Tips to make Slack an amazing tool for your team.
At BiTE, we’re huge fans of Slack. For the uninitiated, Slack is an amazing collaboration tool. It starts with chat; both person-to-person as well as group chats (“channels” in Slack parlance) are exceptional. It handles sharing files between team members, offers integrations to other services, and has full text and file search of all your past communications.
With all the advantages it brings, Slack has been thought to be the fastest growing piece of enterprise software ever. But we’ve heard a lot of people ask how they can get the real power out of Slack. Here’s our tips for a successful Slack implementation:
Choose channels wisely
Channels are the heart of Slack, and where your team will do the bulk of its collaboration. You’ll want channels that have a focused purpose so that people will clearly understand why they want to join. Don’t be too stressed out when you first start as this is something you can easily adjust as you see how your team is operating. Definitely a channel for each team or project is appropriate.
Take some care to have discussions on the correct channel. This allows people who are not directly interested to be left out. It also allows people to dip in or out of channels without missing something important. If you find that a specific channel is supporting too many threads, you might consider breaking that channel into another one.
Zero internal emails
This is more of a noticeable side effect of a solid Slack implementation rather than a mandate, but it’s a huge indicator of success. As your team is using Slack more and more, you’ll start noticing that you drop out to email a lot less. Slack’s conversations are so much easier to see than normal email threading that they are often far easier to read. As the conversation occurs in real time, it’s much easier to take into account different voices since there’s less chance of them crossing over each other in route. And it’s much easier to involve everyone relevant by simply using the correct channel since there’s no need to remember everyone who needs to be notified.
Slack is a big upgrade from email when new people join a team as well. Before Slack, when a new person joins they have an empty inbox and no context to any previous conversations. But when they join Slack, they can actually go back and look at past discussions, see some context around why decisions were made, and get a feel for how the team likes to operate.
Load up on integrations
Integrations are where Slack starts to become really powerful. Integrations allow you to hook other third party tools into Slack so that they can post messages to a channel or respond to messages within Slack. For instance, we use Pivotal Tracker to manage our projects. When someone on the team updates a task (when they start work, leave a comment, etc) it immediately posts a message in Slack noting the change and providing a direct link to the task. Now everyone on the team is aware something has changed and it happens right in the same thread where we’d discuss the changes anyway – far more useful information than simple email notifications.
To get the most value, you’ll want to integrate every tool your team uses with Slack (if possible). Bug trackers, project management software, version control, Google Hangouts, screen sharing – if there’s an integration available use it. We’ve gotten to the point where we look for Slack integrations as a starting point in evaluating a tool. The reason is simple: the more things tie back to the central hub of Slack, the more effortless communication becomes and less likely you are to miss things.
Complete confidence in search
One of the superpowers you’ll gain in a successful Slack implementation is the ability to find nearly anything. When you’re having all your conversations in Slack, anything that you’ve previously discussed or shared is searchable. This means when you want to go back and grab that sales number someone told you or that really apropos link, it’s a simple search away.
I’m a chronic filer and I know that search has often made promises like this. If you’re like me, you’ll hear this promise and immediately discount it. But take it from me, it really does deliver on the promise. Confidence in search is a great indicator of how well a Slack implementation is working.
Hopefully these tips help your team become powerful Slackers. Leave a comment with any tips of your own.