blog.frederique.harmsze.nl my world of work and user experiences

May 31, 2018

Yammer does not work – Are you sure you should blame the tool?

Filed under: Adoption,Office365 — Tags: , — frederique @ 23:52

Yammer has been around for a decade already, as an enterprise social networking service. It has been incorporated in the Office 365 toolkit. And it can be very effective. However, now I am hearing from my client that Yammer does not work for them and they want some other tool. Is Yammer really that bad, or is there I some other reason why they say Yammer does not meet their needs?

Currently I am working for a construction company. They want a platform to communicate about safety and to interact with the employees about that topic. This is a construction company, so safety is a big issue. For all of the employees.

How about Microsoft Teams?

They asked me for a demo of Microsoft Teams, because they thought that this would be a great tool to use for their safety communication and interaction. Microsoft Teams is newer, and that it why they think it is hotter I fear….

Don’t get me wrong, I Microsoft Teams is great. But not for this purpose.

  • The maximum number of members in a Team is 2.500 which is not nearly enough.
  • A Team does not have visitors, but only members and owners. That is great for conversations, but these members can also edit other information in the Team. And the client wants to offer “official” information as well. SharePoint is better for that purpose, though you can of course connect a SharePoint site to a Team.
  • A Team does look quite complex and ‘geeky’ with all those channels and tabs and everything. You don’t have a simple starting point like a homepage. A Communication site does that better.
  • Teams is for teams, that is why it is called Teams… As Microsoft puts it: Teams are for the inner loop, the inner circle with whom you are collaborating closely.

How about Yammer?

A Communication site is great for the “official stuff”: well thought-out pages about the topic, guidelines and instructions, overviews of contacts, events etc. But for interaction with the people, Yammer is more suited. We can bring the two together, by adding a Yammer app (web part, app part, whatever you call it) to the homepage of the site.

However, when I mentioned Yammer, they all pulled faces and grumbled that they had tried Yammer and that it did not work for them at all. Hmmmm…

I admit, Yammer is definitely not perfect:

  • The search is terrible… I find it difficult to find what I am looking for via the search box in Yammer.
  • The Yammer app (web part, app part, whatever you call it) you can add to a homepage of your Communication site is very, very basic: pictures are not displayed, you only see the last comment.
  • Links to SharePoint pages are not displayed nearly as nicely as links to internet pages.

But I like Yammer and use it a lot in our company:

  • An informal forum to ask questions, share lessons learned and post new tidbits
  • Clear structure via groups and threads, with an overview on the ‘start page’ and per group a view of the new conversations so that you know when you are up-to-date.
  • Rich conversations using tags (to help you find them and collect the conversations on a topic), mentions (to engage specific colleagues), attached images as slide shows, links to for example Stream videos and websites with a visual preview…

Why is Yammer working for us and maybe not for my client?

  • Many of my colleagues (including me…) often are working elsewhere. We only meet online.
    If everyone is in the same office most of the time, they can easy discuss questions and ideas in the coffee corner. Then they don’t really need Yammer, so they won’t use Yammer as much. So if the same organisation starts using Yammer to share with people who are not in the same office, it may be used more.
  • I use Yammer, instead of another tool, because that is where the action is: questions posed in Yammer are answered, ideas get commented upon, tidbits get liked etc.
    If Yammer is not being used in a community, it is not worth going there and posting something. But if nobody posts anything or nobody reacts, nobody will start use it. In our organisation the vicious circle was broken early, because we are an IT company with people who like this stuff, and because it meets our needs.
  • We know where to find Yammer. In the early days, we had a Yammer feed web part right in the middle of the homepage of our intranet (now Yammer is more prominent than that homepage…).
    In my client’s organisation, I Yammer is hardly connected to anything else. There is a link to Yammer on the homepage, but that is a static link buried among other links.
  • In our organisation, Yammer is the dominant tool for spreading news: management posts updates, HR uses Yammer to tell us about people who join or leave us, sales tells about new clients…
    In my client’s organisation, I get a lot of this information via email. The disadvantage of email for such communication, is that it does not allow you to start a conversation: ask questions, say hello / goodbye to the new / old colleagues, give kudos for achievements.
  • We grumbled a bit about unpractical features in Yammer but we could get passed them and now we can take advantage of the continuous improvements, like the ability to edit a post (not all that recent, but a huge relief when that became possible,,,) .
    I wonder if my client had their experience with Yammer a long time ago; they may not have noticed that some of their obstables have been removed.

So to adopt and take advantage of Yammer:

  • Determine to what problem it is the solution: conversations about special topics between people who are not sharing the same office.
  • Actively seed and drive the conversation when that does happen organically: have editors / moderators post tips and news, answers questions or redirect them to someone who can (using the mention-option). Make sure these posts are interesting to the users: relevant, useable and/or great fun :-)
  • Make sure it is easy to find Yammer: embed Yammer feeds in SharePoint sites, invite colleagues to join groups that are of special interest to them.
  • In help & training, tell users about Yammer and how it can be useful, show it to them in a moderated Yammer group sharing Office 365 expertise for instance. Share success stories (for example gathered as #YamWins)
  • Introduce Yammer to anyone who does organisation-wide or department-wide communication. If they welcome response, explain that Yammer is a better medium than email.
  • Check what are the blocking issues for this organisation and try again when they have been solved in the Office 365 evolution.

If a tool in the toolkit is not used, the question always is: is the tool inadequate or are there another reasons why the users did not adopt it? Like they don’t know about the tool or they don’t understand how to use the tool effectively. If the problem lies in the adoption, there is no guarantee that replacing the tool will be helpful at all. Then there will just be another tool that users don’t know about and don’t understand…

 

 

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