48 Hours of Slack

June 25th, 2015 • filed under Technology

Two nights ago, I convinced my team to pick up Slack. I wanted them to stop slacking on effective communication and while I can cut them some slack on being in different time zones, there’s no excuse with today’s technology.

That’s about all I have for Slack puns and euphemisms. We’ve been using Slack for about 48 hours now and we’re loving it. I think I might be loving it the most because I championed the idea.

Given its super low barrier for entry (free!) it wasn’t hard for us to pick it up and give it a go. My team is only twelve people but I think we’ve communicated more via text than we’ve communicated via Lync and email in a week.

I described it in our meeting as IRC for this decade, but it’s a lot more than that and I’m striving to find ways to expand the service for my people as much as possible.

For those who don’t know, I’m the Senior Technical Support Lead for Zephyr’s Americas support team. That puts me at second in command and makes me responsible for my teams success. One struggle I’ve seen is keeping effective lines of communication open between each staff member and creating open dialog about technical and customer-facing issues we encounter on a regular basis.

We really didn’t have any sort of real-time collaboration going on.

This is why I brought in Slack. I can see who’s available, strike up conversations with them, discuss particular issues in channels, and get notified from various other systems right away, without having to leave Slack.

I’ve found out about support requests faster through Slack than by staring at ZenDesk all day (our ticketing system). Getting notifications on all my devices at the same time about what’s happening as its happening is a boon for me and that only drives my desire to integrate more.

One thing that bothers me though is autocomplete requires some fancy service on the other end in order to work. I don’t want to sit down and write middleware to tie into Slack so I can shorthand with a /slash command. I should be able to say /ticket 12345 prints in chat http://ticket.system/12345. I don’t see what’s so hard about that.

Webhooks are super cool though and being able to touch them with 3rd party service and update my channels with relevant information is awesome. Being able to be notified in real time about anything that’s happening in another system with minimal code change is sweet. All our custom apps can push notifications, now.

Even well-known 3rd party services can integrate well. Some leave things to be desired like my ZenDesk-Slack integration, but I can’t blame Slack for that.

For a service that’s had next to no marketing done and has survived on majority word of mouth and small advertisements here and there, Slack is killing it in the real-time collaboration space.

Someone on my team suggested we look at HipChat, too… is it bad that I sort of don’t want to?