But there’s one really important, really useful project management tool you might not have given much thought to: Slack.
Is your team using Slack yet? If not, you’re missing out. A 2015 survey indicated that teams using Slack experienced some big benefits:
- 32% boost in team productivity
- 48.6% reduction in email use
- 25.1% reduction in meetings
Teams also say that using Slack has improved their internal transparency and company culture.
With its numerous robust features and integrations, Slack can easily turn into the central hub for all your team activities. It can even become a central part of your project management process.
Here are the 10 features that make Slack project management fantastic:
1. Project-friendly structure
The first step in using Slack for project management is to set up your team. You could create a single team for your company, or—if you work with a huge number of people—create different teams for different parts of your group.
In most cases, a single team will be enough.
Each team has a number of channels. These are the building blocks of Slack. In essence, they represent a stream of conversations that revolve around a predefined topic. Channels can be topical, project-based, location-based, integration-based, used by only a certain team, or limited to any other group you’d like.
For company-wide project management, channels like #management, #sales, #marketing, and #accounting might be useful. Slack automatically creates #general and #random channels that can be used across teams. You can also create private channels if you need them.
It’s more useful to keep most of the information flow in the public channels, since this ensures transparency and creates a searchable archive of your conversations.
Team members you’ve added in the team space can communicate in the common channels or can start one-on-one conversations.
And group conversations let a small number of people communicate without their messages getting lost in a larger stream of messages. They can be used repeatedly so team members can look back on what they talked about yesterday, last week, or last year.
2. Integrate your other tools
There are some standard project management features that Slack just can’t replicate. If you need the heavy lifting power of a more traditional project management app, Slack can help you out with that, too.
Asana, Jira, PivotalTracker, Blossom, and Trello (one of our own favorite project management tools) are only some of the apps that integrate with Slack. Bring in cards, tasks, conversations, and notifications from a variety of your apps to make Slack your central space for getting stuff done.
A lot of the apps you’re already using can be linked into Slack, too: Google Drive, Dropbox, GitHub, MailChimp, Intercom, ZenDesk, Salesforce, Twitter, and InVision, among others. Activating these integrations will turn your Slack into a full-fledged powerhouse.
You can even link GIPHY into Slack . . . and while it may not boost your productivity, it’s sure a lot of fun! (Be sure to check out these secret GIPHY Slack commands too; they’re a blast.)
3. Easy, automated reminders
(This is one of our favorite Slack tricks here at Hubstaff.)
One of the most important things in good project management is also one of the most simple: remembering to do stuff.
Slackbot is a really useful feature of Slack, especially for getting reminders. Just type “/remind” in a channel, tell Slackbot what you’d like to be reminded of, and it will ping you when the time comes.
You can set the person to be reminded, the task, and the time: “/remind me to send the newsletter in two hours.” It’s just like asking Siri or Cortana to remind you of something, but you’ll get a notification right in your Slack client.
Slackbot will remind you of even more things if you customize it. Tell it what your building Wi-Fi password is, where the nearest coffee shop is, or how to open that closet door that gets stuck. Then whenever anyone asks, Slackbot will answer.
It’s pretty awesome.
4. Task list management
Managing and keeping track of your task list is another crucial part of project management. And Slack delivers here, too.
Slack can integrate with Wunderlist and Todoist, for example, to let you add items to your task list right from a Slack channel. Or you can use the To-Do bot to keep your entire task list inside of Slack. There are tons of ways you can use Slack to manage your task list—you just have to choose the one that works best for you!
You can even create your own to-do list in Slack without using an integration. Adding a star to a message makes it easy to find again—just hit the “Show Starred Items” button to see all of your messages with a star.
Pins work similarly.
Pinned messages and files are displayed in a prominent place in the channel so team members can easily refer to them.
5. Easy note-taking
Want to jot some notes on a project that you’re working? Remind yourself to deal with something later? Or just have a place where you can type some things where they won’t get lost?
Start a new message chain with yourself, and your messages will be stored where you can easily find them later. Because they won’t get pushed down by new messages from your teammates, they’ll always be right where you left them.
And when you need a reminder to move them into your note-taking app? Just tell Slackbot to remind you!
6. Collaborate with posts
Slack has another built-in note-taking option: posts. Posts enable team members to share and work together on items that are too big for messages. Think of it like a text document that team members can pass back and forth.
Work on posts before sharing them, add checkboxes for tasks, and share them with anyone when they’re ready. Slack posts are basically like a simplified version of Google Docs that’s built right into your favorite communication tool.
7. Powerful search capabilities
It’s really easy to get a Slack channel absolutely packed full of messages. And that can make it really hard to find the one you’re looking for. But with the awesome search capabilities built into Slack, you have nothing to worry about.
You can search within a channel (with “in:”) or for content from a certain team member (with “from:”), and results can be sorted by date and relevance. The “has:link” modifier lets you search only for links. “has:star” searches starred messages. You can even search for specific emoji!
To see all of the modifiers you can use to search Slack, check out the Search for messages and files page.
8. Custom shortcuts and slash commands
You know what else is great about Slack? It’s customizable. You can create your own keyboard shortcuts to make project management smoother and faster.
You can do the same with slash commands. There are a number of predefined ones, such as “/archive” and “/mute,” but you can also create custom commands that match the needs of your team.
What kind of custom commands can you create? Here are a few:
- Display a JSON chessboard
- See if a website is currently up
- Searching the UK Parliament API
- Use a Magic 8 Ball to make decisions
The possibilities are endless. Someone’s even developed a custom slash command that tells Chuck Norris jokes.
9. Audio and video calls
You can also start an audio or video call with up to 15 people. This means you won’t need to switch from Slack to Skype or Google Hangouts to make your work call. And because you don’t get charged extra for it, you don’t have to worry about paying for another service.
10. Useful bots
Besides integrated apps, Slack also hosts bots. Slackbot is built in, and helps you with note-taking and reminders. But there’s a whole universe of Slack bots out there.
The DiggBot delivers interesting websites and news to your Slack channel. PaperBot organizes all of the links you post into a single handy website. The Monkey Test It bot will help you test your website for broken links, missing files, and SEO issues.
Do you work with a remote team? The Spacetime bot translates local times zones, so you can help everyone get to meetings on time. And Team O’clock facilitates your Scrum standup meetings, even with video for distributed groups.
There are thousands of bots and apps you can connect to Slack. Check out the app directory to get an idea of the wide range of stuff that’s available.
You can even use Api.ai to built your own bot!
Make the best of project management with Slack
Despite its rather un-productivity-inspiring name, Slack can be a phenomenal project management tool. Whether you use it to organize everything your team needs to do or just to supplement a more traditional project management system, it can be a huge help.
Because it’s so flexible, you can use Slack for just about anything. And we want to hear from you!
How does your team use Slack? What’s your favorite Slack project management tip? Share yours in the comments below!