Using Yammer data export to manage conversations

YammerExportBlogImageThe team I mentioned in my blog “Using Yammer for a business process” had difficulty tracking all conversations and actions in their Yammer groups. Their groups knew heavy traffic, and conversations went up and down on the page, depending on latest posts. It was easy to miss a reported issue when it had been open for a few days.

So the team asked if it was possible to give them a report of the data, so they could better

  • track questions, issues and especially resolutions
  • keep track of the people who had joined the conversation (posting in the groups was an objective for all sales people)

I do not know if any of you will ever need this, but as I am also keeping this blog as a reminder to myself, let me share it – you never know 🙂

What is available?

As far as I know, there are four options for reporting:

Group Insights
You can find this on the right-hand column of the group. This gives you some data about the number of people, messages and views. However, this does not give any information about the content, so this was not of interest to them.

Yammerconvexpgroupinsights
You can find the “Group Insights” on the right-hand side of the group.
Yammer-groupinisghts
This is what you see in “View Group Insights”: the numbers of messages and people.

Power BI
I am not an expert on PowerBI, but I have seen some reports for Yammer which look pretty good. It is also possible to show the content of each message. However, as we did not have this available for end users, (for reasons of licence costs + the preference for other BI tooling) it was not a suitable option for this purpose at that time.

Flow
“When a message is posted in a group on Yammer” is a trigger on Flow. You can send data to a SharePoint list, although I do not know if you can sort or group on conversation. Flow could have been an option, but  with their post volumes, they might have needed a premium plan and we did not want to risk that.
BTW, an interesting use of Flow and Yammer is this “Sentiment analysis of Yammer posts” by Chris Bortlik.

Exporting the network data
This option allows a Yammer Network Admin to make an extract of all conversations, dates, people and what not between two dates. This was a suitable answer to their question so we set about to make this happen.
It is not possible to export the conversations of one group only, so it took some figuring out if and how we could do this in a responsible way:

  • Data security concerns in general – as this option exports all conversations from all groups, the Network Admin could also see conversations from private groups. Of course any network admin is supposed to be a responsible and trustworthy person and has likely signed an NDA when joining the organization. Besides, they can give themselves access to private groups anyway, so after some discussion this was approved.
  • Privacy concerns for the members of the groups in scope – but everyone had agreed to this way of doing their business and was aware of and OK with the export and the data – in fact, the report was shared with all concerned.
  • Cleansing and presenting data – how could the substantial amount of data be processed quickly as this was going to be a weekly task for the Yammer Network Admin.

So, let me share how to work with the data.

How to export the data

A Yammer network Admin can make an export of data, as described here.

Following the instructions, you will get a zip file with several data sheets, of which you need the one called Messages.

Yammerexportzipfile
This is the zip file. Open “Messages” to view the raw data export.

Example, please!

Here’s some group conversations I made earlier 🙂. There are some updates, replies, replies to replies, and an announcement, in a random post order. I have numbered them to make it easier to see how things are displayed in the export.

Yammerconv1

Yammerconv2
These are all conversations in this Group

When exporting the data and opening the “Messages” file I get a file looking like this:

YammerconvExportRaw
The raw data export

I have created an Excel in which I go from the raw data to the final sorted data in several steps / tabs. You can view or download it here

Cleansing the data

The raw file contains many columns which are not relevant for this purpose. The following ARE important:

  • id
  • replied_to_id
  • thread_id
  • group_name (if you have multiple groups to manage)
  • sender_name (and/or sender_email)
  • title
  • body
  • created_at

Please remove the other columns to make your file a bit more manageable.
The result is shown in tab “Correct columns” in the Excel sample.

As I said you will export all conversations in the network in the given time interval. You will now need to sort on “group_name” and then remove every line item that is not in one of the groups in scope.
There is little activity in my one-person Yammer tenant so there was only one group and one person in my export. I have removed those columns to make the file less cluttered. This is the “Work data” tab.

