O365 Groups-based Places - Yammer + Teams + Outlook Groups


We are working on several artifacts as we make sense of how to use the emerging 'O365 Groups as a Service'-based Places.


1) our enterprise's take on the O365 apps broken down into Places, Tools and Infrastructure

2) a table comparing Yammer, Outlook Groups and Teams

3) a colloquial description of why one might create a groups-based Place in Yammer vs Teams vs Outlook


Would love thoughts and feedback


18 Replies

1) O365 apps grouped by 'places', 'tools' and 'infrastructure'


 ms ecosystem2.png

2) Comparitive Characteristics






Interaction type




Message volume




Replies per message 








Audience breadth

Very low



Discovery possibility




Variability of group membership

Very low



Default participant inclusion




Self-selection into group

Very low

Very high


Potential for knowledge re-use

Very low

Very high


Time period for knowledge re-use




Use of group calendar




Use of group files




Use of Planner

Very low



Group Purpose

Organizational connection


Topic Exploration

Shared Work (project)

Expected duration of activity




3) When I want to create a groups-based 'place'...


You create a group in Yammer if...your core purpose is to learn and share knowledge about a topic.  You are also more likely to not know all of the individuals that will end up as part of that group.  You expect to be reading or 'broadcasting' to that community of interest around the 'topic'  You're less likely to have urgent or time-sensitive posts and replies.  Your expectation that someone you may not even know or know yet will be able to read through a thread a learn something is HIGH. You expect that the knowledge developed collaboratively will have long-lasting value.


You create a group in Teams if...your core purpose is to execute shared tasks, or a project.  SO you're likely to know right away most of the members of the Team.  So while some individuals may be added or subtracted over time group membership is generally well known to all members at any point in time:  these are the members of this TEAM.  Knowledge exchange is generally happening at a fast pace amongst the known members of the Team; it is likely to be intense but only for the duration of the project.   Although the ease of adding/subtracting members make this place congenial to a mid-stream member being able to get up to speed quickly.  As a fair number of posts/replies are specific to members and tasks the LONGTERM value of the knowledge in Team posts is likely to be moderate to low once the reason for the team has gone away (ie, the project is complete). 


You create an Outlook Group if...your core purpose is to collect files, calendaring and some correspondence amongst a defined list of individuals who have activity around a recurring organizational responsibility.  You likely expect the 'conversational content' to be fairly low while the file collection and calendar use might be high.  You'd also likely expect that the knowledge content of the 'conversations' would be low as they will most likely be about notifications of new material or formal notices related to events of the list of individuals. 

Very Neat. Thanks for the detailed information.

I'm starting prep to do this exact thing for folks at my company -- rolling out in Jan. So I can appreciate the degree of difficulty...


Some thoughts:

  • I don't think the average employee cares or knows about Microsoft Graph. I'd leave that out to reduce complexity. Possible you could replace it with Delve
  • Similarly, we know Groups is a foundational element, but it's also a destination.
  • We are likely to use the terminolgy as O365 Group Sites and refer to our existing SP /teams/ sites as Team Sites--even though MS does call the Group Sites as Team Sites. Point is that they are more standalone in concept than a vast nested network of sites as with traditional Team Site site collections.  This also gives us the opportunity to reinforce the "modern" nature of Group Sites that have fewer "classic" constructs.
  • You have some dupes or near dupes in your Outlook vs. Yammer vs. Teams chart. Again, suggest reducing complexity. I do like "Potential for knowledge re-use" as an idea. That's a really good one.
  • In theory Microsoft expects many O365 Groups (with Outlook) will be Public and thus discoverable. Are you disabling Public Groups?
  • We haven't truly playtested this theory, but I think people are going to understand Groups messages in Outlook using Microsoft's term "next gen distribution lists". Then, it's a matter of trying to understand why they would want to use Yammer instead - or to add Teams or not.
  • I really like Microsoft's term "high velocity teams" and tying that to "persistent group chat". I think a lot of people are going to understand why that isn't the same thing at all as Yammer.
  • Teams use case: quick conversations with peers (water cooler, who's in the office today, have you seen a certain colleague, where are you with that task, is the outage still going on, who's going to answer the director's question, etc.)
  • Yammer use case: "community of interest" conversations (Mac users, home workers, people in a certain building or geo location, groups related to company initiatives or events, broad organization discussions, other event specific conversations - YamJams etc.)

I looked at the PDF. I like the v2 horizontal orientation better.


I definitely view Planner as a destination akin to O365 Video or Group sites. Seems different from Office Online apps.

I'm really enjoying these high level discussions about the positioning and understanding of the when to use what. That PDF is great also. I've also changed to talking about 365 as a set of tools/services.

