In March 2014 we wrote a post about why moved our team’s internal communication from Atlassian’s Hipchat to the (now) ridiculously popular Slack. In November 2015, we’re still a bunch of productive slackers, and it’s nice to note that Slack, for the most part, have moved with the pace of our developing and changing needs.
It hasn’t all been disco ponies and rainbows though. It took us a little while to reconcile the price of Slack (at $8 per user), it seemed like a lot of money for minimal recognisable perks, other than being a sexy looking chat-app. However, we have to admit that Slack has certainly delivered in spades since it’s initial launch.
How do we use Slack at BugHerd?
We’re a team of mostly Designers and Developers, so talking in real life is something most of us are pretty good at avoiding. Slack makes this so easy. Seriously, we have a #sports channel and a #politics channel set up so that people in the office who don’t want to hear anything about those topics never have to.
Set up of Slack is dead easy. From initial set up, to adding integrations, to adding team members and getting them onboard, it’s all pretty straightforward. Even people that aren’t so technically minded as our dev team find it pretty effortless. Search is a powerful tool, and is one of the major reason’s we’re continuing to be paying users. The ability to search all channels and narrow by heaps of modifiers is extremely useful. Especially when half the team doesn’t communicate via email so there’s often no trail to follow.
A big benefit of having all our comms in one place is getting immediate feedback on iterations of BugHerd. We’ve integrated our boards into Slack so that when a comment is added into a BugHerd task, a new task is created or task is closed, we receive a slack mention.
We’ve set up an integration so BugHerd users can add Slack notifications to the relevant board from the project settings. E.g. when someone comments in the Marketing & Comms board they get a notification in the #marketing channel, same goes for The website fixes board linking to the #macropod-website channel. The fact that Slack can be set up to highlight your name when mentioned adds to the helpfulness of this.
We tend to have gif wars from time to time. Though potentially not great for productivity, the way Slack displays images, gifs and pulls article data is pretty neat. We had enabled the /giphy (insert descriptor here) feature but since giphy gets it wrong most of the time, a few of our industrious developers hacked together Right Gif one weekend. Gifs are important to get your point across, yo!
Secret channels have allowed small teams to secret squirrel plans for team retreats and christmas parties. Group messaging has been useful for planning team lunches without @mentioning everyone within a channel and annoying those on leave.
One thing Slack does particularly well is switch between teams. We have a channel specifically set up for long term BugHerd users, its easy to flick across from the LHS sidebar at anytime and drop a message in, without having to login and out again. I’m not sure how many of these teams you’re able to have but word on the street is they are getting rather popular.
Remember those disco ponies and rainbows? Well here’s the metal horses and storm clouds … Things Slack could improve on are:
It’s a massive CPU hog – with no ability to reduce the signal-to-noise ratio it ends up being quite a heavy app to run. It can be a distraction, if you let it. Making sure that the team knows how to reduce the alerts and notifications is a good idea. Thumbs up for it being easy to find in the settings though. If you’re using it as a chat app alone, there are plenty of cheaper options, if you’re using it only for chat it’s kinda just irc with gifs. Proving the value outside of that is where some users may struggle.
We were fairly early adopters, and we’ve seen Slack’s rise into one of the most popular communication apps available. It’s been ridiculously quick (yeah we are a touch jealous, but mostly inspired) and with millions of dollars of funding secured we’re keen to see what the Slack team has in store for the future.
All in all we’re pretty happy to keep on slacking, and would love to know how you use slack? Let us know in the comments.