Interpreting the data

Now, let’s see how they belong together:

  1. Every message gets a number, the “id”. A higher “id” means that the message has been posted later than a lower “id”.
  2. The raw export sorts the messages by “id”, ascending (earliest message on top).
  3. Every thread (conversation / series of messages) has a number, the “thread_id”.  It is the “id” of the first message of the thread.  For the first thread (Message 1) this is 1197762641. So, all messages that have 1197762641 under “thread_id”  belong to Message 1. In the tab “Colour-coded work data” each number has its own colour, providing they are/have a reply or a thread_id.
  4. Every reply has the “id” they replied to, in the “replied_to_id” column.
  5. Every new thread has an empty box in “replied_to_id”
    It looks like this:

    Yammerconvexportnewmessage
    Every new thread is NOT a reply to another message, so the “replied_to_id” is empty.

Presenting the data

This team wanted to be able to quickly scan through all conversations, to see if they had been addressed. They were looking for messages in the “body” that said something like “This complaint has been registered in CRM with number 123” or “We have discussed this with management and added this to our wish list for 2020” or similar. These messages would typically be at the end of a conversation. Anything that showed that the message had been read, processed and entered into the appropriate system.

So, we sorted the messages on “thread_id” first and then on “id”. This gave them the info they needed. You can see that in the “Sorted data” tab.

Yammerconvexpsorteddata
The “sorted data” that the team could work with. Please note the colouring is only for demonstration purposes!

Additionally, they sorted on “sender_email” to count the number of entries for each Sales person.

Additional suggestions

  • We all sometimes reply to the original and sometimes to a reply. You can sort that out in the data export if you want, but in this case all threads needed to end with a resolution. So in general, the last updates in time were the most relevant.
  • Please select your date range carefully or you will end up with an unworkably large file, not only in number of line items, but also in GB’s. And remember to turn off the attachment downloads!
  • The “title” field is useful only when you want to make a distinction between normal updates and Announcements. Every reply to an announcement is treated as a normal update.
  • Please make sure your users do not use paragraphs or hard returns in their messages as only text before the hard return is exported into the “body” field.
    Yammerhardreturnmessage
    This message has hard returns in the text. See below for the export.

    Yammer-hardreturnexport
    The export breaks after the first hard return. How annoying!

Have you ever used the data export option for Yammer? Please let me know!

Why not use Teams?

If they were to start this project now, I would probably advise Teams rather than Yammer. But I have not been able to find any way to export the data, nor is a new Teams post a trigger for Flow at this moment. So I am not sure if Teams would have met their reporting requirements.

Forms or Survey – responses and results

Survey-responsesconclusionIn two earlier blogs I compared the Question and Answer types and the General survey settings for 5 different survey tools:

  • Microsoft Forms
  • SharePoint survey
  • SharePoint custom list
  • SurveyMonkey free version
  • Google Forms

Now it is time to gather the responses and see how they are displayed and what you can do with them. It is quite a long read but there are many screenshots as well!

What to look out for?

  • How you can distribute the link to the survey
  • What the survey looks like when you respond
  • How the results are being displayed by default and if you can export them
  • What else you can do with the data

Distribution

All tools allow creating a link or sending an email with the link.

Forms has the additional option to add the form directly on a SharePoint page, which looks very inviting, especially if the survey contains only a few questions. Forms can also generate a QR code to take you to the survey.

Forms-distribution
Sharing options in Forms at the bottom, from left to right: Link, QR code, Embed, Email

The SharePoint survey and Custom List can be added as a web part on a SharePoint page, but they are not exactly inviting users to enter.

SurveyMonkey has many different ways to get responses.

Surveymonkey distribution
Next to link and email, SurveyMonkey offers more options to get responses.

Google Forms allows you to add the survey questions directly into an email, which is very convenient.

Google-distribute
In Google Forms, you can add the complete survey to the email body. That is very easy for the audience!

User Experience

Of course the user experience is very important. If your survey has a tiny typeface, or takes forever to load, people are not likely to complete it.

You can still check out and complete the surveys below, to have an idea of their look-and-feel. Remember: you do not have to add any real data.

Forms

SurveyMonkey  (will close after 100 responses – limitation of the free version)

Google Forms

I am sharing some screenshots of remarkable things.

The Net Promotor Score looks special:

Forms-NPS
The Net Promotor Score column. The image I added made the look-and-feel of the survey different, see David Lozzi’s blog: https://davidlozzi.com/2018/11/13/squeezing-a-little-more-formatting-out-of-microsoft-forms/

This is the SharePoint Survey, in case you had forgotten what it looks like 🙂

Forms-Surveyinput
The good old SharePoint survey.

