A new project brings with it the opportunity to explore ways of organising your time and budget effectively. Project managers employ various financial tools, such as WorkflowMax and Xero Projects, to enable capture, tracking and reporting on time and and money spent. This information helps them to make informed decisions and manage their projects more efficiently. However, time and money can only be managed when project team members are able to communicate effectively with each other. Day-to-day communications between team members are the lifeblood of any project, oiling the wheels of the workflow from project initiation to completion. Individuals need a communication platform that brings all your project communications into one place. Slack is one such platform.
Slack is a cloud-based team collaboration tool. A survey in 2015 indicated that Slack boosted productivity by a massive 32%, which could in part be due to a 48.6% reduction in email usage and a 25.1% reduction in meetings that it enabled. So what features make Slack the perfect project management tool for teams?
Teams and Channels
Slack allows you to set up a team or a number of teams depending on who is working on the project. Each team is then able to set up their own channels. These are conversation streams and can be based on certain predefined topics, locations or other sub-sections of the project. You can also create general channels that are for communication across teams. These channels provide internal transparency, which cannot be achieved by email. Team members are able to communicate in these common channels, but are also able to have one-to-one and smaller group conversations. This helps to organise conversations about certain topics so that users can easily refer back to what was said last week/month, for example.
Channels can also be created for communication and collaboration with people outside your organisation, such as your accountant or your graphic design agency.
At OutserveWeb, we create channels in Slack for each project team. Each channel is for a different project or aspect of a project and helps keep team members informed of progress. Team members use it to ask questions and stay up to date. There are times when it is easier to invite a client to communicate on Slack rather than by phone or email. Channels are used at all stages of the project from Needs Analysis to User Sign-off and the Support Phase.
Slack allows you to store notes on a project you are working on, by starting a new message chain with yourself. This keeps all your notes in one place and keeps them separate from conversations with your team.
Posts are another note-taking tool within Slack. They allow team members to share documents and work on them together, like a simplified version of Google Docs.
When creating a Project Plan for clients, OutserveWeb uses posts within Slack to share information between team members. This facility is also essential during the Live Integration phase of the project, i.e. when we import your data into the new live system and ensure that all integrated systems are working efficiently together. Technical issues can be resolved between team members quickly and easily using Slack.
One of the best things about Slack is that it can be integrated with many other platforms.
Project management integrations include Asana, Jira, PivotalTracker and Trello, for example. You can bring in to Slack conversations, tasks, cards and notifications from other apps, to make Slack a central place for managing your project.
In addition, Slack can be integrated with many other apps that you might use daily, such as Google Drive, MailChimp, Dropbox, Salesforce, Twitter, ZenDesk etc., bringing a lot more functionality.
IFTTT (if this, then that) works beautifully with Slack to give you not only reminders but automated actions too. An example of this would be to automatically post a daily reminder to a certain Slack channel or to automatically get an email when Slack publishes a new action.
Integration with Todoist and Wunderlist will help you create a task list from your Slack channel. Alternatively, you can use the To-Do bot, which will keep your whole task list within Slack.
Our team members find that task lists within Slack help them to organise their work effectively, particularly at the Project Plan Creation, Prototype Test Build and Integration Testing stages. We are also big Trello users and make the most of the Slack/Trello integration to bring task lists all into one place.
Audio and video calls
You can hold an audio or video call with up to 15 people within Slack, meaning that you don’t have to switch to Skype or Google Hangouts to make your call.
At OutserveWeb, we use audio and video calls in Slack for whole team meetings. Video calls are especially useful at the Prototype Test Build stage of the project where we build an example of a client’s system, so we can input test transactions to confirm that they are happy with processes. Video calls can also be used during the Support Phase, which happens once integration fo the new system is complete. During the Support Phase, we answer any questions regarding the client’s system and help troubleshoot any minor technical issues.
As well as the above, there are many other useful features of Slack, including a powerful search facility (helping you to find information, links and messages from specific people within the channels), automated reminders (for yourself and others) and a variety of bots, which provide a range of useful services, such as delivering relevant news to your Slack channel, translating local time zones and organising all the links that you post on a single website.
Want to know more?
Click here to view OutserveWebâ€™s Project Methodology, which outlines the various different stages of our software implementation process.
To enquire about systems implementation and integration for your business, call us on 01785 244080, or contact us here.