One of the most popular questions that I receive, as it pertains to Office 365, is as follows: “When should I use Teams, Yammer and Skype for Business? Their functions seem to crossover.”

Many people have provided their insights in an effort to add clarification to the confusion between these separate, but similar, systems. However, there are gaps in these descriptions to which I hope to add clarity. First, we must explore the high level functions/benefits of each system so we can clearly see the overlap.

As you can see, there is clear overlap. Since the initial deployment of Teams, it’s scope of service has been enhanced dramatically. In September of 2017 Microsoft announced that Teams and Skype for Business will be merged, favoring the Teams interface. Once this is completed, scratch one potential point of confusion off of our list above. With all of this said, what’s the answer to the question for now? -> When should you use Teams, Yammer and Skype for Business?

The best definition I’ve heard came during a Microsoft Ignite presentation in 2016 in which the presenter stated the following:

  • Skype is perfect for quick 1on1 communications, online presentations, screen sharing and Voice/Video calls
  • Yammer is best used for global corporate communications. It’s a great source to find corporate and/or client data, or to find who can help with a specific question, issue or need.
  • Teams is built for the smaller teams who are organized around a specific purpose or project where you need enhanced content sharing, meeting spaces and persistent conversation threads.

Great definition, right? If you work for an organization with greater than 100 employees I think this makes a lot of sense. However, there are many smaller businesses who could easily read this and agree that it doesn’t make sense since their entire business consists of 25 or 50 employees who all know each other.

With that said, I’ve adjusted the definition above to provide more clarification and suggested direction for smaller businesses:

  • Skype – still the same definition as above.
  • Yammer – Perfect for public organizational group announcements, questions and general information. In addition, I highly recommend creating groups for your clients or client verticals to give your team greater insight regarding those clients with whom they may not work.
  • Teams – Start pushing more day to day collaboration here, and NOT in Yammer or Skype unless required. Consider creating a strategic team for each of your organizational teams in addition to tactical teams for your projects, marketing efforts, etc. Knowing that this is the direction in which Microsoft is pushing the Office 365 ecosystem warrants greater familiarization now. Plus, the content sharing in Teams far exceeds that of Yammer and Skype.

Of course, you may have a different opinion. If you do, please share! These tools continue to evolve, and so does your business. Today’s definition might not apply to tomorrow.