The Office 365 Groups Disconnect

Frequent Contributor

It seems rather wierd to me a framework aimed to bridge the gap between s aset of tools has somewhat single handidly introduced it very own grand canyon with no way to cross.  This canyon to me sits between the places where Office 365 groups converge.  I primarily see these as Outlook Groups, Teams, and Yammer Groups.  The unclosed gap between them is that of the conversation.


It seems like Microsft in the marketing of groups has formed the opinion we will keep the conversation seperate becasue there is no one size fits all for as to the preference to communicate.  And I completly agree there is no one size fits all, but what we effectively have now is a situation were we need to force users to a specific tool.  Sure Microsoft has given the group creater the ability to decide were the group conversation takes place but that forces the individual member to use that tools.  


So for example, a person is the member of 5 groups, that are all Outlook Groups.  They get invited to another team who uses Teams.  This interupts the members workflow as they are now having to switch between tools to participate in what I would call the most common perpose of these proups whitch is to facilitate conversation.


There are many tables and charts surfacing trying to discribe when to use what group.  But if this was to remain trully open to the way the individual members of the team work than some way to bridge the conversation across the tools would have been nice.


12 Replies
While I follow your point, can you imagine what the solution would really look like ? Imagine a fully fledged email arriving as a message in Teams, how would replying to that work ? If you were subscribed to an outlook group would you get every chat message in your email ?

On a mobile phone you don't normally see this as too much of an issue, Facebook, Messenger, Twitter, Email, WhatsApp, Instagram, SnapChat, LinkedIn, Pintrest all service different purposes, but as they notify me, show message counts etc I don't really care that they are different. I *think* that's Microsoft model, all tools in their native and optimised form keeping you notified through a common interface. I guess what I don't understand is why Outlook, Teams, Skype create their own notifications rather than use the one built into Windows 10.

In general I tell my users to discuss as a team and select the tools that suit them best, generally it seems that most end up using 2 of the 3, rather than all tools. We also encourage them to try and be prepared to change if it's not ideal.

I dont see how a fully fledged email showing in teams would be that much different than what we have today.  I don't see what the issue is, slack accomplishes this just fine.  And I could see a couple tweeks to the slack UI that teams could do to make it work pretty well.  I mean are the Outlook Group chat is not really that different than the channel chat.


On mobile it isnt an issue becasue those tools are thought to be different and usually using them you are interecting with technically different team.  For example, you post to facebook, twitter, and intagram to reach a different audience.  It is a painpoint for someone who want to reach all three audiences to post sepertly to each which is why there are apps chreated that bring all these things together into a single communication spot.


If this is microsft plan it is simply anti-productive.  Someone who spends all there time in outlook will see the Outlook group there and start posting.  When the rest of the team is posting away in Teams.  Conversations will be missed.  Even if MS makes it to were you can force team conversation to a specific platform.  The person who spends most their time in Outlook now had to use 2 tools.


I am not claiming there is an simple fix.  Teams puts a large wrench in things becasue the place where the conversation happens (channels) is not what is tied specifically to a group.  The lack of the 1 to 1 relationship is problomatic.


I personally much prefer the teams app as do most our team owners.  The makup of the teams are about 50/50.  Thankfully no one seem to like yammer.  Well I should say becasue we never told anyone about it.  So as of right now we have split conversations.


Anyway, I dont think there is much that can be done now, but I think this was a big miss that could have been a big win.  There would have been less of the which one do I use when, and there would be easier adoption of the tools.  As well as leaving it trully open to allow workers to use the tools they are most comfortable with.

I think Jeff has a point and to be frank, when Teams came out, I thought Microsoft will kill the conversations feature in Groups and move it over to Teams. That was my prediction, considering the business users with my clients, and how I predicted these tools will shape the workplace.


Or may be that was just my hope that replacement will happen so what Jeff mentions wouldn't show itself as issue. I think I am wrong at this point.

On mobile it isnt an issue becasue those tools are thought to be different and usually using them you are interecting with technically different team.  For example, you post to facebook, twitter, and intagram to reach a different audience.  It is a painpoint for someone who want to reach all three audiences to post sepertly to each which is why there are apps chreated that bring all these things together into a single communication spot.


