The enterprise social network Yammer
offers tools that can help IT project managers manage secure collaboration and
communications for projects of any size. This article covers specific ways that project managers and
their teams can use Yammer to their advantage. 

1: Expedite decision making using a private Yammer group

Yammer can move your team beyond the hierarchical and
glacial-paced decision making that can hobble a project’s progress. You can set
up a private Yammer group (Figure A) where your team can conduct online
conversations around important project elements; this allows each team member
to be part of the decision-making process.

For example, a project team can set up a private Yammer
group to support the development of a Software Requirements Specification (SRS)
document. Within that group, you could do the following:

  • Discuss the software’s features with team
    members who bring varied insights and expertise to the table. The conversation
    thread will serve as better notes than handwritten meeting minutes.
  • Add files to the group, including source
    documents, SRS drafts, screen shots, diagrams, and other supporting content.
  • Praise a team member for a specific contribution
    to the project’s success.
  • Post an event such as a major deadline for the
    SRS document.
  • Make an announcement about a project milestone.
  • Conduct a poll, which might be about the implementation
    of a product feature.

Figure A

Example of a private Yammer group. (See an enlarged view of this image.)

Another benefit to keeping project communications and
collaboration inside a private Yammer group is that it creates a great audit
trail of project decisions.

2: Centralize and share files with Yammer

Your project teams also have the option to upload files
directly to Yammer for sharing across a Yammer group (Figure B). You can upload
new versions of documents and let Yammer maintain control over previous

Figure B

Files in a private Yammer group. (See an enlarged view of this image.)

You may want to mark documents and other uploaded content as
“official and read only” if you are working on projects in which
documents are changed often. The “official and read only” designation
is also an effective way to get team members past sticking to their own
versions of project documents and the version control hijinks that can ensue.

Any team member with access to the documents can view
document changes by every other collaborator/team member in the Recent Changes

Not everyone with an interest in the project needs to have
access to the Yammer network. However, you can provide someone (e.g., a
customer or a sales team member) with a URL from Yammer that allows them to
view or access a project file in a secure way.

3: Create project notes directly in Yammer

If you want to centralize and standardize project notes,
Yammer can help. With Yammer Notes (Figure C), you can write notes and create
simple wikis of project information using the content. Team members can even see
other members creating notes in real-time.

Figure C

How notes look in Yammer. (See an enlarged view of this image.)

4: Extend Yammer with apps

Yammer can integrate into various business applications and
platforms, including: Microsoft SharePoint, Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics CRM,
Sciforma PPM, and SAP. (Note: SharePoint
integration is only available with Yammer Enterprise, +SharePoint, and +Office 365.)

I would like to see Yammer
integrate with more enterprise project management tools — Microsoft Project Online in particular.

5: Create an external network when working with contractors and partners

With Yammer, your project team has the option to create an
external network to work with contractors and freelancers outside of your
company. You can even create an external network with Yammer to interact with
your important customers.

6: Open an always-on channel to mobile workers

If you equip your mobile workers with one of Yammer’s mobile
apps, they have an always-on channel to team discussions and files. This decreases
their dependency on email, phone calls, and IMs.

Are you using Yammer for project management?

If your project team uses Yammer, tell us what you like and
don’t like about using the social network as a project management tool.