Do you know … if you should create a new Team or new Channel?

Do you know … if you should create a new Team or new Channel?

It’s certainly a good idea to break topics into different locations in Microsoft Teams – cognitive research on how efficiently people multi-task suggests this, it’s easier for non-impacted individuals to ignore information that’s not relevant to them if it’s not interspersed with information they need, and spreading topics out reduces the frequency of posts – ten new conversations don’t appear while you’re reading a thread. But should you create a new channel or a new Team?

There are a few technical limitations that make “Team” generally the right answer. Each channel in a Teams space has the same permissions – if you want to restrict access to confidential information or if you want to involve additional people – people who don’t need access to your other channels, you need to create a new Team.

You can archive a Team, but you cannot archive a channel. If you create a new channel for every project, your Teams space can become cluttered with old projects. The channels get collapsed into a “more channels” fly-out, but I still find myself renaming channels “zzSomething Or Other” to get really done projects sorted to the bottom of the more channels fly-out.

You cannot move a channel into another Team. If the project moves to another group (such transitions are common in IT – there’s a development/implementation phase, then the project moves to production support under a different group) … there’s no way to transition the information in a channel to another group. Even if that’s not standard operating procedure in your organization, reorgs happen. A supported system becomes big enough to warrant its own group or staff is re-aligned –having the historic knowledge of the Teams discussion available to the new organization is beneficial. (Not to mention, if you could move a channel into another team, you could indirectly archive channels by moving them into an archived Teams space!)

There are some scenarios where a new channel makes sense – that daily e-mail chain where people decide where to eat lunch could become a channel. There’s no reason to move the historic restaurant selection to another group – or, for that matter, retain it. If group lunches become ‘not a thing’ – just delete the channel. And anyone not heading to lunch today can ignore the channel. Similarly, “Water Cooler” discussions – a place where the comradery we took for granted when sitting in the same physical space can re-emerge – make sense as channels.

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