10,000 Users and Six Opportunities for Better Collaboration


I was at my booth at the Union for Reform Judaism Biennial gathering in Boston. 6,000 lay and professional Reform Jewish leaders had joined us to “worship, learn, sing, build community, and shape the future of the Reform Movement.” I was busily reviewing activity in The Tent, our private Yammer network for 10,000 Reform Jewish lay and professional leaders, when I sensed something happening behind me.

An opportunity.

I turned around to find a group of people standing around me, each one with a mobile phone in their hands. Looking at me confused, and probably a little frustrated, they wanted to know how to get into The Tent so they too could find vital information and expand their network of connections and expertise.

An opportunity to add more users to our network.

A series of learning sessions had just come to an end, and just as I had hoped, our presenters were telling attendees that if they wanted more information about what had just been discussed, it would be found in The Tent. Yes, the learning session had come to an end, but that was no reason for education to stop.

An opportunity to emphasize the utility of our network.

Biennial attendees could not get into The Tent. They clicked on the email invite they received on their phone, and were greeted with an error message. They asked for a new password, and nothing arrived. They requested access, and there was no reply.

An opportunity to improve.

Our Biennial attendees were eager to find the information they were being encouraged to find.  They wanted to learn more, they wanted to help their congregation to thrive and grow. They wanted to learn how to use The Tent, built in the Yammer platform.

An opportunity to educate.

Yammer is clunky. Yammer is buggy. Sometimes, the things that should work in Yammer don’t work like they should. Yammer is still going through growing pains. As it is integrated more and more into the Office 365 suite of tools, functionality grows but so do problems with permission, access and functionality.

An opportunity to help.

At Biennial, we worked with every user. “Try to activate your account from your laptop.” “Let’s try to request access a different way.” “You can easily find information with a simple search.” “Let me help.”

An opportunity to add value.

Ultimately, we solved the problems. People got into the network, they found the information they were looking for, and they left with more than they arrived with. But I think Yammer has an opportunity. I think Yammer has several opportunities.

Yammer has an opportunity to make sign-in easier. A user should only have to enter their user name and password once when logging in, and that information should not have to be provided at each visit.

Yammer has an opportunity to clarify language. Don’t tell users that an access request will receive an immediate reply if it won’t. Don’t tell users that a password reset email will be received soon if it won’t. Don’t tell users that a work email is necessary if they can also use a Gmail address.

Yammer has an opportunity to make information more easily accessible. Topics should be easier to follow, edit and add. Groups should be able to be sorted according to user preferences. Search should be improved so key information is easier to find (an improvement we know is in the 2018 road map).

Every problem our users face in Yammer is like a whisper in a cave. It starts out very quiet, and then it echoes on and on.

I didn’t get an email response. I can’t reset my password. I can’t find the information I need. I don’t understand. Echoing on and on and on.

Yammer is a wonderful platform that has helped our leaders and congregations in innumerable ways. I look forward to our continued work with Yammer to recognize the many opportunities we have to improve the platform, to better connect users together, and to make more information available with ease of use and access.

So many opportunities.

1 Comment

  1. Thank you Larry for your frank assessment. To me Yammer is a good tool that needs a lot of work to make it great tool. Thank you for being a leader of the the charge to make that happen. Thank you and your team for being the 24/6 always available helping hand to our fledgling Tent users.

    Liked by 1 person

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