10 Tips on how to best use Slack as a project management tool

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10 Tips on how to best use Slack as a project management tool

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A few years back, most employers used common apps like WhatsApp, Facebook, etc. to communicate with their employees.

But there’s a new app in town and it’s specifically made for work purposes. It’s called Slack.

This app was initially developed in 2012 as an internal communication platform for Sterwart Butterfield’s company while creating an online game. Slack was officially launched in 2013. Slack is super helpful for sharing files, assignments, projects and other work related things.

It’s actually a short form for Searchable Log of All Communications and Knowledge (Slack). If you’re unfamiliar with the platform as an employer or an employee, this article will help you understand how to use Slack for project management effectively. 

But before any of this, let’s take a look at why it will be beneficial for you to use the platform and you also need to know how to best use Slack as a project management tool.

Why is it helpful to use Slack as a project management tool?

It’s important to understand why and how to use Slack for project management. Often, in large workspaces, colleagues may not be present in the same space and hence, that leaves a gap for communication within the team. 

And if you’re working on projects together on more than one occasion, you know how important it is to communicate with the teammates so that work is done in accordance with the specific requirements. 

Learning how to use Slack for project management is important because it's helpful in organizing your day's work.

Learning how to use Slack for project management is important because it’s helpful in organizing your day’s work. Picture taken via Slack’s website.

Slack is flexible, easy to use and approachable. You can use it on your mobile phone (iOS or Android, suitable for both) as well as it’s web version

Additionally, it’s imperative to be organized while working especially if your role entails more than one job. Slack is a great organizer for workplaces and it’s different tools assist you to organize your work day into a well laid out schedule. 

On the other hand, if your work is distributed, then Slack is a great platform where you can not only communicate with your team but also with your managers and others who are involved in distributing your work. 

So how do you figure out if Slack is suitable for you and your team? Here’s how… 

Email, instant messaging and text messaging are all available on one platform. You won’t lose track of the emails sent to you. Plus, no matter where your team members are, communication can take place with ease on the app. 

You can keep all the important information about your employees, their email accounts and more. Moreover, if there’s any work that’s related to a particular employee, you can always tag them with “@” and add their name which will send them an immediate push notification.

You can also start a video call with your team on the app. Additionally, Slack allows you to set work reminders and tasks which is super helpful when it comes to organizing your work day to make yourself more productive. Here’s a list of some other productivity boosting apps

And in realistic terms, the pandemic has swept across nations forcing most offices to shut down for a very long period of time. Most of these employees are now working from home.

In such cases when many are at home, and working from there in the presence of their families, balancing the two lives they live almost daily can be stressful and often lead to disorganization and confusion. 

But Slack makes things easier by keeping you in contact with your colleagues through their app and online portal and helps you work through an organized day in your “home-office.”

Wondering about some other benefits? On Slack you can use hundreds of emojis on the platform for those fun team discussions. You can also create an unlimited number of channels on Slack and have access to a limit of 10,000 messages per person on the free version. Yes, that’s quite generous!

That’s why you need to learn how to use Slack for project management right about now. 

Looking at the statistics

  • An average Slack user is clocked into the app for 9 hours
  • The number of people who use Slack on a daily basis is more than 10 million 
  • Out of the total number of Slack users, 3 million pay to use the platform
  • Slack is available in around 150 countries worldwide
  • The platform was valued at $27.7 billion as of December 2020
  • 87% of Slack users say it has enabled better communication and organization in business 
  • 5.3% of law firms in the U.S used Slack in 2019 
  • 96% of Slack traffic is direct while 53% of it was through Salesforce
  • 43% of the Fortune 100 businesses used Slack for work communication
  • There’s around 3% of users in the U.S which is the same percentage for Finland as well.
  • 12% of the U.S workforce used Slack or other messaging platforms for effective communications within the business during the pandemic as of March 2020
  • Even Romania uses Slack on a daily basis and Slack.com received 176,000 visitors from Romania in April 2020

Yes, these are a lot of numbers. But thanks to Tech Jury and Finances Online these stats are at the top and provide most of the reasons why you should learn how to use Slack for project management. 

