slack tips

How to move your next project into Slack

Shift your conversations and files into channels, and help your entire team leave silos like email behind

By the team at SlackJanuary 8th, 2020Illustration by Josh Holinaty

Imagine a single place where you can find all the conversations and files related to your work. Where any of your teammates can join, quickly get up to speed and leave as needed. Where tracking down a file is an easy search away. This is what work is like when your team moves a project out of email and into Slack.

With Slack, work happens in channels. You can think of a channel as a room where teammates organize around a project or topic over any length of time, and everyone gets a shared view into the work being done.

Moving a project into Slack is straightforward, and what follows is a guide to creating a dedicated channel, along with tips to keep your team informed and organized.

Step 1: Create a new channel, and seed it with vital info

Any project should have a dedicated channel in Slack. Let’s say you’re redesigning your company’s website. That’s a common project for any business, and it’s going to involve a number of people inside the organization at different stages. You’d start by creating a new channel, perhaps called #project-new-website.

Creating a new project channel

Before you invite the rest of your team, you’ll want to equip the channel with a few documents and directional cues to help orient everyone to how it will be used. Follow this brief checklist for seeding your newly created channel:

  1. Post a welcome message to the channel. Describe the goals of the project in detail, and try to include a rough timeline of how long you expect the project to take.A message kicking off a project in Slack
  2. Upload key documents or slide presentations about the project to help everyone see the scope of the work ahead. This could include a project brief, design guidelines, RACI matrix, etc.
  3. Pin those files along with the welcome message to the channel so anyone can easily find them later on or when new people are added.
  4. Periodically update the channel topic at the top to reflect the current status of the project (e.g., “Gearing up for our kickoff meeting on January 28th”).

Once your channel is properly outfitted with important information, it’s time to add your teammates.

Step 2: Set expectations

Now that you’ve got a home for all your project’s work, ask everyone to agree to stick to Slack for communication on your project. That means no sending emails to the team with updates (do it in Slack instead!), and when something happens elsewhere, like a decision made over a phone call, post a note in the channel to keep everyone in the loop.

Here are a few updates you can move out of email and into your new project channel, helping keep everyone in the loop:

  • All of your day-to-day conversations about work in progress
  • Notes from any related meetings
  • Any project files, such as working copy docs and design mockups

When the whole team is brought into the project channel, everything is in one convenient place, rather than locked away in the inboxes of a select few. In the case of our new-website example, if you needed an early draft of the website copy or a design mockup to approve, you’d simply search in your new-website project channel to find it.

Step 3: Coordinate team tasks in your channel

After you’ve created a project channel (seeded with the latest files) and invited your team to it, your next steps will follow typical early project planning. That might include:

  • Polling everyone on when they can meet for a first meeting about the project to lay out timelines and budgets, either in a Slack message or using a dedicated app like Polly or Simple Poll
  • Regularly scheduled project updates, possibly in the form of a daily or weekly in-channel “stand-up” that asks everyone to post what they’re currently working on
  • Using @mentions to ask experts within your company for estimates on design, production and writing work needed for your project timeline, and directly inviting key people on those teams to the channel when needed

In addition to posting notes from meetings and uploading files, add apps your team already uses to Slack so you can integrate work from other tools you use every day. That could include a project management tool like Asana or Trello, which can post to your channel whenever tasks are assigned or completed, or launching Zoom for video conferencing with a quick slash command.

Meanwhile, continue to pin the most important files and messages so they’re easy to find later. These constitute a directory of the latest revisions and deliverables and get any newcomers up to speed in minutes (without the need for another meeting).

Whenever people are added to the channel, they can simply scroll up to review the history of meetings, notes and drafts, along with all the context around decisions made over the life of a project before they arrived.

Step 4: Review and archive after launch

As your project nears completion, your channel should serve as a repository of final deliverables. Planning to schedule a wrap-up or retrospective meeting? Share those meeting notes in the channel as well.

A week or two after a project is completed, ask yourself, Should we keep the channel open for ongoing feedback from others in the company, or is it time to move on and archive the channel? If you decide to archive the channel, post one final goodbye message thanking everyone for their work and remind them that the project history will remain available in search, in case anyone ever wants to locate a file, reference the wrap-up notes or see how a past decision was made.

Moving your projects into Slack helps everyone on a team collaborate and work more transparently. Ready to start a new project? Simply repeat the process described above.

And don’t forget, projects are just one way to organize your work in channels. Channels can also be a dedicated home for teams, specific office locations, social topics—even collaborations with outside organizations. To learn more about using them, give the articles below a read.

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