I wouldnt see a point at which people want to reach all three audiences existing, or at least not a problem. To reach the widest audience I would use Yammer, it's the tool for talking to large groups, talking to people you don't directly know etc. Outlook Groups and Teams support a rich connector from Yammer.


In my company different groups of users elect to use different tools, many of which aren't ones we can support and govern, for example WhatApp, Slack, iMessage, Facetime, etc. They're asking for different models of communication and are less bothered about unity of comms channels, file locations and single sign on. If I ask people they say there are too many tools, but it's not really stopping them start using others.


Microsoft are trying to provide enough different experiences that I can govern, secure and support to let me try and wean people away from public tools.


Maybe other companies experience is different, and your staff only use the tools you give them ?

Steve your missing the point on think. You said it wasn't a problem because people are used to it on mobile. Except it is more likely the groups of people using the different apps you referenced are not the same group of people. But in office 365 group they are the same group of people. You make a team, you get a group. That group will also show in outlook. Same files, same onenote, same planner (although technically they don't show tasks from each other right now that is already slated to change). The only thing not the same is the conversation.

It is very difficult to say to everyone, "okay for this group let's all use teams". When one of the members is in outlook and see the group and the files and the notbook. They just use the group, they send a message. Other team members are in outlook they see it and respond. Some members stick in Teams. They carry on there. The group is now split and maintaining two conversations.

The group is now disconnected. Maybe even temporarily but still disconnected.

Now let's take the user who has 10 different groups they are in. For all these groups they are outlook group based. Except for 1 it is team based. That user now has to break from outlook and go to teams to participate in 1/10 of there job duties. This is a productivity issue and a pain point for the worker to adopt which will likely cause less participation in the group.

The truth of the matter is MS could have handled this better. They could have keep 1:1 relationships across all products. Leaving the perfected tool to use up to each individual worker not at the team level.

The current situation the group creator decided where the group should be having there conversation. Then they have to try to endorse this, and try to get users to use tools they may not be comfortable with or even enjoy using.

Let's put this example to files. You can access the dane group files from Outlook, teams, yammer, sharepoint, office web apps, delve, sway, onenote, planner. This was the point of groups.

You truly have the choice of tools, no matter where you happen to be within the ecosystem you can participate with the group. But for to send a message/conversation you have to stop think to yourself "which app are people using for this". Then switch to that app to interact. This seems to be the complete opposite of what groups was introduced for. This is why I consider the one major disconnect of the system.

@Jeff Williams Just an additional point; Recently watched this from Christophe in Australia ignite. - Here Christophe mentioned about the velocity is the differentiating factor of the conversation/chat piece on why it is split. This makes sense to a point, however I still don't see the Yammer/Groups Conversation pieces being separate. 

@Ali Salih Yep, MS does present the argument that there are specific use cases for the different conversation methods and I understand the different apps were to fit different needs.

But for the sake of productivity and ease of use there should be a way to at the very least access the conversation from each app. Sharepoint gives us a way to jump to the conversation from its interface but it only work if it an Outlook group. If you group has chosen teams as the main method the conversation quick link in sharepoint is useless or if you use it will again split the conversation.

I agree the different tools are best suited for different situations. It is just difficult to sort of enforce that policy and then to keep the whole team apprised of everything if the conversation moves to utilize more than one of the main conversation tools.
I do take your point, Teams is the odd one out as it overlays on other group features while Outlook and Yammer are going to be kept separate. If there was a connector that notified Teams when an email was sent to their group wouldn't that go some of the way to making it more unified.

As for the person who needs to remember where they use Teams, where Outlook, where Yammer, I think they'll figure it out based on which tools are notifying them.

Steven, truefully Yammer and Outlook remaining disconected is still a problem.  Unless on the org level you just decide to no implement one of those tools.  Seeing as Outlook is needed for email I don't see that being what would get dropped.