And this is how you enter data into a SharePoint custom list: in the information pane on the right-hand side of the page, which feels a bit strange.

SurveyList-input
This is the regular input screen in any list for metadata etc.

Next to a rather large font size, SurveyMonkey has the option to create columns for answers, which I really like as they make good use of space:

SurveyMonkey-columns
Those columns are very good when you have many options to choose from.
SurveyMonkey-slider and reorder
I also like SurveyMonkey’s slider and the reordering options.

Google Forms has nothing special, but it looks solid and modern.

Responses

Thank you everyone who has responded to one of the surveys! This allows me to show some of the results graphs. This is what the various response pages look like:

Microsoft Forms:

Forms-response1
Survey information on top, as well as an option to export everything to Excel. “More details” opens up all responses for a particular question.
Forms-response2
Colourful graphical summary of the responses.
Forms-reponse3
The last part of the survey. Aha, the Net Promotor Score IS quite a special thing!

SharePoint Survey. I am sharing only part of the graphical summary as I guess you have seen it before and it is not very exciting. Now I remember how annoying that “multiple responses” question is – you need to re-score everything manually! 😦

SharePointSurveyResults
Graphical summary of the SharePoint survey. Limited options and that “multiple responses” summary is just not useful.

The SharePoint custom list has no graphical summary. You just see the responses as line items in a list.

SurveyMonkey has a very long page of results. All responses are shown with a scroll bar (see the first screenshot) or with a graphical summary first and then the individual responses below. For each chart, you can change the chart type.
I will only show a few screens.

surveymonkeyresults1
You can see how many people answered and skipped the question. Most recent responses are shown on top; a scroll bar shows all responses.
Surveymonkeyresults3
A question where a pie chart would have been more appropriate in my opinion. But…clicking the “customize” button top right will open a pane to change the chart type.
SurveyMonkeyresults2
The multiple-answer question. Looks good.
Surveymonkeyresults4
This is the question which allows you to move answers around.

Google Forms results look like this:

Googleformsresults1
Top of the results page. The green button top right allows an export to spreadsheet.

Googleformsresults2

Googleformsresults3
Useful graph of the multiple-choice-question.

Googleformsresults4

Googleformsresults5
Bottom of the results. The “Net Promotor Score” is displayed as any other result.

 Results

I have captured the results in the picture below. You can also view/download this as Excel.  Look at the “Responses and Results” tab. Please use and edit it, but I would appreciate if you would mention my name if you share it outside of your organization.

Legend:

  • Green/Yes: Available by default, although it may have different names
  • Orange: Available with a workaround
  • Red/No: Not available
Formsorsurvey-ResultSettingswithheader
Comparison of the response and results options for the various tools.

Conclusion

Again, the classic SharePoint options are in a league of their own.

Microsoft Forms appears to have more in common with SurveyMonkey Free and Google Forms than with SharePoint. All three surveys are pleasant to complete and the graphical display of results is much better than with the SharePoint survey.

Overall conclusion

Forms is really the new way to conduct surveys in your organization and possibly with externals. It looks pleasant both on a SharePoint page and when completing it, it has a ton of good options, decent colourful graphs and it works with Flow.
Some people will really like that Net Promoter Score 🙂
I am sure that Forms will continue to develop, so I will try to keep this comparison up-to-date.

The SharePoint survey feels a tad outdated, although you can still conduct good surveys with it. The graphical summary is very inferior to what Forms has to offer. My suggestion would be to use this only when you need one of the more advanced Q & A options, such as selecting a name from someone in your organization. The whole permissions management is also more complicated than with Forms, as described in my “SharePoint Survey lifecycle” blog.

The SharePoint custom list may not be the option that comes to mind first when you talk about a survey, but especially the options to process the data after collection can be the reason to use it. You can group and filter the entries just like any View and edit entries (e.g. mark an item as “Completed” or add a certain category). With the additional  column types and the connection with Flow this can be the tool of choice when collecting data from the organization is the starting point for a project or process.
There are no graphics by default, but PowerBI may be used if needed.
Many thanks to my former colleague Scott Lewis who pointed out the benefits of custom lists when combined with Forms and Flow.

