Migrating from Jive to Yammer

Yammer offers a very strong set of collaboration capabilities that empowers users to get their work done openly, effectively, and without a lot of fuss. Simply put, Yammer just works. Employees will be able to make the transition easily and intuitively.

Who Can it Be Now?

Every few months, new shiny chat-apps and social technologies roar onto the enterprise collaboration scene. They force a lot of tough choices when it comes to determining the right mix in your collaboration landscape: how do you combine legacy toolsets, evolving use cases and micro-purpose apps brought into the mix by employees? It’s no wonder that companies often find themselves questioning whether they are using the right tools, the best combination of tools, and even switching between tools on a fairly regular basis. The employee collaboration experience is ever-changing, which makes our jobs as technologists and community managers a constant work-in-progress.

With the recent acquisition of Jive Software by ESW Capital and the Aurea family of companies—and the subsequent announcement on August 29, 2017 that Aurea sold Jive’s external community business, Jive-x, to Lithium Technologies less than four months after acquiring it— some of the biggest companies in the world now have to take a step back and think about their collaboration future. Talk Social to Me has fielded many phone calls from companies wondering if they should consider changing collaboration vendors when their Jive contracts are up.  We love Jive’s product and especially its people, who are some of the best collaboration leaders in the industry. But we also are acutely aware of what happens during a software company’s acquisition, so we go into this exercise with eyes wide open. Because of the inevitable changes coming to a newly-acquired Jive Software, it’s only fair that community managers do their due diligence before putting their own jobs on the line come license renewal time.

So you Want to Switch from Jive to Yammer

Yammer is Microsoft’s answer to the biggest productivity draining questions that employees in knowledge jobs have – Where can I find the right information? Who can help me with a report? Does anyone know this potential customer? Has anyone solved this problem? How do I get help? Yammer connects people to people, and people to information in a single efficient online space. It helps people work like a network.

Moving from Jive to Yammer actually makes a lot of sense; both platforms have deep roots in the collaboration landscape and truly understand what employees need to achieve to be more productive at work. They’re optimized for workers with computers, but offer solid mobile capabilities. However, organizations must be aware of some important distinctions between the two products and account for them prior to making the move.

MORE: Making the Switch from Jive to Workplace from Facebook

How can we best describe the differences between these collaboration cousins? Jive is to Les Miserables as Yammer is to RENT; Jive is the lavish, complex and dramatic production while Yammer is the electric-guitar rock-opera. They both get you into the theater, but Jive evokes polite golf claps while Yammer gets you dancing on the table of an East Village cafe. The core functionalities of the products are the same, but Yammer is much more simple and approachable than Jive. Here are some of the key functional differences that will matter to administrators and community managers:

  • Spaces, sub-spaces and projects that can be nested in Jive don’t have an analogy in Yammer. Yammer has a flat group structure — meaning that groups cannot have sub-groups. Migrating from Jive will require admins to optimize for this flat structure and use active directory permissions (via Office 365 Groups) or basic group access permissions to control membership. In Yammer, any member can create a group, whereas in Jive, this functionality could be limited to a select set of users.
  • Tiles, widgets and banners that are highly customizable in Jive don’t have perfect matches in Yammer. Yammer is friendly to creating a “storefront” by permitting static content to be displayed in each group and in the All Company feed. Yammer gives group admins the ability to ‘pin’ content (links or information from inside Yammer) in the right-hand column of a group, add related groups, insert rich text into the “info” section, and create important announcements for group members. Jive group admins accustomed to formatting headers and updating HTML tiles will need to get used to Yammer’s simpler approach. The good news? Group admins can now spend that time working and promoting desired community behavior rather than editing graphics much of the day; Yammer’s simplicity keeps the focus on the discussion.
  • Yammer and Jive treat content differently on the back end, but the outcome for an employee – the ability to have contextual discussions alongside integrated content repositories — is quite similar. Inside Jive, each piece of content (a discussion, an idea, a blog post, etc.) has a life of its own; users can @mention content just as you @mention a person, and Jive automatically offered suggestions on what and who to mention when composing posts. Additionally, in Jive, content can be moved around from one group to another at-will. In Yammer, discussions live where they are first posted and cannot be moved, though you can share a post into additional groups in Yammer quite easily. You can also store and share directly from your SharePoint document library or personal OneDrive folders for simplicity of storage and version control. When you create a new Yammer group using an O365 Group, you automatically are provisioned a document library in SharePoint with the same permissions in Yammer.

