We’ve been on HipChat quite a while now, and never really thought about moving to another system. I mean, HipChat was working well, it’s a great tool and we’ve sent thousands of messages each day through the system – we’ve been friends with HipChat. On a random Friday evening, some of us decided to give Slack a try and test it out. Not that we’ve been actively seeking a new internal messenger system, but there is so much positive stuff about Slack out there, so we wanted to find out what the hype was all about.
Well, 48 hours later we went ahead and changed the complete team communication of 85 people in 5 different locations across the globe to Slack – here’s why.
Team mails have been quite common here at LOOP. New projects coming in, everyone called down for 5pm to celebrate a birthday, office infos like availabilities and absences and much more was sent throughout the agency – still via email all day long. HipChat just didn’t offer a reliable way to get information out to the complete team, we’ve been fine with using HipChat as a 1:1 communication tool and not as an announcement tool. Sure, there are HipChat rooms – but you just never know who’s in and also if everyone is really getting the information.
Alright, Slack has private groups too - and in addition it got something else called channels. And after testing Slack for just a few hours, it was clear that the channels could have a huge benefit for us – not only for team wide communication but also for more transparency and faster announcements in a well structured way. Basically, these channels act like a ticker. We’re able to pre-define them and ensure that the complete team is getting the messages in every channel. What sounds like a small thing, changed the whole way we can communicate throughout the team within a week.
For the beginning we got a few different channels. Most of them have been set up based on common feedback from the team – for example the wish to receive new business announcement on a regular basis or the wish to get informed about launches and project shippings without getting the email inbox flooded.
As the channels are defined as team-wide communication, we also needed a way to ensure there’s a way to have conversations within the development team or around specific topics like media management, design and ux or other department related stuff. For this, we just created groups for each topic with a simple rule: If the topic could be interesting for you, just get yourself into that room and you’ll stay informed about any specific topic. The fact that we didn’t use channels for that ensures that channels stay 100% company-wide communication and announcements, and also ensures that people are not annoyed by notifications around topics that aren’t interesting for them at all.
So the majority of our team really liked Slack and after a week it felt like we’ve never used something else. HipChat is a great tool, the team at HipChat did a great job in building a reliable messaging system and we used it for at least 2 years without ever feeling that we actually miss anything – but the Slack Channels just completely changed the way we approach team communication now, which seems to be a great advantage, gives us more transparency internally and reduces a flood team email communication.