SurveyMonkey is of course THE specialized tool for surveys. It has extensive help for your survey questions and many options. It is the only tool that can show columns of responses, which is nice to keep your survey compact. It allows you to change the chart type of the results if desired. However, the free version has a few annoying limitations and I personally find the “management” interface rather cluttered.
For large-scale complicated surveys where you need to analyze responses in-depth the paid version beats Microsoft Forms.

Google Forms is a solid modern tool. Apart from the “display form straight in an email” it does not have any remarkable features.

Hope this comparison is useful to you. Have I missed any that are important for you? Please let me know – also if it has helped to move your colleagues away from SurveyMonkey (free) or GoogleForms! 🙂

Image courtesy of Geralt on Pixabay

Forms or Survey – what are the settings?

Survey-SettingsIn my most recent blog I discussed the options for Questions and Answers in the various survey tools.

This time, I would like to take a look at the settings – what can you decide about your survey as a whole?

Which settings can you apply to your survey?

  • Permissions to create and manage a survey – can anyone do it or do you need special permissions? Can you hand a survey over to someone else?
  • Look and feel – can you use colours and add branding to the survey?
  • Who can respond and details about the responses.
  • How to start and stop collecting responses.
  • Custom thank-you message.
  • Whether you can easily copy your survey.

Where can you find the settings?

The settings in Forms can be found in the top right. The palette is for the theme, the … will lead you to the other settings.

Forms-wheresettings
The settings in Forms which will allow you to determine how your survey looks and works.

For the SharePoint survey/list you have some options in the Advanced Settings:

Forms-SPSurveyAdvanced
This is how to determine view-and-edit permissions for SharePoint Survey and List.
Forms-SPSurvey-GeneralSettings
This option is only available in the SharePoint Survey Settings under  “List name, description and navigation”.

For SurveyMonkey, you can find most of the settings in the “Design Survey” phase, with different options in the buttons on the left:

Forms-surveyMonkeywhere
In SurveyMonkey, the Design Survey link shows you the options available.

For Google Forms you look at the top right, where the palette will allow you to determine the look-and-feel and the gear wheel will show other settings to select:

Forms-gogglewhere
Where to find the settings in Google Forms.

Results

I have captured the results in the picture below. You can also view/download this as Excel. I have added this info as a separate tab in the same document as in my earlier post. You can use and edit it, but I would appreciate if you would mention my name if you share it outside of your organization.

Legend:

  • Green/Yes: Available by default, although it may have different names
  • Orange: Available with a workaround
  • Red/No: Not available
Formsorsurvey-ResultSettingswithheader
The comparison for the various settings available.

Conclusion

Again, all surveys have different options but the differences are relatively small between Microsoft Forms, Google Forms and SurveyMonkey.
SurveyMonkey has some interesting options, such as a limit on the number of responses, suggestions for questions, and the SurveyMonkey Genius which gives an estimated time to complete and suggestions for the setup of the survey. (Under “Preview and Score”)
The SharePoint options appear to be a different animal altogether. They have their uses though, as mentioned in my earlier post.

Special Thanks!

During the writing of this post some more info about Forms was made available:

Thanks to David Lozzi for blogging about changing the colour scheme of a Form, which I have done by accident without realizing its effect. 🙂
Thanks to Noah Sparks for sharing the info about a recently introduced option:  transferring ownership of a Form. 

Experience the surveys yourself! (and help me)

You can still check out and complete the surveys below, to have an idea of their look-and-feel. Please do not use real data, as I will use the inputs only for demonstrating how results will be displayed:

Forms

SurveyMonkey  (will close after 100 responses – limitation of the free version)

Google Forms

In my next post I will focus on collecting the responses and how results are being displayed.

Image courtesy of Geralt on Pixabay.

Forms or Survey – that’s the question

feedbackA few years ago I wrote a post “What SharePoint can learn from SurveyMonkey” and it is now time to revisit.

With the introduction of Forms in Office365 I was curious how the various survey tools compare. As a SharePoint List can also be used to collect information, I have added that as well. It has some special characteristics that could make it a good choice in some scenarios.
I have some personal experience with Google Forms, and Forms is rumoured to be based on that, so I have added that to the mix as well.

So these are the 5 options compared:

  • Office365 Forms
  • SharePoint Survey
  • SharePoint List
  • SurveyMonkey (free version)
  • Google Forms

What did I do?

