Collaboration has been around since the beginning of humanity but in recent years it has undergone a paradigm shift. In the business world today, most collaboration happens in real-time, thanks to the rise of collaboration tools like Slack. Yes, that’s right! Today we are doing an in-depth review of Slack.
Most would argue that it is a fantastic tool when it comes to seamless communication among teams. But here is a question worth asking - is Slack for everyone?
In this review, we will try to answer this question, taking you through the features Slack offers and the features/functionalities you might miss out on.
Let’s get started!
Slack is a cloud-based collaboration tool designed for teams to communicate and work together more efficiently. It provides a platform for team members to send messages, share files, and organize conversations into channels.
Slack is widely used by businesses of all sizes, including remote and distributed teams, as a way to improve communication, increase productivity, and streamline collaboration.
Slack is organized around channels, which are like chat rooms for specific topics or teams. Channels can be public or private, and members can join or leave channels as needed. However, to join a private channel, you need the channel moderator’s approval.
You can find channels on the left-hand side when using the Slack desktop app and on the home screen of the mobile app. Conversations in a channel are organized in threads. You can tag other participants and even use custom emojis to make the communication fun and engaging.
For better project management, it’s best to create multiple channels for all the areas involved such as marketing, design, content, development, etc. This makes it easier for members to post their queries and concerns in relevant channels. Besides, Slack offers Shared and Multi-Workspace channels that make collaboration between different organizations frictionless, more efficient, and a lot faster.
2. Task Automation
One of the finest features of Slack is its Workflow Builder. Using this tool, you can automate day-to-day tasks and processes involving multiple steps. Such tasks may be info requests, data entry, or some other routine activity. It not only requires zero coding but also frees up some of your time that you can surely assign to more important tasks.
Slack workflows are carried out within the platform itself or via third-party integrations. There are also preset workflows that you can enable with a click and use on the go.
3. File Sharing
Sharing large files can be a nuisance sometimes. But not with Slack. Users can share files and documents in Slack that are up to 1GB in size, including images, PDFs, audio, video, and more.
You can either upload your files directly to Slack by dragging and dropping them into channels or you can host them elsewhere (for example, Google Drive or Dropbox) and share the link in Slack. For users to quickly view the contents of shared media files without downloading them, Slack creates on-the-go previews. Versions of files are automatically saved as they are edited, allowing users to track changes and revert to previous versions if needed.
To aid hassle-free collaboration, Slack allows you to add comments and leave feedback directly within the context of a file. You can even search for specific files within a conversation or channel. Further, Slack provides users with control over file retention, allowing administrators to set policies for how long files are stored in Slack.
Slack integrates with a wide range of other software tools and services such as Google Drive, Trello, and Zoom. The platform has a robust App Directory with over 2,000 integrations, including project management tools, productivity solutions, customer support systems, marketing and social media channels, development solutions, and analytics and reporting services.
5. Search-Powered Collaboration
When business communication happens in multiple channels, thousands of messages pile up, and finding specific ones can be a hassle. Slack’s powerful search function not only allows you to search across all channels but also within specific channels. You can switch between the Messages and Files tabs, depending on whether you want to search for messages or files.
The free Slack plan limits the search functionality to the last 10,000 messages but this limitation can be lifted with a premium plan.
5. Voice and Video Calls
In the age of remote work, any business collab tool seems lacklustre without any built-in call functionality. Thankfully, Slack supports voice and video calls, both one-on-one and within channels.
Slack video calls support screen sharing for both the calling and the receiving end. The best part about Slack is that it does not limit you to the platform itself. If you prefer, you can use other calling tools like Teams, Zoom, or Meet within Slack itself.
One limitation, however, is that Slack’s native calling functionality lacks call recording and transcribing features, which can be overcome with third-party integrations, of course.
6. Regular Feature Rollouts
A good reason Slack has become such a robust collaboration and productivity tool is that it is constantly improving and adding new features. Some of the recently rolled-out features include scheduling messages, quickly inviting all the members to an audio or video call, inviting anyone in the group to a DM conversation, a simplified and easier-to-learn interface, etc.
Slack offers four pricing plans – Free, Pro, Business+, and Enterprise Grid. All the plans can be billed monthly or yearly. The Pro and Business+ plans cost $7.25 and $12.5 respectively. For businesses with custom requirements, Slack offers the Enterprise Grid plan (pricing available upon request).
As for the Free plan, it goes without saying that it is significantly limited in features. These limitations include access to only 90 days of message history, only 10 app integrations, only one-on-one (no group) audio/video calls, only 7 days of version history, and no automation workflows.
Clearly, Slack’s ability to simplify and streamline communication at the workplace is unquestionable. But it seems all the Slack features relevant to businesses are locked behind a paywall that may look intimidating to mid-sized and large-scale businesses employing 50+ individuals (as the cost of premium plans depends on the number of users). Even if we don’t consider the pricing for a minute, Slack may not be suitable for every kind of business. Sure, for fast-paced, growth-oriented organizations, it can be an asset. However, for conventional businesses operating at a slower pace, it can add cost and distraction. This is why it’s best that such businesses stick to more affordable options like Microsoft Teams or Google Meet.