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Launch, manage and govern Yammer in your organization

Yammer is one of the most powerful enterprise social networking tools available today. It is very easy to use and designed for company collaboration, file sharing, and knowledge exchange and team efficiency. It is like a company’s internal ‘Facebook’ and has a similar interface too.

You can use Yammer to

  1.             Meet fellow coworkers who share your interests
  2.             Find the expert help you need to complete a task
  3.             Share important news with those who need to know
  4.             Discuss major decisions and manage change
  5.             Gather opinions and ideas from across our company
  6.             Provide peer-to-peer recognition
  7.             Gain visibility into what’s happening
  8.             Share best practices and solutions
  9.             Discover valuable information to inform your work
  10.            Communicate in real time, while you’re on the go

Yammer drives value in the following manner –

1.            Share & leverage knowledge

  •             Increase cross-selling
  •             Faster responses to customer inquiries

2.            Discover expertise & existing resources

  •             Get answers without knowing who can help
  •             Improve operations with best practices
  •             Avoid duplication & rework

3.            Form global, virtual workgroups

  •             Advance projects faster
  •             Increase innovation & research productivity
  •              Ideate globally

1. Versions of Yammer

Yammer is available in two different versions – free and enterprise. Anybody with a ‘@company.com’ email address can sign up for Yammer and start interacting with fellow colleagues who have signed up using similar ‘@company.com’ email addresses. It is very easy.

The difference between free and enterprise version is that the enterprise version provides extra features for control/administration like user management, branding, analytics, keyword monitoring, profile management, usage policy, SSO, Directory Sync, 3rd party integration etc. However, there are many glaring misses in the feature list like –

1)      Unable to moderate every post before posting

2)      Preventing/moderating users from creating groups

3)      No feature to flag posts as inappropriate

4)      Inability to post company-wide announcements without sending email alerts to everyone

Having said that, Yammer is still one of the best enterprise networking tools available today and Yammer enterprise has many governance capabilities that justifies the cost of having it. The best part is that it is free with many versions of Office 365 and has integration with SharePoint Online, Salesforce etc( and virtually any web-based system using embeds).


2. Yammer governance

Governance has a reputation in enterprise social for being kind of a dirty word.  It is widely observed that the best social networks deliver the most value when operating freely, unencumbered by overmuch policy. While this is largely true, enterprise governance is essential to make sure that the platform complies with the organizational requirements, achieves the desired goals and also scales effectively going forward.

Following are the pillars of Yammer governance –

  1. Yammer Admin Identification
  2. Usage Policy
  3. Data Security
  4. Group Administration
  5. IP Blocking
  6. Password Policy
  7. User Management
  8. External Networks
  9. Contingent worker policy
  10. Data Retention Policy (Soft delete)
  11. Configure user profile fields

2.1 Yammer Admins

There are basically 3 types of admins in Yammer. They are –

  1. Group Admin: Group admins can configure certain options for the group they are an admin of. The privileges include uploading group images, setting group name and description, managing group members, moderating content, making announcements and setting privacy controls. Full details on Group Admin privileges is available on the link below –


  1. Network Admin: Network admins can configure the group management options for public groups, but can only access the private groups they belong to. In addition, they can configure network settings, features, applications, usage policy, new user defaults, invites, user profile configuration, delete messages, manage users, delete posts etc. More details are listed below.
  2. Verified Admin: In addition to all group administration and Network Admin privileges, they can bulk update users, monitor keywords, set data policies, configure security and perform integrations with SharePoint, AD, Salesforce, setup  SSO etc. More details are listed below.


Courtesy: Yammer site

Identify the Network and Verified admins. Equip them with the admin guide and train them to do their duties effectively. In addition, designate group admins for each of the departments and other company wide communities (e.g – Book club, any sports related communities, Carpooling etc.). More details on how to manage groups is detailed below under ‘Group administration’.

2.2 Usage Policy

The usage policy is the first line of defense when you want to ensure users are using the tool appropriately. Usage policies in Yammer can discuss general items such as no profanity, religious discussions, political arguments, union discussions, and so on. They can link to other corporate policies for employees to abide by. Policy can be presented to users in the following manner –

  1. Users can be required to accept the policy during sign-up and after any changes are made to the policy.
  2. A link to the policy can also be made available in the right side bar so that users can quickly reference the information.
  3. Also, the policy can be pushed to users at regular intervals (like every 6 months).

