Okay, so you’re organization has decided Yammer is the way to go. Congratulations! 

Before you get too deep, though, I’d like to share some practical tips for where and how to start getting the most out of Yammer.

    1. Connect stakeholders

Connect key stakeholders together to discuss the potential use cases and benefits of Yammer. Bring representatives from HR, Communications, IT, Operations and any other groups that can think creatively about how people work, communicate and collaborate today.

2. Develop use cases

Consider five to ten use cases to begin with and work towards both a soft-launch and official company-wide launch date. Start by brainstorming some simple, high-impact problems. Explore problems or opportunities within your company that could be supported by Yammer. Make sure they are concrete areas, then list every possible use and evaluate which ones have the most value to your organization.

3. Assess cultural readiness

Consider roadblocks or people within the organization that may have natural objections to the dissemination of information and loosening of control that comes with implementing an enterprise social application. Seek out these people’s feedback and get to know their fears or concerns as they may influence how you scope the initial rollout.

4. Make sure Yammer fits with your current ecosystem

To make sure you are not blindly introducing capabilities that are already being supported in alternate systems, align Yammer within your current ecosystem of tools and usage (this might include email, SharePoint, SAP, CRM, etc.).

If you’re running SharePoint, build a vision for how Yammer and SharePoint will live together. At first it might feel like a loosely coupled relationship, but we know Microsoft is working hard to bridge seamlessly together both worlds. (See the updated roadmap and a summary of recent news release for more information.)

5. Do you go with a freemium or enterprise SKU?

Figure out if you already own Yammer through your Microsoft license agreement or if your organization should budget for the paid enterprise SKU. Note that with the free version of Yammer, you have less access to administrative controls, which can make community management more challenging.

6. Identify a community manager

Identify a community manager and a strategy for garnering executive support. Develop a plan to build support and monitor the initial adoption. Community managers are integral to the adoption of Yammer, and designating someone to champion the effort helps put a face to this new technology for others in your organization. Community managers are similar to portal managers.

7. Plan launch activities

Have a plan for launching Yammer. Make it official and let people know how it can help make their life better. Each person will need to realize that they need to invest time to understand what Yammer is all about, so it is in your best interest to make that investment as easy as possible. Reward employees with some immediate support and consider hosting an internal event to raise awareness.

8. Consider a soft launch with select groups of users

Remember that with the initial launch, you want to promote a good experience. Too many people having problems without adequate support will result in chaos. To combat this, create a soft launch that fits a few different groups of users. This way, your support team can learn about any issues as samples of users adopt the platform.

9. Encourage adoption throughout your organization

Encourage influential people, like executives or key leaders, to share their ideas or communicate initiatives within Yammer. It is critical that people see the channel as a place where they can learn and get connected to the source of what’s going on. Allow people to move email conversations into Yammer. Overall, use the tool for what it’s best at: conversations.

10. Be prepared to manage every kind of change

The common thread throughout this list is having the right people in place to manage the operational, cultural, and technical changes that come with implementing Yammer. Look for change management experts in your organization or enlist in the help of a qualified professional to aid the implementation and adoption process.

All of these tips should be part of your organization’s roadmap to building an effective Yammer implementation.

Right now, we’re actively helping our clients shape their plans for Yammer and are using our arsenal of user training, community management, planning, and pre-launch services to help organizations get the most out of Yammer.

If your organization is looking to adopt Yammer, I’d love to hear from you!

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