How Slack for SMEs can make a team work better

Digital360 on 28 July 2017

New, exciting software for SMEs seem to pop up every day. In fact, more and more Australian SMEs are making the switch to cloud services to boost their business productivity. These services are often affordable and easy to set up. Many have the potential to revolutionise a business.

But just knowing which new tools are worth your while can take a trial, error and time to figure out. These are luxuries not all SMEs have. Working with a credible digital advisory service means exposure to not only digital expertise, but also to the best tools, technology and software for SMEs.

If you’re on the hunt for new tools for business productivity, here’s a quick breakdown of one of the leading communication tools available on the market, Slack.

What is Slack?

Labelled by some as the ‘new email’, Slack is an easy-to-use messaging tool for teams of all sizes. Its design and layout are incredibly intuitive, meaning it won’t take long to learn the ins-and-outs of the service.

Slack has three different methods for sending out messages:

  • Open channels – These can be created for specific departments or topics. It means that discussions and notifications will focus on a single purpose – say, accounts or marketing.
  • Private channels – These are invite-only channels that only specific team members can see.
  • Direct messages – This works like an instant messaging function for when you need to contact just one person, instead of a group.

Sharing and downloading files via Slack is simple. And it’s not just for desktops in the office – Slack offers apps for iOS, Android, and Windows devices too.

It’s a great messaging platform for Australian SMEs who need to communicate across borders or internationally. Real time messaging means it's faster than ever to keep a team in the loop, crossing time zones and geographical borders.

Should your business be using Slack?

If you work with remote teams, Slack will be a fantastic platform for connecting everyone together. This is perfect for those Australian businesses with interstate teams, especially for those who outsource work to freelancers or contractors.

It’s also great for real-time group chats. There’s no need to follow confusing email threads with multiple recipients involved. By spending less time on your emails – and getting bogged down in all those marked as ‘unread’ – individual productivity can be boosted too. There’s also less formality than when communicating via email. This can be great for fostering a rapport between team members, even if they've never met in person.

Slack archives all your conversations, so unless you need to make more formal announcements, most of your team communication can be done via the platform. Archived conversations also mean that everything can be easily searched and indexed.

The downside to Slack can be that some team members might be less tech-savvy. Some will have trouble learning how to use a messaging service unlike one they’ve ever seen before. If not all team members are on board with Slack, you might need to return to those group email chains more often than you’d like.

Also it's important that Slack increases your business productivity. It should be a tool for enabling better teamwork rather than becoming a distraction. With instant messaging, it can be easy to get caught up chatting with team members or reaching for your phone each time it pings.

Tips for boosting business productivity with Slack

While many SMEs will find Slack useful, the ones that can really make of its benefits are those that work with multiple teams and remote members. Slack offers these types of businesses a centralised hub to communicate together.

But, no matter how your business operates, here are some tips for boosting your business productivity on Slack:

  • Integrate with other services – This helps you keep all of your alerts in place. Setting up integrations with Slack means your notifications for other services – Google Analytics, for example – can be sent directly to one of your Slack channels.
  • Use ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode – To avoid being distracted when you really need to focus, take advantage of Slack’s ‘do not disturb’ and ‘snooze’ mode. You can also set up an ‘out of office hours’ message, which will turn off Slack notifications during those hours.
  • Set reminders – This is great for centralising important notifications in one place. Instead of sending out email and calendar alerts, you can use Slack to send reminders for meetings, company events, or even a co-worker's birthday.
  • Use ‘mentions’ – By ‘mentioning’ someone (using the ‘@’ symbol) in a group chat, Slack sends an alert to let them know that you’re addressing them directly. This means team members won't miss important messages if they were not active in the conversation.

SME software and your business

If you’re looking to boost your business’s productivity – and not just when it comes to communication – chatting with a best-practice digital advisory service is a great place to start. Your business will always be ahead when it comes to software for SMEs, keeping you at the forefront of the game.

Need more advice on your business’ productivity? Chat with one of our digital advisors today.