Yammer Time

Written By: Dave Packard

from December 11, 2013

Microsoft Dynamics CRM’s customer-centric philosophy allows users to see all the activities happening for an account. Whether it is a new Opportunity, a new Case, or a new Campaign, there is total visibility into that Account.

The next logical step beyond seeing what is happening is to talk about what is happening—essentially to collaborate on that Account, that Opportunity, that Case in real time across the company. Activity Feeds started this collaboration but Yammer takes it to a whole new level.

The Start of Collaboration
In 2011, Microsoft introduced Activity Feeds. Each Microsoft Dynamics CRM user could “follow” records and other users in Microsoft Dynamics CRM and post comments on their Activity Feed wall or the wall of those records; it was a basic social network. If a user was following someone or something, they would see when others posted comments on those records and could have an internal conversation about that record.

Activity Feeds also allowed the system to auto-post certain activities.  If an Opportunity was opened on an Account a user followed, that auto-post could be seen. It was a great way to quickly catch up on things that may have been missed. Through workflows, auto-posts could be generated for any relevant update to Microsoft Dynamics CRM but Activity Feeds were only available for licensed Microsoft Dynamics CRM users.

Yammer Addition
With Yammer, this basic internal collaboration is taken to the next level. Instead of just talking with other Microsoft Dynamics CRM users, it allows collaboration with the entire company, partners, or an entire business network regardless if the other person is a Microsoft Dynamics CRM user or not. Yammer allows the creation of a complete business social network so everyone can join in on the conversation and provide input, feedback, and ideas

For example: A company may have offices in Philadelphia, Denver, and Seattle along with a partner in Raleigh and manufacturing operation in Shenzhen. Yammer would provide a real-time collaboration platform to get feedback from everyone involved, regardless of geography, and outside of Microsoft Dynamics CRM licensing.

For Microsoft Dynamics CRM users, the great benefit is Yammer can live directly in Microsoft Dynamics CRM allowing users to continue to work in Microsoft Dynamics CRM as usual and connect with the entire business network via Yammer. Plus, Yammer includes additional features not found in the Activity Feeds such as posting impromptu polls and adding documents directly to Yammer posts.

Yammer Integration
When integrating Yammer with Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Yammer replaces the Activity Feeds meaning it is a fairly simple transition from Activity Feeds to Yammer. Users will still have the Auto Posting capabilities introduced in Activity Feeds allowing the Yammer feed to continue to populate with system-generated posts such as new cases opened and opportunities that just closed. But now, users can share this with the entire business network.

Yammer can integrate with Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 (update rollup 12 or greater) and Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013.  A few important notes on the integration:

  1. The Yammer installation to Microsoft Dynamics CRM is permanent. Once it is set up, there is no going back to Activity Feeds.
  2. Old Activity Feed posts (pre Yammer integration) will not show up in the new Yammer feed. Users will only be able to access these older posts through Advanced Find.

Yammer Exposure
Although Yammer users do not need to be Microsoft Dynamics CRM users to be included in the discussions, if they want to see any of the records in Microsoft Dynamics CRM, users will need a Microsoft Dynamics CRM license. If a Yammer user who does not have a Microsoft Dynamics CRM license clicks on a Microsoft Dynamics CRM link (such as an auto-post), it will prompt that user for their login credentials. Users will see the posts and can comment on everything within Yammer, they just will not be able to follow the hyperlinks to Microsoft Dynamics CRM records without a Microsoft Dynamics CRM license.

For licensing, each Microsoft Dynamics CRM user will have two licenses: A Microsoft Dynamics CRM license and a Yammer license. The non-Microsoft Dynamics CRM users will only have a Yammer license.  They can participate in all the discussions in Yammer but they will not be able to access Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

In essence, everyone in the business network would have a Yammer license and only those who need Microsoft Dynamics CRM would also have a Microsoft Dynamics CRM license.

Yammer Benefits
Yammer is not for everyone. And the dividing line isn’t as easy as saying it is for Fortune 500 companies but not the start-up company with five employees. It depends on the organization. Are users all in one office? Does everyone have access to Microsoft Dynamics CRM? If yes, then Activity Feeds will probably meet the need.

For organizations with a geographically diverse workforce and not all of those employees are Microsoft Dynamics CRM users but have valuable input, Yammer may be a good fit. Yammer can help involve all employees in the discussions and bring all ideas to light.

To make a few simple rules of thumb, Yammer could be recommended over Activity Feeds if an organization:

  • Has more than one office.
  • Has employees in different locations (including contract employees).
  • Do not have a Microsoft Dynamics CRM license for all employees.

Yammer Pricing
Although Yammer does have a free version, to integrate it with Microsoft Dynamics CRM, the Yammer Enterprise plan must be purchased.  Check with your Microsoft Dynamics Partner for pricing information.

For organizations that are not sure if a Yammer integration with Microsoft Dynamics CRM makes sense, try the free Yammer version first to gauge how employees will collaborate. Test and see if they like it and use it. The free version does not integrate with Microsoft Dynamics CRM but will let organizations test its social capabilities before purchasing it.

Definitely consider training people on how to use Yammer; it is a business social network and should be fun and productive. Not everyone will take to it right away.  Giving a basic overview of how it works and how to use it will help with user adoption.

Yammer can be a sounding board for gathering input and ideas from all employees and partners regardless of geography. It’s a small world—take advantage of it.