It’s not about the technology. It’s about the use case

This week, I participated in a REgarding 365 debate about use of org-wide Microsoft Teams. Not surprisingly, the Microsoft Teams versus Yammer question was raised multiple times. Here’s the thing–there are uses for Microsoft Teams (including org-wide teams) and there are uses for Yammer. In the end, it’s not about which tool myself or the other REgarding 365 panelists prefer. The valid questions are:

  • What are your organizational use cases and content needs?
  • What is your company culture?
  • Which technologies best fit your use cases and culture?


Use cases are practical business needs (aka requirements) that need to be met. Examples of use cases include:

  • Sharing organization-wide HR policy changes
  • Sharing strategy and content updates from the company’s CEO
  • Providing newly-onboarded employees with a resource center for frequently asked questions
  • Enabling employees to instant message, chat, and screen share with their peers
  • Enabling employees to quickly engage with other employees and members of IT on technology support questions

As collaboration strategists, our first job is identifying and documenting the unique use cases for our organization. Next, we need to assess our organizational culture, including: company values and norms; technology adeptness (aka how well our users adopt new technologies); and readiness for change (e.g. do our users welcome change or do they fear it?).

When we view our use cases alongside our company culture, we’ll be able to determine which technologies are best-suited to meet our needs. There is no one-size-fits-all model or one Microsoft 365 capability that wins the day. Let’s look at our organizational use cases and culture and determine what tool works best for our specific needs.

Choosing between the classic and modern Yammer web part

UPDATE: Just announced at Ignite–Microsoft is planning a Q1 2019 launch of the new Yammer Conversations web part. Yammer Conversations will embed a modern view of your Yammer group in SharePoint Online. Users will be able to like and comment on Yammer posts directly within the SharePoint web part (no more having to open Yammer in another browser window), or using the SharePoint mobile app. This new Yammer Conversations web part will not replace the current “modern” Yammer web part. The existing modern web part will be remain in place as the “Yammer conversations highlight.” The highlight web part renders Yammer data within SharePoint Online in a read-only view.

If you’re using Office 365 and want to integrate a Yammer web part into your modern SharePoint site, you have a choice to make. You can use the classic Yammer web part that leverages embed functionality with an older look and feel or use the updated modern Yammer web part. Microsoft doesn’t make this an easy choice, as both web parts have some big advantages and drawbacks. This post breaks down the pros and cons of each web part and provides guidance on how to choose the best Yammer web part for your needs.

To help us get started, let’s take a look at the modern and classic Yammer web parts side-by-side. The screen shot below shows the modern Yammer web part on the left and the classic Yammer web part on the right. The web parts are displaying data from the same Yammer group, but the look and feel is entirely different.

Yammer web part 07

The modern web part displays each Yammer post as a card (or tile). The visual view clearly demarcates each post, but the boxy display makes it harder to scan the content. The classic web part displays all posts in chronological order using a vertical scroll bar. While the chronological display makes the content easier to scan, the vertical scroll bar makes the web part look antiquated.

The usability of the modern and classic Yammer web parts are very different. The modern web part only includes a visual indicator for likes and comments. If you want to see details or comment on a post, you’ll need to click on the Yammer “tile.” Office 365 will launch Yammer in a new browser tab, enabling you to add likes and comments. The experience of spawning a new tab to interact with each Yammer post is jarring at best.

The classic Yammer web part offers a full-fidelity experience. Yammer likes and comments are displayed in a traditional threaded view, and users are able to like posts, add comments, and create new Yammer posts directly in SharePoint (no additional browser windows required).

Display options
The configurable display options for the classic and modern Yammer web parts are also different. The modern web part provides 3 choices for content display:

  • Top conversations: Displays the most popular posts in your Yammer group
  • Latest conversations: Displays the Yammer group’s newest or most recently liked/commented on conversations
  • Only conversations you choose: Displays the specific Yammer posts you specify. (You will need to copy and paste the Yammer conversation URL for each post you want to display)

Unfortunately, no options are provided to alter or customize the tiled display for the modern Yammer web part.

The classic Yammer web part displays all posts in a single vertical scroll list. The sort order is strictly chronological, and is based on the Yammer post creation date/time. The only display option provided for the classic web part is vertical sizing of the web part itself. The choices are incredibly limited (you can choose small, medium, or large). Unless you’re greatly limited on SharePoint page space, I recommend the large display. The small and medium options cause massive vertical scroll bar fatigue.

Mobile display
The mobile SharePoint app experience is also unique. The modern Yammer web part renders well in the SharePoint mobile app (as shown on the left below). The classic Yammer web part doesn’t support the SharePoint mobile app, so classic Yammer web parts will render as a blank grey box. Carefully consider whether mobile SharePoint access is important for your users. If mobile access is important, the modern Yammer web part is your only option.

Yammer web part 09        Yammer web part 08

Choosing “classic” or “modern”
In the end, usage of the classic or modern Yammer web part comes down to a couple of key trade-offs. To help you narrow down the choices, take a look at the summary table below. Bottom line: If SharePoint mobile access is important, the modern Yammer web part is the only option. If mobile access isn’t a priority (or is seldom used), I will often use the classic Yammer web part because it supports liking and commenting on Yammer posts directly within SharePoint.

Yammer web part 10

Setting up the modern and classic Yammer web parts
The setup process for the Yammer web parts is a little cumbersome, as both the modern and classic Yammer web part display options are incorporated within a single Yammer web part. When you add the Yammer web part to your modern SharePoint page, the web part configuration tab will appear. You’ll need to start by typing in the name of the Yammer group you want to display posts for. (Note: There is no option to display posts from more than one Yammer group within a single Yammer web part. You’ll need to use multiple Yammer web parts if you want to display posts from more than one Yammer group.)

If you want to use the modern Yammer web part, select from the three conversation display options provided (top conversations, latest conversations or conversations you choose). If you want to use the classic Yammer web part, select the hyperlink “Use the classic version of Conversations” (highlighted in yellow below). The web part configuration tab will refresh, and you’ll be prompted to specify a display size (small, medium, or large) for your web part.

Yammer web part 02