I align with you in regards to what I tell clients;
- Yammer is a one to many community based environment
- Teams is a one to few informal persistent chat environment (bonus for unified UX to get things done with less tabs)
- Outlook groups is hyper distribution list. Where you no longer just get the email into the DL but can actually take action and work around these items in one unified place. (other use cases exist but I think this is the easiest to understand. I also talk about seperating internal/external email and getting rid of reply all spam confusion)

Thx. Great stuff

.groups as foundational vs destination - our lives would be much easier if ms had not used 'groups' for both

.distinguushing SP sites created by o365 groups from other is excellent

. We haven't disabled public outlook groups but they have had very little pickup (we use yammer extensively) I think the initial consternation for our people will be between yammer and teams.

Yes, Planner certainly feels like a destination in my own practical use over the past several weeks. I'll go there and hangout and check in on multiple teams.

I'm beginning to think that Planner, Skype and Video are in a hybrid category. They can both be called as a tool from elsewhere AND be a destination of their own?
Hyper distribution list is much better than next gen or dl on steroids. I'm going to borrow that. Thx.

Nice work!


I agree with @KevinCrossman here about replacing Graph with Delve.


I'm not sure I picked up on it, but another element of "which tool when" is transparency. While it's up to the organization on how to position this, Outlook is basically opaque while Yammer is transparent with more opportunities for discovery and connection-making. Other tools are somewhere in between. 


Turnover frequency is another element. How easy is it to onboard new people to your group in Outlook vs. Teams vs. Yammer? I almost want a survey tool where a user can answer some questions and get a recommendation.


Maybe build on capability terminology. As MS continues to build out tools, your chart will quickly become dated. If people understand common capabilities, they'll be better prepared to receive new tech that is designed for them.


Consider whether different groups might need different versions of something like this. Maybe you rollout capabilities to specific audiences with a chart like this specific to key use cases and let other uses evolve from there. Example: I can see Teams being really useful for projects. We're currently recommending Yammer/SharePoint for project collaboration. Based on what I've seen so far, Teams seems like a possible replacement--especially for anything that's not ready or applicable for open discussion.

Delve I'm sure you're both right but I'm shooting for the moon here in getting my colleagues to begin to get that Delve is just the manifestation of the artifact discovery service and that they will eventually see 'delve' INSIDE a bunch of other tools and places.  Check in with me in three months and I'll likely be saying 'you told me so'


I'm beginning to think that transparency is a subconsciously charged term and can lead to more rather  than less consternation when used by itself --it seems like its meaning is clear but it's not.  Transperency has too quite different meanings:  Compliance = subject to inspection; Knowledge = open to sharing.  Furthermore MS appears to be trying to guide users to make some elements of Outlook (Outlook Groups) more 'public' as Kevin notes above.  In my enterprise I care almost completely about the latter -- I am interested in exchanging knowledge both within a known circle and with unknown current and future colleagues.  So terms like 'discoverability' and 'access' and 'proximity' are more important to me than 'transparency'.  If I was going to grade just transparency I'd have to use odd terms like O=rarely, T=sometimes and Y=mostly.  


Turnover frequency is a great term!


Capability - sadly we've already used up the term 'capability' as a formal term of art inside our firm that we've built our whole performance review process around (sort of skills on steroids) so I can't use it here.  


Dated - you're probably right about dated but right now I'm trying to get people to see that not everything is a 'tool'.  These boards are littered with complaints about 'why is MS releasing another TOOL for collaboration'  which sounds almost legimate if Teams, Yammer and Outlook were, in fact, just 'tools'.  But they are not in much the same way that Facebook is not a 'tool' and YouTube is not a 'tool'.  MS seems to be flirting with the term 'workspace' and I'd happily follow if they'd pick something and stick to it.  But whatever term it is it seems quite tactically usefull to say there are a basket of Xs designed to do a specific thing and then they are a basket of Ys that are spaces in which you choose to get work done in over a span of time.

I'm not sure I agree about some of these characteristics as listed in the Outlook column.


1. Message Volume - probably lower than Teams, but it can be as high. I have a large group composed mainly of external guest users and the volume is pretty high, with multiple (> 20) replies per item. Remember, an Outlook group is built on top of an Exchange mailbox and that mailbox is capable of storing more than 100,000 items in the folder where conversations are kept.

2. Formality - depends on the organization.

3. Audience breadth - up to 1,000 users (600 for teams, much higher for Yammer). Remember that Groups are created with public access as default, so users can easily find (Discover) new groups and join them as they want. Teams are created as private by default. Also, both OWA and Outlook offer users suggestions about Groups that they might like to join based on signals gathered in the Office Graph, so these groups are pretty open. I think your assessment of "Discovery possibility" is badly flawed as is "Default participant inclusion" (because groups are designed to be open).