I have created a 10-question survey based on the 8 basic Q&A options of Forms.
Then I recreated the same survey in the other tools. In cases where there was not a straightforward solution, I tried to find a workaround.
I have not applied branching logic, as I already have a lot of information to share.

In a next post I will look at the general settings per survey. Can you change the colour scheme, can you add a logo, how do you start or stop a survey, etc.

Finally, and this will also be another post, I will compare the ways you can see and manage results. How are results displayed, can you export them to a spreadsheet, is there any way you can filter results or have different options to display them?

Questions and Answers

Forms has 8 Q and A types, but some of them can be used in different ways – e.g. a Choice question can be a one choice only (radio button) or a multiple choice (check boxes), and the Text can be a short text, a long text, and a number.

The Net Promoter Score has recently been added but I personally think it is superfluous (it can be replaced with a Rating scale) and also annoying to receive. However, there is something special about it which I will share later. 😉

Experience them yourself! (and help me)

Please check out and complete the surveys below, to have an idea of their look-and-feel. Please do not use real data, as I will use the inputs only for demonstrating how results will be displayed:

Forms

SurveyMonkey  (will close after 100 responses – limitation of the free version)

Google Forms

Results

I have captured the results in the picture below. You can also view/download this as Excel. You can use and edit it, but I would appreciate if you would mention my name if you share it outside of your organization.

Legend:

  • Green/Yes: Available by default, although it may have different names
  • Orange: Available with a workaround
  • Red/No: Not available
SurveyComparison-QandA
The results of the comparison of Question and Answers.

Conclusion

No two Survey tools are alike. Duh!

In general, the SharePoint options appear to be most different and the most limited, but they can be useful, especially when used within an organization, for which they have been developed:

  • They have more Q and A types (e.g. currency, People and Groups lookup, a lookup from an existing list, Managed Metadata) which may be needed now and then. The List also has Calculations and Site Columns to select from.
  • They can detect unique values, which is essential in case you are collecting unique numbers, such as machine, procedure or invoice numbers.

SurveyMonkey has a few annoying limitations in the free version, such as max. 10 questions, the lack of a “number” option or the absence of a description field for each question. But it also has some very nice things:

  • Add answer options in bulk to Choice questions – nice when you have many answer options
  • Display a large number of answer options in columns rather than a long list
  • Ask to “tick at least x options” in a multiple-choice question

There are some differences between Forms, SurveyMonkey and Google Forms. But in general, you can create decent survey questions with all of them.

What are your thoughts? Or do you prefer to wait until I have completed the comparison?

Image courtesy of Geralt on Pixabay.

Reaching beyond the usual suspects

IntranetNowBlogheaderOn October 5 I participated in IntranetNow in London. I presented there, and thought it would be nice to create a write-up in my blog, with some images from my presentation. If you prefer the PowerPoint variety, please check out my presentation on the IntranetNow SlideShare.

What brought this on?

Recently we introduced a new intranet (Publishing and team sites) to the organization.

Blog-changes
A overview of the old (left) and the new situation (right). Lots of changes!

We went from a SharePoint 2007 environment on-prem, to SharePoint Online in the cloud. That alone was a big change.

Our old platform was created 10 years before, when the organization was still very decentralized, and people could do on the platform whatever they wanted (which they did) as long as they did not break it (which they did…sometimes 🙂 ).
The new intranet is strictly governed, as there is now a strong central Security and Compliance team, strong Enterprise Architecture, many Governance Boards and Steering Committees and of course our new landlord Microsoft, and they all tell us what people can do and what not.

Additionally, we went from being one large company to two companies and we reorganized as well.

Challenges

We knew we were going to make a big change, so we secured the help of our “usual suspects”, a small group of people active on Yammer, and a small group of active content owners. They kindly agreed to be our Champions, helping us launch the new intranet to their circles of influence.

However, many of them left the organization during the project, or moved to another job, due to the reorganizations. So we were left with an even smaller group of “usual suspects”.

We tried to make up for it by increasing the communications:

  • Yammer messages and YamJams
  • News articles and Newsletters
  • Webinars with demos and question time
  • Local sessions to inform people
  • Emails to site owners
  • Creating training

But well, you know how it goes:

  • People do not always read or act upon communications
  • People only learn when they have a need, so many people left the learning until they had their new intranet and their new site(s).

