Office 365–Yammer and Outlook Groups

I realized as I was writing my posts about Outlook Groups that some people might wonder if there would be a reason to use a Group in place of Yammer or vice versa.  So I thought a quick discussion about how the two pieces work and relate might be in order.

The first thing to understand is that Groups and Yammer are really meant to serve two different needs.  Yammer is the place to put all of your “thinking out loud” as it is really “group” IM with “persistence”.  Groups, on the other hand, while they can have a certain “thinking out loud” aspect are more for aggregating, storing and sharing collaboration data through the various component tools such as OneNote and the document library.

At itgroove we leverage the hell out of Yammer as a tool to do all of our thinking out loud as well as all of our notifying.  As an example, rather than use distribution lists and email as a tool to alert colleagues to things they need to know we use Yammer Groups (not the same as Outlook groups) and put all of the information that would have gone into an email into a Yammer post instead.  And if we need to reference files or other materials that are stored in OneDrive or SharePoint we use links to point back to the source materials.  Nothing gets lost in the email shuffle and we aren’t pushing files back and forth like mad as attachments.

I see Outlook Groups performing the same kind of backstop functions for all sorts of groups of people who need to collaborate on projects or whatever.  The data that everyone needs is stored inside the various Group tools (OneNote, the document library, etc).  You might even use the Group inbox as a form a Yammer “lite” for some thinking out loud.  But you could still use Yammer itself as the real-time “stream of consciousness” for your Group (and I really think that you should!).

So, Yammer and Outlook Groups are not mutually exclusive nor are they replacements for each other.  They are complimentary  tools that should be used together to maximize your team’s collaborative potential.