Picking Up the Slack

By Andrew Ward,
Give me Slack


Managing projects is hard work! There are many tools out there at your disposal to get the job done, but how do you bring all the relevant things together in a cohesive yet not cluttered manner? In this post, we'll talk about our team's favorite facilitation tool: Slack.







At Kalamuna, we've got a lot going on. There are client projects to knock out of the park, there are internal initiatives to manage, and there's the need to share things like this with the team.



To make it all happen, we leverage tools like Trello, Jira, ZenDesk, Github and Google Hangouts. And these things are all great, but too often we felt that our project assets and pertinent information were scattered all over the place.



Essentially, the important aspects of our projects were tucked away in their own collaborative spaces. Our files are hidden somewhere in Google Drive. Our correspondence is buried in Adium or Gmail. Our clients are lost in Trello or Jira. And so on.



So, how'd we bring it all together?








With Slack, we are given a high-level view of everything going on at Kalamuna. Whether it be a new comment in Trello, a Github update, or Jira ticket, it's all at our finger tips in one dashboard. Even posts on Twitter are brought in for the team to see. We've even thrown in our clients into the mix! 



Now we have everything we need right in front of us. No more jumping around all the time to different systems on a whim.



But wait, you say, that sounds convoluted and cluttered. Not so! The brilliance of Slack is the nifty UX design is that it ties team correspondence and assets together in a flexible and simple way. You can actually find the things that you're looking for on a single dashboard.


Screenshot of Kalamuna's Slack Instance





The cornerstone of Slack is the #channel system. At Kalamuna, we have channels for all of our internal and external-facing projects, and general business or miscellaneous needs.



All correspondence within a channel is part of a live feed, and all users associated with a channel see updates in realtime. This pust our clients are in a position to stay abread of current issues and code updates, and to participate in a centralized location accessible to the whole team. When we are travelling, or working remotely, it's really great to come together somewhere special.



Team members can post files or links (with facebook-like previews), that asset relates specifically to that channel for future reference. Images, PDFs, and even google docs are indexed and their contents available within slack's full-text search.



Slack integrates with a ton of useful dev and business services on a per channel basis. Updates from these integrations feeding into each channel has helped keep everyone on the same page, and lets us catch up really quickly to the goings on of a given project. 



A strong compliment to the primary channel section in the dashboard is the sidebar where users can browse and search for starred items, individual user posts and files, comments relating directly to them, etc. This way we can take a step back from the channel/project land and get a higher-level view of our organization's activity, users, and files.







Unless Google proves me wrong in a few years, not one tool will ever be the end-all-be-all to accomplishing all the tasks that need to get done. It makes sense to have different systems that excel at what they do, but that causes all kinds of stress. With dedicated mobile apps and desktop apps that mirror a great web-app user experience, Slack excels as a tool to bring other tools together.



Transparency and a culture of optimism are important Kalamuna tenets, and Slack has helped us make good on this promise. We've saved a lot of time, avoided a lot of headaches, brought peace of mind to project managers and clients, and have had a lot of fun because of this simple solution.



Do yourself a favor and check it out.


Andrew Ward


Andrew's introduction to Drupal came through his activist work in the Beltway, and he's been delivering amazing websites to clients ever since. Fueled by raw milk and unprocessed foods, Andrew is driven to liberate you from rotten correspondence. He applies his Belichick-like attention to detail to each project to ensure success and happiness.