As a leading media company with a mission to represent Singapore’s communities to the world and to offer a Singaporean lens on global news, SPH Media is on a journey of technological transformation and reinvention.
Deeply focused on digital news and media, SPH Media knows the importance of being first to market with the news. To do this, it needs to empower its hybrid workforce with the best productivity tools to be able to find, break and distribute the latest news.
“Slack is already making an impact on our newsrooms,” says George Irwin, Director of Engineering at SPH Media. “We’re now focusing on how we can automate our workflows and deliver information across relevant teams as quickly as possible.”
Getting serious about team collaboration with Slack
Irwin joined SPH Media in January 2022 and recommended Slack to SPH Media’s Tech division.
“It was certainly a tool the company was already considering, after some small-scale experiments,” he says. “So it wasn’t difficult to bring Slack into the organisation.”
“Before Slack, we had a bit of a mix of processes. We had email and other chat tools in different teams and different parts of the business. It worked okay for one-to-one communication, but didn’t encourage collaboration across teams.”
In the current business environment, Irwin says, communication and collaboration across and between diverse and dispersed teams is a must to remain competitive.
“We’re seeing more and more of our teams moving to Slack as their collaboration tool,” he says. “There are many reasons for that, productivity being a major factor.”
“When you’re dealing with a workflow that involves emails and ticketing interfaces, there are gaps between creating tickets, notifying the approver, the approver seeing the notification and going back into that environment to approve that request. But in Slack, I can review and approve in one place.”
Automating processes, communications and collaborations with Slack
Rather than insisting on the standardisation of Slack across the entire organisation, SPH Media is encouraging organic uptake across departments, with the platform customised to automate, accelerate and simplify each team’s daily tasks.
For example, SPH Media’s technology team harnesses Slack Workflows—the ability to automate routine and repetitive tasks inside Slack, no coding required—which has reduced the time and effort that normally comes with approvals.
“Within the tech teams, we’ve automated the approval processes around our work procedures. This starts by directing people to trigger workflows, or to approve processes and requests.”
There are strict access controls to various production environments, Irwin says. In the past, when a technician needed access to debug or troubleshoot, the access approval process could take several hours. Now it takes minutes, or even seconds, thanks to Slack.
“When you’re dealing with a workflow that involves emails and ticketing interfaces, there are gaps between creating tickets, notifying the approver, the approver seeing the notification and going back into that environment to approve that request,” says Irwin. “But in Slack, I can approve right there.”
“That change on its own has been a huge productivity boost for the business.”
Slack Connect brings businesses closer
SPH Media works with a number of external vendors and partners, each supplying the tech division with products, services and advice. It uses Slack Connect—which transforms the way businesses work alongside their partners, vendors or customers by moving conversations out of siloed email threads and into the same place—to enable this easy flow of information.
“A lot of our partners already use Slack, so it was easy to join their environment with ours,” Irwin says.
“We’ve been able to connect our partner teams with our operations teams, meaning collaboration and rapid communication now exist not just between our own teams, but with our partner and vendor teams as well.”
We’ve been able to connect our partner teams with our operations teams, meaning collaboration and rapid communication now exist not just between our own teams, but with our partner and vendor teams as well
Delivering the news, fast and first
SPH Media is currently in the process of bringing its various newsrooms into the Slack environment, to help the company maintain dominance in the news space.
Relevance in the news space is all about being on the spot when events occur and then reporting that news to the public as quickly as possible. Those two variables—a highly remote news team and the need for fast turnaround—don’t always play nicely together.
“With Slack, we’re able to give our newsrooms updates in real-time on the progress of their content. This includes who’s engaged with what content, and sharing real-time updates between the newsrooms and our engineering teams.”