Ready to Make Your Move?

Here is a handy primer to help you think about what a move from Jive to Yammer might require. Keep in mind that we subscribe to the “It doesn’t have to be complicated” methodology in work, life, and all things community management. We do recommend a clean, clear, simple plan that puts the onus on users to move their own content, if desired and appropriate. In our experience, up to 90 percent of content in an old ESN doesn’t get migrated because employees don’t find a need for it any longer. The process can take two-to-three months assuming you communicate expectations up front and support users with webinars, office hours, and personal consultations as needed. We don’t recommend licensing a third-party tool to automate data migration, and we don’t recommend spending hundreds-of-thousands of dollars with an outside firm to run this “change management” process. You can tackle this yourself—we have faith in you. While moving some of your content over will be a manual process, think of it as a good Spring cleaning. Here are some easy steps to make your switch successful:

  1. Another One Bites the Dust. Start with an evaluation of your groups in Jive and perform a group clean-up. While some folks might have great intentions when they started their group, competing priorities can cause a group to fall by the wayside. As you switch from Jive to Yammer, now is a great opportunity to “clean up” the community and hone in on the active groups that will need more attention. To get started, in the Jive Community Reports, run a “Places Activity” report. With this report, you can easily get a quick look at the activity in the groups as well as when they’ve been created. Remove inactive groups, or groups with little activity in the last three months. You now have a list of the best groups to migrate proactively to Yammer.
  2. Don’t You Forget About Me. When you have a clear idea about the top groups and your timeline to move, conduct an information campaign about the migration to all users. Update the Jive homepage to announce the move and use a countdown timer to add a sense of urgency. Create announcements in Jive to reinforce the message, and begin directing users to the new community on Yammer if appropriate (make sure that you have already set up a Group Leader Hangout and a User Self Help Group in Yammer with important content and guides to enable employees). You may want to email – yes, email – all Jive group admins with the news, just in case they haven’t logged in in a while. The more clear your communications are, the less likely your users are to come back and say, “I didn’t know.”
  3. I Just Called to Say I Love You. Your group admin communication strategy is going to be important for helping employees get on board with your switch from Jive to Yammer—in mind and spirit! Reach out to the top group admins and make sure they are aware of the change that is coming.  As leaders of their group, the group admins are your contact point for each group and should be leveraged to help facilitate the move; your job is to support them, and ask them to directly support their users. Offer them special training opportunities so that they can get onboard faster. Yammer is feed-based (threaded conversations flow in each group in real-time) and easy to learn. Users will only need a short tutorial to get up and running.  A webinar focused on “How do I work like a network?” will also be helpful to support employees interested in shifting their collaborative work away from email and into Yammer. You may also want to provide information on the other tools integrated into the Office 365 suite, like Teams and SharePoint. To get started with your communication plan, you can find a list of your Jive group admins in the Jive Places Activity Report.
  4. With or Without You. Let’s face it—no software company is ever going to spend time, effort, and money making sure that their platform is “easily migrate-able” to another platform. Sure, there are some possibilities, but the outcome sometimes ends up looking messy (and with a lot of unnecessary data). When moving items from Jive to Yammer, here are some options:
    • For files that were uploaded to Jive (PPT, Word, Excel, videos, images): When making the switch from Jive to Yammer, you should consider carefully which files you want in your Yammer group and why. It is often a good idea to keep highly-used files within your group, such as FAQs, team norms, templates, or schedules. Simply upload the original file into your Yammer group. If you are not sure where that file resides, you can download it from your Jive group by first viewing the file, then clicking on the attached file to download. Once in your Yammer group, you can view your files on the Files tab. And, while you can filter your files by type within your group, if you need more organization (such as folders), you may want to leverage storage space in your O365 account. We tend to recommend documents “in motion” are fine in Yammer because you can collaborate and converse quickly about changes and edits needing to be made. And once they are completed or “at rest” they tend to get into a document library as the source of truth.
    • For content created within Jive (documents, questions, discussions, blog posts): These items must be saved as PDFs in Jive by using the Actions Menu, then saved or uploaded into your Yammer group. For some items, this may make sense. For others, such as discussions/questions, it doesn’t really make sense to bring over an older conversation. However, some discussions yield great information that you might want to keep for posterity. In some groups, great discussions can often become inputs into a group FAQ—if any of your discussions fit this description, then go ahead and save them for future use. A manual copy/paste of important discussions could suffice if you need to catalog certain conversations. In this case especially, don’t forget to leverage hashtags in Yammer to categorize your content; hashtags are your secret weapon for future searching needs.
    • Polls and Events: You cannot “view as PDF” for these two content types in Jive. If you need to save the content within a poll or event, use your browser “Save” or “Save as” options to save the item as a PDF. If you are saving a poll, be sure to click on “show results” before you save the poll.
  5. Stop — Yammer Time! Yammer is great for conversation-based collaboration and sharing. When you switch from Jive to Yammer, the focus of what you do in the new platform will change accordingly. Your members will be able to jump into discussions and share immediately, because the activity feed is front and center in every single group (rather than in Jive, where users might find themselves on Activity, Overview, or another static page). You can still provide helpful links for your group members in the right column of your group, and use Notes for more extensive information that you need to share. Through your communications and training, set expectations for your members on how you expect Yammer to be different, and be sure to show off its ease of use (including the ability to edit posts, which has been a highly desired feature that’s now available).
  6. I Wanna Dance with Somebody. With Yammer’s new dynamic groups feature, it’s easy to get the party started quickly by auto-populating certain groups with a set of users determined by an admin (and by using Azure Active Directory). Employees can be added to groups based on attributes such as location or role. When migrating away from Jive, companies should consider creating a set of pre-populated Yammer groups that mirror key Jive groups; Champions can be enlisted to seed content and get early conversations going. Then, admins can add users directly into these new groups to show instant life and activity about key topics. While this takes a bit of work, it’s one of the best ways to ensure that users find relevant information in Yammer post-transition.

