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Introducing Yammer external groups

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The Yammer team is passionate about helping people work effectively in teams across their company. But collaboration doesn’t stop at the company boundary. Sometimes you need to work closely with customers, consultants, partners or suppliers outside your organization.

Today, we are pleased to announce the new external groups feature in Yammer, enabling you to include people outside your company in a Yammer group—making it easier for extended teams to work together. The external groups capability builds on the existing ways to work with people outside your company, such as external networks and external messaging, which enables you to add people outside your organization directly to a thread in your organization’s Yammer network.

Yammer external groups 1

Creating a Yammer external group.

External groups allow team members with appropriate permissions from outside your organization to fully participate in projects and initiatives by providing access to all the conversations and content in the group. At the same time, we maintain the security of your network data by listing all external groups in a distinct section under the Groups menu and using clear indicators in the UI alerting users to the presence of external team members. Each external group requires group admin approval for external members to join, and a set of proactive controls via Exchange Transport Rules prevents sensitive company information from being shared. We also added functionality to our data export to help verified administrators see which files and conversations are accessible to external users.

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An external group in Yammer.

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Group membership in a Yammer external group.

External groups are available in your Yammer network today, so you can start working with your extended team right away! We are very excited about bringing this functionally to Yammer that helps our customers break down the silos between team members who work together from different organizations.

Learn more about how to create and manage external groups in Yammer.

—Angus Florance

Frequently asked questions

Q. Can users add external people to existing Yammer groups?

A. No, it’s not possible to add external members to Yammer groups that were created prior to the external groups feature being made available. Starting today, groups that need to include external members must be created as a new group. We’ve done this to clearly separate out external groups from other groups in Yammer.

Q. I don’t want the external groups feature enabled for my network. What options do I have to disable it?

A. There are two ways to manage external groups and external messaging in your Yammer network. We recommend enforcing your Exchange Transport Rules in Yammer. For more details on how this works, please see this support article: “Control external messaging in a Yammer network with Exchange Transport Rules.” Alternatively, you can contact support for assistance implementing the following scenarios:

  • Block users from creating external groups—This is the same control you use to block external messaging participants. Blocking users in this fashion ensures that content within your Yammer network will not be made visible to external users via external groups. This means that people in your network will not be able to create external groups.
  • Allow inbound external groups only—You can block users from creating external groups in their network but still allow users to be invited to groups hosted on other networks.
  • Firewall your Yammer network—Separately, you can use a logical firewall to prevent users from creating or joining external groups in Yammer networks other than your own organizations, such as the network of a partner or customer organization. However, we highly discourage restricting external groups in this manner because it will cause users to seem difficult to reach and collaborate with—as it is the Yammer equivalent of having an email bounce—and limits engagement within Yammer.

Q. Our company has opted out of external messaging. Can we still use external groups?

A. External messaging and external groups are built on the same architecture and are governed by the same admin controls. If you choose to opt out of one, you will not have access to the other.

Q. How do external groups relate to the previously announced integration of Yammer into the Office 365 Groups service?

A. We plan to have Yammer groups integrated with the Office 365 Groups Service in the second half of this year. Initially, external groups won’t be part of this integration, although it is something we will look at building in the future.

Q. Can I create external groups on an external network?

A. No, because external networks already allow for people from any organization to join the network or group, there is no need to have the ability to create external groups in those networks. For more information about external networks, please refer to the support article.

Q. Can I add users to an external group using email addresses on consumer domains, such as Outlook.com or Gmail.com?

A. No, all participants in an external group need to belong to a home Yammer network, which requires a corporate domain. This is something we hope to address in the future.

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2 comments
  1. Are there any methods to add DLP to these external groups? I’m all for external groups being added, but would like to know what protections you see against internal users taking advantage of this to exfiltrate data.

  2. Is there a definitive guide on the differences between O365 groups and Yammer? Do organisations use both or does it tend to be one or the other? The functionality seems fairly identical to someone new to the functionality, as I am.

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