chat, meetings, calls, planning, and task management. Solutions that natively integrate systems of record with Microsoft Teams — like OnePlace Collaboration & Content — help create an engagement-centric Microsoft Teams hub uniquely suited to serve professional services providers like consultants, accountants, and advisors.

Using a single-source-of-truth data management approach, engagement teams can surface information from a wide host of sources — project or document management systems, customer relationship management platforms, and third-party data integration — within a unified interface, leveraging advanced Microsoft Teams governance to ensure internal processes and regulatory compliance. The software can also provide a secure, centralized hub for all kinds of routine communications, including conferencing and information sharing — both internally and externally — with clients and business partners.

Succeeding with Microsoft Teams

Although many professionals already readily embrace Microsoft Teams for everyday collaboration, the software presents challenges for IT departments and information compliance officers who have invested significant time and money into optimizing consultant data management, data integration, and regulatory compliance.

Many of these challenges relate to professionals sharing sensitive information too freely and losing track of where information resides. When this happens, the firm risks losing critical control over data security and regulatory requirements. If firms don’t implement security, governance, and lifecycle data management protocols, users won’t be able to track information flow and engagement status; without structure and rules, they’ll be unable to use the system effectively.

Here are 8 best practices that help ensure consultant data management success when using Microsoft Teams:

  1. Create Microsoft Teams Workspaces

Before you get started with Microsoft Teams workspaces, identify your firm’s use cases. Although consultant data management requirements share some commonalities across teams, specific teams will have unique needs.

Establish and document different categories of teams within your firm’s environment and reflect this information in the Microsoft Teams information architecture. For example, your firm will likely have administrative teams — like HR, IT, and finance — as well as teams that collaborate directly with clients and other third parties.

  1. Establish Naming Conventions and Classifications

To facilitate consultant data management, standardize naming conventions and classifications to help teams access data quickly and easily. To protect your firm from data breaches and regulatory exposure, apply controls for information privacy and data retention protocols that spell out how long data should be stored before archiving or deletion.

Solutions like OnePlace Collaboration & Content automate the enforcement of standardized names and team properties to ensure teams can locate and link related teams and apply discrete controls.

  1. Implement Security Policies

Maintaining centralized control over consultant data management and security measures across information sources helps protect your firm from liability; you should apply the same level of rigor to Microsoft Teams — particularly engagement-centric teams.

When you create a team, only give a specified subset of users access to an engagement. For teams that communicate externally, consider retroactive updates to security measures and external user management protocols. If your firm is using Intapp Walls alongside OnePlace Collaboration & Content, you can extend centrally managed security policies into Microsoft Teams to protect sensitive data.

  1. Integrate with the Firm’s Document Management System

To maintain data security and compliance, firms need to be able to both track activity and log changes to systems of record and provide a complete audit of changes. The system should also support a single-source-of-truth data management approach, where documents and information stored in a variety of data repositories flow into a centralized hub that’s accessible to all team members.

Using a solution like OnePlace Collaboration & Content, your teams receive the benefits of automated email filing, tracked email-based engagement activity, and centralized storage of engagement-related correspondence and attachments.

  1. Build Data Sets and Analytics

When collaborating on client engagements, teams need not only the flexibility to incorporate diverse data sets — including capturing links from external sources — but also actionable insights into team activities.

The solution should also support data integration with advanced reporting and analytics platforms like Microsoft BI, which provides an interactive reporting portal. Using a solution that can glean insights from Microsoft Teams — like OnePlace Collaboration & Content — enables streamlined billing processes, better resource management, and more reliable performance assessments.

  1. Optimize Data Lifecycle Management

Effective consultant data management requires robust data hygiene protocols to meet regulatory requirements; information stored in Microsoft Teams workspaces should not remain indefinitely on servers or in archives.

To succeed with managing the data lifecycle, you need a solution that builds in automated rules-based lifecycle management to ensure that teams are archived or deleted at the appropriate time.

Solutions — like OnePlace Collaboration & Content — that issue automated reminders to update a Team’s classification or move it to the next lifecycle stage ensure that your engagement teams stay on track with regulatory requirements.

  1. Leverage a Client Collaboration Platform

Engagement teams need to collaborate freely with their internal teammates as well as clients and other external parties. However, without proper safeguards in place, teams can take actions that introduce data privacy and security concerns. And when team members use private channels to share content, firms need to be mindful about securing sensitive engagement-related information, documents, and data protected by regulatory mandates.

Using a solution like OnePlace Collaboration & Content, your firm can create the structure for approvals and classifications to prevent data leakage.

  1. Improve Visibility into Engagements

The effectiveness of Microsoft Teams depends on a connected-firm approach, where data integration for Microsoft Teams properly connects with core systems of record across the firm. This helps firms deliver single-source-of-truth data management, where team members are accessing information through one pane of glass.

Moving Forward with Microsoft Teams

As firms continue implementing Microsoft Teams, proactively managing risk becomes vitally important. OnePlace Collaboration & Content integrates natively with Microsoft 365, providing the necessary protocols for data security and regulatory compliance. The solution combines the power of Intapp OnePlace and Microsoft 365, helping teams streamline collaboration and work smarter by enabling client-centered collaboration that wins business and delivers successful engagement outcomes.

To learn more, schedule a demo for OnePlace Collaboration & Content.

Written by:

Marc McNicholl

Managing Director of Sales, OnePlace Collaboration & Content

View profile