10 tips on how to best use Slack as a project management tool

Don’t forget to add your teammates

This is one of the most basic learning about using Slack for project management. Adding your colleagues or teammates to channels on Slack is important because if you don’t, there’s a chance of miscommunication happening on both ends. 

So when there’s a new addition to the company, don’t forget to add them onto all of your Slack communication channels. 

First step to using Slack for project management i.e how you should add your colleagues.

First step to using Slack for project management i.e how you should add your colleagues.

On the free version, you just need to send an invite to them by clicking on your workspace name on the top left. Click on “invite people to (the name of the workspace)” from the menu and add the person’s work email address. Press send and your work is done there!

That’s your first step towards learning on how to use Slack for project management effectively.

Create a virtual office

When you’re in office and you need to have a meeting with some colleagues or your own team or otherwise, you can step into a conference room or a meeting room and you know that’s the space for team discussions. How do you do it virtually? Thanks to Slack, this space can be recreated virtually.

By using tips on how to use Slack for project management, you’ll be able to create an office environment from wherever you’re working. The platform uses this media called “Channels” where you can have discussions with your team in a private space on the platform itself. 

One way to use this tool effectively is to create channels based on different projects that you might share with your teammates or colleagues.  You can incorporate all the status updates, tasks, files, discussions, feedback, etc. on the channel. 

So if there’s some really important information that needs to be shared with everyone, once it is shared on the channel, it becomes easily accessible to everyone on that channel (who ideally are your teammates). 

At the same time, you can also pin important files so that you don’t miss it when and while the channel discussions take place. 

Name your channels as per their purposes

As explained in the previous point, it will be helpful to create channels for specific purposes and then make sure everybody adapts to that as well. 

Name your channels per the specific purposes for which they were created in the first place. That's how you effectively use Slack for project management. Here you can see the names of the channels as per the purpose they were created such as #design.

Name your channels per the specific purposes for which they were created in the first place. That’s how you effectively use Slack for project management. Here you can see the names of the channels as per the purpose they were created such as #design.

Here are a few ideas you can incorporate –

Effectively using Slack for project management means utilizing this ‘Channels’ tool for specific purposes. For project specific discussions, you can have a channel like “#project_name_launch” . Team specific discussions can take place in another channel like “#team_name”.

If the size of your company is small and you have daily meetings for tasks to be worked upon, you can create a channel like “#coordination” or “#daily tasks” for people to coordinate with each other. 

Event specific meetings and discussions can take place on a separate channel like “#event_name_date”, “christmasparty_2021”, etc. Leisure based activities and discussions can be done on a channel like “#breaksnfun” General company announcements can be made on the “#general” channel.

The posting rights on this channel can be limited to a few who need to make certain information available to all. These are some of the key tips to using channels on the platform and is integral to learning about using Slack for project management well in the very first go itself. 

Don’t keep your notifications stored away

While Slack is great in increasing your productivity rate, it can build up on the notification junk and that’s really time consuming if you haven’t gotten rid of them already.  

Notifications are an energy drainer. Here's how you clear off notifications as you learn how to use Slack for project management.

Notifications are an energy drainer. Here’s how you clear off notifications as you learn how to use Slack for project management. Picture taken via Lumeer.

As compared to emails which hardly took up much time and attention, you just had to respond to them and then that’s it. But with Slack, it’s different. Slack is an app and is also available on the web, though most people prefer to have it on their phones.

And as you know the case with most apps on the phone, Slack too, will draw your attention a number of times in a day. Most of the messages are helpful but at the same time, if you’re really focused about completing your tasks at hand, these notifications can get a little too irritating. 

There is a pro tip on how to use Slack for project management especially when you’re handling multiple projects at the same time. On an average, it takes about 15 to 23 minutes to return to the ongoing task after being interrupted or distracted. 

So how do you avoid getting distracted by these unnecessary notifications? Do a custom setting to enable notifications that have direct mentions, certain keywords (should entail your job role) and direct messages from teammates or colleagues. 

