John Le Page, Digital Project Manager at RLA, rates Slack as THE team communication tool for the 21st century.

John Le Page is Digital Project Manager at RLA, leading marketing and creative advertising agency based in Bournemouth and Belfast and part of the missiontm group. He started his career in 2005 in various IT infrastructure roles. Since 2008, he has worked in digital media in project, operations and release management roles.

Here John writes about his favourite communication tool...

Of all the digital communication tools I have used up to now, Slack is by far the best: best in terms of ease of use, features which are natty yet actually useful, and pretty much free!

Some people are confused about what Slack is and how it can help them. Watching Silicon Valley recently, Monica said “Is it email? Is it a chat room?” and others feel it could even be a modern day forum. Officially though Slack is a cloud-based team collaboration messaging tool, which is the brainchild of USA based Stewart Butterfield, Eric Costello, Cal Henderson, and Serguei Mourachov, that launched in August 2013. Slack’s goal is to end "interoffice email" because this is a less efficient system than messaging. According to a recent survey by Slack, its users have reduced office email by nearly 50% after using Slack.

Slack communications happen all in one place and can be segmented by creating channels for various topics, or in my experience - projects. People can self-assign or be assigned to as many ‘channels’ as needed, in order to keep topics visible to only the required team members. This reduces the “it’s-probably-spam-I-shall-ignore-it” / information overload type effect further. The way in which Slack is used is informal too, meaning the whole traditional British mandatory salutations per message are not needed for what may be essentially a simple request for info. This again saves time writing, reading and unnecessary attempts of deciphering what the emotional underpinning of the relayed information may be!

We have integrated Slack with some of the web services we use every day. BitBucket for example, for notification and viewing the code check-ins from our development team. The search feature is fast, simple and filterable. Slack also makes it simple to share files like images and test code snippets quickly with our entire team. This alone has increased our productivity by leaps and bounds. Not only that, but any code snippets we create stay within our Slack portal and is available for us to use in the future. There is a suite of mobile apps too which makes communication on a busy train that much easier. Furthermore, we have started to rollout to all website clients automated notification messaging of any potential site stability issues. This helps us to be more proactive and provide an improved service to our clients.

Whatever people may think, Slack is a system that has 2.7 million daily active users, of which 800,000 of them are paid users, giving the company an April 2016 valuation of $3.8bn! Not bad for a two-year-old start-up.

Slack to us, and it appears to many, really is fast becoming the team communication tool for the 21st century.

August 2016