Here is the Yammer/Outlook problem.  Lets say that I create a Yammer group.  Sure, I believe it sends some sort of email after that to let the user know.  BUt after that the group isnt discoverable.  The user is spends there time in Outlook, which had there other groups, but this new group is out of site.  This will unfortunatly hinder the participation in the group, or at least make it a little more cumbersome.  Then you have the even bigger issue.  Yammer/Outlook are so seperated that if you create your office365 group from yammer and essentially have a yammer backed group.  The group is entirely innaccessable from Outlook.  No Notes/files/planner/calendar.  Nothing.


The Outlook/Team issue is the one I have already gon over in it becomes very easy to split the conversation.  This is also a Yammer/Teams issue.


Workers will fall into one of two categories.  Those that try to figure things out in order to benifit ftom the team tools, and the ones who say this is just to much work and say if you need me email or call me.


It seems like with Office 365 groups, microsoft said let figure out how to create a bridge across tools.  That way as we creat tools we can keep them bridged together.  Even though the complete integration picture is not painted based on the roadmap they are working on planner and the other current disconnects.  However they are embrassing the conversation disconecct.  It seems to me to be anti mission.


Now with every tool they will make to engage in a conversation, they will just add to this disconnect.  For example Outlook/Yammer has always been disconnected.  Outlook groups addressed Sharepoint, OneNote, and new tools like Planner and what ever else may come down the line.  But they saw Yammer and said, let keep that seperated.  Then they make a new conversation tool, teams and say, cool lets bring the same sharpoint and everything else attache as a group resource to the party.  But again lest keep conversation seperated.  


Ammitedly, the conversation peice may be the hardest one.  But it certainly wouldnt be impossible to have an email show in the Team feed, or yammer (actually i beleive you can send to yammer group via the office 365 group email).  Just plain wierd not to make it accessable as an Outlook Group as well.


Look office 365 groups is a good step forward.  And connectors will be the main way to work around the issues for now, but this wont be as good as if there was an integrated storry for this. I mean connectors were supposed to be for third party integrations.  Yammer is going to be the interesting one.  Its implementation of groups is just plain wierd.  For now we are simply keeping it disabled.   So we dont create a bigger mess like what we had with teams.  Yammer is a good product, if we were to enable it though, someone would click on it and play with it and it is so disconnected becasue it has 0 visibilty accross tools, it will be a nightmare for our users.  We would have subgroups that have little inner circle conversation in yammer away from the rest of the group.


Teams is my absolute favorite.  I love the UI/UX.  It fits the way I work and desire to communicate to a team.  If it could pull in email to the chat channel, and allow me to send one off emails  through chat.  I would unistall outlook and be forever thankful it was out of my life.  Perhaps this is the root of my issue.  I feel like microsoft had the oportunity to finally say, "However you decide to use our tools ans to work we have you covered"  You like the instant message feature of teams, allong with the tabbed interface and control over the team envireoment.  Bam use Teams.  You like the email workflow, and the power email tool in Outlook, with categories, folders, flags. retention policies.  Bam use Outlook. Same goes for yammer and sharpoint.


But instead they keep things just enough seperated that you have to jump around the entire ecosystem still, the overall gain of office365 groups is marginallized becasue of it. 


Well, you've certainly got a strong opinion, I would observe that for me personally I would rather have my email in a great email tool, my social in a great social tool and my chat in a great chat tool, they can all sit along the bottom of my screen and let me know when they need my attention.

Lol, I suppose I do.  

I discovered the disconnect between Office 365 Groups (which we use) and Yammer Groups (haven't used yet, but was planning to). The major issue is that yes, O365 Groups are not connected in OWA with Yammer Groups, and vice versa.


So the next problem is that Yammer Groups are creating unnecessary new SharePoint sites, Planner setups, OneNote notebooks – disconnected from our original working area in O365 Groups + Microsoft Teams. The idea was we could add a traditional "social network" type area to the mix, but nope – it's all disconnected and becomes a mess quickly.


Now I am wondering if there is a way to disconnect Yammer from creating Office 365 Resources, so it can float in its own realm, as it was originally.


Anyone know how to do this?