Hubs, Groups, Teams, Sites – trying to understand them all

Microsoft is releasing new features into Office 365 at an unprecedented level – and it’s taking quite a lot of effort for experts in the field to stay current on what is what, let alone customers and end users!

Historically in Office 365 we had key product workloads:

* Azure is not technically part of Office 365 but powers several of the services

Then Microsoft acquired Yammer and worked to integrate it.

Then Microsoft released Office 365 Groups (aka Outlook Groups).

Then Microsoft released Planner.

Then Microsoft released Teams.

Then Microsoft released StaffHub.

And there is more coming…

As an example, Microsoft’s latest release StaffHub utilises ALL of the above workloads, as well as the Microsoft Teams chat service (not the actual product or interface).

Where previously IT admins would need to stitch together each individual component, Office 365 Groups has surfaced as the one substrate to rule them all – and that is a very good thing which continues to improve.

While the various integrations between workloads are still being rolled out, even when they are we will be left with things like:

  • An Office 365 Group gets a SharePoint team site, BUT a SharePoint team site does not require or create an Office 365 Group
  • A Yammer group can exist on its own, BUT can also create an Office 365 Group, BUT an Office 365 Group does not create a Yammer group
  • A Microsoft Team creates its own Office 365 Group or can be connected to an existing one, BUT an Office 365 Group does not provision a Team
  • A Planner creates an Office 365 Group, BUT each channel within a Microsoft Team can have its own Planner – BUT these cannot be accessed currently from the Planner/Groups interface
  • Each Microsoft Team channel creates a new section in the OneNote within the Office 365 Group, BUT you cannot access the sections of the OneNote file that existed before the Team channel was created
  • StaffHub creates an Office 365 Group, BUT an Office 365 Group does not create a StaffHub
  • StaffHub uses the Teams chat service, BUT you cannot access the StaffHub “chat” service from the Teams interface

Clear? No? Then you’re with the rest of us. Let’s not throw in marketing spin in there like the Surface Hub – which “unlocks the power of the Group”.

The reality is that the experiences and cross-integrations are improving at a rapid pace, so while this is currently confusing it is important to remember that in the past year Office 365 has taken a huge lurch forward away from siloed product-based workloads, and towards integrated experiences and services.

It is important to remember:

  • Microsoft Teams is still in preview and is expected to move to General Availability sometime in Q1 of this calendar year (let’s assume mid/late March to be safe)
  • Yammer is currently rolling out it’s Office 365 Groups integration
  • Planner has only been available since July 2016 and is iterating rapidly
  • Office 365 Groups integration with SharePoint team sites has only just begun rolling out in production
  • StaffHub was just released to General Availability in the past week

So strap in and hold on, it’s a wild ride!

However, on a serious note: while the pace of change is fast and not everything works the way we want – in some instances we need to be patient and wait for integrations or rollouts to finish. In other instances, ensure that we wrap customers and end-users with a big blanket of change management and hand-holding to get the greatest chance of successful adoption, actual productivity improvement and ultimately user satisfaction.

Integrating Yammer into Microsoft Teams

One of the challenges that Microsoft Teams brought is the confusion around which communication medium and when. This is confusing for IT departments, change managers, team managers, and general users.

I’ve written previously about the challenge with multiple communication modalities here, here, and here.

While attending the Microsoft MVP Summit in November 2016 we had a number of sessions around Microsoft Teams. In several of them we were told about the Yammer tab that would be coming soon, but unfortunately no further information was given.

In the interim however we’re left with a choice of silos – do I drive communications via Yammer, or Teams? Well thankfully one amazing developer called Guillaume Meyer has built the “Yammer Tab for Microsoft Teams” so that we don’t have to make this choice – nor do we need to wait for Microsoft to update the Teams app to support this functionality.

The process is simple:

  1. Download the YammerTabForTeams.zip file
  2. Click on your team contextual menu and select “View Team”

  1. Select the “Developer (Preview)” tab and upload the YammerTabForTeams.zip file

  2. Go to the channel where you want to add the Yammer group, and hit the + sign in the top navigation, you will now see the Yammer icon

  3. Accept the developer license terms, and select the type of Yammer feed you want to display – being Group or Feed. If you select Group as I have done in this screenshot then you will need to pull this from the URL of the Yammer group itself (ie. the 7377811 from here: https://www.yammer.com/████████████.com.au/#/threads/inGroup?type=in_group&feedId=7377811&view=all)

  4. Press “Save”, and you should now see your Yammer group showing up in your relevant Microsoft Team channel!

Rinse & repeat for every channel you want to add a Yammer group to (this means you’ll need to upload the “YammerTabForTeams.zip” file to each Team you want to add it to).

You can access the GitHub page of this solution here: https://github.com/guillaumemeyer/YammerTabForTeams

A huge thank you to Guillaume Meyer for creating this!

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