Yammer is an easy-to-use and secure enterprise social offering from Microsoft that is available as part of Microsoft’s Office 365 cloud solution. Yammer enables a company’s employees to collaborate more effectively with each other so that they can achieve more. While Yammer has been described by some as a “Facebook for Work,” Yammer can serve as your company’s social network, is a compelling alternative to email and is fun to use.
Yammer is a fantastic tool for lawyers and the Microsoft Corporate, External & Legal Affairs Group—a team of over 1,200 legal professionals located across the world—uses Yammer to increase collaboration, productivity and efficiency. I’ll provide an overview on how to use Yammer and share examples of how we use Yammer in the Microsoft Corporate, External & Legal Affairs Group.
Yammer involves the creation of groups so that members of such groups can post and contribute their own ideas, comments, and materials. The beauty of Yammer is that posts are archived like a repository and is searchable for future reference. Groups can be formed on your own in a matter of a few clicks and are typically created based on subject-matter areas, teams of employees, or across teams of employees. You can add your workplace colleagues to participate in groups and groups can be designated as public (anyone in your company can join) or private (available to only certain employees). You are free to post your contributions to such groups (which can include attachments like Microsoft Word documents, PowerPoint slides, pictures and videos) and you can read and reply to those posts.
Greater Knowledge Share
We created a Yammer group that includes the Microsoft legal professionals scattered across the globe who provide legal support to Microsoft’s sales, marketing and services teams. That group is made up of over 400 professionals who share their ideas, success stories, lessons learned, and questions on a daily basis so that we can better serve our business clients by learning from others and building upon the great work of others. Whether it’s learning about how our North America legal team is facilitating events to promote greater diversity in the legal profession or how our European legal team is actively evangelizing Microsoft’s “trusted cloud” narrative to customers or how our Asia-Pacific legal team is fighting cybercriminals, Yammer helps our legal team break down silos and embrace a culture of constant learning and growth.
Enhance Your Business IQ
Yammer can increase a lawyer’s business acumen so that he/she is better able to provide more impactful legal counsel. For example, in my role leading the legal support function to Microsoft’s US Central Region Enterprise & Partner Group team, I belong to the Yammer groups representing the five districts that comprise that eighteen state team. I actively monitor the posts of my business clients to these Yammer groups and I have learned a wealth of useful information regarding my business clients, our opportunities, our challenges, our customers, and our competition. My “data-mining” of these posts and absorption of their useful insights have raised my business “IQ” so that I can serve as a more impactful trusted legal advisor to my business clients.
Train Business Clients
Yammer is a wonderful solution for lawyers to conveniently and quickly educate their business clients. As an example we’ve created a Yammer group with some of our most significant business clients known as Microsoft Licensing Executives (LEs)—who are highly skilled business negotiators of Microsoft contracts. In our Yammer group with the LEs, we are constantly posting out best practices, self-help resources, alternative contract wording and other forms of advice to our LEs to help enable them to perform their job responsibilities. As a result, the LEs no longer need the direct engagement of the legal team when issues involving those topics arise in the future—thereby freeing up legal team time to perform other important tasks.
Our legal team has also convened “Yam-Jams”—which are virtual and live chat sessions via a Yammer group. For example, with the roll-out of our new Windows 10 operating system this past summer, we had “Yam-Jam” sessions with our key lawyers responsible for Windows 10. Our Windows 10 “Yam-Jams” enabled Yammer group members to post questions about Windows 10 that were answered in real-time postings by our colleagues (as everyone was typing away feverishly).
Be sure to use Yammer to help your legal department or law firm avoid the perils described in author Gillian Tett’s excellent book called “The Silo Effect.” More information regarding Yammer can be found here: Yammer Overview.