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Having trouble picking your company’s social collaboration tool? In this article, we look at the different options from Microsoft, including a fantastic infographic to help you choose between Yammer and Teams.

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Microsoft has outdone themselves by providing multiple offerings to satisfy the growing need for effective cross organisational communication, each one existing to match the exact requirements of specific companies. This is why there is so much choice.

Each one of these products comes from the desire for people to collaborate outside of the usual back-and-forth of classic email. Instant messaging, file sharing, multiple engagement options, task management and many other tools are on offer. But knowing this still doesn’t make the decision-making process of what is right for your company any easier. Let’s delve deeper into what is what:

Office 365 Groups

Groups is a good place to start for hierarchical reasons. Groups is not actually a product in the same way as Teams and Yammer. This is what fundamentally distinguishes Groups from the other two – it is an integration fabric for your many Microsoft applications. In effect, Groups brings together the likes of Notebook, Email, OneDrive, Calendar, as well as Yammer, so that one group can collaborate effectively.

To give a real-life example, a group is created with selected individuals included for the purpose of creating a presentation for a meeting. The date of the presentation is shared on the group’s Calendar, the schedule for the meeting is thrown up on Notebook, relevant files are shared via OneDrive and the presentation brainstorming session happens on Yammer. This all happens under the umbrella of Microsoft Groups. For this reason, you can start your Office 365 Groups journey from any application, steadily integrating the others as you see fit.

Therefore, the real decision when choosing your collaboration tool is between Yammer and Microsoft Teams.

Yammer vs Microsoft Teams

If you are starting to notice that there are a few new millennial faces in the office, who live their personal lives on Facebook, you are going to let them loose on Yammer. It has a very similar interface to Facebook, with customisable social feeds and a posting box resembling Facebook’s. It even has Like, Share, Comment and Reply options, as well as a poll creation tool for increased engagement. Used by 85% of Fortune 500 companies, it is certainly a popular option.

On the other hand, Microsoft Teams is being compared more to WhatsApp and Slack with regards to its interface. It allows a team working on the same project to ask a question, let people contribute to the answer, and come back to it once a number of people have contributed. This is ideal for distributed teams, or if you want to avoid disturbing your colleagues’ workflow. The trick here is that the different applications, such as Notebook and files, are not separate but rather they stay in the ‘single pane of glass’, on a webpage, or client application.

The effect of such interfacial differences is that Yammer acts like a broadcasting bulletin-board for the whole organisation, while Microsoft Teams is more for informal interaction.

Comparing Yammer and Teams – an infographic

This infographic gives you a simple comparison of the two products (click to enlarge):

Yammer v Microsoft Teams infographic Unity Technology Solutions small

How to choose your communication tool

These products are available to an organisation who has migrated into Office 365, and yes, they do overlap, hence the need for someone in your organisation to take control and make the choice. Why, because Microsoft wants you to tell them what works better! This is the end user doing all the acceptance testing work!

There are rumours that Teams will eventually take over Yammer completely, purely based on the fact that Yammer is the forerunner – by default making Teams its evolved younger sibling. However, Yammer does have a completely different interface, being a social network by design, and therefore has its own distinct feel and, as a result, functionality.

The important thing is to at least start out with one clear, definitive choice as to how your company will interact. Otherwise, it will be very confusing because you will have all these conversations stored in different locations. Either way, it takes time for those things to gel. Welcome to cloud-based application development, where evergreen really does mean evergreen!

Ready to get to work with a new social collaboration tool? Have a chat with one of our experts who can provide sound advice as to what productivity tools are right for your business.