slack tips

Getting started: Your first week in Slack

Tips to hit the ground running

Author: Matt HaugheyJuly 27th, 2017Illustration by Pete Ryan

One of the common questions we get from prospective Slack users is how to get their company to use it. They know a lot of organizations have adopted Slack, and they’ve heard it adds transparency, productivity, and the ability to do all of their work in one searchable place. But they aren’t sure where to start, since it’s a new platform and a new way of working for a team. So what are some simple, quick ways to get started, gradually incorporate it into existing processes, and expand it throughout your entire organization?

Getting on board

Introducing Slack begins with first principles: Someone at your company signs up for Slack, picks a descriptive team URL, and allows anyone with a company domain email address to join. It’s OK to start with the free version of Slack, as the 10,000-message archive will be quite enough during your trial run. If Slack is indeed a hit at your company, you can always upgrade to paid features later on.

Start small

Most successful rollouts of Slack start small, and that’s quite all right. Begin with a handful of people who regularly work together, from a small team up to as many as a few dozen people. Get everyone to download the app to their desktops and phones and set them up.

With your launch team in place, pick a project in the earliest development stages and commit to tracking it entirely in Slack. Keep the default #general and #random channels, but create a new channel called #project-name (using your project’s actual name) and have everyone commit to putting all related communication in that channel.

It’s imperative to communicate in the channel and eschew internal email for any project-related talk. Make every project announcement in the channel only. Upload relevant documents right into the project channel, and if you use cloud storage for sharing files, connect it to Slack from the App Directory. If your team uses Google Calendar and/or Trello to track dates and milestones, connect those apps to Slack as well to see updates and reminders in the channel about when things are due.

Your channel will likely fill with daily team check-ins, discussions around project ideas, development notes, and files such as images of initial mock-ups or whatever shared documents your team needs. You can get proposals approved with a quick emoji thumbs-up reaction from everyone on the team, and use the Threads feature to have deeper discussions about specific aspects of the work. Later in the project’s timeline, you can help publicize the completion with a launch plan. Ultimately, the entire life of the project from beginning to end is tracked in Slack.

Take stock, grow from there

With your first project now completed, take a moment to assess how Slack played into the process. Did Slack enhance your team’s communication? Could everyone stay in the loop reading the project channel? Did you get to skip any status/update meetings, since information was continuously shared in Slack? Was it a relief to simply post news to Slack and not have to CC a dozen people on every email? Did you search for past documents or mock-ups to see the power of having everything in one place?

If the response to Slack was positive, the next logical step is to use it for your team’s next project, and any future plans, with new channels added for each new project. And you’ll likely want to expand from your small team to bring in other departments that share the work. They’ll see all the previous progress once they’ve joined and can quickly get up to speed on any project.

Slack launch day

Slack works best when everyone in a company uses it from top to bottom, but the key to making that happen is publicizing Slack and giving people a chance to use it. A good way to do that is having a “launch day” to help everyone get started on Slack after you’ve convinced your organization to adopt it across the company.

Select a future date as the big day, and make internal announcements to prepare everyone for your company’s new Slack team. We have email templates and even a poster template to help you remind everyone of such a momentous event.

The goal for your launch day is training, both in terms of the basics of using Slack as well as setting expectations on how Slack will work inside your company. Share a channel-naming strategy on how teams should organize departments and projects so they’re more easily found, and have your early power users describe how they conducted projects in Slack during the testing phase. Describe how specific apps the company already uses can connect to Slack, and show common ways of doing document management and project management — things many people in the company will also commonly do in Slack.

Prospering through planning

Transforming how a company communicates is a project itself. Start small and spread it slowly, track progress and iterate when necessary, and develop strategies based on the team’s experience. Finally, get management buy-in for a company-wide launch, and you’ll be well on your way to successfully moving your company onto Slack.

Are you launching Slack inside your company and need a detailed template to follow? There is a great guide in Slack’s Help Center.

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