There’s an old saying in technology circles that the best programmers are lazy. It’s actually quite a compliment. A great developer will automate repetitive processes so that they can focus their energy on solving more complex problems.
Workflow Builder is a tool for automating routine functions right in Slack (available on all paid subscriptions). We talked to engineering teams at Slack and at some of our largest customers to learn how software developers are using Workflow Builder, from automating huddle meetings to faster deployment alerts. Here’s a collection of workflow templates that you can use to make engineering work, well, less work.
1. Conduct daily huddles or weekly reflections
Status update meetings are useful for project management, but can be disruptive to individuals. Instead of breaking your team’s flow to gather for a huddle, have everyone post updates in Slack. Or, you may prefer to end each week with a recap on Fridays. Both are easy to set up in Workflow Builder.
Create daily or weekly reminders that fire into your team’s channel, and either ask everyone to post their replies as a thread to that message, or create a quick form to focus your team’s answers on a few key questions and ratings.
Try our status update template.
2. Build a friction-free feedback form
Bright ideas can come from any part of your company – not just your developers – so it’s important to make it as easy as possible to collect them.
Use Workflow Builder to create a form for any channel where teammates organically discuss ideas or potential bugs. Keep your form simple – just a quick question or two. From there, you can automatically formalise the best ideas or showstopper problems into Jira tickets or Asana tasks.
Import this template to gather feature ideas, bug reports, shout-outs, etc.
3. Automate build alerts
If you have a channel set aside for periodic updates, you can use Workflow Builder to trigger automatic messages. At Slack, by simply clicking a button, our developers watching over
#deploys launch an automated post when a code deployment is considered complete and error-free. Everyone committing code can see it and know instantly when their work is out to customers.
Use this template, without the form, to create posts on the fly with your pre-formatted message.
4. Gather votes from your team (say, for a hackathon)
One of our customers found a particularly clever way to use Workflow Builder: organising an internal hackathon and collecting votes for winners using Slack.
The voting process starts with the hackathon organiser posting instructions in the developer channel, letting members know to use a specific emoji to start the voting workflow. Those who react with the emoji automatically receive a voting form through their Slack DM. Results are then downloaded as a CSV file to quickly tally up votes.
Hack this feedback template for your voting needs.
5. Create and track a new bug report
Like a novel feature idea, new bugs can be spotted by customers and colleagues alike. And for those without Jira access or expertise, such as customer support agents or success managers, the best way to get bug reports in front of engineers is through Slack.
To bridge that gap and connect the kind people who’ve spotted a bug with your dev team’s bug-tracking tool, first set up a dedicated channel, such as
#ios-bugs. Then install the Integration+ for Jira app and publish a standardised bug reporting workflow for your channel. You’ll now be able to add ‘Create Jira issue’ as an automated step in your bug reporting process.
Import our bug-filing template.
6. Query Datadog dashboards where and when you need them most
Datadog is one of the most widely used tools for monitoring infrastructure, application performance, logs and more. A simple workflow in Slack can serve up the Datadog dashboards that engineers rely on most, directly in key channels, where they can collaborate and troubleshoot with ease. For example, incident responders use a workflow to automate recurring data pulls while remediating an issue, and team managers often schedule a weekly performance report that posts to a team channel on Monday mornings.
Customise this template to fit your data reporting needs.
7. Launch a task with emoji
Workflows can be triggered in multiple ways and, like the previous example, you can use this feature to launch functions when someone marks a message with an emoji. When emoji are used to ‘claim’ requests, you can automatically fire off a message thread stating who clicked the emoji, and then send the claimant a form to start to fulfil the request.
Stringing these triggers together means that you can build some pretty complex apps for your team in just a few minutes in Workflow Builder.
Give it a try with this travel request workflow.
8. Use webhooks for apps that lack a Slack integration
We’ve heard from several software teams using cloud services to manage their work that they’ve chosen a vendor that doesn’t yet have an easy way to send updates into Slack. But those services often have webhooks, and when they do, you can use a workflow to manage incoming messages from your servers, systems and hosts. Use it to get alerts when a service goes down or for updates when a status changes in another system.
Free up developers’ time so that they can focus on high-value work with Workflow Builder
Software developers on any paid Slack subscription can use Workflow Builder to help automate the work they do, especially those pesky repetitive tasks that take up a lot of time – time that could be spent building valuable new features for your customers. Take a look at our library of Workflow Builder examples for ideas that you can quickly modify to fit your team’s exact needs.