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Slack has redefined the workspace since its launch in 2013, both for its customers and customers of competing enterprise messaging and collaboration services. Slack gained favor as an alternative to IM applications, such as IBM Sametime, Cisco Jabber and Microsoft Skype for Business, by enabling persistent channels, optimizing the app for mobile devices and supporting emojis, animated GIFs and application integrations.
Successfully implementing Slack isn't as simple as rolling it out and hoping for the best. Based on our research of Slack adoption and utilization, as well as our own experiences at Metrigy as Slack users for the last six years, here are five best practices to ensure success.
1. Address compliance and security needs
First and foremost, any Slack implementation must meet organizational requirements for security. Security features available to Slack customers will depend on the licensing model. The freemium service simply supports two-factor authentication. The paid Standard and Plus licenses add single sign-on support, as well as retention and data residency capabilities.
The Enterprise Grid offering provides support for end-to-end encryption with enterprise key management using AWS Key Management Service, as well as enterprise mobility management to control data access from mobile devices. Slack adopters must pick the right license and implement necessary security and retention controls, commensurate with risk and regulatory requirements.
2. Make Slack your work hub
Among Metrigy's research participants, 63% of those with the highest ROI or productivity gains for team collaboration adoption view their chosen app as a work hub, meaning it's the place where employees primarily communicate and collaborate with each other and, increasingly, with external partners and customers.
Viewing team collaboration as a work hub means integrating team workspaces with external apps, such as project management, video conferencing and calling, CRM and file sharing. It also means enabling support for Slack's low-code/no-code tools to enable users to build their own workflows based on their specific, individual and repeatable activities.
3. Train users to minimize disruptions
One of the hardest issues to overcome when adopting Slack -- or any other team collaboration tool -- is the annoyance of constant interruptions whenever someone posts a new message in a channel. By default, Slack will only notify users when they receive a direct message, are mentioned in a channel or if someone posts a message with a keyword that has been configured to receive a notification.
Notification settings can be further refined to restrict them to specific hours and days and to customize sounds and alerts. Make sure to take the time to teach users how to customize their personal notification settings. Consider taking advantage of the ability to integrate Slack with your enterprise calendar to enable automatic configuration of status based on calendar events.
4. Implement Slack Connect
Slack is a great alternative to email for internal collaboration, but companies often default to email for external collaboration. Fortunately, Slack Connect enables up to 20 companies to join a shared channel. The same benefits of using Slack internally can be extended to cross-company collaboration, with each organization maintaining control over what is shared into a Slack Connect channel. This eliminates the need for guest accounts that are difficult to manage and control.
Organizations may also use third-party apps, like Mio and Sameroom, to connect Slack to external organizations or even to internal deployments of Microsoft Teams and Cisco Webex.
5. Implement channel management
Slack adopters often run into issues with channel sprawl as users create new channels for projects or activities. Successful organizations typically have channel members assigned within IT or lines of business whose job it is to monitor channel creation. Slack administrators may even want to take advantage of the many tools out there to identify inactive channels and archive them.
Achieving Slack success means taking a proactive approach to security, usage, training, cross-company collaboration and channel management. Follow these tips to ensure that your Slack implementation is achieving the maximum possible benefit with the lowest possible risk.