Microsoft 365 Governance Best Practices

Today we take a look at the importance of Microsoft 365 governance and some of the steps you can take in your organisation to ensure proper governance of your M365 environment.

The author of this page: Conall O'Kane
Conall O'Kane, Practice Manager - Modern Workplace Nov 23, 2023

What is Microsoft 365 Governance and Why is it Important? 

Microsoft 365 Governance refers to the set of policies and processes an organisation implements to maintain a high-level of information security and compliance, and to control and protect important company data within its M365 environment. 

Proper M365 governance is crucial in ensuring your business uses its M365 systems in a way that is efficient, secure and compliant. Not only does an effective governance strategy involve policies that help control user access and safeguard sensitive data, but ensuring compliance with industry regulations will help mitigate legal risks. Essentially, proper governance is a way for organisations to maximise the benefits of Microsoft 365 apps while minimising risks and operational inefficiencies. To achieve this, businesses must implement M365 governance best practices, which we discuss below. 

Define User Access and Identity Management Policies 

It’s important to implement strong policies surrounding identity and access management to control who has access to certain resources in M365. Ensuring only the necessary people can access sensitive information will help safeguard company data. Solutions like Entra ID (formerly Azure AD), can help manage user identities, implement role-based access controls and enforce multi-factor authentication (MFA). It can also help you conduct regular access reviews to ensure user access permissions are up to date and align with the principle of least privilege. 

Implement a Content Management Strategy 

Establishing document retention and deletion policies will help your organisation manage the lifecycle of data more effectively within the Microsoft 365 environment, from emails in Outlook to documents in SharePoint. Tools like Microsoft Syntex allow users to add retention labels to documents to control how long the document is stored for and the deletion of the document can then be automated. Effective management of content and its lifecycle will help your organisation to reduce data clutter and ensure compliance with GDPR. 

Classify Data 

Labeling data based on its degree of sensitivity and importance will make it easier to categorise so you can then assign the appropriate policies and access permissions. For example, Syntex allows you to add sensitivity labels to your content, restricting access and ensuring the right people have access to the right content, protecting company data. 

Keep Microsoft 365 End-Users in Mind 

When it comes to M365 governance, company policies and management can only control so much. It is important to remember that M365 users within the organisation also play their part in strengthening governance. Proper staff training will help users understand how to use Microsoft 365 applications safely and effectively and protect sensitive company information. Educate staff on the best practices for collaboration, content sharing and security, and ensure staff are informed and up to date on the latest industry standards and regulations surrounding compliance and data protection. This approach will not only enhance Microsoft 365 governance, but foster user adoption across your business. 

Carry Out Regular Audits 

It’s crucial that your business regularly analyse reports to assess how effective its governance policies are and make changes accordingly. The usage and security of your Microsoft 365 environment should be monitored continuously to ensure any suspicious activity or policy violations are caught as soon as possible. 

If you would like to learn more about Microsoft 365 governance, contact one of our experts today. 

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