2.3 Data Security (Keyword monitoring & Data export)

Data security is very important for every enterprise. To maintain data security, Yammer provides a powerful feature called ‘Keyword Monitoring’. This feature enables sending of alert emails whenever designated keywords or phrases are posted in any message on Yammer. In other words any single word, phrase, or regular expression can be monitored.

For Example – Secured information like credit card info, SSN data etc can be monitored using regular expression codes in Keyword Monitoring feature

Admins can also use Data Export to manage entire network data according to company’s policies. To preserve the integrity of business, they can schedule daily or weekly data exports to meet legal and regulatory compliance. Once the Data Export download is complete, they can open the file to access records of all the Groups, Messages, Topics, Users, and more added to the network in the designated timeframe.

2.4 Group Administration

Yammer groups provide collaboration and administrative capabilities that makes teams more connected and productive. This is the primary feature of Yammer and every user has the ability to create a private/public group. Since this feature drives a lot of value and cannot be restricted (Refer here) by pre-defining groups, guiding and administering them is very important. Following are some of the ways to administer groups –

  1. Include a section in the usage policy helping to define what types of groups are appropriate on the network
  2. Within the best practices of the usage policy there should be a mention of searching for a group first, prior to creation, as this will keep from having duplicate content areas.
  3. Monitor the phrase “has created the” to keep track of the group creators. This phrase is always used when someone creates a group and it can help in multiple ways. Use it to invite users to a Group Administrators group with tips, tricks, and best practices for group administrators. You can also use it to determine if the group is a valid, not duplicate group and take the appropriate action if necessary.

It is recommended to create official groups for each of the departments and specify a consistent branding (image, title & description) for them so that users can easily distinguish them from other groups.

2.5 IP Blocking

This feature gives an ability to lock down company’s Yammer network to a trusted range of IP addresses. If we want that users should only be able to access Yammer when they are at an office, the IP range of devices should be added here. This will also block mobile devices unless it is specified accordingly.

2.6 Password Policy

If Yammer SSO is implemented, users can sign in to yammer seamlessly without extra login prompts & extra passwords. But in the absence of SSO, company’s password complexity requirements can be enforced for Yammer too using its password policy settings. Password policies can be set for minimum length, different complexity requirements from none to requiring upper and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters. Password reset restrictions can also be enforced.

2.7 User Management

Directory Sync provides a great way of managing users in Yammer. Directory Sync synchronizes user accounts between the directory infrastructure and Yammer. This includes adding and removing accounts as well as syncing up certain user attributes. However, in the absence of Directory Sync, care must be taken to ensure that deactivated and blocked user accounts are also removed from Yammer manually. This can be done by exporting the list of users from Yammer and comparing them against active directory at regular intervals.

2.8 External Networks

External networks can provide a significant advantage in collaborating with customers, partners, and vendors without having to worry about creating authentication methods for those external users. With the Yammer network an external network has no external user limitations. Those external users will not be able to access the internal Yammer network for your organization; they are completely separate instances.

By default, external networks can be created by any user and its password policies cannot be enforced. It is advised to lock this down to an admin only function. Restrictions can also be put in place to restrict company users from joining other networks and to hide the ‘Related External Networks’ directory.

2.9 Contingent worker policy

Contingent workers should be carefully added to company’s private/public groups as they may be exposed to company info/discussions that shouldn’t be shared with them. Normally, companies add a suffix/prefix to contingent workers’ names in Yammer so that other users can easily identify them and may not add them to groups that may contain some level of sensitive material.

2.10 Data retention policy

Choose between Hard Delete and Soft Delete options to meet your company’s needs. Hard Delete permanently removes data when it is deleted on the network and is recommended for most networks. Soft Delete keeps deleted data visible in data exports and is recommended for networks that have strict data retention policies.


Useful resources for Yammer

Yammer in 5 mins


How to administer Yammer


Cargill Yammer setup


Yammer official admin guide


http://success.yammer.com – Has ton of resources and videos. Official site for Yammer documentation

Join YCN (Yammer customer network) for excellent resources on Yammer management & documentation

Join Yammer Developer Network for development discussions on Yammer API, OpenGraph & Embeds

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