How Slack can improve your business (and how it can’t)
At Optix we’ve been using Slack as an internal communication tool in the Digital Marketing team for about 5 months. I introduced the tool and I’ve been watching how we use it with interest. Here are the things that Slack can and can’t do:
Reduce unnecessary email
The obvious main benefit of using Slack is that you get fewer emails. This is slightly deceptive as it doesn’t actually mean you get contacted less — there is typically less admin involved however.
Using Slack at Optix we’ve found that we keep email for things it’s good for (keeping a record, external and cross department communications) and use Slack for the rest. We’ve sent and received 28% fewer emails in the 5 months we’ve been actively using Slack.
Speed up response time
Slack’s ability to interrupt is either good or bad depending on which end of it you’re on. Questions on Slack typically get a response sooner than emails although only if it is being used properly.
We have Slack channels for sharing interesting updates which can then be discussed without generating a load of emails. The conversation moves much quicker and with less confusion in Slack.
We also have an entirely separate Slack team called Team Caffeine which has been very useful. It’s populated by lots of Digital Marketers in other businesses (some clients, some not). The members help each other out and share interesting updates and challenges.
Speed up meetings
Some companies use Slack for meetings, particularly for stand up meetings/scrums. There are bots which can help you to automate this process too. We haven’t used this yet at Optix but I can see that it would work well for businesses with remote workers.
Keep things private
A quick Direct Message is easier and more discreet than finding a spare meeting room.
Streamline external communication
Slack works great for internal communication but it isn’t something I would recommend for external comms. It’s unreasonable to expect an instant reply to an email but Slack’s Direct Message functionality implies an instant response.
If like us you work agency side you’ll have lots of clients. Having all these people on Slack (if you can get them there) could be difficult. Email allows you to prioritise incoming tasks and respond to them as required.
Prevent you from being interrupted
Slack categorically will not work if you treat it as something you look at once or twice a day. If you’re one of those (odd) people who don’t open their email for days on end you’re going to be terrible at Slack. Your colleagues will get annoyed with you (they probably already are).
Be used as a Project Management tool
Slack is definitely not a Project Management tool. It’s purely a communication tool and should be used as such.
It’s great for discussing progress on a project but it can’t capture deliverable dates, task dependencies, risk or an accurate view of progress. If you’re managing your project on Slack then lucky you for having such simple projects!
Slack is a great but imperfect tool for streamlining internal communications. It will help your business to communicate better and will reduce some admin associated with email. It won’t prevent those annoying interruptions or replace a sophisticated piece of Project Management software.