So despite our efforts, this is more or less how people reacted when they saw their new tools for the first time:

Chaos wallpaper2.png
Sadly I do not know the creator of this wonderful image, but I have used it anyway since it is the best I could find to depict the response of the audience…

People were confused, did not know where to find their content, how to manage their sites, how to navigate, etc.

Action needed!

Well, if you want to implement a new effective digital workplace, this may not be the best response. So we introduced a new role into the organization: the Adoption Consultant. It is their role to make sure that employees

  • know what the DW is,
  • can use it to their advantage
  • and like it, so they will promote it and help others use it

Within this organization, the DW consists of the Office 365 suite plus a few other tools available for all employees.

So we are currently embedding this process into the organization:

Blog-cycle
The Process
  • There is a UX manager who runs a survey with 1/12 of employees every month, asking for user feedback about all IT tools and services.
    There are other sources for feedback (Yammer, support tickets, etc.) but the survey is the most formal one.
  • He turns the responses into usable data and insights.
  • If something relates to the Digital Workplace, he asks the Adoption Consultants to help with it. They determine which remediation actions need to be taken.
    New functionality will also be handled by the Adoption Consultants, as some projects have the objective to “get the software installed on people’s machines” without thinking beyond that point…
    So they think about whether extensive communication and training sessions are needed, or if a link to the help materials of the vendor is sufficient, or anything in between.
  • By implementing those actions it is expected that the complaints and remarks about this topic will be reduced.

Yeah, interesting picture, but what does that mean in practice?

Users: “I can not find anything on the intranet”

UX Manager: “We have found that “I can not find anything on the intranet” is in the Top 3 of complaints for the past months. Adoption Consultants, would you please look into this”?

Adoption Consultants:  “What does it mean exactly, “I can not find information on the intranet”? Do people not know how to search? Are they looking for information that is not there? Do they not know how to navigate?”
* arrange interviews with a selection of complainers*

Adoption Consultant: After some discussions I think

  • We will need to create a campaign to inform people about the options available in Search.
  • We need to suggest to this department that they properly archive their outdated procedures and provide more meaningful and descriptive titles and tagging for their current content.
  • We need to discuss federating SharePoint Search, as some people appear to be looking for content which lives in our IT service system.

What else have we done so far?

  • We have given “Digital Workplace roadshows” in various locations across the world, explaining what the Digital Workplace is and how people can best use it. These have been received really well.
  • We have started a campaign about the different options of Search, update your profile, etc.
  • We manage a “Digital Workplace” group on Yammer as THE place for discussion. This is really well-used and popular.
  • We have created procedures to communicate consistently about projects that bring new functionality to the organization, using consistent channels (such as that Yammer group).
  • We are working with local focal points as they know more about their specific situation.

What are the results?

As we have only started this role last July, we have not accomplished a reduction in unfavourable feedback from the employee survey. But we have achieved a few things:

  1. Through the roadshows, we have met a number of new enthusiastic content owners, willing to help their circle of influence with the new Digital Workplace
  2. Interviews with colleagues who responded in the survey have revealed unexpected and useful feedback.

And that survey…we will do our best to improve the results over time!

My personal gems from IntranetNow

GemsOn October 5 I participated in IntranetNow, and a wonderful conference it was!

There were plenty of interesting and enjoyable presentations but below are the ones that resonated most with me:

1. An excellent Yammer use case

Baxter Willis of WM Reply shared a great Yammer use case from one of his clients, drinks business Diageo.
Apparently they have an archive of all bottle types, advertising materials, recipes etc. Nobody was really aware of that department, until recently. They are digitizing their content and the archivist posts something interesting on Yammer every day, e.g.
“Did you know that Pimm’s has been associated with Wimbledon from the 1930’s?” accompanying a picture of a nice old newspaper ad proving her point.
This lady is now the toast of the company and her Yammer group is very popular.

I like this because it is another easy way to share knowledge, which would otherwise be hidden in the archive. Posting it on Yammer costs nothing more than 5 or 10 mins a day. It helps the Marketing and Social Media people in their current work by giving them new insights to the company and its history.

The new Smirnoff label is now based on earlier labels throughout time, and this is also caused by this work!

2. How to get feedback from your employees

Emma Morrison and Usman Hasan of Hyde discussed the their intranet redesign, based on feedback sessions with their employees.

What I liked about this is that they used a simple but effective approach of lunch sessions, and shared their learnings.