4, Potential for knowledge reuse - depends on how the group is used. If groups are used to generate documents, then the knowledge contained in those documents can be shared. 

5. Use of Planner - why is this low for Outlook Groups?

6. Expected duration - I have Groups running since their launch in November 2014 and there's no sign of them going away. Again, it depends on the organization.

7. Group purpose - Groups are very good at projects (shared work). IMHO, they are as good as Teams. The choice between the two might be determined by your communication preference.


One thing you miss is compliance. The information held in Yammer and Teams chat is totally invisible to the standard Office 365 compliance functionality. That's a huge gap for Microsoft to fill. Another you could cite is manageability. PowerShell isn't available for Yammer, so the only things you can do is whatever options are provided by Microsoft; the same is largely true for Teams but some of the underlying cmdlets available for Groups work with Teams too. Data soverignity is a further issue for both Yammer and Teams - Outlook Groups use Exchange and are part of Office 365 core data so are held in all datacenters. This is not true for Yammer, Teams (and Planner).



@Tony Redmond great response.  Thanks.  I think this provides a good point/counter-point for any others wrestling with positioning these 'places' in their enterprise.


I think if one starts with your 7 then everything flows from there.  That is, if an individual/enterprise is generally happy and satisfied with the email 'experience' then Outlook Groups can be used to cover most (all?) Teams practical use-cases precisely because of its PROXIMITY to email.  On the other hand, if one starts --  as I do and most of the people in my small (less than 500 person) enterprise do -- by finding the email experience ennervating and frustrating then Teams will be more appealing precisely because of its DISTANCE from email.


Note also, that with my 'table' I was primarily summarizing the perspective from my enterprise's actual experience -- rather than attempting to assess for all possible users at all enterprises.  In our case Outlook Groups has been around for a year or so and has had very limited pickup and what limited pickup it has had is with inveterate email users who have mostly used it as a file collection and group calendaring tool (which it is quite good at!).  I get that it is POSSIBLE to use Planner, to have vibrant conversations, etc. in Outlook Groups.  Just hasn't happened organically/naturally in my shop.


Similarly I get that being limited to 'whatever options are provided by Microsoft' can be a 'bug' -- but for my enterprise its a 'feature' (less customization to pay for and manage, less stuff to unwind over time, etc.).   

For the record, here's the comparison we use in the Office 365 for IT Pros eBook.


The facts are that Outlook Groups are enormously popular within Office 365 because a) much of the workload initially moved to the cloud was email, b) the integration into Outlook, which remains the single most important client for most office workers, and c) the ability to replace the old distribution list/public folder combination with a group (some nice migration utilities are also appearing to move PFs to groups, like QUADROtech's ADAM).


If your tenant comes from an Exchange background, Groups will find an easy path to success. Given the number of active mailboxes inside Office 365, fertile ground exists for Outlook Groups.


It will take time for Teams to catch on. They will fill a gap in the collaboration space that's been proven by Slack.


As to Yammer groups, I think that the integration with Office 365 Groups that delivers the shared identity and membership and enables access to SharePoint, Planner, etc. is a great step forward. The problem is that it's about two years too late... and the compliance and other issues that I pointed out haven't gone away.

Thanks.  Great attachment! 


Again, I think a difference in purview:  you - many enterprise/all O365 users; me - my actual enterprise.


For instance, Outlook Groups have NOT been 'enormously successful' in my enterprise.  Perhaps in some alternate universe they might have been but... In this actual universe we have had more Teams setup and more posts to Teams in a month than we've had in Outlook Groups in a year.  I wouldn't at all be surprised if there is some similar bifurcation in the larger universe that will be observable across a broader sample of enterprises in, say, a year: some enterprises will continue to use Outlook Groups as the primary shared-task focused collaboration (with likely peripheral use of Teams) and others will have the reverse experience.  I am not in ANY way trying to argue generally that Teams is better the Outlook Groups or vice versa.  Just that one is likely to have a greater cultural appeal in some case than the other.


I completely agree re the lateness of the groupification of yammer (and we are BIG users of Yammer).  Ah well...

Tenants who are/were big users of Yammer have often moved away from email as a primary mode for collaboration. It's unsurprising to hear that tenants in this category have not been successful with Outlook groups. On the other hand, Teams are brand-new and don't have an association with email, so it is equally unsurprising to hear that they are being used. The history of work within a company has a huge influence on how technology is used or accepted.

I like "discoverability" instead of "transparency." You're right in anticipating that some folks would freak over the term. (Can we work in "serendipity"? It's just fun to say!)