By clicking “Accept”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts. View our Cookie Policy for more information.

Understanding Microsoft Digital Workplace Governance and Metadata

November 23, 2023
8 min read
Understanding Microsoft Digital Workplace Governance and Metadata
Case Study Details
No items found.

Watch Video

Read Summary

  • Metadata about digital workspaces is critical for understanding usage, applying policies, and improving governance. Encourage users to provide metadata by showing its value.
  • A digital workplace directory allows filtering and finding sites based on metadata. This creates a feedback loop where users are motivated to keep metadata updated.  
  • Metadata enables targeted actions like de-duplication and conditional access policies on subsets of sites. Broad visibility enables leaders to consolidate and migrate sites.
  • New Microsoft 365 capabilities like backup and advanced management are filling gaps, but still consider third parties to fully cover needs.
  • Revisit governance plans periodically, especially after major new capabilities are added. Learn from partners to see remaining gaps in Microsoft's offerings.

Read Transcript

One of the things I've mentioned a few times is metadata or profiling or whatever term you want to use. And that information about your digital workplace or workspace is critical because it tells you a little bit more about it. Now, some of this is automatically done for you, right? Microsoft itself knows when was the last time this space was used.

It knows things like, what kind of space is this? What template did it base it on? There are things that are useful in that experience audience. But what's missing, as I mentioned, are things like on the right, what division, which product, what customer, which project does this relate to?

When you ask these types of questions, you can not just improve the space, but you can now create new opportunities for things like differentiated templates. I'm a huge fan of default metadata, meaning in this space, whether it's a sensitivity scenario or whether it's metadata for search and refinement later, it allows you to have it so that if I drag and drop a file into a space, that department equals HR and it's a project space, then it should have type as project and it should have department equals HR automatically applied to that content.

When I do a search later, I could say, show me all the project documents, or I could say, show me all the HR project documents. And all of a sudden, you can see how that could be a helpful hole in, say, traditional, refined search scenarios. But it can also be really helpful when we want to apply labels. Maybe I have a label policy that applies generally to HR for sensitivity or retention, but then I can nuance it a little bit depending on whether it's in a project-type space or whether it's in this type of space, et cetera.

Here's another way to use it. And this is one of those things we learned the hard way. What happens is, again, it and a lot of people who are really trying to improve our governance, our efficiency, they care a lot about things like that metadata. But, the person who creates the space may not see the value in giving you that information. Right? Ask them five things. What's the right number? Five. Seven.

The right number is however many they feel add value that they feel it's worth their time. And so one of the tricks that we found over and over and over again is if you provide a digital workplace directory experience where they can explore their digital workplaces based on those attributes, based on that same information they provided, it creates a self-reinformation or this self-reinforcing cycle where they essentially are much more likely to not just fill out that information, but keep that information up to date.

This is an interesting thing because what happens is, let's say, you have a roll-up on an HR landing page. I'm looking at HR, and I want to see all those HR sites, including the project ones, including other ones, and I want to show those in that sort of intranet page.

Well, if you did that and I saw that one of my sites wasn't showing up there, I'd say, why isn't it? Or if I tried to filter by HR and I didn't see it, I'd say, why isn't it? And now this becomes a great opportunity to have a nice big button that says, hey, tell us if you have a space or a site and it's not showing up in the right filter, et cetera.

Tell us about it. Going back to our last example, what if you had someone, after they create the site, fill out this information? Well, now that might make a little bit more sense because it's a lot more visible, and it's more shared. The ownership of that gap is more prominent for everyone to be able to support.

That process of being able to provide that metadata shouldn't be limited to just site owners. Maybe they get approval, if you want, for special types of sites, etc. But in general, you just want more information. The more information it has, the more programmatic and effective it can be over time.

Here's another great example of this. Sometimes, in the example that I was showing here, you could do this with an out-of-the-box list where you're just abstracting your digital spaces and you're managing them. You could use something like this, like an SPFX control you build, or you could use something like a third party. And when you use other tools like appoint, just as an example here, it could provide additional capabilities as well.