The “let them rant” or “whine and dine” idea resonated with me, as I have also found that sometimes people just want to vent, sometimes not about the intranet itself, but about related things.
In my situation I have heard from several annoyed people who had been handed over a team site due to reorganizations – either because they had a new role and the team site came with it, or because the previous owner had moved on. Someone else’s team site can be quite hard to handle as the setup and especially the permissions are not always documented or intuitive.
I have learned that the best way to help them is to go through their site together, trying to make sense of it (looking at site contents, checking permissions), rather than trying to defend something or taking it personally. 🙂

3. Improving an intranet with no budget

Janet White shared her approach to improve an intranet with very simple means and no budget. Anyone who can get good results with creativity and elbow grease, rather than money, is my hero!

Using simple tools like card sorting, tree testing and talking to users helped her to improve the navigation of the intranet (better labels and better structure) and some of the content.

Note

I have linked to the Slideshare versions of the presentations as I expect the information on the IntranetNow website will be replaced next year.

Image courtesy of Aasimshaz

Using Yammer for a business process

YammerWe tend to think of Yammer as an optional communication and collaboration channel, where you can discuss topics and share information with and ask questions to all your colleagues, independent of where they are in the organization or on the globe.

But Yammer can also be used as part of a business process.

I recently talked to a Retail Sales organization that has been using Yammer for several years for a number of business processes.

1. Sharing information about customers.

A Yammer group has been created for each major customer.

Sales people visit shops, shop managers and customer head offices.
If they see empty shelves where their product should have been, incorrectly priced products, packaging with peeling labels, a nice display idea from a competitor, or anything else they find remarkable, they take a picture and upload that to the Yammer group with their comments.
This way they share it immediately with colleagues and the back-office, and the back-office can take instant action if necessary.
(For long-time readers, this is very similar to the process we had to facilitate with a Team Site as Yammer was at that time not an approved tool within that company)

YammerBus-Nicedisplay
Example of something interesting at the customer.

2. Flagging opportunities for improvement.

A dedicated Yammer group facilitates this process.
Whenever something could be done better, this is mentioned in this group, such as:
“I notice that the company flag at the Customer Center looks a bit worse for wear – can we have a new one?” or  “Can we please agree on a standard update interval for prices as I now have to find the latest prices in my own files rather than in the system?”
The Sales Managers discuss these suggestions and take the necessary action.

YammerBus-ImprovementsPost
Example of a potential improvement: reduce postage costs for samples

 

3.  Sharing winning strategies and achievements.

Another group has been created to share wins and winning strategies, as well as losses. Of course the Sales people are eager to share their wins, or show how they have added value or made a customer happy! Losses can also be a source for learning of course.
That information helps colleagues in two ways: they know what is happening with that customer, and they may learn different tactics to increase their negotiation repertoire.

YammerBus-Winexample
Example of win and interesting developments.

 

Not perfect

Is this perfect as a business system?
No. Yammer is not a CRM or Task Management system and conversations are easily lost without a process in place to capture and follow-up on them. Management and back office need to capture all posts manually and turn them into action lists and reports.
Posts are sometimes shared in the AllCompany group instead of in the group. (But you know you can move Yammer posts to different groups, right?)

YammerBus-Move conversation
In case you did not know – you can move conversations to a(nother) group!

 

But it works for them – the mobile Yammer app saves time for the Sales people, who are the face of the organization. They are on the road a lot and taking a picture with their phone and explaining in a few words at which branch of which customer they are and what they see, is quick, easy and useful.

As the Sales force does not often meet at the office, general improvements or the sharing of sales tactics might be forgotten without the Yammer group – but with the app they can share details immediately from any location.

Examples work!

The scenarios above may not work for you. But I have found that sharing examples help people to imagine what they can do with Yammer.

The other day I showed a rather skeptical audience these, and some other examples, of using Yammer. I also explained that, contrary to email chains, Yammer conversations are visible for people who get added to the group, e.g. new employees in the team.
All of a sudden one person said: “Aha! I am a Subject Matter Expert and I get a lot of emails from different people, asking me the same questions over and over again. If we use a Yammer group, we can share the questions and answers with everyone. That will save us all time. ”
We created that group there and then – it was also a good demo for the audience 🙂

Can you share some examples of how you have used Yammer for business processes?