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Yammer vs. Microsoft Teams: Which Tool?

Microsoft 365, SharePoint, Teams

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The debate between Yammer and Microsoft Teams is an age old question for Office 365 users; when do you use one over the other? The question is imminent if you haven’t asked it already. The achilles heel of Office 365 is providing a variety of tools to collaborate, some of which cross over each other, creating confusion around use cases. The conflict between similar Office 365 solutions is highlighted most acutely when comparing Yammer vs. MS Teams.

Yammer vs. Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams, as Microsoft describes, is the “hub for teamwork.” Having said that, many users are confused about when to use Yammer and where it fits. I understand the confusion, they are both social tools. Let’s take a deeper look and try to answer the question from a non-technical perspective…

Communication vs. Collaboration

Before we talk technology, we should discuss the difference between communication and collaboration. Collaboration is different than communication. Understanding the distinction is important in order to answer the question of when to use what (before involving technology into the conversation). 

To boil it down, communication is to share or exchange information from one person to another via a connection. We do it every day in our workplace and personal lives through email, social applications, phone calls…etc. We connect with others to communicate updates, sick days, or to tell your mom how well your son did on his math test.   

We collaborate when people work together to achieve the same end goal. We work on a document together, provide comments and critiques to each other, contribute on a project towards the same end goal…etc. 

You cannot have collaboration without communication, but you can communicate without collaborating.

If you make a post to either Yammer or Teams, have an IM chat, make phone calls, and/or have meetings all day, you are simply communicating at that point. Something else has to happen for there to be true collaboration. Before we can work together, we must be brought together, and that happens through communication. Without communication, your whole team would be working on documents for a project, blindfolded as to what the other was doing. Messy, right?  

Let’s look at how we can apply this thinking to technology.   

Internal Conversations

I like the slide below from the Microsoft Ignite 2017 Conference when they were talking about Office 365 Groups:

Microsoft talks about Yammer in terms of connecting you to people across the organization, whereas Microsoft Teams connects you with people close to you on projects. All true statements, but only part of the story. 


Personally, I see Yammer as a communication tool – it wasn’t designed from the ground-up to foster collaboration. Instead, Yammer allows users to have social-style discussions and make connections across the organization. Yes, you can store documents in Yammer, but it does a poor job of doing so. 

However, Yammer is great for posting and sharing information so others can like it or reply back to you in a friendly, social way. You can’t integrate other systems or information into it, and true collaboration is next to impossible via Yammer. 

Possible use cases for Yammer include:

  • Providing a self-help support group for admins or other users for training where they can ask questions and get answers from anyone across the company.
  • Create an “Executive Corner”, “Ask the CEO” or some kind of executive engagement to bridge the gap between upper management and employees.
  • Brainstorming; share ideas and gather feedback for projects such as renaming your intranet or working with employees on a non-profit program. 

Microsoft Teams

On the other hand, Microsoft Teams was designed and built from the ground-up to provide a very wide platform for a variety of both communication and collaboration. The gray area begins here for users because Teams can do so many things. 

Some use cases include:

  • Replacement for Skype for Business so you can do 1:1 chat
  • Host meetings
  • Make phone calls
  • Provide robust capabilities for collaboration via conversations
  • Give quick access to files in SharePoint and OneDrive
    (and much, much more). 

Considering Microsoft calls Teams the, “hub for teamwork,” that key statement identifies Microsoft Teams as being a collaboration tool which additionally utilizes communication. 

Remember the diagram earlier? Microsoft Teams can be used for two, primary purposes:

1. 1:1 chat communications / phone system
2. Team collaboration (for particular group of people) – a team that are all working towards the same purpose.  

The same group of people can have real-time chat communications, collaborate on documents, get feedback, work with documents from SharePoint / OneDrive, and have a plethora of integrations as tabs in your Team workspace. Basically, think of it as your new default browser page. Microsoft Teams is where you can “ideally” go to get all of your work done. Obviously, not all, but most of your collaborative work. 

Concluding the Confusion: Which Tool to Use When?

In summary, if your organization uses Office 365, you will undoubtedly be faced with the dilemma of when to use Yammer and when to use Microsoft Teams. As you debate, think of when you need to simply communicate and when you need to collaborate:

  • Yammer is more of a social tool used for internal communication between people across the organization; typically connecting those who do not directly work with each other. 
  • Microsoft Teams is a communication tool that also fosters collaboration for projects between direct team members (e.g. send confidential documents, discuss deadlines, troubleshoot issues…etc.).

I hope this brings some clarity to the whole decision about what is Yammer and Teams and when do we use each. Please reach out to our team at C5 Insight if you have any questions or if you’re struggling with users adopting Yammer or Microsoft Teams. We are here to help put Microsoft solutions into practice.

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