The Bottom Line

If you’re ready to move away from Jive, then migrating to Yammer offers the cleanest and and most straightforward alternative when optimizing for team collaboration. Though Yammer takes a much more simple approach to design and group administrative functions when compared to Jive, the reality is that Yammer offers a very strong set of collaboration capabilities that empowers users to get their work done openly, effectively, and without a lot of fuss. Simply put, Yammer just works. Employees will be able to make the transition easily and intuitively.

Considering that Yammer is bundled with other MIcrosoft tools these days, there are a couple of scenarios when community managers may consider making the switch. First, there’s the acquisition question – if you’re not confident in Jive’s future, looking to Microsoft for stability with Yammer is a good bet. Now that Yammer is integrated into O365, we have confidence in its lasting power (but you still need a community manager — it won’t work without care and feeding!) Second, there’s the cost question — many companies now have access to Yammer at no additional charge as part of their overall licensing. The Director of All Things Budget may make a decision based on cost alone, making Yammer the obvious choice on the P&L.

From our perspective, it doesn’t matter how you get to the Jive-to-Yammer decision. Instead, we always ask, “What are you trying to achieve by bringing your employees together in a single online hub?” Our advice and forward-looking recommendations completely depend on the business goals and values that a company hopes to achieve. Once you’ve selected Yammer as your collaboration hub of choice, you can focus on the migration efforts and bringing strong collaborative behaviors to your organization.

If you’re interested in making the move or learning more about how you might consider switching from Jive to Yammer, let’s connect! We are happy to listen and share ideas on how you might benefit from the move.

About the authors:

Carrie Basham Young is the Principal of Talk Social to Me and holds the unofficial world record for having the most collaboration tool browser tabs open at one time (7: Yammer, Jive, Workplace, Chatter, Slack, Socialcast, and G-Suite). You can typically bribe her to wax poetic about your company’s collaboration strategy over a strong Americano or a glass of Bordeaux.

Melissa Rosen grew up with rotary phones with long spiral cords, quad roller skates, and TVs with rabbit ears. She still reads books, but nonetheless finds social media applications fascinating and is convinced of their value in the workplace. Melissa has worked as an internal community manager for the last seven years. Helping employees find a better — and more enjoyable — way to get their work done is always the highlight of her day.


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