When Business and IT Collaborate Instead of Collide

She stood watching over the IT guy’s shoulder as he made the final switch to throw them from Basic Yammer to Enterprise. As the slider choice took hold, Becky Benishek (@bbenishek) took the steps back upstairs to her office two at a time to see for herself that nothing was amiss with her thriving Yammer network. Of course nothing was. Worked as advertised.

As she came back downstairs to celebrate their launch, Dan Pankonen, the IT guy in this story, said, “That was quite the sprint. You know, you have a laptop, it does travel.” Just another friendly jab in what has been a great collaboration between Business & IT to roll out Yammer.

Yammer Kickoff Cookies

But I’ve started this story midway. Let me go back to the start.

Becky is the Social Media & Community Manager for a company that has been helping organizations like schools and hospitals create safer work environments for over 35 years. Crisis Prevention Institute (CPI) provides safe de-escalation training for behavior management as well as person-centered dementia care. Serious, real world stuff. The folks they train then train others. These trainers—Certified Instructors–are CPI’s customers. And from the first time she saw Yammer, she saw a clear use case for CPI’s customers. A community that could share, contribute, and continue collaborating long after their training was complete.

Tip #1: Divide the duties and trust. This is widely known but hard to practice!

With the business challenge firmly in her grasp, Becky knew that she needed a partner from IT to ensure that any tech hurdles could be addressed. Dan, the Network Systems Manager, became that partner. For Dan’s part, he has many opportunities to try out new solutions but has to make choices where he and his team spend their cycles. He recognized that Becky understood the business problem and could handle the change management while he focused on issues related to infrastructure and security.

A timely SharePoint conference provided the opportunity for Becky to get Yammer Power User certified and for them both to attend sessions on Yammer implementation and effective collaboration. They brought this back to CPI and began to take steps on their social journey, first establishing CPI’s Yammer Home Network. Around the same time, Becky built a Yammer External Network for CPI’s customers, and named it the CPI Instructor Community.

Right away, there was a challenge.

CPI’s instructors are not a 9 to 5 bunch. One of Becky’s key requirements was that she wanted instructors “to experience no waiting on nights and weekends” to become members of their Instructor Community. External Networks have a built-in manual approval which is great for business hours, but what about after hours? She needed an auto-approval process.

Tip #2: Use the “discuss, decide, support” model for effective decision-making.

Becky, Dan, and their team faced a common dilemma for IT and Business: Do we buy or build? Dan was quick to recognize that this was a one-off problem so he recommended they seek an external solution. About that time, Microsoft’s Yammer Customer Network was moving its own members to a different Yammer network (the Office 365 Network). Figuring they weren’t manually approving thousands of customers, Becky contacted some folks she knew in the network and they put her in touch with a solution provider from New Zealand.

Once they were down the “buy” path, Dan and team’s only involvement was to ensure the auto-approval app met their security standards and that it was built in such a way that CPI’s dev team could make modifications as needed. Becky finalized the sourcing and purchase, and the auto-approval process for CPI’s External Network became a successful part of their onboarding of instructors, regardless of time of day, day of week, or holiday.

Months later, the CPI Instructor Community continues its growth, and the partnership between IT and Business is equally strong and working together to make the most of their investment in solutions like Office 365.

Tip #3: Have a plan to measure and demonstrate the value of your network.

Becky added reporting and analytics to her Yammer toolbox because she knew it would be difficult to show progress without it. “But eyeballs aren’t enough,” says Becky. “You need to show the value of your network with data. I can’t make good business decisions without that.” While there a number of options available, I am grateful they chose tyGraph for their reporting and analytics needs. All of us at tyGraph are amazed at the work they do with their customers.


Note: Want to know more about analytics for Yammer? I was very fortunate to share the stage at Microsoft Ignite 2017 with Becky. Our session, “Mining Yammer Data for Gold” includes information about what is available for reporting and analytics for Yammer and why it matters to community managers, business stakeholders, and IT pros.

4 Replies to “When Business and IT Collaborate Instead of Collide”

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