Office 365. What to use when for communication.

Image: Office 365 Comms Choices header image
By Linda Parkinson-Hardman on

Office 365. What to use when for communication.

One of the hurdles teams face when they’re rolling out Office 365 at their company is the inevitable ‘what do I use when’ question. This crops up because there are so many ways to do what often looks like the same thing – namely communication! But although there are multiple tools to send messages, they weren’t born equal and they each have a very specific job to do. At the moment there are four written communication tools in Office 365 and they are Outlook, Teams, Yammer and Kaizala and I thought it might be helpful to take a look at each to help project, communication and users understand more about when the right time to use a particular tool is. Image: Office 365 communications tools graphic


Email is the one application that everyone who uses technology to do all or part of their work is familiar with. And until the rise of cloud-based collaboration tools like Office 365 it was ubiquitous. In fact, according to the Radicati group’s 2015-2019 report email use is continuing to grow and they estimated that by the end of last year over half of the world’s population would be using email! Not only that they estimated that the number of emails sent every single day would grow to 246 billion. Of course, not everyone is using Outlook but that’s not really the point. Email isn’t dead and it’s predicted demise may be a long time coming. It’s also worth remembering that even in collaboration suites like Office 365, email will be used as a subversive default as, for example notifications users receive when a file has been shared from OneDrive always comes by email (unless the sender happened to turn off notifications along the way) The ideal scenario for email is when there’s a need for focused communications to specific groups of people, particularly when there is no Microsoft Team in place (and no need to create one). An example might be the monthly newsletter for everyone working in Children’s Services.

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams is the de-facto standard for messaging in the future as far as Microsoft is concerned and it’s worth bearing in mind there are two parts to it that are relevant. The first is the Chat feature, this allows users to have a chat-based conversation with one or more people on an ad-hoc basis. When you start using it, you’ll notice that when you communicate with the same person again later, it starts at the end of the previous conversation (how long this is kept for will depend on the retention settings). The other side of Microsoft Teams is the Team, which is a specific group of people who are working together on a regular basis. This might be a functional team, such as the fundraising team or it might be a project team which will disband when it’s no longer needed. Messaging in this environment, whether it’s chat or team focused, is characterised by being quick and sharp and is often about getting answers to questions or having a discussion. These types of written conversations are much more difficult to have by email.


Yammer is without doubt one of my absolute favourite applications in the Office 365 suite. The reason is because it democratises the organisation giving everyone the same level of ‘voice’ as any other; and there’s no reason why Joe Bloggs in engineering can’t reach as many people as the CEO if what he’s saying or asking catches the attention of others. And in a nutshell, that’s what Yammer is perfect for; broad company-wide questions, conversations and discussions where you aren’t sure where the answer will come from. One large local authority I worked with had great success with Yammer and I was privileged to be part of the best-ever outcome of a Yammer conversation which went something like this:

‘Help, we need a hearing loop at the library for an event, can anyone suggest anything?’

  Multiple people replied with suggestions ranging from people to contact or places to borrow the necessary equipment. But the result came when the Director of Adult Services spotted the conversation thread and waded in with an offer to buy a hearing loop for every library, result!


Kaizala has been deployed as a large group messaging tool, however it’s days as an independent application are numbered and it will be moving into the Microsoft Teams environment over the coming 12-18 months. You can find out more on the Microsoft Tech Community blog post.

Office 365 adoption – What next?

If you’d like to learn more about the importance of multiple communications pathways can benefit your organisation’s use Office 365, why not get in touch to have a chat about your needs and to find out how our Communication Planning package can help set you on the right path to success. Simply complete the form below: We host regular events so please do check our schedule of current seminars, webinars and events.  We also post regular blogs on the latest updates and expert advice on Microsoft 365, Cloud and Hybrid IT, User Adoption and the Power Platform, so please do follow us.

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