When it comes to ticking off to-do items at work, some tasks can seem more like time-consuming chores than others, such as sending or receiving help requests or submitting action items for a stand-up meeting. Enter Workflow Builder, Slack’s no-code tool for automating all those pesky but necessary tasks, so teammates spend less time coordinating and more time on deep work.
Workflow Builder works directly in Slack channels—a single place to share files and messages—and anyone can build a workflow. And now you can further customize workflows with steps from apps, a feature that lets you create custom workflows that connect with many of the apps your team relies on to get work done.
At Slack Frontiers, our annual conference focused on transforming how everyone works, we talked with team leads from Hearst Magazines, PagerDuty and Datadog about optimizing their processes with Workflow Builder, allowing teams to discover, resolve and get to the bottom of what caused incidents, in record time.
Hearst Magazines: simplifying tasks and moving work forward fast
If you know Esquire, Harper’s Bazaar and Marie Claire, then you know Hearst Magazines, the publisher behind the iconic titles you’ll spy on every magazine rack. The company, founded in 1903, has a portfolio that includes 25 brands that produce 2,500 pieces of content daily, companywide.
Behind the scenes, Hearst Magazines has embraced innovation and technology-centered solutions to keep workers aligned. Joe Lodato, the director of development and operations, explains how his team uses Workflow Builder to swiftly manage access permissions for the tools the company uses every day.
“Anytime we can get time savings and automation in our tools, it’s a win for us.”
Lodato says that before adopting Slack and Workflow Builder, his team was often wasting time asking the same basic questions each time anyone needed access to a tool. Creating a workflow to capture and standardize these requests helps the team reduce back-and-forth communication, saving everyone precious time.
Now teammates use a workflow form to input more information about the tool they need access to. For example, if someone needs access to GitHub, they’re prompted to share:
- Team name
- Organization they need to access
- Read or write permissions
- GitHub username
- Email address
The DevOps team at Hearst uses this workflow to manage user permissions for tools like Jira, Datadog and many more.
“It’s not only saving the DevOps team’s time,” Lodato says, “but it’s saving the whole organization time. Teammates don’t have to wait around anymore. After they submit the access-request form, somebody on the DevOps team just clicks that approve button and they have their access. There’s no back-and-forth.”
PagerDuty: reducing costly context switching and freeing up more focus time
As every company with a digital footprint knows, incidents with online interfaces and websites are inevitable. That’s why teams depend on PagerDuty, a platform for real-time digital operations and solving digital incidents.
And with the PagerDuty app for Slack, organizations can seamlessly manage and track situations before they escalate. Mya King, a product manager at PagerDuty, says teams can optimize the app by adding a “trigger incident” step to a Slack workflow.
When issues occur, creating and filing a new incident report is typically the last thing engineers have time for. Incident commanders and their teammates must keep their eyes peeled on the code to resolve the issue as quickly as possible. With Workflow Builder, engineers can create an incident in PagerDuty without ever leaving Slack.
A trigger, like clicking on the shortcuts menu, kicks off a series of automated steps in Slack—such as opening a form, or sending a message to a designated channel or direct-message account. When that report is filed, steps within the workflow create a new incident in PagerDuty.
These steps eliminate tedious context switching, such as opening a web browser and creating a new item using tools outside Slack. Instead, engineers are able to stay focused on conversations occurring in the channel where the team is solving the incident.
“Slack workflows help create reliable, streamlined processes that improve end-user productivity.”
Datadog: rallying the right troops before issues become incidents
Like a good guardian, Datadog’s monitoring and security platform for cloud-based applications sniffs out security issues and sounds the alarm at the slightest whiff of an incident. With Datadog on duty, businesses can rest assured that their security needs are covered, leaving more time to devote to serving customers.
Natalie Altman, a product manager at Datadog, says teams can make monitoring their Datadog dashboard a little bit simpler with Workflow Builder. She describes a scenario that might sound familiar to on-call engineers:
“It’s 2 a.m., and my phone pings me about increased errors from payments on my web app’s checkout service. As an engineer, it’s my responsibility to quickly figure out what’s going on, fix it, and get back to sleep as soon as possible. Every minute matters, especially when delays on checkout can decrease the number of purchases.”
When these incidents occur, Altman opens her Datadog dashboard to find out how many users are affected. Depending on the severity, she can determine whether she needs to escalate to other teams. With the Datadog app for Slack, she can start messaging other teammates in her Slack channel about the degraded service.
Workflow Builder allows Altman’s team to automate some of these steps, like sending snapshots from the dashboard to the incident channel every few minutes until the incident is resolved.
“Our new custom workflow allows us to share key performance metrics that include all the important information my team needs, when we need it.”
It’s easier than ever for teams to customize Slack workflows to fit the way they work. With less time spent on process, organizations can minimize the time to repair incidents and spend more time focusing on the things that are important.
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