13 February 2017
We love using Slack. It works great for when someone on the team is remote. We get all the notifications we need from GoCD, our monitoring tools and our team calendar. We share interesting articles with each other (and there’s plenty of random chatter as well).
A few months ago, we weren’t quite sure if everyone enjoyed using Slack as much as we do. A few customers asked if we had a Slack integration available for Mingle, and we set out to find out if more folks would be keen on it.
We put together a user research protocol, and chatted with as many Mingle and Slack customers as we could. We learnt some pretty interesting things!
This isn’t just your regular IM tool. Some companies we spoke to have structured their entire organisations on Slack. They have hundreds of channels. These channels are organised by team – both cross-functional and role-based. There may be a channel for every feature, so that all discussions on the feature are localised, and everyone involved is on it. There are channels for each client, so all the relevant customer success, sales and product folks are on it. There are support channels, so that the Level 1 support engineers can chat directly with the relevant development team. And of course, there’s the channel where lunch places and pub nights get discussed, the channel where articles are shared, and general chatter groups.
It is not uncommon for an organisation’s Slack team to look a little like this:
That makes it quite easy to opt in or out of conversations, and to decide which conversations you want instant notifications on.
The great thing about having channels so organised is that all communications are neatly filed away. It’s easy to search for specific conversations, and get all the context we’re looking for, without having to comb through multiple email threads. A customer told us it’s like having an inbox with filters automatically set up!
The ability to store, organise and recall past conversations is the core of what makes Slack a viable business. They’ve realised the history of conversations is key to their customers, and have designed their monetization strategy on the value that customers find in content and history.
From user research, we found that plenty of developers hate email! They worry what the tone will come off as (written communication can be hard!), and are unsure what an appropriate amount of email is to send to someone. Slack is a wonderful alternative – the emojis keep it light and much less daunting. We can edit messages if we worry it didn’t sound right. It combines the casualness of IM with the easy search of email.
One of our customers told us they’ve almost entirely done away with email as an organisation, and only use it to speak with external customers who aren’t on their Slack team. That’s pretty amazing!
Aside from not having to use email as much, developers love Slack for the simple commands. For folks used to using IRC on various open source and other projects, this was a simple transition to make. Slash commands with a helpful type-ahead dropdown make developers take to this collaboration tool like no other.
With all the integrations that Slack lets us set up, we found that there are days when folks at work don’t open a browser window at all! They get everything they need right on Slack.
Continuous delivery tools like GoCD post notifications onto Slack channels, alerting the developer team if a build breaks. This is a godsend for folks who hate having to watch a pipeline! Monitoring tools that raise an alarm about inconsistencies on production integrate nicely with Slack too.
Now teams can create tasks, sign up for cards, send murmurs and much more using the Mingle + Slack integration. We’ve catered it to developers who don’t like having to open a browser and logging in to access their story cards.
Another useful integration is with team calendars. It notifies everyone on the team a few minutes beforehand, and they can jump on a call together (right from Slack, if they choose to!), and get meetings done more efficiently.
Support tickets from customers come in through notifications from ticketing systems, and can easily be shared with the people that need to know about them.
With the added convenience of muting spammy discussion groups, and having easy access to the most cheesy cat gifs, Slack is an application that is here to stay. So much so, that it has evolved into a platform that hosts apps, not unlike Google’s Play Store and Apple’s App Store. Are your favourite apps on Slack’s app directory yet?