Have a status check

If you’ve got an urgent task that needs to be addressed by any of your teammates or colleagues, you can take a look at the channel directory on the left hand side of the app or the web version. You’ll see a green light next to the person’s name which indicates that they’re online. If not, it means they’re offline. 

If your messages can wait, you can send it to them and expect a reply from them later on when they get online and see your message. This is how the status part of the platform comes in handy when you’re learning how to use Slack for project management. 

Integrate your essential apps

Instead of jumping between apps, to get your work done at a faster pace, integrate them with Slack. 

Just as you’re learning how to use Slack for project management, integrations and automations are a must to understand, especially if you don’t want to waste a lot of time switching between the apps essential to your work. 

Working alongside integrated apps is how you use Slack for project management.

Working alongside integrated apps is how you use Slack for project management.

Slack allows for integrations with Google Drive, Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive, Outlook Calendar, Google Calendar, Google Meet, Cisco Webex, Zoom, etc. You should ideally have 3 record systems – CRM, ERP and Operations / project management.

In CRM, Slack can integrate with HubSpot CRM, Lumeer CRM, Zoho CRM, etc. With respect to ERP, it allows for SalesForce, SAP, InForce, etc. And for project management specific tools, integrations with Trello, Todolist, etc. are available.

Message reminders are helpful

Sometimes, the work day gets very hectic and some tasks need to be set for later. Lucky for you that you’re learning how to use Slack for project management, this tool will also assist you to better organize your tasks in terms of priority. 

If you can’t deal with a certain task immediately, you can just set a reminder and Slack will remind you of it sometime later in the day or week as per the day and time set on it.

Here’s how you do it. Click the three dots that appear beside a message. Then select “remind me about this.” It will ask you for a specific day and time and when that day and time arrives, the reminder will appear on your screen.  

Create connections

Most work stations are now operating from home premises of the employees, it’s thus best for you to understand how to use Slack for project management for better communication. This is especially critical at a time when your colleagues are not in the next cubicle.

Video calls with your employees who work remotely is also an effective way to use Slack for project management.

Video calls with your employees who work remotely is also an effective way to use Slack for project management.

One of the best features of Slack is that it allows for video conference calls as well. So in cases where there’s a scope for potential misunderstandings, you can completely avoid such a scenario with a quick discussion over a video call from wherever you are seated. 

Face to face discussion clears out a misunderstanding and is thus more fruitful than otherwise. Not only that, apart from the work related opportunities for a video call, take time to occasionally celebrate your employees and their achievements through a video call on Slack. 

Even casual office discussions such as after hours with the employees, be it with managers or otherwise would be great to build the communication bond between the employees and the employers. 

Emails are important too 

Yes. In this world of work and productivity, you never forget emails. Although Slack is known to ease many functions of an email into it’s app, still don’t forget to check your emails frequently.

Butterfield thinks that email is here to stay for a very long time. He said, “Email will probably be with the human species for another 30 to 40,000 years or something like that.” As email is very essential for some core functions like that of doing a password reset, receiving important transaction information, etc. 

Hence, don’t completely eliminate emails from your life once you begin using Slack. Instead, use it alongside Slack.

Utilize public channels & threads

Using private channels for team discussions and more is extremely important to maintain the flow of work. However, remember that not all employees may be part of such a team or a channel and may depend on public announcements in the company as well. 

Prevent your employees from feeling alienated from their work and office by making use of the public channels on Slack such as #general and #discussions to bring about some communication even for the independent employees. 

By doing so you’ll be able to keep them in loop about what’s happening in the company and they won’t feel as disconnected from their work and the business at large. 

Conclusion

So should you consider shifting to Slack rather than the age old communication methods? Absolutely! 

Learning how to use Slack for project management effectively will help you and your employees become better organized at the workplace as they sit at home and work during this pandemic or even beyond as things normalize and they work from office from either one or multiple locations.

Give your organization a chance with Slack and watch it ease your lives for the better. When are you going to use Slack?

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