Project managers can use the Yammer social network to expedite decision making, open new collaboration channels, and much more.
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.
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 versions.
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 pane.
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.
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.