How to Hack Slack for Your Agile Team

March 2, 2016

3:35 pm

Slack is often called the fastest-growing business app ever. Having launched just two years ago, the cloud-based collaboration tool is already valued at $2.8 billion. It has more than 2.3 million active daily users, with 675,000 of them paying subscriptions for its premium services.

Online collaboration apps have come and gone, but few have developed momentum in the same way as Slack. The innovative team communication solution provides groundbreaking functionality to companies using an agile methodology. Agile development is a set of workplace principles where the management of projects and completion of tasks occurs through the collaboration of cross-functional teams.

One element that makes Slack stand out against other collaboration apps is the long list of apps that can be integrated to enhance communication between team members. Here are five of the most useful Slack hacks and Slack bots for improving collaboration:

Google Drive Integration Streamlines Workflow

Slack is extremely efficient at streamlining your workflow by the integration of external apps. Many businesses use Google Drive for file sharing and collaborative editing, and this is one of the many tools that can be integrated into Slack’s channels and messages.

Google Calendar can also be integrated into Slack. While Slack itself is great for personal reminders, it doesn’t coordinate team reminders – something that Google Calendar excels in. Integrating Google Calendar opens up a number of options such as the potential to post reminders to specific Slack channels.

GeekBot Provides a Multi-time Zone Solution

Several slack bots have been developed to provide solutions for businesses that have expanded their operations overseas. One of the biggest challenges facing international companies is that employees may work in different time zones. GeekBot can help organize asynchronous stand-up meetings for teams that need to collaborate regardless of alternate time zones.

When a member is online for more than 10 minutes, Geekbot asks the user a set of questions and collates answers as data or a status report. This data can be used as a newsletter or can be posted to your channel in Slack.

This limits the need to arrange schedules that facilitate multi-time zone meetings. The bot simply asks each member when they’re available and automatically posts an update so every team member is informed of each other’s status, regardless of distance or time zone.

TexTurner Ensures Communication Is Not Lost in Translation

TexTurner is another useful app for international businesses, particularly those with employees that speak a wide range of languages. The human translation bot can be easily integrated with Slack and ensures your team members never get lost in translation again. 

Online translators are notoriously inaccurate and often fail to comprehend contextual information. Leading UK-based language specialist London Translations recommend using services that combine software with human ability to avoid such errors. TexTurner uses human translators to ensure words and phrases are conveyed in the correct business context.

TexTurner thrives upon simplicity. The user types sentences into Slack and selects which language they’d like it translated into. Within a matter of minutes one of its human translators provides an accurate translation in the language of your choice.

Roomino Simplifies Business Trips

In the globalised 21st century economy, it is often necessary for professionals to travel to business conferences or to meet with international associates and clients. Someone within the organisation needs to organise flights and hotels for those going on business trips. Roomino is a Slack bot that provides instant travel information and comparisons on flights, hotels, and restaurants.

Roomino gives the user access to more than 500,000 budget accommodations around the world. Hotel and restaurant reservations can be made for your team members or you can simply allow them to complete their own reservations. After selecting accommodation, you will be redirected to the Roomino website where you will be provided with more information and a booking form.

Birdly Manages Business Expenses

Every successful professional needs to keep a watchful eye on their expenses. Birdly is an expense management bot that manages your expenses directly inside Slack. The user can send Birdly private messages containing receipt amounts or PDF invoices and the bot will update your monthly report inside a Google Drive spreadsheet in real time.

If you haven’t given Birdly anything to do in a while, a message will pop up asking if there is anything it can do to help. There’s a 30 day free trial available after initial sign up to the app, but to continue using Birdly’s features after the trial expires prices start at $5 per user, per month.

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Simon Davies is a London based freelance writer with an interest in startup culture, issues and solutions.

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