Working Like a Network – How My Team Uses Yammer

As a follow-up to my last blog post about “How Office Delve is Changing the Way My Team Works Together”, this post will discuss how my team at Microsoft and I leverage Yammer to work together.

This post will cover:

  • Background on collaboration within my team before Yammer
  • Examples of how we use Yammer within my team
  • Summary of some of the benefits that our team has realized by using Yammer
  • Resources to help you learn more about Yammer

Background on collaboration within my team before Yammer

Microsoft, like most large organizations, has a very healthy Exchange environment. I personally receive many emails each day and leverage the built in features in Exchange Online (e.g. Junk Mail, Clutter, Rules) to help triage and process my mail so the most important messages that I care about show up in my Inbox.

As I mentioned in my prior post regarding Delve, my team and I also heavily leverage various SharePoint Online team sites and OneDrive for Business for storing and collaborating on documents and sharing meeting notes.

Prior to using Yammer, I was an early adopter of various different internal social tools and experiments within Microsoft. This is partly because I heavily leverage social tools (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn) in my personal life. When Microsoft acquired Yammer, I immediately gravitated towards Yammer and saw the value that Yammer could provide to me and my team as an enterprise social platform.

Within Microsoft, I am considered a “green dot” … someone who embraces and evangelizes new technologies and changes such as Yammer. Within my team, I have been one of the early adopters and champions of Yammer – constantly looking for new ways to move more content out of email and into the open within Yammer and SharePoint Online.

Examples of how we use Yammer within my team

There are many ways that we leverage Yammer within my team. These include:

  1. My team has a Yammer group. We use this group to share news, promote best practices, and to ask/answer questions.
  2. While I personally leverage Yammer heavily, some on my team are still not leveraging Yammer as much as I do. They are still spending most of their time in Exchange/Outlook. These individuals choose to subscribe to Yammer groups to receive email notifications when new items are posted to groups they care most about, in addition to the other Yammer email notification options that they can manage. The key here is that these individuals are still kept in the loop and receiving conversations in their email. When they reply to a Yammer message via email, their responses are posted back to Yammer and still connected with the conversation and visible to others.
  3. Our district Yammer group is used for communicating information around new hires, broadcast announcements, and as part of “YamJams” that we use as part of our monthly district meetings.
  4. We have many cross-functional Yammer groups setup to encourage collaboration across different roles, departments, and geographies. One group that I organize is helping pre and post sales teams with assisting our customers with driving Office 365 deployment and adoption. We use this group to regularly share ideas and to discuss our bi-weekly office hours meetings which are recorded via Lync and shared internally.
  5. We leverage the built in Yammer integration with SharePoint Online, OneDrive for Business, and Office 365 Video to have open discussions about documents and videos that we are sharing.
  6. Microsoft uses our Dynamics CRM Online product which has integration with Yammer allowing our account teams to have discussions about customers, opportunities, and competitive threats.
  7. External Yammer networks and groups have been setup to collaborate with customers. For example, we have a private group for our Northeast enterprise Office 365 customers to meet each other, share resources, and post slides/recordings from monthly events that we conduct. This private group is part of the larger Office 365 Network on Yammer where Office 365 customers, partners, and Microsoft personnel across the globe have discussions across a variety of Office 365 topics.

Summary of some of the benefits that our team has realized by using Yammer

My team has realized a number of benefits since we started using Yammer. These benefits include:

  1. Moving our questions out of email and into Yammer has made these questions (and their answers) more discoverable by others across the organization and has built a searchable knowledge base that benefits people as they join our team. This has also cut down on the amount of email I receive – especially for various Distribution Lists (DLs) that I have subscribed to over my nearly 7 years at Microsoft.
  2. Rather than having people email me a question, and have the question potentially sit in my Inbox for hours or even days while I am out meeting with customers or speaking at events, people can post the question to our team’s Yammer group. If people want me to take action on a post, they can @ mention me in the post which notifies me. The beauty of this is that I no longer become a bottleneck to getting the responses to these questions. Others on my team, or even across the organization (assuming the group is not private/restricted), can see and respond to the question.
  3. No more of the email replies that just say “+1” or “I agree”. People can indicate their agreement by simply “liking” a post or a reply.
  4. Yammer has helped to change our culture and get people more comfortable with “working like a network” and “working out loud.” Personally, I have found that much of my communication is really not private or confidential that needs to be restricted to just a few people within Microsoft. I very rarely send emails to distribution lists any longer. Most of my questions are now posted directly to Yammer. If I think I know someone that may know an answer, or think they may know someone that does, then I simply mention them in my post.

Resources to help you learn more about Yammer

Here are some resources to help with learning more about Yammer:

  1. Jared Spataro’s “Work like a Network” blog post provides a great overview and summary of Microsoft’s vision for enterprise social capabilities. This post was done nearly a year ago during SharePoint Conference 2014. The Microsoft enterprise social team continues to publish new content and resources here.
  2. The Yammer website provides resources and information for business users, IT professionals, and developers.
  3. The Yammer customer stories provide brief videos that summarize how and why various companies are using Yammer.
  4. The Yammer customer success center has many resources to help drive sustained adoption of Yammer within your organization. 
  5. Join thousands of other Yammer customers and partners, along with Microsoft personnel, on the Office 365 Network on Yammer to learn more about Yammer.