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On the importance of Yammer groups and the need for formal planning to ensure their success

Two videos in a new set of video training content exclusively available to anyone with a subscription to SharePoint-Videos will likely be worth a review for any stakeholder in a plan to implement enterprise social computing via Yammer and SharePoint Online, Office 365. The title of this video tutorial set is SP 13-317 – Making Enterprise Social Real in your Organization with Yammer and SharePoint Video Course. The two videos are units 4 and 5 of the 25 units included in this course. They are respectively titled “Groups and Group Admin Best Practices” and “Planning a Community and populating Group Tabs”. The complete set of training is led by Naomi Moneypenny, CTO of Synxi.

Moneypenny opens the first of these two tutorials with an important point: “A lot of the success in Yammer is really about making individual groups successful” There is no other way to render an effort to implement Yammer successful. So stakeholders should make a point of focusing very carefully on how groups are to be used within an enterprise social computing effort built with Yammer.

An organization’s effort to select qualified people to serve as Yammer group administrators is also critically important. Moneypenny notes “[m]ake groups successful and your enterprise social will be successful”.

She presents a lot of granular detail about how to prepare for groups. She stresses the need for maintaining a serious approach to the whole process of building groups. If for no other reason, as personnel transition, new group administrators will benefit from the plan while group discussions will remain on track.

Any useful Yammer group plan should address some basic points, including:

  • Why start a Yammer group? What is the objective?
  • Who is the intended audience? Are you actively soliciting group members, or do you want your group to be discovered?
  • What would a successful group look like and what are the metrics for demonstrating success?
  • How will others benefit should the group succeed?
  • How will this group get started?

If readers are pressed to understand why the urgency about carefully planning group, Moneypenny provides a powerful example: “[m]anaging the conversation around content [in a content management system]” has actually received very little attention. But ROI on content management will likely be unsatisfactory if users are either not talking about it, or talking about it in any way other than what stakeholders intended when a decision was made to implement the content. So enterprise social computing can constitute a high value method of extracting ROI from much more costly investments in systems like Enterprise Content Management (ECM).

If these conversations can be recorded in Yammer, it is much easier to track how content is being consumed across an intended audience. Once consumption is tracked, then it will likely be possible to fine tune how content is presented to improve the quality of the conversations about it.

Moneypenny presents some potentially problematic features of Yammer, which anyone interested in enterprise social should know about:

  • Anyone can start a group at any time. Moneypenny referred to this capability as a “governance headache”
  • Whoever starts a group becomes the group administrator, automatically. So organizations with a lot of users will likely want to designate a team of group administrators who, in turn, will be responsible for creating groups, before the entire community is exposed to Yammer
  • Images must be associated with groups. Moneypenny called them incredibly important

Ira Michael Blonder

©Rehmani Consulting, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder 2014 All Rights Reserved