Not only could it make it easier for you to be able to filter, refine, and find, for example, the HR sites, but you could also do things like actually have dynamic spaces generated, because I'm a member. Show me all of the HR spaces. Sure, as a filter, but I want to know all the ones I'm a member of. And that makes a lot of sense, right? It's behavior-based. I want that information.

There are lots of ways to enrich experiences over time. When you start to think about this navigation gap that we have and look, you might have the best global navigation, you might have the best in-page navigation. But if you don't have something like a digital workplace directory, you're missing one of those key components of a good navigation strategy.

Again, it doesn't need to be half point, but it's a great example of something that you should look at if you haven't seen it, to walk through, especially the new, modern my hub experiences, to get ideas on how many ways a digital workplace directory could add value, not just in simple retrieval and search scenarios, but even in actually facilitating and simplifying a lot of common actions we might take across workplaces as an example.

The other reason this metadata is so important is because it allows us to do more with it. Once we've managed sprawl, once we know about these spaces, we can do all sorts of targeted activities like Deduplication detection and reduction. And you don't even have to do this yourself. It could just say, okay, I'm going to send an email and the email is going to go to the HR department lead, and it's going to say, hey, HR department lead, these are all the spaces that exist for HR right now.

Are there any that are missing? Are there any in here that you weren't aware of that maybe we should evaluate and help you migrate or consolidate? Simple questions like that, all of a sudden shift it and the visibility that you now have, not just you, but HR leaders and other people in different departments. Product think of all these different ways you can filter and refine this for different types of leads. All of a sudden, they can start to close the gap.

This is where we scale outside of it, and we scale and manage and govern with the support of the broader organization because we give them insight so that they can action improvements. Another great example of this is we have new capabilities like targeted conditional access or reviews and escalation or block download. You can block downloads on a specific site, or default sensitivity policies, and so many more things.

Those are all scenarios that are way more effective if we know more information about the sites because then we can target a subset of them, and we can have different rules for things like conditional access for this subset of sites. If these attributes are found or determined or discovered, then these things should be applied to those spaces, as an example.

That was all just one example of a small subset. And there's so much more we could talk about here. The point of this is not for you to cover everything at once but to come up with some phasing and determine as you roll out new technologies what are the minimum governance things you need to do and what are the other ones that maybe you can do in the next phase and the next phase and the next phase as you kind of move on.

The other consideration is third parties can really help, not just with four things. As you see in this example, I showed examples of my hub, but actually, almost everything on here can be actually supported by something like AvePoint. It's really worth understanding.

Well, if that's the case, what are those gaps that Microsoft doesn't quite get there? And why did AvePoint create this capability or that capability? And so that's really worth understanding as well to help with your planning, to help with your phasing. As I mentioned, things change over time.

Even if you do this exercise and you work through it, you will have to revisit it, especially when there are major changes like Microsoft 365 backup, Microsoft 365 archiving, or things like the SharePoint advanced management capabilities. Why are these important?

Because what Microsoft is, we're finally working the way up is they're moving up the value chain and they're starting to solve problems that every customer has. These problems have always been pronounced and issues and we're just finally now seeing Microsoft takes a more first-party approach to try and solve some of them.
But it's also really important, even though you might be like, now we'll just use that, and it'll solve all our problems.

Again, these are not new spaces. These are spaces that have been existing for a long time. And there's been a lot of learnings that other people have had like AvePoint and vendors and partners and friends that you can reach out to and ask, what are the gaps still in this particular category?

If you're going to look at something like backup or archive and you've never really looked at it properly before, it's better to do that comprehensively so you're not missing stuff because then it's so much easier in a year or two years when you revisit that discussion.

Watch The Full AvePoint/2toLead Webinar!
Case Study Details
No items found.

Similar posts

Get our perspectives on the latest developments in technology and business.
You will love the way we work. Together.
Next steps
Have a question, or just say hi. 🖐 Let's talk about your next big project.
Contact us
Popular insights
One of our goals is to help organizations build a better digital workplace experience.
Access knowledge center